There are some 'interesting' numbers about our
sport floating around. I mentioned a while back the 'official' organization
for the fly fishing industry AFFTA had commissioned a survey.
Many years ago I worked as a researcher. It was in the medical field, having
to do with cancer research. We were extremely careful to get our facts right,
and the results of that particular study really did accomplish something very
On the wall in the head of the project's office was a neatly lettered, hand-made
sign. It read: White Rats Cause Cancer. Those old enough to remember
a cranberry scare that almost put all of the cranberry producers out of business,
may also recall the testing was done on white rats. For people to have the same
results the rats had, a person would have to eat twenty-two pounds of cranberries
a day for several years. Unfortunately it was a long time before that fact came out!
Many farmers were destroyed financially.
As I understand it, someone at the Oceanspray Company eventually came up with the
idea of making breakfast juices using the cranberries and the industry was saved.
The fact is I am, understandably not impressed by surveys. I know figures can be
(and are) sometimes manipulated to give the desired results.
That said, here are some of the results from the AFFTA survey. Following those
numbers, I am including our current numbers obtained from our Monthly Contest/
Drawings. Our figures are incorrect. The figures only are the responses
from those who responded to the questions (some always skip some), the folks
answering our questions obviously do so from a computer which means it probably
is a different segment of the people than those surveyed by AFFTA, and from
the number of people who visit FAOL, only about 20% ever enter the drawing.
(Frankly I can't figure that one out, we certainly have had wonderful prizes! - if you
have an answer on that please let me know.)
"The results of a recent survey commissioned by
the American Fly Fishing Trade Association (AFFTA) reveal there are 6.5
million active fly-fishing participants age 16 or older in the U.S. An
"active" fly fisher is defined as someone who went fly-fishing three or more
times in the previous 12 months, according to consumer and market researchers
Leisure Trends Group, Boulder, Colo., which conducted the study.
The AFFTA Participation Survey reveals that 10.9 million people have
fly-fished at least once in the last 12 months, and of this number, 40 percent
were men age 45 and older. Some 25 percent of active fly-fishers are women, a
substantial increase over the 16 percent who reported active involvement in
1995." Our figures show (those who responded) the largest percentage
of our readers fished more than 40 days locally, and about the same number
fished 5 - 9 days away from home.
"The study, which is available to all members of the association for $200 ($400
to non-members) indicates the average fly-fisher has participated in the sport
for 16.6 years . . ."Our figures (free) show: 26% have fished over 20 years,
a whopping 41% between 1- 5 years, 17% between 5 - 10 years, and about 15%
from 5 - 10 years.
So instead of an average of 16.6 years, our readers seem to fall into a different
slot, 58% have fished less than 10 years. Hmmmm.
Continuing on the AFFTA survey, the 'average' fly fisher "owns 2.5
fly rods, and spent an average of $278 on fly-fishing
apparel and equipment in the last 12 months." 37.9% of our
respondents own 5 or more rods. 21% own 2 rods, and 13.2 % own
"Eighty-one percent pursued fresh water fishing, seven percent enjoyed
the sport in salt water, and 12 percent did both." Almost 75% of
our readers fish for trout, with panfish and salmon following for freshwater.
7.7% are saltwater anglers.
Okay, so much for the figures. I've already said ours are wrong. They are
however accurate! And probably as accurate as the ones from the AFFTA
Do I personally think fly fishing is on the wane? Not on your life! All I have
to do is read our numbers, the bulletin board, and spend a little time in the
Chat Room. Maybe instead of a 'gloom and doom' outlook the fly fishing
manufacturers should get involved the providing real information to those
wanting to get into fly fishing.
JC received a letter this week from Scientific Anglers, with their survey, asking
what he would like to see in a website. Of course they don't know he is the
editor of this website (which would have been like writing to Buick and asking
them how to build a car).
Their survey is interesting in the fact they are asking some of the same questions
we ask on ours. One did give me a laugh, "Why do you fly fish?" which allows at
best 4 lines perhaps 3 inches long. Most of us couldn't do that in a whole page.
One I found objectionable, a personal thing, they ask for your email address and
then, "Would you like to receive regular product updates for fly fishing tips
from Scientific Anglers via email?" Is that asking permission to send spam?
Or if you check the box does that make it not legally spam?
When Scientific Anglers produces their new website, I sincerely hope they
will include FLY ANGLERS ONLINE as part of their committment
to "teach people the sport, . . . and share with the world the joys of fly
fishing." (quoted from the SA website) instead of a tip of the month (how to
clean a fly line) and real information instead of providing links to websites
that no longer exist.
Fly fishing is alive and well! Maybe some of the industry has died but just
aren't buried yet. If some have, it is because they have flooded the market
with high-priced products which only appeal to a VERY small percentage
of the real fly fishers. Add to that some get-rich-quick merchants who
thought they would ride the wave of popularity and forgot little things like
quality and service.
Like I said, fly fishing is alive and well - and growing, and will be with us for
many generations to come. The enthusiam of those visiting these pages is
proof. Maybe not because of the 'industry' but in spite of it.
If you would like to comment on this or any other article please feel free to
post your views on the FAOL Bulletin Board!