|....................... .................... ...Fly Fishing Yellowstone National Park
AFFTA Forced To Make Fly Fishing A Part Of The Sport
Of Fishing - And What I'm Going To Do About It
For those of you that don't keep up with the fly fishing industry and unless your involved with a fly
fishing business, I see no reason you should, AFFTA stands for American Fly Fishing Trade
Association. For many years they have had an annual dealer trade show like most other industries.
I've attended a couple during the past few years, although none of the recent ones. The purpose
of the show is for the fly fishing manufacturers to show fly fishing dealers (fly shops) their new
product. I've really never had much of a reason or interest in attending the shows and did so only
to keep track of an industry I care about. The reason I haven't attended the last few shows is
because it was obvious during my visits that the show was headed straight downhill. Now it is clear
it was headed for a cliff.
I have also attended a few ICast shows over the years. The ICast shows of the American Sport
Fishing Association are held to serve the same purpose the AFFTA shows were intended to serve,
but they include the entire sport of fishing rather than fly fishing only. Naturally, the show has
always been many times larger than the previous fly fishing trade show. This coming July, AFFTA
is joining up with ICast. A better way of saying it is AFFTA is becoming a part of ICast.
My viewpoint on this is simple. That's where they should have always been. In my opinion, a huge
part of the problem with the entire fly fishing industry is that the anglers themselves and most all of
the people involved with the fly fishing industry have always tried to separate fly fishing from
fishing. Many involved with the sport act as if fly fishing isn't fishing. Many that are involved with the
sport want to look down their noses at the guys that fish using conventional fishing tackle. They
want to place themselves in a special category of fishing that gives others the impression they are
above others that fish. Some want to give others the impression the sport of fly fishing is more
expensive than other types of fishing - something that's not at all true and a complete joke.
Oh sure, if anyone shows an interest in fly fishing and wants to try it out in Yellowstone or
anywhere else in the world, for that matter, they better have a thick pocket book. I've written about
this problem before. I see spring break students each year that are forced to give up the idea due
to the big upfront expense. I hear from what politicians calls the middle class (descriptions I hate
whether it's upper class, middle class or low class) that have walked in a fly shop somewhere in the
nation, wanting to learn to fly fish, that are shown a expensive fly rod, waders, etc. In essence, they
are told, "sure you can learn to fly fish - we have guides at three to six-hundred a day, rods from
two to a thousand, waders that are either silver (Orvis's new line) and scare trout for two hundred
or those that don't for six hundred". In other words "dude", if you don't have a couple of grand on
you, get out.
Oh sure, AFFTA is going to contend there's reasons for the change other than the lack of
participation of both manufacturers and dealers in their shows for the last few years but the facts
are, they have been headed downhill since the movie. In case I lost you. They have been headed
downhill since the "A River Runs Through It" movie gave a huge boost to the sport of fly fishing.
The facts are, participation in the sport of fly fishing has been headed downhill since the hay days
of the movie. It's the only thing that has ever done a good job of promoting the sport.
The facts are the entire industry is changing fast, thanks to the World Wide Web. Fly fishing
manufacturers are selling directly to the public. You have been able to get a fly reel made in China
directly from Orvis for a few years now. More recently, many fly fishing manufacturers are not only
selling directly to the public, they are doing it online. At the same time, they are telling their dealers
not to cut their prices and that they are backing them 100%.
They love to blame it on the "big box" tackle stores. By the way, those are nothing more than
"successful" little shops that have grown big over the past few year, like Cabelas and Bass Pro,
both started by men who were smart and successful. Both are companies that have done a heck of
a lot to promote the sport of fishing WHICH INCLUDES FLY FISHING.