Outdoor Writers Association of America
Northwest Outdoor Writers Association
This Week's View

by Deanna Lee Birkholm

The Ladyfisher

August 24th, 1998


This issue marks one full year of weekly publication of FlyAnglers OnLine. We have for the past 52 weeks brought you information. Information intended to improve, enhance and enliven your fly fishing.

Those of us who contribute content to FAOL are pleased to share bits and pieces of knowledge we have accumulated - some of which was passed on to us - or shared by others with us. Doing the very same thing we do each week here. It is my hope that you will also pass on the information.

Fly fishing for JC and me has always been in large measure, being an active part in a tradition. Or as I have mentioned on many occasions, part of the fraternity of fly fishers. In recent years, we have seen that fraternity dwindle. Oh don't mistake me, the numbers of fly anglers have gone up. But for many reasons, the desire to share information, experiences and community have declined.

There was a time some twenty-five years ago when a regular group of people fished the Au Sable River in Michigan. They camped at the same place, fished the same runs and pools. They had the same frame of reference. Evening campfire found them discussing the water, the bugs, the flies and solving the woes of the world.

Members of that group are scattered now, and most rarely have the opportunity to even fish that particular water. But there is a sense of community that lives on.

So what is FlyAnglers OnLine about? Does it have a purpose? Why would I and our contributors keep doing this week after week? Are we all just raking in the bucks and rolling in money? Why are we doing this?

The simple answer is, "If We Don't Do It, Who Will"...

That is a direct steal from our local Public Broadcasting station. Having given PBS credit, it really is the attitude that keeps all who are involved with FAOL on track.

I'm sure you have noticed the influence of advertising on most of the print media. The kind of information available twenty years ago in the outdoor magazines is not what you find now. Of course we have more 'technical' answers today, but most everything in magazines on fly fishing today is influenced by advertising. Either the desire to get a particular advertiser, or keep one, or not offend one. That is a very tough line to walk. We made the decision early on that FAOL would not fall into that trap.

Since what we are doing on FAOL is more like PBS, and unlike any other website, we decided not to have flashing banners, and "buy me" click-throughs. We wanted to produce a website which would provide the best information on fly fishing. One for people who wanted to get into fly fishing, for folks new to fly fishing, and one that would also be interesting and informative for folks who had been fly fishing for some time.

We keep growing, and adding new information. Next week we begin a new section, Beginning Fly Tying. The number of visitors reading this website continues to increase (we are now at 18.9% from outside the U.S.,) which also allows us to have access to even more information.

With the help of many writers, guides, and companies who think we are providing that kind of a place - one that encourages and enhances fly fishing - we have been able to provide 52 weeks of FAOL.

So what is the purpose of FAOL? To provide information and a gathering place for fly anglers. To provide a place where fly anglers can gather to share their knowledge and experience. But it is more than that. It has become a community! One where ethics and traditions are not just words. Where each person is valued as a person - not for what he will buy, nor how much he will put in the till. This is the place where the information and opinions of every person count.

Are we rolling in bucks? No. Are we at break even? No. But almost. And that will happen. While we sincerely appreciate those companies (and individuals) who have become underwriters of this website, this website has never been about money. Sure, we all have to pay our bills - that goes without question - but not at the expense of being honest, giving good accurate information, or holding our nose when we talk about a product.

By the way, Product Reviews are only done after a product has been tested. We do not use the printed materials provided by some manufacturers - we do our own testing. As users, not by a particular set of standards set up on a scientific basis. After all, we are users of various products, just like you. So let's evaluate products on a 'real' basis, not some artificial standard.

If in our travels we come across something that is terrific we will say so. Why not share what we find? Whether it is a good product, a guide, a place to stay, a particular fishery, or even a great hamburg - why not share that information too. Does everything we mention result in a company becoming an underwriter? That would be wonderful. It is not the case, nor do we expect it. However, if someone we mention does believe in what we are doing on this website and wishes to be an underwriter on that basis we are delighted!

On the other hand, there are products and potential sponsors who will never be seen here. We will never recommend a bad product - or a company who will not stand behind their product. There is enough misinformation out there already. You will not see it here.

Ethics and honesty seem to be in short supply in today's world. Political pollsters seem to be telling us on tv, magazines and newspapers - in effect that ethics and honesty don't really matter as long as the economy is good. The message is that the 'public' doesn't care about ethics and honesty. It is obvious to me the 'public' the political experts are talking about are not fly anglers.

We might claim bragging rights on the size a fish, a right gained by catching it in the first place. That does not make fly anglers guilty of losing their ethics or honesty. Fly anglers may be the one group of people left in the world who have sincere respect for those two words - ethics and honesty. You and I know the difference - we know when we are being conned, lied to, or schmoozed. And I for one don't like it. This website will continue to provide the best information we can obtain, and to say it like it is.

Finally, what gives us the right to say what we do? You do. The number of people who access this site, the 'faithful' who read it every week, visitors to the Chat Room who greatly enliven our lives, those who truly need to get a life - (the ones who sit up on Sunday night waiting to see what is the new Fly of the Week) - the volunteer hosts who keep our Chat Room a friendly, informative, fun place, the folks who send us information and articles, the dedicated writers who share their talents and insights here; all of you!

We sincerely hope you make FAOL your home away from your favorite water; meanwhile we'll keep the campfire going.

~Deanna Birkholm

Archive of Ladyfisher Articles

[ HOME ]

[ Search ] [ Contact FAOL ] [ Media Kit ] © Notice