Skip to main content

A Fly In The Ointment?

ICAST offers opportunity to bridge some gaps between fly, conventional anglers

A Fly In The Ointment?
An angler tries his hand at using a fly rod at the giant casting pool. (Mike Suchan photo)

ORLANDO, Fla. — This ICAST panel discussion had an intriguing title, “Fly Fishing and Conventional Fishing: Why Can't We All Get Along?”

"The goal is not a smack-down, but a coming together. We need to heal the gap," said Tom Keer, president of the Keer Group, who led the discussion.

The gap between, for example, "bass boat Bubbas" and "snobby fly fishermen" would appear to be Grand Canyon-sized.

"We use Latin words and quote from 500-year-old books," said Ross Purnell, editor of Fly Fisherman magazine. "We do some weird stuff."


But that divide may be one of mostly perception rather than reality. The emphasis Thursday was on the importance of an united angling front.


Noting this second-year merger of ICAST with the International Fly Tackle Dealer Show, Keer said, "It's the right way to go. We need to do this in lockstep."

Do what exactly? Most importantly, grow the number of U.S. anglers, which has been around 42 to 46 million for about four decades now. Secondly, be vigilant in maintaining and increasing angler access to fishable waters.

Keer noted two disturbing trends in the crucial age 6 to 15 population: 1) in 2011, a survey indicated 11 million U.S. anglers in that age group, and 48 million video gamers; 2) in 1970, only 8 percent of that age group was "overweight," and it's now 39 percent. Those numbers represent a rapid growth of youth who prefer being indoors and sedentary versus getting outdoors and being active.

"We are losing a generation of anglers," Keer said. "We need to pull together and do something about this."




There were no grand plans offered on how to accomplish that goal. This panel was focused on the typical users of fly fishing and conventional tackle — the overlap that already exists and the opportunities to grow that segment.

Keer noted that companies like Simms, St. Croix and Loomis already market their products across both angler communities. Rich Hohne, digital marketing director and public relations manager for Simms, said that sponsorships with Bassmaster Elite Series anglers Aaron Martens and Brandon Palaniuk had helped produce an increase in bass anglers looking for Simms products, which until recently had been associated primarily with fly fishing.

"We are getting consumers to go into fly shops," Hohne said. "They're asking us, 'Where do we get that?"


Hohne noted that the pro bass anglers, "Put gear to the test like nobody else."

Increasingly, the big outdoor chains like Cabelas and Bass Pro Shops include a well-stocked fly fishing section. That has helped merge the markets, noted Hohne, who said, "The bigger stores are doing a better job (of servicing fly angler needs)."

Peter Jenkins is president and CEO of The Saltwater Edge, which has its flagship store in Middletown, R.I. They emphasize cross-marketing at every opportunity, even in their weekly fishing reports.

"We always list both the best lure and the best fly for the current conditions," Jenkins said.

For the saltwater fishing market in particular, Jenkins noted, weather conditions produce anglers that are comfortable using both conventional and fly fishing gear. Stiff winds on a particular day will put conventional tackle into the hands of even the most ardent fly fisher simply out of necessity.

Ken Cook, managing editor of Fishing Tackle Retailer, mentioned that the magazine will feature fly fishing more in the future. It's another example of an increasing readership that wants information on both conventional and fly products.

On another note, both Cook and Purnell revealed their readership surveys were encouraging for the future of print media. In an era when newspapers are losing readership in big chunks to digital media, fishing enthusiasts still enjoy holding a magazine in their hands.

"There is still a big role for print," said Purnell of Fly Fisherman. "Our readers like to look at the magazine, and I don't think that's going to change. About eight years ago there was a repositioning of media, but I think everybody has found their place."

Purnell had an interesting take on what gives fly fishers the reputation of being "elitists."

"I think it's the $800 rods," he said. "That's the thing I hear the most. But it's not true. You can get a decent package — rod, reel and line — for $100 to $200. The price to entry is within anyone's budget. I think it's a myth that fly fishing is too expensive."

So, no, there was no "smack-down" during this panel discussion; it was more of a love-fest. There is evidence that conventional tackle users and fly anglers have more in common than ever before. And those shared interests are a key to the future of sportfishing.

"Fly fishermen and conventional anglers are unified in what they want to do — catch fish," Cook said. "I think we'll get closer and closer together. I think we're in it for the same reason."

Click here for videos, stories and photos from ICAST 2014.

Get Your Fish On.

Plan your next fishing and boating adventure here.

GET THE NEWSLETTER Join the List and Never Miss a Thing.

Recommended Articles

See More Recommendations

Popular Videos

A Bolt Action from Benelli?

A Bolt Action from Benelli?

We know what you're thinking: Isn't Benelli a shotgun company? Of course it is, but decades of shotgun manufacturing actually put Benelli in a unique position to redefine what a hunting rifle should be. Episode 1 reviews some company history to explain how this all came about.

New for 2021: Bear Redemption EKO, Legit RTH Compound Bows

New for 2021: Bear Redemption EKO, Legit RTH Compound Bows

Bear Archery's newest bows - Redemption EKO and Legit RTH - are light, adjustable and fast.

New for 2021: Elite Archery Bows, Slick Trick Broadheads and CBE Sight

New for 2021: Elite Archery Bows, Slick Trick Broadheads and CBE Sight

Learn more about two new Elite Archery bows, the Enkore and Remedy, two new broadhead from Slick Trick and a new site from Custom Bow Equipment (CBE).

Hobie MirageDrive 360 Kayak Propulsion: Amazing Control and Power

Hobie MirageDrive 360 Kayak Propulsion: Amazing Control and Power

The Hobie MirageDrive 360 pedal propulsion system is the pinnacle of kayak control with more efficient fin designs, glide technology and allows the boat to be moved in any direction.

See More Popular Videos

Trending Articles

Fast and accurate: Crossbows from this year's ATA Show.10 Great New Crossbows for 2021 ATA Show

10 Great New Crossbows for 2021

Game and Fish Staff - January 15, 2021

Fast and accurate: Crossbows from this year's ATA Show.

These affordable designs are big on features, short on cash outlay — ATA Show.New Crossbows Under $600 for 2021 ATA Show

New Crossbows Under $600 for 2021

Lynn Burkhead - January 14, 2021

These affordable designs are big on features, short on cash outlay — ATA Show.

Want to learn how to cook tasty walleye? This recipe includes three easy methods (on a grill, in a foil packet, and on a stovetop) that are sure to result in a delicious lunch or supper.Grilled Walleye Recipe Fish

Grilled Walleye Recipe

Raschell Rule - August 12, 2014

Want to learn how to cook tasty walleye? This recipe includes three easy methods (on a grill,...

It may be 125 years old, but the .30-30 Winchester retains its status thanks to modern loads.Turning .30-30; It's Better Than Ever SHOT Show

Turning .30-30; It's Better Than Ever

Richard Mann - October 27, 2020

It may be 125 years old, but the .30-30 Winchester retains its status thanks to modern loads.

See More Trending Articles

More News

It's the first record blue certified over 100 pounds in the Peach State.Monster Blue Catfish Smashes Georgia Record Records

Monster Blue Catfish Smashes Georgia Record

Game & Fish Staff - October 20, 2020

It's the first record blue certified over 100 pounds in the Peach State.

Ugly Stik's Santa Claus Bass Tournament featured 298 Santa-suit-wearing anglers at Lake Norman, N.C.Good Deeds: Bass-Fishing Santas Raise $15K in Toys for Kids News

Good Deeds: Bass-Fishing Santas Raise $15K in Toys for Kids

Game and Fish Staff - December 21, 2020

Ugly Stik's Santa Claus Bass Tournament featured 298 Santa-suit-wearing anglers at Lake...

Listed as endangered just half a century ago, the American alligator now thrives across the South and represents one of our great conservation success stories.Once Endangered, the American Alligator Survived Potential Disaster Thanks to Conservation Efforts News

Once Endangered, the American Alligator Survived Potential Disaster Thanks to Conservation Efforts

Carolee Anita Boyles - September 21, 2020

Listed as endangered just half a century ago, the American alligator now thrives across the...

These field reports from across the country range from the serious to the ridiculous.Game Warden Stories: Fishing & Cannabis, Too Many Doves, Smuggled Turtles News

Game Warden Stories: Fishing & Cannabis, Too Many Doves, Smuggled Turtles

Game and Fish Staff - December 04, 2020

These field reports from across the country range from the serious to the ridiculous.

See More News

Magazine Cover

GET THE MAGAZINE Subscribe & Save

Digital Now Included!

SUBSCRIBE NOW

Give a Gift   |   Subscriber Services

PREVIEW THIS MONTH'S ISSUE Arrow

Buy Digital Single Issues

Don't miss an issue.
Buy single digital issue for your phone or tablet.

Buy Single Digital Issue on the Game & Fish App

Other Magazines

Special Interest Magazines

See All Special Interest Magazines

GET THE NEWSLETTER Join the List and Never Miss a Thing.

Phone Icon

Get Digital Access.

All Game & Fish subscribers now have digital access to their magazine content. This means you have the option to read your magazine on most popular phones and tablets.

To get started, click the link below to visit mymagnow.com and learn how to access your digital magazine.

Get Digital Access

Not a Subscriber?
Subscribe Now