_FFSW had the chance to sit down with Robert Ramsey of the American Fly-Fishing Trade Association and talk about AFFTA, fly-fishing in salt waters and where the group – and the industy – is headed. _
Q: How long has AFFTA been around, and how long have you been involved in the group?
A: The organization has been around since 1997, and I was hired this past December as the first full-time president. It was formed because the industry felt it needed a group that could represent it and its core constituency to promote the sustained growth of the fly-fishing industry as a whole.
Q: How would you characterize the health of our industry, and where do you see the most growth potential?
A: Right now, it’s generally accepted that growth in the fly industry is there, but it’s slower than most people would like. The greatest opportunity for growing our sport lies in salt water – in some cases to the detriment of popular traditional venues like trout fishing. But the sport isn’t just one or the other. There are a number of opportunities for people to chase different species – country- and world-wide – that are all a part of the larger picture.
Q: What can the average angler do to help our sport?
A: Very simply put, the average angler needs to take someone they know fishing and introduce that legacy to others. Most avid anglers say that they were introduced to the sport by someone they know. It doesn’t have to be to a child. It can be anybody you know – a friend, a relative, whatever – just share the experience or legacy that angling gives us. Fly-fishermen are the guardians of our sport and are the most passionate about preserving our resource, and we need the help of our community as a whole. So, take somebody fly-fishing.
Q: Nice barracuda. Do you get to fish salt water that often? What’s your favorite quarry?
A: I do get to fish salt water pretty frequently. My sister lives in Charleston, which offers some great redfishing opportunities. I am heading to Los Roques later in the year. I love the variety of quarry that salt water offers, but if I could only chose one, I’d say it would be larger, challenging bonefish like those found downtown in Islamorada.
Q: Where do you see the saltwater fly industry – and fly-fishing in general – in 10 years?
A: I see a larger group of people participating in fly-fishing in general. It’s undergone some growing pains, and we’ve gone through some of the other growing pains that retail-based businesses have gone through, but there is a groundswell of interest today. Our challenge is to greet all the new, prospective fly anglers and to help them along the path to becoming avid fly anglers. The long-term outlook is very positive in my view.
For more information on AFFTA, visit their website at _www.affta.com.