Better fly-fishing sales can come through actual fly fishing


I’ve noticed a lot of chatter lately, especially in social media, that I think signals an awakening of conscience within the fly-fishing world. More focus on fishing for more than numbers… how fishing can benefit mental well being… how nice it is to get out and explore again in a post-pandemic world… the value of places, and people, etc. I think all of that is just great. A little more ethos could go a long way these days.

Interestingly, I also hear that many shops and manufacturers are seeing a dip in sales, to put it mildly. Many retailers I’ve talked with lately are down at this time. Most are optimistic about the summer season ahead, especially in places where droughts have been alleviated with good snowpack and rainfall, but they’re down now. And many manufacturers say the same thing. Can’t sell some things they expected to sell. Everyone’s sitting on inventory. Saltwater rods outselling trout rods. It’s a nutty time. So what gives? Are people engaging in the sport differently now, in ways that makes them less inclined to buy “stuff?” Could be.

I fear that the reaction by some will be to push the “dumb it down” button more, so more people catch more fish to get hooked on the experience. I wonder, though, if it’s time to embrace and promote the learning curve rather than looking for shortcuts. I think it’s fine, for example, that some people are saying that they find Euro nymphing boring because they like to cast a damn fly rod. I kind of like it now and then, but I also like to cast, and see both sides. Maybe it’s time to put more casting back into fly fishing, rather than less. I hear that a lot these days.

I think it’s great when a guide calls BS on others who would chum up a roosterfish, hook it from a boat, then head to the beach to take the photo. Maybe it’s time to put more stalking and sight fishing back into fly fishing, not less. At least be authentic.

Maybe instead of looking for more shortcuts we should sell fly fishing for what it’s always been. Tricky. Interesting. Experiential. That’s what the long-term, sustainable consumer wants, and that’s what’s going to pull us through the current doldrums. The long-term, sustainable angler is turned off when this industry promotes instant gratification. Saltwater rods are outselling trout rods for some companies because there are fewer shortcuts in the salt.

Of course, it’s all a balancing act. Everyone likes to be taught how to fish, and nobody want’s to be told how to fish. If you’re guiding the 14-year-old who’d rather be on their cellphone than making casts, probably not the smoothest move to try to squeeze 10 years of entomology and wind casting tiny dry flies into a few hours of frustration.

But “catch more fish” is so antiquated. And “dumb it down” is a false idol.

“Make moments matter” is where it’s at now.

-K. Deeter



  1. Good stuff, Kirk. It’s nice to hear that those of us focusing on the overall angling experience — rather than numbers and size, which are the lowest common denominators in the world of fly fishing — are moving past the “a few lonely voices crying in the wilderness” stage. Let’s hope that more fly fishers start to unlock the full potential of the sport, rather than simply keeping score.

  2. Great piece!! I am so glad you talked about this. I befriend and teach my clients. Its a win, win! I gain a great friendship with my clients, and they all want to learn, and I want to teach them. This has been my program for many years now as a professional flyfishing guide at George Andersons Yellowstone Angler.
    Please check out and flylineacademy on Instagram. MY program brings flyfishing to foster teens. This program will combat homelessness by teaching flyfishing skills and employment opportunities in the flyfishing (fishing, conservation, rod companies, fly shops……) industries.
    Thank you! Keep up the good work!
    Chase Chapman
    Flyline Academy
    Founder/Chief Programs Officer

  3. The longer I guide, the less fish we catch. And I, along with the guests, are OK with that.

    The overall experience has always outweighed how wet the net gets.

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