What does it take to create another generation of fly anglers? How will those of us who love this sport find a way to pay it forward and leave some sort of legacy of our passion?
Trout Unlimited’s answer is to engage in tens of thousands of hours of fishing education every year. Across the country and even in Alaska and Hawaii, TU volunteers teach this great sport to young novice anglers from all corners of society. The venues vary from week long summer fly fishing camps to multi-day workshops taught during the school year. Topics include the basics of casting, leaders and tippets and knots, fly tying, reading the stream, fighting a fish, catch and release—it is a soup-to-nuts approach that results in skilled young anglers who approach their home waters with a conservation mindset.
TU has even developed a Stream of Engagement in its Headwaters Youth Education Initiative, and through this stream youth between the ages of 5 and 22 can get involved with TU, learn to fish, become a member, and give back to local streams through hands-on conservation projects.
But TU can’t do it alone, and many a TU volunteer looks to corporate partners for help. Think equipment, equipment, equipment: it’s not easy to outfit a successful youth fishing day.
That’s why last July’s Orvis Rod Swap worked so well. Orvis gave a very generous discount off the price of a new rod in exchange for a customer’s gently used rod. All of these donated rods went right into the hands of kids around the country. From Scout groups in Sacramento to rural teens in Tennessee’s Appalachia, the swapped equipment has made its way into the TU fishing education network. Any kid who can’t afford his or her own rod is given a nice 4- or 5-weight with the hopes that they, too, might become stream stewards and fly fishing addicts. Orvis and TU truly believe the future of our great sport is literally in the hands of our youngest anglers.
Starting June 3, Orvis is offering a Reel Swap that will work much the same way the Rod Swap did. Donate one of your old fly reels to Trout Unlimited’s Headwaters Youth Program and receive $50 off a brand-new Orvis Hydros Reel. Your old favorite will be a new gift for a youngster in need, and you’ll get a great deal on one of our most popular fly reels.
Look for the announcement of the Reel Swap on June 3. In the meantime, round up those reels that you think could help turn a kid into a lifelong fly fisher and river steward.