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August 08, 2007

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Is Flyfishing a Sport?

I never quite bought those made-for television flyfishing competitions.

Fly casting … I can see that as a competitive sport, in as much as darts or bowling are sports.  But flyfishing is a pastime, not a sport.  The threshold should be:  If you can smoke and drink beer during said activity, it should not be considered a sport.  Well, okay, pole dancing might count.
And golf gets an exemption because people will pay money to watch golfers do their thing. So does pro bass fishing. 

But when it comes to flyfishing for trout in the same river, there are good runs and bad ones, and drawing fishing beats is nothing more than a lottery. If we’re hell-bent on making flyfishing a competitive sport, we should judge it qualitatively, not quantitatively.  Have all the competitors work the same 200 yards of river, with a panel of five judges on bleachers watching every move. 

I can see it now: “Here comes Chet … ooh a nice roll cast right into the run there, on the left side of the river, that’s going to impress.  He’s really tuned in here with that Green Drake.  Whoops, he slipped and stirred the gravel. Oh, darn, and there’s a tailing loop on that last cast, the judges will take off a half a point for that one ... that may well dash the hopes of the Americans …”
Think of the merchandising opportunities ... the Patagucci flag-colored vests … the doping scandals … Russians buying off French judges and shafting the Canadians …
Now that’s a sport.


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fly fishing should forever remain recreation. not every manner of human endeavor needs to be competitive.


Amen to that. KD


I agree that it is not a sport, but I think it does take a little athletic ability. I used to guide a little and the athletic newbies always picked it up faster than the non-athletic newbies.

Anthony Bartkowski - FFLOGGER

Guys - all valuable comments. This is definitely a debatable topic in every sense of the word. At least a case of beer or a nostalgic bar is needed to get to the heart of the question. We need to ask ourselves what is the end result you are looking for - is it growing the sport and industry to become better respected or are we trying to just let those who hear about it see for themselves what it is all about.

I have been fortunate to have learned to fly fish at an early age and now guide when I have free time. I do enjoy showing people the sport and exploring the different aspects of the sport with these clients.

The high for the newby is to have them land a fish, but at the same time showing an individual a sport that will constantly bring great memories.

Considering that I work in the sports industry, if there is a sport where judgement is required, you will always have debate on who should have won the competition.

When a sport champion is determined solely on time, distance, accuracy, and etc. the debate will not exist.

With that being said - we are back at the top of the circle in trying to figure out what the industry is trying to really do.

See you next week... Anthony

Al Keller

With a "sport" or "pastime" that is shrinking with participants
something has to be done to revive flyfishing. I don't think it
is going to be another movie. The younger generation like action
and videos. Flyfishing video competition anyone. Instead of shooting animals or flipping for bass on video games we need more flyfishing video games for this generation maybe.
A saltwater flyfishermans view. Just kiddin', but we do need to
get the younger gen. into what we love!

Kirk Deeter

Oh shut up, Al ... just because you win every damn tournament you enter ... actually make real money flyfishing ... Can't you tell that was written by a guy who has had his ass kicked in almost every flyfishing competition he entered?

Chad Miller

Competition in Salt or Coldwater has had no impact on the general fishing public. The only potential impact on the general fishing public is bass tournaments. Specifically fly fishing for bass. As many of you know it is on the way. Both Sage and Scott have tournament specific rods for this coming season.I have already fished the prototype Scott rods.

There will be people trying these rods in tournaments across the country. The only potential growth area left for fly fishing is warmwater fly fishing. The only reason it hasn't happened yet is that the industry as a whole is scared to death of it. The industry is ran by a bunch of trout guys who know nothing of technical bass fishing. Guess what most of the country is fishin' for. I will give you one hint. It ain't TROUT.

If this is not embraced by everyone then there is next to no hope for growth. Will I compete in bass tournaments with conventional guys? Probably not. There will be others alot more knowledgable about Largemouth than me who will compete. Is fly fishing a sport? Well wether you like it or not there are people who are going to attempt to move it into the mainstream (bass tournamnets). I will embrace it wether any of you think it is kosher or not. I am just plain tired of the same old song and dance.

For the record I like trout, not a trout hater. I just want the industry to understand the impact of bass fishing on the rest of the country. If it takes tournaments to help get this going then so be it.

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