The American Fly Fishing Trade Association and Nielsen Media, which has produced the Fly Fishing Retailer World Trade Expo for the past several years, both sent out press releases today announcing the groups have gone separate ways… in effect spelling the end of the Fly Fishing Retailer trade show as we know it.

Nielsen will integrate fly fishing into its established Outdoor Retailer trade show… which will put fly fishing in the mix with other people-powered sports like paddling, climbing, hiking, etc.

AFFTA is now weighing opportunities for maintaining its own stand-alone trade show presence, either by creating an entirely different entity, joining forces with the new trade property created by The Fly Fishing Show, to be held in Florida in fall 2010, or perhaps trying to dovetail with another event.

So… for the industry insiders who sometimes visit this blog, this might all shed new light on a lingering issue.

But what’s the deal for the average outdoors aficionado and fly fisher? The bottom line is that fly fishing is struggling with its identity… is fly fishing a stand-alone sport, or is it time to cross over and meld in with other cultures? I don’t know the answer… fly fishing has always been a skill-based culture unto itself. People are proud to fly fish, and to be identified as fly anglers. But at the same time, that leads to “elitist” stereotypes…

I agree with John Merwin’s post yesterday that being “flippant” in the absence of substance degrades the pure nature of the sport… but creating more learning curves might not be what this sport needs now.

I’m stuck in the philosophical middle, and am very much interested in your opinion, as it relates to this breaking news.

Should fly fishing be a stand alone culture, a stand alone sport unto itself, or joined more closely to other outdoor lifestyles… fishing or otherwise?


PS- You can check out the latest information on what the AFFTA board decides to do as a next course of action at… we expect an update later today.