Discussion in 'Fly Fishing Forum' started by Krusty, Nov 1, 2013.
I'm not seeing fewer people on the water.
Of course you don't...you're living in the 'anthill' of Washington....in your neck of the woods you could raise a crowd for a frigging gerbil show. Think non-anadromous fish.
I'm talking the heartlands.
I don't limit my fishing to the Sky. Been to Chopaka lately? How about the Joe or C'DA? I could list many other places that are 509'er approved and not one of them is seeing a decrease in angler pressure.
You and your cousin have any kids yet?
Sorry. But, Spokane isn't the heartland of anything. Start throwing out stupid stereotypes.....
Cranky much? Son, I've been to all of them, and they were once much busier. And my cousin and I sired you (though I prefer your sister)....so we're doin ok!
Like Curt, I started fly fishing 55 years ago when I was 5 years old. My dad is a fly fisherman (he still does so at age 86) and I suppose you could say I got the bug early. Back in the late 1950's on into the mid- to late-1970's, there were very few fly shops. And most fly shops were located in destination locations.
I grew up in Northeast Pennsylvania, just north of where Jim Leisenring and Vincent Marinaro lived and fished and only 25 miles to the Pocono Mts, and 90 miles to the Catskill streams. Despite this and the area having a rather long fly fishing tradition with a fair number of fly fishers living in the area, there were exactly no fly shops closer than a 70 mile drive.We used to buy our stuff either at the local sporting goods stores (they carried everything from golf and tennis to hunting, camping, and fishing gear back then, not athletic equipment only like today), the local hardware store (some of them back then had a section of hunting and fishing gear), or via mail order.
Heck, back then things we take for granted today like genetic hackle didn't exist unless you were lucky enough to get some birds or eggs from the Dettes, Hebert, of a very few others and raised them yourself. Otherwise, we made due with Indian, Chinese, or other Southeast Asian neck hackle. And if we wanted to get a high end rod, that meant either seeking out a top bamboo rod maker, placing an order with him, paying him either a deposit worth 1/2 the rod or the full-price of the rod and then waiting anywhere from 6 months to 2 years to get the rod, or getting a custom glass rod made by Russ Peak or Powel and waiting a similar amount of time to get the rod.
Most of us thought in terms of Fenwick, J. Kennedy Fisher, and St. Croix glass rods as higher end rods. And we usually had to mail order them. If we were very, very fortunate, we could get our local sporting goods store to get one of them for us.
In other words, it was not easy being a fly fisherman regarding being able to buy rods, lines, flies, reels, or fly tying materials. But despite that, there were still a fair number of fly fishers about.
I started to see a change happening when I was in high school after the old ABC TV program known as THE AMERICAN SPORTSMAN started to show Lee Wulff and Joe Brooks fly fishing at various places in the US and around the world. More folks started to fly fish after seeing these fellows fly fishing on a national TV show. This then resulted in some new books on fly fishing and fly tying being published, which resulted in a bit more interest in fly fishing as well.
It became easier to get good fly fishing gear as we got into the early 1970's when some of the older fly fishers retired and started up very small fly fishing retail stores, sometimes out of their garages. This made it easier because you could find these folks and buy local, instead of having to mail order and wait up to a couple of weeks to get what you wanted and hope nothing was backordered or out-of-stock.
As we got into the late 1970's and on into the 1980's, which was prior to the movie, more retail stores opened dedicated to fly fishing. And gear became even more readily available. Again, quite a few of these new retail operations were started and run by folks who had retired from a career and were able to retire after 25 or 30 years, but because they liked to fly fish, they started up small fly shops.
It was also in around 1968 that Bucky Metz had developed his birds and had enough production to start selling his necks and saddles in a limited fashion. In the 1970's, he was able to increase production a bunch, and we also had Henry Hoffman put his necks and saddles on the market. Thus, we had great hackle available. Also, in the 1970's, there were some other hackle growers entered the market and it became very easy to get hackle of the size and quality you needed to tie the flies you were tying.
Scientific Anglers began selling their system rods in the late 1960's, and this allowed a person to buy a rod and a matching line that cast without under or overloading the rod. Thus, it became easy to match a fly line to a rod. This had a big impact as well. Also, in the 1970's Jimmy Green began experimenting with graphite at Fenwick for making fly rods with his first commercially available ones out in about 1974 or 1975. And Gary Loomis began making rods under the Lamiglas name with I think it was 6 partners in the late 1960's as well. And then he started up Loomis Composites in the mid-1970's because he wanted to move into graphite and his partners at Lamiglas didn't. He then left Loomis Composite and went completely out on his own with G. Loomis in the early 1980's, which he then sold to Shimano who still owns it. Sage got its start in the 1970's as well after Browning bought Fenwick and moved their production to Korea. Fortunately, Jimmy Green went to work for Sage.
Fly fishing retailers made enough money to justify hiring folks to work in the shop, which was a change from the old single or at most 2-man operations most commonly found prior to the 1980's. And the retailer owner demographic also changed from mostly folks who had retired early and who were receiving a decent pension, to folks who relied upon the shop to provide the income they needed to stay alive and support their families.
The guys who had the retirement income coming in only needed to make enough to pay the bills and make a little money to fund a trip to someplace like New Zealand or Argentina to stay in business. The newer ones who relied on the shop for all of their income were in a very different position. They needed (still do) to make enough to support not just the shop, but their family as well. Thus, when profits drop below what they need to support their families, they are forced to look at some other way to make a living. Many got jobs and hired someone to run the shop. However, after a while the guy behind the counter wants to make more than $20,000-$30,000 per year and the owner is put into a bind again. He wants to pay the employees more, but can't afford to do so and keep the doors open. So he ends up closing up shop.
And in the mid-1980's we had an explosion of fly fishing retailers, which became an avalanche after the movie came out. And has as been mentioned, the 2-hand rod revolution hit in the 1990's.
Now, we have folks working longer hours, getting fewer vacation days, higher prices for everything (which incomes haven't kept up with), and folks realizing they don't need to buy the latest whiz-bang rod in the fancy new color and the cool name because once you start to acquire high end equipment, you realize there is very little gain by trading in your high end stuff for the newest high end stuff. Therefore, high end rod sales go down some percentage. Same with high end reels. And folks also realize that they don't need to buy a new fly line every year and only buy a new line when the old one wears out or the buy a new rod for a different line weight.
Thus, we are going back to the modern version of how things used to be 50 years ago. We are able to buy great rod and reels directly from the manufacturer. In fact, the best hardly if ever sell a rod or reel other than directly to the customer. And we have decent, relatively inexpensive rods available at big box retailers like Cabella's (which is very close to the modern day Herter's) and fly shops alike. This is similar to being able to buy Fenwick, St. Croix, and Lamiglas back in the 1950's through the early to mid 1970's. Same with fly reels, which is similar to buying Pflueger or Martin reels back in the day.
It sure seems to me that we are going back to a former model of buying and selling fly fishing equipment.
Feel like I may be a good example of this. I'm 32 years old and have 2 kids under the age of 4. Every single one of my buddies who fly fishes also skis, mountain bikes, hunts and competes in things like trail run races or triathlons. While all of those hobbies I enjoy I would consider throwing a fly my passion but there is only so much time and money. While I lived in Seattle, just relocated to dallas, I found it much easier to drive 15 min and be on a sweet mountain bike trail vs 30-90 min of driving to fish. When single I'd get 75-100 days on the river, now I'm lucky to get 10 and my purchasing habits correlate. Now I live 4 blocks from a stocked pond so things may change for time on the water but right now I'm not willing to sacrifice a day a week away from my family to catch a few fish...in due time I'll haul my son w/ me and then it'll be 10x more enjoyable. Just my $0.02.
Of everything I have ever done in this life fishing is my favorite. I don't care what happens next. I don't care if people want to sit on their couch and fish on their Xbox. The rest of the world doesn't bother me. All I know is that I love to fish and my 11 year old son does as well. Ill continue fishing, and passing it down to him, until I take a dirt nap. If all the companies go out of business, ill cut down a tree and make stick poles.
I just don't worry about stuff like this. I know what I love to do. I will continue to do so, period.
My dad was never a fly fisherman, barely even fished. I was the one who introduced him into fly fishing. I'm 14, and I plan to go to college and get a business degree, and a PhD in Aquatic Entomology, like freestoneangler said, who needs nature and wild trout. I hope to keep fly-fishing an up and running sport.
Technology is just a distraction( yet the thought of trout distracts me when I'm in school).
Here's a trout I caught in the Sacramento River near Redding, Ca. Caught the frisky guy last Monday.
Almost all the guys I run into on our area's "blue ribbon destinations" look to be between 20 and 40 years of age. Most of them don't look like rich kids, I just wish some of them would bend their Yankees hats. I wouldn't be surprised if a drift boat went by on the Bitterroot blasting "dubstep".... Over the last several years I have seen the industry try way, way too hard to market gear towards these "extreme" young bucks. All that AEG Badass Intercontinental Euro Metrosexual Fish Bro Trout Bum stuff turned me on to vintage/used gear, which definitely didn't help the industry.
Agreed, but it still seems purposeful and image based.
I think for a lot of reasons, the "extreme" young bucks are going to be more likely to be interested in fishing than a lot of other groups. I grew up skateboarding and snowboarding. I know I'm not the only one on here that was. I had always enjoyed fishing, but it wasn't until I blew out my knee while snowboarding (I tried to jump a 60 foot gap, but my board only wanted to go 57 feet) that I became more interested in fishing. It was the perfect sport for someone who considered himself to be adventurous, willing to drive, and unafraid of sub-optimal conditions. In skateboarding and snowboarding, I loved watching the weather conditions and constantly exploring for new areas and new information. It wasn't a difficult transition to fishing. In either sport, you plan the day before trying to maximize your chances of success and you're glued to the forecasts, but really, you don't have any idea how the day is going to turn out, and that's where the fun is. Just like I read water these days, I used to read snow and concrete. A lot of fly-fishermen I meet now come from similar interests. I agree that this group is definitely more "extreme." They seem to be much less likely to be inspired by the history and literature of the sport, and more likely to be trolling the internet, watching 'ski-edit' style video teasers, and tying big, dirty streamers. On the river, you won't see em' because they're 2 miles downstream of the access looking for a 'secret' spot.
All good stuff mentioned...
Could the real reason be the decline of "recruitment" of new fly fishers - the teens to 30-somethings??
Lets face it this group of people need to leave the couch or gaming chair.
Today's demands have certainly changed us...it gonna take a self-conscious effort on our part.