Fly Fishing in the Digital Age

Photos By: Matt Bornhorst, Justin Dobson & Jamie Keown     

I went back and forth on this subject before eventually deciding to write my official stance on the matter. I didn’t want to come off as an arrogant asshole or have some think I wasn’t in favor of growing the sport we all love. I realize we are in the digital age. Results are instantaneous and everyone, including myself, craves instant gratification. Want to know the weather, visit, see how your favorite sports team faired, hop on I could go on and on but the days of information spreading via word of mouth are long gone my friend. I’m no dinosaur by any stretch of the imagination, but when I got into fly fishing if I wanted to know what the fish were biting I went to the stream. I bummed flies and tips from other anglers, and read every book imaginable in an effort to hone my skills.

Now fast forward to 2014 and online message boards. Jump on your local message board and you can find a wealth of information on subjects from gear reviews, fly tying tutorials, and even fishing reports. All are great in my opinion and message boards are a great jumping off point for beginning anglers. Fly fishing has always been viewed as a “stuffy” sport, and although those stereotypes have, for the most part been thrown out along with the tweed jackets, there is still something intimidating about it for a beginner. I’m also very business savvy and I realize without getting more folks involved in our sport there may be nothing left for future generations to enjoy.

The whole problem I have with the digital movement as it relates to fly fishing is the additional pressure it adds to our streams. While posting photos and fishing reports doesn’t seem like a big deal, most folks do not take into account the fact that of the eight comments they received, two hundred more folks read the post and have their bags packed ready to hit the same location in the AM to take advantage of yesterdays epic fishing conditions. While some streams and rivers are equipped to handle that type of added pressure, most in my neck of the woods are not. If twenty anglers showed up to certain spots I enjoy fishing on the same day, at the same time, it would look like the 405 in rush hour traffic. It’s also a very sad fact, but the truth is a lot of anglers now-a-days are not very good stewards of the environment and more than we’d like to think, do not follow the regulations put in place by local DNR and state officials to ensure the health of our streams.

I guess for the time being I’ll continue to remain stuck somewhere between disdain and appreciation for digital information. I’m too young to be nostalgic but I do somewhat miss the days where half of the enjoyment that fly fishing brought anglers was getting out and figuring out for themselves what the fish were biting and the techniques needed to fool them.