Is Fly Fishing Too Expensive? (A Pop Quiz for the Undergrounders)

Category:
Fly Fishing
expense of fly fishing
fishing
fly rods
Opinion
Underground Entertainment
Added Date:
Thursday, 22 Jan, 2009
Summary
Even before the downturn, many decried the "expense" of fly fishing - and the need for the industry to produce inexpensive gear to recruit new genes into the pool.
 
Content
Even before the downturn, many decried the "expense" of fly fishing - and the need for the industry to produce inexpensive gear to recruit new genes into the pool.

I admit to some confusion around the gear aspect given the sub-$100 fly fishing outfits offered by several manufacturers (though I always wondered why they didn't put the damned backing and line on the reel instead of forcing some newbie to do it).


And yes, I think it's fair to say no newcomer to fly fishing should be expected to spend $3000 for a fly rod, reel, waders, boots and little gear, but frankly, fly fishing's never enjoyed as much really good, really affordable gear as it does now.

And compared to other outdoor pursuits, fly fishing's actually pretty affordable. (Priced a bass boat lately?) After all, a day on the water costs as little as an annual license (amortized over many days), and the biggest single consumable expenses revolve around gas and flies.

In other words, it's possible that fly fishing's "expensive" reputation has little to do with reality, and a lot to do with perception.

So what's feeding that perception?

I've got a few guesses, but want to hear from the Undergrounders.

Some Guesses?


    • In most magazines, the average newcomer is bombarded by ads & stories for high-end rods and $5k/week destinations

    • Fly shops aren't always the friendliest environment for newcomers

    • Fly fishing isn't expensive as much as it is hard - and to some, investing time to get "good" is the equivalent of "expensive"


What do the Undergrounders Think?


    • Is fly fishing too expensive to recruit newbies?

    • Is the industry newbie-unfriendly?

    • Are fly fishermen newbie unfriendly?

    • Is the sport's focus on high-end gear and exotic places throttling the sport?

    • Recruitment during a recession is never easy (even as millions suddenly find themselves with spare time), but what will get newbies into the sport?

    • Do we want newbies in the sport? (This last for you cranky readers.)


Pencils up,
Tom Chandler
 
Reading Time:
5minutes
Featured:
No
Author
Destinations
 (2)
This is a small town with a big heart, a veritable fisherman’s paradise. Located near the fish-filled Madison River, and surrounded by the waters of Ennis Lake, the Ruby River, Hebgen ... moreLake, Quake Lake, Henry’s Lake, the Big Hole River and scores of smaller streams, the town boasts what many consider the best trout fishing in the world. As well known for its wranglers as its anglers, Ennis has succeeded in maintaining the look and feel of its original, gold town roots. Warm and hospitable, the area offers a wide variety of accommodations ranging from simple campsites, rustic motels and gracious hotels, to full-service, luxury resorts. Fly shops are numerous, stocked by local experts ready to advise and assist, while guides can be booked for trips throughout the area.

Boredom is the only thing unavailable in Ennis. Throughout the summer season the city hosts a series of events, including its renowned 4th of July Celebration Parade and a genuine, old-fashioned rodeo. In August, fly-fishing luminaries from around the US, flock to Montana to compete in the Madison Fly Fishing Festival. Athletes also find their way to Ennis to compete in the city’s Madison Trifecta, two shorter races followed by a full Marathon at 9000 feet, the highest elevation run in America. For the true sportsman, October falls in with the annual Hunter’s Feed. What’s caught, typically elk, moose deer, pheasant and bobcat, gets cooked on the streets and served up to hungry spectators.

Flanked by three grand mountain ranges, The Tobacco Root, Gravelly and Madison, Ennis is scenic and entertaining – truly an authentic, fly fisher’s haven.
Fishing Waters
 (1)
Maclean’s famous story, A River Runs Through It, is set on the now famous Blackfoot River. Despite this, Robert Redford’s 1992 movie version was largely filmed on the Gallatin as he ... morefelt the scenery and fishing were more cinematic. The river originates high in the mountains of the Gallatin Range inside Yellowstone National Park and flows for 115 miles until it intersects with the beginning of the Missouri River at Three Forks. Inside the Park, where it runs for more than 25 miles, floating is not allowed and there are restrictions on fishing. Once it exits the park, it crosses a forty-mile expanse of mostly public lands, and runs parallel to a highway that makes it quite accessible. Because the river is narrow for much of its run, float fishing is restricted from Yellowstone Park to the confluence with the East Gallatin River. No wonder this river has a great reputation for wade fishing!

Unimpeded by dams, the river provides consistent, easily waded flows from mid-summer through mid-spring. Rainbows predominate with an estimated 1400, 8+ inch, fish per mile from the West Fork confluence at Big Sky to the mouth of the canyon. Browns are abundant accompanied by occasional cutthroats, brook trout, white fish and graylings. New to the lower most band of the river are northern pike. Never known for trophy trout, the river offers excellent dry fly fishing and beautiful surroundings. Since the fish are recognized as indiscriminate eaters, the Gallatin has come to be known as an excellent river for those learning to fly fish.

Like much of Montana, the River played a significant role in the state’s history. First explored by Native American hunters, by the early 1900’s, the area eventually became known to fur-trappers and gold prospectors. By the turn of the twentieth century logging rose in importance to the local economy as loggers famously rode the logs down river to prevent them from jamming. The towns of Bozeman and Three Forks are most closely associated with the River although given the importance of Maclean’s legacy, Livingston should also be considered as part of its history and heritage.
Game Fish Opportunities:
 (2)
The Jefferson River is an important part of a system of rivers that combine to form the majestic Missouri. Starting at the confluence of the Big Hole and Beaverhead rivers near Twin ... moreBridges, Montana, it winds 77 miles in a northeasterly fashion to Three Forks. Here, it meets with the Madison and Gallatin rivers that together converge into the Missouri River at the Missouri Headwaters State Park. Like so many other rivers in Montana, the Jefferson, named by Clark in honor of the U.S. President, runs deep with history. In fact, the Jefferson River is a segment of the larger Lewis and Clark National Historic Trail, administered by our National Park Service.

When thinking about the Jefferson, a Class 1 river for recreational enjoyment, most observers view the river in three distinct sections. Characterized by slow, meandering flows, the upper third works its way through a broad, arid valley. Along this braided, 44 mile long floodplain, you will encounter working farms, dense cottonwood stands, flowered meadows and a variety of wildlife until you reach the town of Cardwell. Throughout the next 15 miles, its waters flow through a narrow, steep canyon where the water can be deep, slow and contained. As a result, the stretch from Cardwell to the Sappington Bridge has comparatively fewer trees, swamps, meadows and wildlife.

At Sappington Bridge the river once again becomes a circuitous, rambling river, rich in swamp life, colorful fields, large cottonwood groves and productive agricultural land. The presence of significant agriculture has resulted in competition for water use. During dry years, the river was tapped generously for irrigation, dropping water levels to the point where fish populations were adversely affected. Recent improvement in riparian management has tended to alleviate these issues. Primarily known as a brown trout river, rainbows, mountain whitefish, burbot and northern pike can also be found here. Less well known and less discovered, the Jefferson offers the opportunity to catch large fish in a scenic, un-crowded environment.
 (5)
The Madison River is arguably one of the best trout fishing rivers in all of southwest Montana, if not the entire world! It’s certainly the most talked over, written up and frequented ... morein the state of Montana – which is considered by some the capital of fly fishing. Anglers will find plenty of great access sites to wade or float along the Madison’s banks and reservoirs (including Hebgen Lake and Ennis Lake). Rainbows, browns, cutthroats, and more abound in this majestic fishing stream.

The Madison begins its course almost twenty miles into Yellowstone National Park. Within the Park, fishing rules apply: no live bait and catch and release only. Once outside the Park the river meanders past working ranches, stately conifer forests and cottonwood lined banks, interrupted by riffles and quiet runs that contain large rainbow and trophy brown trout. Flowing alongside Yellowstone’s West entrance road, the river enters Hebgen Lake, created by Hebgen dam, until it reaches Quake Lake, a bit downstream from the dam. At this point the river is commonly called either the Upper Madison or the Lower Madison, although in fact, they are one and the same.

Upper Madison – Quake Lake to Ennis Lake
Directly below Quake Lake the river roars into 5 long miles of Class V whitewater with steep gradients and large boulders along the way. As the rapids decline, the magic begins. For the next 53 miles, often referred to as the 50 Mile Riffle, the cold river runs north and the fish jump high. Annual runs of spawning trout make their way from Hebgen Lake, rainbows in the spring and browns in the fall. Known the world over for its “hard fighting” trout, it’s not unusual to pull a 25” brown from these upper waters. In deference to the purists and fly-fishing enthusiasts, it’s wading only from Quake Lake to Lyons Bridge. Boats may be used to access the river, but if you’re going to fish, your feet must be on the riverbed. Fortunately, the Hebgen Dam releases water throughout the year, leveling its flows and relieving it of spring runoff issues and summer shrinkage.

Lower Madison – Ennis Lakes to Three Forks
A short section of the river between Ennis Dam and the power station maintains relatively low water levels and provides wonderful opportunities for wading. Past the power station the river regains its muscle and for 7 miles winds through Bear Trap Canyon. Hiking trails offer the only entry, great for those that like to walk and seek the solitude of a designated wilderness area. Floating is permitted but requires a lengthy shuttle and the ability to work through Class III-IV whitewater. Once out of the canyon the river flows in shallow riffles until it reaches Three Forks and joins the Missouri. From Warm Springs to Greycliff, the river is easily accessible for drifters and wading.
Trips
$
500
/ Boat
Capacity:
1 - 2 anglers
Days:
Daily
Duration:
1 day
Destination:
Full day float trip with lunch and flies provided. Come experience the Madison River, one of Montana's most famous trout fisheries, and for good reason. We are located near Ennis for ... moreyour convenience.
$
525
/ Boat
Capacity:
1 - 2 anglers
Days:
Daily
Duration:
1 day
With over 55 combined years of experience fishing the Montana rivers, we have the deep knowledge needed to guide you down this Blue Ribbon River. Located in Ennis, Montana, one of ... morethe top fly fishing towns in the world, Red Mountain Adventures is conveniently located to help you with your fishing experience on the Gallatin River.

Our guided float trips on the Gallatin River are perfect for novices to experts who gain from our deep knowledge and instruction on the Gallatin River. Book with us today and enjoy the best in Montana fly fishing.
$
525
/ Boat
Capacity:
1 - 2 anglers
Days:
Daily
Duration:
1 day
With over 50 combined years of experience fishing the Jefferson River, we have the deep knowledge needed to guide you down this Blue Ribbon River. Located in Ennis, Montana, one of ... morethe top fly fishing towns in the world, Red Mountain Adventures is conveniently located to help you with your fishing experience.

Our guided float trips on the Jefferson River are perfect for:

Anglers looking for less angler traffic yet want to catch bigger fish

First time anglers who come here first to get easy, effective, and mindful instruction on fly fishing

Novices to experts who gain from our deep knowledge and instruction on the Madison River

Book with us today and enjoy the best in Montana fly fishing.
Outfitters
 (3)
Ennis Montana Premier Fly Fishing Outfitter and Fly Shop on the Madison River Trout Stalkers is a fly fishing outfitter that specializes in Montana and Madison River Fly Fishing Trips. ... moreWe are located in Downtown Ennis and just three blocks from some of the best fly fishing in Montana, on the Upper Madison River. Our fly shop is staffed with experienced and welcoming fly fishermen who enjoy sharing their knowledge.

Trout Stalkers fly shop and online store features a diverse collection of the finest fly fishing gear, clothing, fly fishing gifts, fly rods, reels, flies, rental gear, boats and accessories. Our carefully curated fly selection is focused on proven fly patterns for the Madison River and other major southwest Montana rivers.

We have a variety of watercrafts and rafts for rent and for sale, including inflatable rafts equipped with fishing frames, drift boats, kayaks and SUPs. We also have an ever-changing fleet of new and used rafts and drift boats for sale. Need a Madison River shuttle service? We can help with that too.

Our extensive knowledge of fly fishing the Madison River stems from many years and countless days spent “driftin’ and dreamin'" on this great river from top to bottom. We strive to make every visitor to Ennis, Montana feel comfortable and welcome in our fly shop. We want you to have a great Montana fly fishing experience and our top-notch, seasoned guide staff will work hard to make sure of it! Our motto at Trout Stalkers is simple: The first time you fish with us you're a client. The second time you're a friend!
32 comments
I see a lot of apples and pears flying by. Fly fishing is ridicously expensive. Just compare high end fly rods (1000 usd) with high end spinning rods (a 300 usd rod will get you ready to take on the kraken, top notch). Compare those silly fly reels with advanced spinning reels. 400 usd for a reel, basically a lump of metal with a discbrake to a daiwa competition spinning reel for 200 usd e.g. So at ... more the high end (im not even talking about 3000 usd fly rods and a 1000 usd reels (only for snobs that cant catch a fish in a fishtank) fly fishing is tooooo expensive. These prices can not be justified when it comes down to material and craftsmanship. Then again, i like expensive stuff ;)
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Steve: Yes, I did get the gear and headed out on my own. I grew up fishing the rivers in and around my hometown so I knew them like the back of my hand. I just never fly fished. I didn’t have anyone to go to since my dad, uncles and cousins didn’t fly fish. I mean, having a guide or someone to mentor would’ve been great but all I had was YouTube and fly fishing anglers at the rivers. I just simply ... more mimicked what I saw and felt my way through the techniques when I was out on the river (of course, far away from anyone). I knew about the size and shape of flies but I didn’t really memorize their names, and when and where to use them. I didn’t know about the types fly lines and brands and sizes, as long as my line floated on the water as I expected it to. I remember using mostly nymphs since I caught fish more often with them. I didn’t learn about tippets and different lengths of leaders until my leader started to shorten up. I remember using a 6 lb mono that I used for bass fishing to extend my leader. I think just spending time fly fishing and being on familiar rivers helped. I don’t think someone needs a guide to learn how to fly fish. You just need to get out there and try it out. Just be conscious of the river as if you would be bass fishing with a spinning rod and mimic what you see from others. You can always pick up the details later.
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V: So, did you buy the $200 and just set out on your own to try it out? I have lots of people telling me, "get a guide for your first time fly fishing, it will make all the difference between enjoyment and frustration". That means I'm spending $200-300 minimum, just for one day (or half-day), not counting any transportation or lodging, and with no gear acquisition, just to find out if I might like ... more it. Compare that to the cost of (for example) taking your first ski lesson, including equipment rental; it's a lot more expensive. Instead, I paid dues to become a member at my local fly fishing club, and am hoping to gain some skills and find someone willing to mentor me for a couple of hours at a small local stream.
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Almost 5 years late to this conversation! I came across this article and felt compelled to add my view since I was that fly fishing newbie this article is talking about. I've been into fly fishing off and on for the past 3 years but recently, I've rediscovered how much fun it is to fly fish. When I first started, I didn't want to spend too much. I think I spent like $200 for a Cabelas fly fishing ... more outfit, waders, vest and a dozen flies. I just wanted to try it and see if it was another fun way of catching fish in the rivers, since there were quite a few within 10 minutes of my home. One of the reasons why I fly fished off and on was mainly due to access and time. With a drop in the economy brought new jobs, which brought me to different places. I went from fishing rivers to big rivers and big lakes. Now that I'm situated near a few rivers and a big lake, I find myself preferring to fly fish rivers again. I currently have starter gear (Ross Essence FS outfit), but now looking at upgrading to something more premium, and of course, without breaking the bank. I gave my old stuff to my brother since he wanted to try fly fishing too. I feel I have enough skill now to effectively fly fish rivers. I’ve caught quite a lot of fish on this starter rod and feel it’s time to upgrade. Being cost conscience, I’ve done my research and will budget $1200 for new gear this season. It may be a lot for the average guy but hopefully it’s gear that will last. I find that you could get high-end gear at closeout prices. Yes, the gear may be discontinued but hey, it’s a Sage TCX or G.Loomis GLX. I can afford that! I was a newbie to fly fishing, fell in and out of it, but now finding myself passionate about it. I hope more people get involved with fly fishing and hopefully more conservation towards or waters.
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Tom, I should also add that for a beginner like me, some of the "my life is all about the trout" hype in the magazines and catalogs is just as intimidating as the perceived startup costs. Your post about taking your daughter fishing with you, and negotiating a couple of casts before she throws rocks, were both humorous but also encouraging that this can be a sport for people with families and regular ... more lives.
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Don't assume that Redington CT will ever "need" upgrading. You'll do it, of course, but you may find -- after a bunch of expensive rods have run through your hands -- that the CT was actually ideal for the job at hand. I prefer something longer than a 7'6" fly rod (more like an 8'-8.5'), but otherwise, those Classic Trout rods are pretty smooth. A day with a guide can be a really useful way to shorten ... more the learning curve -- assuming they're up for fishing towards your program and not theirs.In other words, if you want to learn how to fish alpine streams with a dry fly, make sure you don't hook up with a guide who heads for the lakes and fishes midge replicas 15' under a sliding indicator.Good luck.
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4 years late to this conversation, but brand new to the sport. I'm the newbie you wondered about. I've previously fished mainly by trolling, but I've been looking for something with more of an active strategy. I was both excited and totally intimidated by the sheer quantity of items I needed to get started, and by all the reviews that made me feel like I had to start with top-of-the-line gear, and ... more was afraid I would need to plunk down $$$ before even knowing if I would like the sport. The thing that has pulled me along has been the friendliness and hospitality of our local fly fishing club. They've offered to let me try their gear and use their casting pool, and have given free advice and initial instruction. The casting pool has been a great way to both learn and relax. I've tentatively decided to take the small, local urban approach: I bought a Redington CT 3wt 7-6 for use on our So Cal streams, and will upgrade as my skill improves. For out of town trips, I will borrow gear from others so I can try-before-I-buy. Everyone tells me the best investment I can make at this time is not a gear purchase, but to spend a day in the Sierras with a guide to help me have initial positive experience, and to try out their equipment.
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i think a lot of us would gladly sign that petition and toss a dollar n the tilley. lol
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I'd love to see the term "trout bum" exiled from the sport's lexicon given its rampant misuse.
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if they spend their ad $$$ 2 try and convince us that their low-end rods r good enuff 4 us, they r working against their own high-end offerings. marketing theory says u promote the high end and when the customer finds out he/she can't afford it, u "target close" them n2 something from their line that the prospect can afford. if u start low, u can't work up. but if u start high, it's easy 2 drop down.
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Too expensive? I don't think so. There is more higher-quality gear available today for less $$ than ever before. What would be nice to see is more rod manufacturers running ads that showcase some of their mid & lower end rods (some of which are quite good rods for the $$), instead of only running ads with their newest, top o' the line, $700+ rod. I'd also be ecstatic to see that tired marketing ... more stereotype, the "trout bum," clad in $2k worth of gear, go by the wayside....
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if you compare other outdoor sports media images to fly fishing imagery, the actual cost of entry to fly fishing seems the same or lower. i've pointed this out every time this comes up for the past few years. do the math. priced bass boat rigs lately? a "quality" baitcasting or spinning rod/reel combo? what about all the electronics? priced an african hunting safari lately? how about enough shotgun ... more shells to become a decent wingshooter with that $1300 shotgun? price out setting yourself up to go duck hunting! i agree with those who say the biggest barrier is that it's "harder." but i prefer the phrase "more complex." the cast is definitely harder. but the rest isn't really any more difficult, it's just more complicated. it is more intellectually challenging and less gear-dependent. and so this only appeals to a certain type of personality. and i also think that the "snob" image is a two-edged sword. i KNOW there definitely are fly fishing snobs...even bigots. i recently met a club full of them. i also know that a great many fly anglers are anything but snobbish. but i have come to believe over the years that people perceived of by others as "smarter, wealthier, or more successful" are also automatically labeled as "snobs" all to often. so if some perceive fly fishing to be a more intellectual form of angling or a form of angling that requires a level of physical dexterity they don't possess, it is a common defense mechanism for them to write those who can do it off as "snobs." so i think all of that plays a role. but i don't think the "high end trips, gear, etc." has anything to do with it.
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There has been many valid points brought up about the cost, in both time and money, that it takes one to feel like they finally may know what they are doing on the water. Other than weeding out newbies as Jim put it, how does this add to the perception of the sport? Just the fact that there is this much interest in discussing the cost, and nature of people who fly fish says a whole lot by itself. ... more The questions alone, "Are fly fisherman/fly industries newbie unfriendly?" and "Do we want newbies in the sport?" almost answer themselves when you think about the reason anyone would even think to ask in the first place. Almost every person on here has stated that they try to recruit new people to the sport, and besides to the inevitable ass in the fly shop or on the water, most of the people they meet are just as nice as they are. Are these apparently sporadic ill-tempered people the cause of it all? Do they not hang around commenting on blog posts? Is there a secret army of anti-newbie fly fishermen lurking in the shadows, pulling the strings, turning the screws? Or is the issue deeper and more evil? Maybe the involved time and money itself plants a little secret seed of thought in every passionate fly fisherman that, in the subconscious, causes them to think they are better than others. Almost like getting your doctorate, and yelling at people in your mind who call you "Mr." You spent all that time and money and got the little "Dr." in front of your name, and people should have the respect to recognize it. Could the fly fisherman think, "I spent all this time and money to be good at this sport, and that makes me better in some way." Could this feeling be so hidden as to not even be acknowledged? Is it in me? Do I need help? I guess my point, is there has to be a certain level of unfriendliness for the subject to even be brought up. I can not tell you where it resides, but I know it is there. It's like when its cloudy, and you know it's raining somewhere close. You can smell it, but you don't know where it is, and searching for it will most likely only get you wet.
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A general answer to most of the questions really revolves around why someone is interested in fly fishing and their degree of image consciousness. If you are really just interested in fishing with flies, then a $10 Wright-McGill fiberglass rod, a $20 Pflueger Medalist and a Cortland 333 DT line will do fine. If you read the magazines much, that rig probably won't be very satisfactory. The thing I ... more found about fly fishing after getting started was that it takes a lot of time, and most of that is away from home. There are a lot of leisure activities for which the time investment is not so steep or at least is easy to parcel up into a smaller time blocks. You can go play softball with some friends at a local playground for a couple of hours and you're done. Other than cast my rod in the street, tie a few flies, or browse ebay for gear, there's not much I can do in a couple of hours that's related to fly fishing. The industry is newbie starved. Once I've got adequate equipment, I don't really need anything other than the consumables, unless I decide I just have to take that trip to Belize. Now, according to the magazines and manufacturers, I need a "saltwater" rod and reel, because the steelhead rig I already have surely won't do for bone fish. And do I really need a line just for Clousers? The fly fishing magazines advertise stuff that people sell. You can't really sell time. As someone above said, "time off of work." American Angler wouldn't last too long if they told you that the most important thing you need for fly fishing was time. And what about the learning curve? There's a lot of stuff to learn in fly fishing. You need to have learned quite a bit to even get started; much more so than in most other leisure activities. I suspect this factor weeds out a lot of the newbies after they get started, if the time commitment doesn't. It turns out you don't need to know as much as it seems when you get started, but it can be overwhelming, what with sink tip setups, latin bug names and so on. I'm actually somewhat indifferent to whether the sport is growing or declining. People will find their way to the activities they enjoy and find their way out of activities they don't. If there are too many people on the water, I go somewhere else. Jim
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Wow. Now I wish I hadn't posted the GPS coordinates of all those small streams you told me about...
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Just in case this hasn't been made clear- I don't want ANY more newbies, drones or old queens on the rivers I frequent. Counted 38 rigs parked with a four shuttlers convoy rolling in at Threemile on the Big Horn in early (pre-Baetis) April. Go clog up a golf course already. Of course there is always room for jello and more brownwater anglers.
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* Is fly fishing too expensive to recruit newbies? It may be popular to say "no," but if you add it all up... it does get to be a hurdle for folks... you can get a good rod for $150, but you have to get your reel, a line, leaders, tippet, split shot... the flies alone can really add up... then waders, boots, a wading staff (for me, that's required)... You can get to a figure of around $700 pretty ... more easy. Sure, it is nothing compared to a bass boat, but it is more than a rod, reel and some power bait. If you live some place you can wet wade all year, great, deduct the waders. If you live in a place where fish will eat Royal Wulffs all year your fly selection can be a bit more simple. Once you have the gear it gets less expensive, but there is a high bar for entry for most folks. Skis are REALLY expensive, but if you ski a couple times a year, like I do, you can go and rent them... you don't have to buy the stuff to play around the edges of the sport. * Is the industry newbie-unfriendly? I remember when I was really just getting into ffing I was in SF and that downtown shop did not make me feel very welcomed or important to them. If I wasn't buying the newest Sage outfit to go chase Tarpon, I was not worth their time. I found other shops that were glad to help me out. As in everything, there are good folks and bad folks. * Are fly fishermen newbie unfriendly? They can be... there are some real a-holes out there. My experience getting started was full of folks that wanted to share, though. The NCFFB (ncffb.org) was a great place to hook into as I leared a lot from folks on there and they were always free with ideas and tips. * Is the sport's focus on high-end gear and exotic places throttling the sport? No, because all that is geared toward the folks already in it who are going to spend money on it... it isn't to bring folks into the sport... that is a harder thing to market for, I'd imagine. * Recruitment during a recession is never easy (even as millions suddenly find themselves with spare time), but what will get newbies into the sport? I hope "The River Why" will bring new folks into the sport when it gets out and on the silver screen. * Do we want newbies in the sport? Yes... there are fewer people on the rivers in CA now than there used to be... rivers without friends are rivers in peril.
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Ok, this one clearly drew a little interest. Truly, I don't think expense is the biggest barrier to getting people interested in the sport. Instead, the fact that fly fishing is actually pretty hard - and it can be a long, long time before that first fish eats - makes it difficult to keep beginners in the sport. I was lucky enough to learn fly fishing in warmwater as a kid - practicing on willing ... more pods of bluegill and crappie, so I had some idea the practice would produce fish, even if staring at a (then) impenetrable river tempted me to believe otherwise. Love to hear more from the Undergrounders. It's Friday after all - none of you slackers are actually working, are you?
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It's as expensive as you want it to be. When I was a student I had a very minimal outfit that served just fine for years. I think I bought a new fly line every six years or so., otherwise just leaders, a few flies, and that's it. These days between the stuff made in China and what you can get on ebay, it is possible to spend almost nothing except on waders and travel, and Dan Bailey makes darn good ... more cheap waders. In my dotage now I like fancy gear and travel to exotic places. I can afford it and I am happy to support the guides, outfitters, and craftsmen who make their livings catering to guys like me.
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"Do we want newbies in the sport?" Most definitely! The prolonged front in Montana can only be won with a new surge of proportions not previously thought possible. Newbies , waving oriental fly rods as they charge the mogul controlled farmlands, are the only answer if we want lasting casting. These newbies recruits may rest assured that senior fly fishers, armed with IM6 and bamboo, will be staged ... more one spring creek over in reserve for the surge. "Trout Underground" has been selected to be imbedded with the newbies so that, in no way, will the surge be misreported. Newbies and a surge, the only answer.
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Too Expensive for Noobs? That depends on the noob - if you are a Noob, recently unemployed, and having trouble paying your rent, then perhaps even that $100 budget setup is going to break the bank. If, however, you are recently unemployed, but had gotten a few billion from a government bailout to stuff your pockets before you clocked out for good, then that $3,000 may be just what you need. After ... more you purchase it, I'll personally guide you in a really spectacularly isolated part of the Eastern Sierra Range. I know your feet will hurt getting there, but it's just a little farther. You say my shotgun makes you nervous? Really, its just for your protection. Hey! Look over there.
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* Is fly fishing too expensive to recruit newbies? Nope, not if your a shop arounder. * Is the industry newbie-unfriendly? Not really unless you run into an intimidating shop person * Are fly fishermen newbie unfriendly? If the newbie just splashed across the pool I just spent half an hour stalking the fish of the year in, yes. But gender and looks can greatly mitigate the abuse. * Is the sport's ... more focus on high-end gear and exotic places throttling the sport? If by throttling you mean speeding it up, then yes. If you meant killing, it then no, since it hopefully gets more people out of "my" river and into someone else's river. * Recruitment during a recession is never easy (even as millions suddenly find themselves with spare time), but what will get newbies into the sport? More blogs like Rogue Angels....and the Trout Underground (snuck that one in at the last minute!) * Do we want newbies in the sport? (This last for you cranky readers.) See answer to #3. Survey done Tom, when does the beer show up?
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Is fly fishing too expensive to recruit newbies? In my first year of fly fishing, a three short years ago, I don't think the trout could tell the difference between my $125 L.L. Bean 5 wt. combo and a $795 Sage TCX with the requisite $300 reel. Throw in another $50 for tippet, leader and a few of the basic flies, and I was ready. A waist pouch served well enough to carry tackle. I wet waded (and the ... more odors emanating from last year's tennis shoes didn't seem to bother the fish), eliminating the need for waders or boots. That was all the gear I needed to fish the rivers of the Sierra's west slope during the spring, summer and early fall. Is fly fishing equipment more expensive than conventional gear? Yes. Too expensive? No, not for someone who wants to seriously try fly fishing. I love the drag on my newer reel, but my L.L. Bean reel held my line just fine during my learning period. (A second son who is learning to fly fish is using it now.) Is the industry newbie-unfriendly? Try to find any rod literature that actually describes the feel or action of a rod in plain English. That said, during the last few years only a few manufactures haven't added "value" rods and reels aimed at newbie fly fishermen. Unfortunately, it often takes some looking to find them. Are fly fishermen newbie unfriendly? Typically no. But the learning curve of the sport can be. With a non fly fishing friend substituting for a newbie, ask them to translate the following into plain English: "I saw some scum suckers near the seam and after getting nowhere with a Parachute Adams, I nailed 'em with a size 18 BWO." Is the sport's focus on high-end gear and exotic places throttling the sport? Apparently not. The club to which I belong had to move our last novice seminar venue to a larger facility as the number of students had nearly doubled over the last few years. In this class there's a discussion about local and semi-local waters that can be accessed with minimal driving and other costs. And outings with other fly fishermen allow for spreading out the costs of longer trips by sharing rides, lodging and food, with an added appeal to new folks as they also get to spend time with the more experience fly fishers. Recruitment during a recession is never easy (even as millions suddenly find themselves with spare time), but what will get newbies into the sport? From what I've seen, the industry seems to be going about it in a subtle manner, as my club has secured low-cost rods and reels through various programs from various manufacturers for the education of fly fishers, and we put them to use mainly in teaching casting to new fly fishers, both in class sessions and before monthly meetings. Friendly fly fishers, as a group, is the "what" that could truly answer this question. In my case, a club-sponsored low cast day-long seminar covering virtually all the aspects of fly fishing (with a Q&A offered by a long-time fly fishers, suggestions of where to fish as well as gear options), seems to work well in recruiting newbies with a realistic expectation of what they absolutely need to start fly fishing. Then, with any luck, one might be able to borrow needed gear from fellow fly fishers/club members. Call me crass, but when it comes to recruiting newbies, or keeping them interested, throw away the whole "it's the experience" mantra. Does anyone take up fly fishing to not catch fish? The single biggest detriment to the enthusiasm of a new fly fisher is not the cost of the equipment but rather the maddening experience of unsuccessfully trying to use it to catch fish, particularly without any education. But catch that first fish on a fly rod — cheap or expensive — and the seeds of addiction are planted. Do we want newbies in the sport? (This last for you cranky readers.) Can I answer if I'm not cranky? Absolutely. For most fly fishermen I know
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What do the Undergrounders Think? We think? * Is fly fishing too expensive to recruit newbies? If you pay attention to magazines, yes. If you have some kind of internet savvy and know that there are deals to be had, no. My first setup was $100, I recently got a rod and reel for $40 (and the reel is actually quite nice), new, with warranty. Even guides can be cheap if you just go with someone more ... more local than the guy with the "sponsorship". * Is the industry newbie-unfriendly? I don't think so. There are enough "Beginners Guides..." and "Build Your Kit" 's out there to make things easy for new people. I'm new, and was lucky to have a great community to help me... * Are fly fishermen newbie unfriendly? See the last sentence in the above answer. * Is the sport's focus on high-end gear and exotic places throttling the sport? No, its just letting us poor people dream. I still have just as much fun (and probably more fun) going down to the local Smallie hole and catching a dozen fish in a couple of hours and heading home. As un-glamorous as it is. * Recruitment during a recession is never easy (even as millions suddenly find themselves with spare time), but what will get newbies into the sport? Generosity. Generosity. Generosity. * Do we want newbies in the sport? (This last for you cranky readers.) No. Well. Yes. No, I mean... yes, unless they're egg sinker chucking snaggers. In all seriousness, its new people that less us that were new not long ago pay back our debt to those that spread their knowledge on to us. Also, it gives us that were new not long ago (and still are, for the most part) someone to show up on the stream.
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Oh, did I mention the price of a guide for unfamiliar water?
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Cranky reader signing in here, boss. And, I'm not gonna answer all of your questions, just the ones that interest me. First, nope, reasonable gear is not too expensive, but the trips that most dealers advertise are. I'd love to come up to your neck of the woods and fish, but a.) lotta gas; b.) motel & meal expense; c.) added expense of a steelhead coupon; d.) time off from work...time off from ... more work...you get the point. so yeah, the exotic trips everyone talks about so much are out of my budget. No annual week long trips to Alaska and the Florida keys for me, at least not until I hit the lottery (c'mon, God). On the other hand, if you are a rod junky like me, the gear can get pretty expensive. My rods range in price from $75.00 on up to about $1,000.00. I've only got four, but need several more. Yes, need. Fly fishermen tend to be snobs. I know; I am one. Before you point your finger at me, take a really hard look at yourself. So, I think the sport can be unfriendly to "newbies". I try to be conscious of that, and to be courteous on the stream, especially to people many of my colleagues refer to as "bait chuckers" or "hardware dunkers". I think the industry works pretty hard to recruit newbies, at least I hope for their sake that they do. I can't imagine a marketing plan based on the status quo, especially with something as esoteric as fly fishing. Small
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Ah, something I can speak to with some level of expertise, having first picked up a rod less than a year ago. Is fly fishing too expensive to recruit newbies? I think it very easily can be. My initial outfitting (guided trip included) came right at $1,000. Since then, I have spent at least $500 more on gear, flies, books, permits, tags and a guided trip in Colorado. I came in completely green – neither ... more my dad nor anyone else in my family are anglers – and I did not have a source from which to borrow gear, so I had to start from scratch. I have friends who are interested in the sport and who I would like to introduce to it, but $1,000 – or even half that – is too steep a sum for them. I will probably wait until I can upgrade my rod, reel and waders (another $1,000, most likely) so I can loan a friend my current entry-level tackle. Is the industry newbie-unfriendly? I don't think so. My local fly-shop owner is a great guy. Say what you will about Orvis, but they've been a great resource for me, which is what I think you can attribute much of their success to (and their synonymity to noobs loaded with fresh gear and little experience – at least in my part of the world). That said, a lot of the knowledge I've gained over the last year can be attributed to industry-related Web sites (such as this one, Moldy Chum, Midcurrent, the local anglers forum, etc.) rather than media or information from manufacturers or retailers (save for Orvis). I think the time (as in time = money) aspect is a big one, too. The closest trout stream to me is half an hour, but it's one of the most difficult streams to fish in the state. The more reasonable waters for my skill level are at least an hour away. I realize that that is my own unique predicament, and I could easily resign myself to fishing the lake that's fifteen minutes away. Are fly fishermen newbie-unfriendly? From my experience, absolutely not. I'm sure it could be, because there are jerks everywhere, but everyone I have met has been very welcoming and open to sharing knowledge and ideas. Is the sport's focus on high-end gear and exotic places throttling the sport? Yes and no. On one hand, I'm saving up for a $600-$700 rod when I know that my experience level and frequency of use warrants something half as much. On the other, I'm waiting to conquer my "home" waters before I tread out to "exotic" places. I have no reason to go steelheading on the coast. I don't need to chase salmon in Alaska. Kiwi brownies can wait. (For now.) I think with any hobby, there are always items or experiences placed on pedestals that really cater to those who spend (or want) easily. Obviously, marketing has a lot to do with these things, encouraging loyalty and desire, but I think we can all fight the urge to spend recklessly. Maybe. Recruitment during a recession is never easy (even as millions suddenly find themselves with spare time), but what will get newbies into the sport? I'm interested to see what sort of bounce the sport gets from "The River Why" coming out later this year. With it debuting (possibly) at SXSW, that will put it in front of many liberal-minded Gen-Xers and Gen-Yers. I could see a chunk of that audience seeing the beauty and virtue of the sport, if I can extoll a bit. I'm in that category, and I saw those things, and I chose to chase it (and thus pledge my $$$ to the industry). Do we want newbies in the sport? (This last for you cranky readers.) (Please say yes.)
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Is fly fishing too expensive to recruit newbies? Surely. Your average new fly fisherman is likely an angler already - he knows the cost of spinning or bass equipment, and has a stable of good servicable tackle in his garage. He walks into a fly shop and knows one end of the hook from another, as he ambles through the rack of $700 fly rods, pausing at the riot of colors of the fly bins, then saunters ... more over to the counter to check the $100 (and up) reel hardware. By the time he's engaged a salesperson to chat, he's made up his mind - and asks a couple pertinent non-commital questions, and then leaves to meet his wife coming out of work. He's a fisherman and he's done the math with a quick tour of the hardware. He doesn't know about floatant and leaders - but he's seen enough. It worsens if the fellow behind the counter cops any form of attitude ... he's met those fellows already. Is the industry newbie-unfriendly? Yes, and no - there are pockets of each. The fly shop itself is a daunting experience, complicated by the triple digit tags. Fishermen are the same the world over, if he gets a friendly gregarious fellow behind the counter there's a better than average chance he can learn of the inexpensive option. Magazines are no help at all, all he sees are the $800 rods and $5000 package trips. Are fly fishermen newbie unfriendly? Absolutely not, unless you're at the Drake forums ... Fly fishermen love suffering - and the chance to give another fellow a "leg up" means someone who'll spring for the next round - or a new fishing buddy. Donny Beaver may have a thing to say, but likely it's "NO Tresspassing." Is the sport's focus on high-end gear and exotic places throttling the sport? Yes. Prices are reaching the point where the newer angler who isn't sure whether he needs the item, knows he can't afford it. This stifles or slows his progress toward Jedi. It's especially difficult for anglers that have no friend to instruct them - they're entirely at the mercy of magazines or the local shop. Not all shops are mercenary, but there are some. Recruitment during a recession is never easy (even as millions suddenly find themselves with spare time), but what will get newbies into the sport? Some few, the rest will read you moaning about no rain and goddamn slaw dogs - and will never come any closer. Cowboy up, eat a sandwich. Do we want newbies in the sport? (This last for you cranky readers.) HELL Yes, the rest of you've already heard all my best stories (lies).
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Is fly fishing too expensive to recruit newbies? No different than golf, except for the fact you don't have to pay a fee every time you head out. All that is needed is organization, and a few human examples to look up to. Is the industry newbie-unfriendly? Sometimes, and on occasion it's even unfriendly to those who held their first rod thirty years ago. Solution - sack all the arrogant local shop ... more flunkies and re-staff after a visit to Orvis Sales Training School. Are fly fishermen newbie unfriendly? It's a mixed bunch - there are all kinds. Out here in CO, almost everyone lays on the charm when around the water - you rarely run into an agro moron. But in my old home state I once had guide whine like a little girl when I couldn't reach a cruising bone, 12 o'clock and 120 feet out, with a 50 knot wind in my face, and another that watched me and a buddy break several rods on huge poons and then spent his tip money on our beers afterwards. Is the sport's focus on high-end gear and exotic places throttling the sport? Yes and no. The high-end gear pitches could use some checks, but that is going to happen whether they like it or not. As for the travel - upgrading is the name of the game. Going to Christmas Island is like playing at Pebble Beach - you pay your dues at the municipal course and hit the gems when your handicap is 10 or better. Recruitment during a recession is never easy (even as millions suddenly find themselves with spare time), but what will get newbies into the sport? See first inquiry and answer. Do we want newbies in the sport? If you don't, then I do not want you around me. That, however may be a foregone conclusion since I rarely wash.
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"In other words, it's possible that fly fishing's “expensive” reputation has little to do with reality, and a lot to do with perception." While I agree that perception inflates fly fishing's expensive reputation, I have to disagree that it has little to do with reality. Sure that $15,000 bass boat costs a lot, but you don't need that boat to go fishing. Let's take a look at the cost to set a beginner ... more up for bass fishing at the local lake, vs setting someone up to fly fish for just about anything. I can go to Wal-Mart right now and pick up an Ugly Stick for about $30, and a reel that will more than suit the needs of the average fisherman for about the same price. Another $15-$20 for a decent tackle bag, a few packs of rubber worms, some sinkers, a spool of spiderwire, a few generic spinner baits, and a few rapalas, and a pair of Bill Dance polarized sunglasses. When I check out, my total will be in the neighborhood of $125. We could drastically reduce this amount by skipping the lures, and going with a carton of live bait and some bobbers. Now I don't have high end gear when I leave, but I do have stuff that, with the exception of the lures, will last damn near forever. Now let's outfit a beginning fly fisherman with the basics it will take to get him by- If he's lucky, his Wal-Mart still sells fly fishing combos(most don't anymore). If his Wal-Mart does actually still carry the combos, he can get their fancy schmancy starter kit for $25. But the fact of the matter is, the kit is a bigger waste of money than sending your Pay-per-view provider $50 to watch Mike Tyson knock some no-name out in 15 seconds. So to get something comparable in quality to the ugly stick, he's gotta go online, or to those things they used to have called fly shops. First he needs a rod. He should be able to find one at Cabelas for about $50 that will be decent(no where near as durable as the $30 ugly stick, though). We'll assume he's just going to be fishing for trout, maybe bass, and panfish- so a reel with a good drag isn't really important. He get's a cheap Shakespeare reel, or an old medalist off ebay for $20. Now he needs line($25 at the least for something that will last more than a season), backing($5-$10), leaders($3 each, he buys 3), and tippet material(we'll say he just get's a single spool of 3X, 4X, and 5X- $10). We're already up to $120. He still needs flies, waders,wading boots if he bought stocking foot waders, polarized sunglasses, nippers, a fly box or two, and maybe some floatant. Even on the cheap, this stuff will add another $125-$175. And the worst part, his gear sucks, so he's gonna have to upgrade just about everything sooner or later. So now our hypothetical newbie fly angler has just spent a crapload of money on crap(other than that medalist). But the fun doesn't end there, now he's got to figure out how to put everything together, how to tie 3 new knots, and how to get the fly to the fish. Unless he's got some friends who fly fish, it's going to be at least a season or two before he's got a feel for things, and that's assuming he fishes more than the 10-15 days a year the average angler spends on the water. To sum it up, fly fishing is expensive. Not only in dollars spent on gear, but in time spent learning how to use it. And as long as there is a $30 Ugly Stick at the local Wally World, it will always be that way. This is why the average fly angler isn't out there to fill his cooler, he's out there for the experience- an experience that anyone who survives fly fishing newbdom eventually learns- is priceless.
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Q. Is fly fishing too expensive to recruit newbies? A. No. I started "fishing" at age 4? started fly fishing when I had to for Atlantic Salmon borrowed rod hip waders and stuff camped out total cost 0 or priceless (sorry Mastercard) Q. Is the industry newbie-unfriendly? A. No. I beg people to join on a daily basis. Q. Are fly fishermen newbie unfriendly? A. see above Q. Is the sport's focus on high-end ... more gear and exotic places throttling the sport? A. On the surface yes. Do you see GOLF WEEKLY running ads for Walmart or Goodwill? (I don't know because I dont Golf.) Q. Recruitment during a recession is never easy (even as millions suddenly find themselves with spare time), but what will get newbies into the sport? A. Why recruit? they newbs will find the sport if they want. Sell dreams and memories my best writer contributer is a non fly fisherman. So far I got him back into the sport of "fishing" by just talking about it ofer a few pints. Now If he goes Skiing or Golfing he comes back with a report about fishing and even fly fishing. I still have not gotten one thank you card from Cabela's for all the business I sent their way by getting this guy back into fishing. (I wont loose sleep) Q. Do we want newbies in the sport? (This last for you cranky readers.) A. I want people to ad to the depth and breadth of the experiance of fishing at that rate we are all newbies. On that note. No excuses. Go fishing.
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Tom As a total newbie to fly fishing ( and lifetime member of the butinski club) i thought i'd chip in my 10p. Is fly fishing too expensive to recruit newbies? The magazines make it look so, but my whole kit cost less than £100 and I later learned i could have spent even less. Is the industry newbie-unfriendly? The magazines only preach to the converted. Are fly fishermen newbie unfriendly? NO Is ... more the sport's focus on high-end gear and exotic places throttling the sport? Looks like it, but in fairness I learned to cast from another blogger in a kentish chalk stream for the price of a pint, and my annual rod license. Recruitment during a recession is never easy (even as millions suddenly find themselves with spare time), but what will get newbies into the sport? Thisisfly.com might help. Do we want newbies in the sport? (This last for you cranky readers.) If I cared what others thought i wouldn't practice in the park. Strangers have shouted tips from their cars while stuck in traffic, some of them helpful. SBW
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