Swing the Fly has three issues out so far and will be a quarterly publication. They’ve taken an all-encompassing look at the world of spey and bring it to you through pictures and words as vibrant as the steelhead they chase. The spey casting and swung fly community is rapidly growing and now they have a voice in Swing the Fly. The ezine is very well laid out, easy to navigate, fully interactive and free. The latest issue explores a variety of patterns, techniques and locations. It’s a niche publication, but fly fishing is full of niches and those who dabble outside the mainstream are more fanatical than most. Their passion comes across in each issue of Swing the Fly.
A Tight Loop One of my favorites because it focuses on fly fishing in the Midwest. If you haven’t fished the Midwest put it on your “things to do” list. I think it’s an underappreciated fishery and I’d put it up against the best in the country. We’ve got everything from Steelhead to Musky and all species in between, with an amazing trout region known as the Driftless. A Tight Loop does an excellent job of covering it all. This publication also creates awareness around conservation issues facing the Midwest. Each piece is well written with focus on education from where or how to fish, and fly tying segments to put you on the right patterns.
Eat Sleep Fish is based out of the UK, but features articles with international flavor as well. It is an entirely free and not for profit ezine with wonderful articles and illustrations. It is produced by professional guides and fly fishing instructors Pete Tyjas, Jim Williams and Ian May. They have 26 issues out and produce a new ezine each month. To keep the content fresh they are looking for new contributors. If you have an article(s) you want published, drop them a line HERE.
Montana Fly Fishing Magazine Is another free publication devoted to bringing the diverse and expansive fly fishing opportunities of the state. It is published monthly and always delivers great articles and photography. In the most recent issue I was blown away by the Riseform photography of Michael Chilcoat; absolutely breathtaking. This ezine gives a 360 degree view of fly fishing in Montana and focuses on local guides, waters and artisans. It’s fully interactive with embedded videos pictures. It’s greatest compliment? Makes me check flights to Montana each month.
Southern Trout has been "distilling southern trout fishing since 1959." Obviously not all of those in the digital age, but I admire a brand who flexes with the times. They’ve done a great job of creating an easy to read publication following a more traditional magazine format. While it lacks some of the interactive features, it more than makes up for it in content. The last issue was packed with 216 pages of really good information and no fluff. From an outsider perspective I didn’t know a lot about southern trout fishing outside of the major watersheds. In the vein of true southern hospitality, Southern Trout invites you in and offers you a cup of sweet tea to tell you all about it. Since they’re based out of Alabama, I like to think they are Auburn fans which is reason enough for me to subscribe.
Dun Magazine What a great first couple issues from Dun Magazine right out of the gate. It’s packed with 175 pages taking you around the world with a diversity of stories and story tellers. If you've yet to read the latest edition, it kicks off with the infamous Hank Patterson and a piece called Romance on the River. Dun Magazine is created and driven by passionate female anglers bringing together information, groups and gear for an underserved population of the sport. I won’t go too far afield, but I think it’s funny the big companies racing to capture this “market” and quickly pat themselves on the back when their new products cater to the female angler. Truth is they should be a little embarrassed they didn’t carry the line sooner. But I digress, Dun’s philosophy revolves around Passion, Words and Images to unite fly women and showcase their fisheries and experiences around the globe.
Catch is no doubt the gold standard of ezines focusing on the still and moving images of the sport with some text sprinkled in. They offer unbelievable photography and film from some of the best in the business. Two of which are the founders Todd Moen and Brian O’Keefe. If you are familiar with their work, you know what I mean. If not, Catch should be your introduction. The magazine knows no geographic boundaries and makes you feel like you were where they were. This is the only ezine on the list with a paid subscription, but at only $12 a year it is well worth it.
Southern Culture on the Fly (S.C.O.F.) A fine publication focused on the southeast. While they share the same geography as Southern Trout (see below), they bring an entirely different perspective to the table. When I read S.C.O.F. I feel like a student in career day listening to Reese Bobby share his worldly wisdom (if you haven't seen Talladega Nights I weep for you, but here is the VIDEO for visual reference). Based on their writing I think they’ll take that analogy as a compliment. Case in point the last issue has an article entitled “Whore-vis Back to Orvis” where they call out image issues the company has faced and their bid to change perceptions. Did I mention Orvis is the first advertisement you see in that issue? They follow that up with an article that starts; “it was dark and cold—cold, like a doctors hands requesting a cough.” I could drink some beers and fish with these guys.
This is Fly launched in 2007 and was the first online fly fishing magazine. Their tag line is "defining fly fishing culture", and they follow through. This ezine encapsulates my earlier sentiment about taking chances by showing the depth of fly fishing. It’s not your cookie cutter content. Sure it has the how to and where’s, but it explores the layers of fly fishing that make us so passionate about it. When former athletes retire and a reporter asks them what they miss most, they talk about the locker room, their teammates and walking out to a crowd of thousands, and further down the list is the sport they played. Most magazines analyze just the game while This is Fly looks at the culture of the sport.
The New Fly Fisher I failed to mention in the intro I have a DVR full of fly fishing programs as well and The New Fly Fisher has an ezine to complement its television show. It’s published quarterly and is 100% free. The publication has a North American emphasis, but recently expanded beyond the borders to include international content. Each article focuses on education with universal application. The ezine is fully interactive with great pictures and embedded video. You can print selected articles and even archive issues straight to your desktop. If you are a fan of the show, you’ll dig the ezine.
I take my fly fishing info any way I can get it and nowadays it seems there is no shortage of delivery mediums. I read tweets, posts, pages, newsletters, blogs, RSS feeds, books, magazines and most recently I’ve gotten hooked on ezines. Ezines are packed with information, brilliant photography and interactive features you don’t get form their paper parents. Did I mention most of them are free? National paper publications are great, but often play by different rules than the following independent ezines. These feel more niche, more intimate, offer different perspective on the sport and take more chances. In terms of content it’s like comparing network TV to the premium channels, but in this case the HBO is free. Here are the 10 I subscribe to (in no particular order):
If you follow the blog you know I’m not shy of technology and I’m thrifty so ezines are a win-win for me. From a business standpoint it makes a lot of sense. No paper or shipping cost cuts down the overhead, advertisers flip the bill and get more metric based returns on their dollar since readers are just a click away from their site. And the reader? We get amazing interactive content delivered to straight to our inbox.
I divide my trout flies into categories (and further into subcategories); trailing patterns, nymphs, Czech nymphs, streamers, wet flies, terrestrials and dry flies. Each year I evaluate which flies worked, which didn’t and those needing a tweak. Then I empty my boxes and start over tying my picks for the next season. It’s a lot like selecting a new fantasy football team each year. Like players, certain patterns are consistent producers and others made their way through the draft and will be a sleeper pick. Despite my best effort, I carry a finite amount of boxes so slots are a premium. Instead of presenting the popular “top 10 list” I’ll give you a peek inside my fly box so you see who made the cut and who is left on the waiver wire. The first blog of each month will feature a different category and I’ll kick it off with my trailing patterns.
I typically fish with two flies and while some put the smaller pattern in front of the heavier nymph, I can’t break the habit of leaving it trailing. These also fish well behind a dry and are often a first choice as a dropper. This category consists of small, un-weighted nymphs and midges. Here’s the breakdown:
168 Man Roster- These are the trailing flies I’ll start the season with
Starters - These are either blue chip prospects or top producers from last year
Free Agents– All good patterns, but they didn't make the cut
I know it’s time for a change when I look at my box at the end of a season and see rows untouched. It’s like my music collection. There were times my playlist would be filled with Dave and the Dead. They remain among my favorite bands and songs, but with a limit on space they’ve made way for Mumford and Lumineers. So it is with patterns. These are extremely effective patterns and I’m sure among your favorites. I won’t go into too much detail why I don’t fish them; I just don’t. The fact they were untouched means I didn’t give them a shot. So they’ll retire to the big box where they await another chance. I’m not a hoarder by nature, but it’s taken a long time for me to come to grips with narrowing down my selection. At times I verge on relapse and fight the urge to tie more than I need for the off chance that a florescent purple fly may be the ticket. In a strange way minimizing the patterns and variations of each allows me to carry more variety.
So there’s a look inside my trailing pattern fly box. Next month I’ll highlight my nymph box where you may be surprised at some of the classic patterns getting the snub.