Fly-Fishing: Sport drawing fresh faces

There’s a line I like in a song by the band Wilco: “Every generation thinks it’s the last.” It’s tru

There’s a line I like in a song by the band Wilco: “Every generation thinks it’s the last.”

It’s true in life — witness the silly doomsday scares so readily believed every year or two — and it’s true in fly-fishing. Many times, I’ve heard fly shop owners and others in the industry fret that young people aren’t interested in fly-fishing, that it’s a dying sport.

They can relax a little bit, if a new report is to be believed.

The Outdoor Foundation, based in Colorado, this week issued its fifth annual report on who does what out of doors, this time in conjunction with the Recreational Boating and Fishing Foundation. The report examined freshwater and saltwater fishing and fly-fishing, and guess which one attracted the highest percentage of new partic-ipants last year: yup, fly-fishing.

The report claims six million people fly-fished in 2012 — and 20.5 percent of them were trying it for the first time. That’s got to be a good sign, although the report does note that it indicates high turnover; the overall number of fly-fishers didn’t grow nearly that much, so the large percentage of newbies means plenty of old hands gave it up.

The total of six million fly-fishers is the highest since 2006, when the figure was 6.1 million.

Some other interesting tidbits about the fly-fishers of America:

u We’re the most diverse branch of fishing. More than 28 percent of the people who fly-fished in 2012 were non-whites — 10.8 percent African American, 7.2 percent Hispanic, 5.8 percent Asian/Pacific Islander and 4.8 percent lumped together as “other.”

u The ethnic diversity is welcome news, and so is the gender breakdown. I wouldn’t have guessed the figure was this large, but a whopping 30 percent of fly-fishers were female.

u Fly-fishing is reasonably well-distributed across income levels. Forty percent of us make less than $50,000 per year and nearly 30 percent earn six figures, with the other 30 percent in between.

u By age, the largest bracket is the 25- to 44-year-olds. Forty-one percent of fly-fishers fall into that category. Geezers like me in the over-45 crowd make up 35.5 percent. Encouragingly, nearly a quarter of fly-fishers were age 24 or younger.

u We all want to be that guy whose About Me page on his blog says he fishes 200 days a year. The fact is, only 2.2 percent of Amer-ican fly-fishers fished more than 100 times last year. Three-quarters of us got out 11 times or fewer (three times or fewer was the biggest category at 43.2 percent.)

I guess I fit — just barely — in the 8.6 percent of fly-fishers who fish between 24 and 51 times a year. Of course, there are fishing trips and there are fishing trips; some consist of less than an hour’s worth of half-hearted casting, while others are all-day affairs, and even a few multi-day outings.

(It’s a good thing for me the report didn’t distinguish between fishing trips and catching trips.)

Rosenbauer at TU

Tom Rosenbauer, the director of marketing for the Orvis Co. and one of the top names in American fly-fishing, will be in the Capital Region Sept. 16, speaking at a joint meeting of the Clearwater chapter of Trout Unlimited and the Battenkill Watershed Alliance at the Albany Ramada Plaza Hotel.

As if that weren’t enough, there will be two other speakers: Rich Norman, life-long angler and expert fly-tyer, and Marty Oakland, guide and proprietor of The Quill Gordon Bed & Breakfast along the Battenkill in Arlington, Vt.

All three will share their considerable expertise on fishing the Battenkill. There will be a special raffle to support the Watershed Alliance, which has made remarkable improvements to trout habitat in the river over the past decade. The raffle costs $30, which includes a year’s membership in the alliance, and the prize is an eight-foot, six-inch Orvis Helios II rod. The meeting and talk are free and open to the public.

The event begins at 6:30 p.m. with a fly-tying demo. The meeting itself begins at 7:30. More info is at

Categories: Sports

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