5 Ways to be a More Sustainable Fly Fishing Consumer

As fly anglers, we care deeply about the health of fish populations and the environments that these fish live in. We know that without healthy fish populations and healthy aquatic environments, fishing becomes unproductive, and the places we cherish begin to fall apart.

As consumers, the things we choose to purchase have an effect on the greater world. When we choose to buy a new fly rod, for instance, materials are harvested from around the world, shipped to production locations, assembled by workers, shipped to secondary production sites, shipped to retailers, and ultimately shipped to your front door. The long chain of actions required to get that fly rod in your hands has an impact on the environment, people, and local economies of the greater world.

As responsible consumers, we want to make sure that we minimize our negative impact on the world. Especially when it comes to purchasing fly fishing gear! These are the five ways to be a more sustainable fly fishing consumer.

Buy less

It should go without saying that buying less is the best thing you can do to lower your negative impact. It can be difficult to restrain yourself from purchasing this year’s waders, the newest fly pack, or upgrading that old reel, but taking the time to differentiate the items that you NEED and the items that you WANT is very important before making that next purchase. Not to mention, your bank account will thank you.

Fly fishing gear layed out pre-trip
Courtesy of @ericbraker

Buy Items That Last

When you do choose to buy an item, make sure that it’s built to last. For example, if you buy a cooler, it shouldn’t give you problems for years to come. Focusing on the quality of the gear may be more expensive in the short run, but the investment is well worth it in the long run. And it will be better for the planet too!

Yeti Tundra and Cocktails
Courtesy of @moretti.media

Buy Items That Serve Multiple Purposes

The outdoor recreation industry is known for creating gear that is specifically designed for each activity you’re doing (e.g., fishing, hiking, climbing). If you have interests beyond fishing, plan ahead and purchase items that you’ll be able to use for multiple different occasions. For example, if you’re going to buy a rain jacket (one of the most environmentally destructive items you can purchase), take the time to buy a jacket that will be suitable for a number of different activities including fishing, hiking, and maybe even something you would wear to work. If you can buy one jacket instead of three, that is a more sustainable tradeoff. 

Rock Climber, outdoor gear
Courtesy of @moretti.media

Support Companies Who Care About Sustainability

When purchasing items, the company you choose to buy from is very important. If you can buy the item from a company that values sustainability and incorporates these values into their business practices, you will drastically lower your impact. If you need some help figuring out which companies to support, check out “6 Organizations and Companies Doing Great Things For Our Planet and Fly Fishing.” When these items can be purchased from a local fly shop, that is all the better!

hiking into the woods
Courtesy of @jzissu

Fixing and Re-Using Gear

The last tip for becoming a more sustainable consumer is tending to your gear. If you can extend the life of your gear, you also prolong the amount of time before you make the next purchase, and you ultimately lower your impact. For example, if you get a leaky hole in your waders, it is always beneficial to attempt to patch them up before purchasing a new pair. Some companies like Patagonia take it a step further and will help repair those waders and other gear. Check out their Worn Wear initiative, designated to repairing, sharing and recycling gear.

Patagonia Wading Boots
Courtesy of Flylords

As fly anglers, we purchase fly fishing gear to improve our experience in nature. Being in this position, we are a group of people that must stand for something more than constantly buying the newest and greatest— ultimately at the expense of the very environments that the gear is meant to be used to enjoy. We have a responsibility to be more sustainable consumers.


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