Meet the Fly-Fishing Editor

Selfie with a Vermont wild brown trout.

I didn’t become serious about fly fishing until I was in my 20s, when, after a few years living and working in New York City, I returned to my home turf in southeastern New Hampshire. My older brother, Brian—a much better fly fisherman than I was—lived nearby, and we began fishing together regularly. We ranged as far afield as the Androscoggin River, in the northeastern corner of the Granite State, but most of the time we fished the small ponds and streams that were within minutes of our homes—such unfabled waters as the Isinglass River and Stonehouse Pond. Although the sibling rivalry was always good-natured, we pushed each other to work hard at honing our fly-fishing skills. As a result, we both became better anglers.

Another important event around this time was when I reconnected with my high-school buddies, Fred and Sandy Hays (a.k.a. The Wretched Hays Boys), who invited me on their family’s twice-annual jaunts to the Rangeley Region of Maine, where we fished the famed Upper Dam Pool between Mooselookmeguntic to Richardson Lakes, as well as the Rapid River. Each June and September, we’d head north to chase landlocked salmon and big brookies on dry flies and traditional hairwing streamers. Since then, Sandy has traveled with me to destinations around the world as my photographer, fishing buddy, and comical sidekick.

Back in my guiding days, on Alaska’s Gibraltar River.

The next important phase of my fly-fishing career included stints as a guide in Alaska and Montana, where I was exposed to many different styles, techniques, and philosophies of angling. I tried to learn as much as I could from my fellow guides, from clients, and through trial-and-error. I was able to fish with anglers of all skill levels and in all kinds of situations—surrounded by brown bears in Alaska, surrounded by Winnebagos in Yellowstone Park, and surrounded by incredibly finicky trout on the spring creeks of Paradise Valley. Best of all, I got to be on the water almost all the time, in some of the most beautiful settings on the planet, and I got hang out with fellow fly fishermen.

But, as they often do, real-world concerns took over (translation: I was broke), and I found myself in need of a “real” job. Through dumb luck and good timing, I landed a position as an assistant editor at Outdoor Life magazine, and my career in publishing was off and running. Although I enjoyed the work, there weren’t nearly enough fly-fishing articles for my taste, so I began to look for other opportunities. Again, I had good timing, for the folks at American Angler magazine were looking for an editor. I jumped at the chance.

I edited American Angler for ten years, which meant I also worked on the company’s other titles: Fly Tyer and the now defunct Saltwater Fly Fishing and Warmwater Fly Fishing. In that capacity, I had the chance to meet and/or work with pretty much everyone in the fly-fishing industry, including the good folks at Orvis. It was a remarkable education.

Lake Champlain bowfin are a blast on a fly rod.
Photo by Drew Price

Throughout 2009 and most of 2010, I worked as a freelance editor, writer, and consultant for magazines, Web sites, and book companie, including writing the “Ask the Experts” column for Marshall Cutchin at

In the summer of 2010, when Orvis approached me about editing this blog, I knew that it was a unique opportunity to make a big splash on the Web for a company with a dedicated following. We launched in September 2010, and it has been an amazing experience building an audience and working with an amazing array of anglers, guides, and conservationists, as well as the cool product developers, instructors, and travel folks here at Orvis.

5 thoughts on “Meet the Fly-Fishing Editor”

  1. Pingback: Happy 5th Anniversary to Us! | Orvis News
  2. Phil…I read your article about fishing among the bears in Alaska. Loved it, by the way! Anyway, I am curious if these types of guided trips are still going on in Alaska. A trip where you are flown in and have the opportunity to fish among the bears. I traveled to Alaska several years ago and saw a flyer on this and I am interested in trying this. My dad and I will be traveling to Alaska in June and I wanted to schedule and amazing experience like this for us. Do you have any contacts or a place to direct me? Thank you for your time in advance.

  3. Description:
    About a decade ago, when I started night fishing Central Michigan for large brown trout during the Hexagenia Limbata Mayfly hatch ~ I had a vision: to one day capture this epic nighttime fishing and film the hatch as it unfolds, without using artificial light. Exposing the event in its raw form. Standing in complete darkness and only using one’s sense of sound to cast a fly into the feeding lane of a hungry brown trout.
    The fisherman filmed in this video could not see anything the camera was capturing. When the hatch is on and fish are rising, fishing is extremely intense. It can all happen within minutes. Chaos of casting to the sounds of a rise with over hanging limbs, log jams and only using the imprints in your mind of what it looked like before night fall. Knowing if you use your light that you will disturb the fish from surfacing to the emerging bugs.

    To the best of my knowledge, no film has ever been produced this way with nighttime imagery in filming this hatch or other night time fishing events. Even the seasoned fishermen who have fished this hatch year after year have yet to see what is occurring without the use of light. That is the experience we have been trying to capture. Bringing to light the events at hand without using light it’s self. With only limited time available, it is very difficult to predict when these hatches are going to occur.
    Thanks for watching

    Jeff Mitchell

    Tight Lines Entertainment

    A sneak peak at the film Fishing Blind. This film will enlighten you to the difficulty of fishing for large brown trout during one of the most epic night hatches across America. Tips And fly patterns to use, how to tie them and how to approach large feeding trout in the dark. Coming to a fly shop near you. Enjoy this short clip teaser

    Jeff Mitchell

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