Fly fishers, I’ve seen the enemy, and he’s not an anti-conservation whacko or the member of a radical environmental group. The enemy of fly fishing is us.
According to the 2015 Special Report on Fishing, although fly fishing is less popular than either freshwater or saltwater fishing, it’s normally the first choice among beginners. Nevertheless, fly fishing is gradually losing participants.
The number one cause is a lack of mentorship.
Almost half of all fly fishers are 45 years of age or older, and the majority of fishers (more than 65%) choose to go fishing with a fellow adult. Only about 7% bother with taking someone fishing under the age of 18. Very sad, in my opinion.
It’s when we’re young that many new things are tried and many stay with us. If you liked riding a bicycle, swimming, or hiking as a kid, you probably still enjoy such things (I love riding a bike, even though I fall off a lot. One time I ran over my wife who’d just fallen off her bike in front of me). The 2015 Special Fishing Report I mentioned above notes, “An early introduction to fishing is critical to participation later in life. More than 85 percent of current participants started as children ages 12 and younger. Participants associate fishing with positive memories, such as being immersed in nature and spending time with friends and family.” Of those who tried fishing as kids, over 85% are still fishing today.
So in the interest of preserving our tribe, consider the following –
- Take a ride on the mentor train. Take a young person fly fishing. And don’t overlook the ladies – almost half of all those who embrace fishing are female.
- Make sure they have good equipment. How would you like trying to fly fish with a utility-pole rod and house wire fly line?
- Take ‘em someplace where they can catch fish. The number one attraction for first-time fishers is catching fish. The number one detraction for first-time fishers is not catching fish.
So – go pass the fly. You might even have more fun teaching someone else to fly fish than fly fishing yourself. And as a bonus, once he or she gets the hang of it, you no longer have fishy-smelling hands.
Perhaps you have some tips to pass along? Maybe you have some advice or an experience you’d like to share? Please do. You can comment by clicking “leave a comment” under the title of this post, send me an e-mail, or even subscribe to my blog.