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Eddy Line: Fly fish to give back

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Two fishermen cast into the hazy sunset light on the Madison River. EBS Columnist Patrick Straub argues that fly fishing is a sport meant to connect people and to be a force for good. NPS PHOTO/JACOB W. FRANK

Ways you can contribute


Prior to the pandemic, the number of new anglers entering the world of fly fishing was stagnating. But over a year into it people continue to look for new outdoor activities and today, the numbers are staggering. As thousands of new anglers come into the sport, it is important we all understand that generosity of spirit and embracing an angling community are core values of a fly fisher. 

To call Lefty Kreh and Joan Wulff the founders of fly fishing in America is an understatement. If you are new to fly fishing, read anything written by these two. Read it again. If you know of Kreh and Wulff, you know they embraced teaching, community and ensuring the act of going fly fishing transcended the simple act of fooling a fish with a fly. They knew it was a sport meant to connect people and be a force for good. 

Use your passion as a force for good by supporting some of the many organizations that blend fly fishing with missions to support crucial habitat, expand access or use fly fishing as physical and/or emotional support. 

Gallatin River Task Force: If you fish local, then you should give back to your local watershed conservation group. With a staff committed to preserving the water quality and habitat of the Gallatin River, anyone who has enjoyed the Gallatin River can thank these folks. 

Reel Recovery: For any angler who has been affected in anyway by cancer, Reel Recovery is there to help men by introducing them to the healing powers of fly fishing, while providing a supportive environment to explore their personal cancer experiences with others who share their stories.

Casting for Recovery: Breast cancer has affected many of us. Casting for Recovery provides healing outdoor retreats for women with breast cancer, at no cost to the participants. These retreats offer opportunities for women to find inspiration, discover renewed energy for life and experience healing connections with other women and nature.

Backcountry Hunters and Anglers: Very little of our fly fishing could occur without the ability to access fishable waters. Backcountry Hunters and Anglers seeks to ensure North America’s outdoor heritage of hunting and fishing in a natural setting, through education and work on behalf of public lands, waters and wildlife.

Trout Unlimited: Because so many anglers are first introduced to fly fishing while fishing for trout, every angler should join “TU.” With local chapters across the country, anglers can get involved with other like-minded anglers, work hands-on in a variety of conservation projects and enjoy access to a lot of fly fishing knowledge.

The Mayfly Project: The mission of The Mayfly Project is to support children in foster care through fly fishing and introduce them to their local water ecosystems with the hope that connecting them to a rewarding hobby will provide an opportunity for foster children to have fun, build confidence and develop a meaningful connection with the outdoors.

Warriors and Quiet Waters: Homegrown in southwest Montana, this organization strives to be part of the solution regarding our nation’s injured defenders by providing a respite from the stresses of war, the monotony of lengthy hospital stays and traditional therapy and the many day-to-day struggles involved in their journey home. Their fly-fishing retreats offer injured defenders a chance to experience the joys of our sport.

Indifly: While there are other nonprofit organizations teaching Indigenous peoples how to own and run businesses, Indifly’s approach is unique. They are the only organization using the transformative power of fly fishing to create sustainable livelihoods through guiding, lodge ownership, sustainable farming, and more while providing important economic incentives for protecting local environments.

Whether you’ve been fly fishing for 30 minutes or 30 years, it is a sport that is bigger than you. You may think the fly you tied on your tippet that you used to make your cast to catch your fish is as simple as it gets. It is much bigger than that, so give back and pass on your passion. 

Patrick Straub has fished on five continents. He is the author of six books, including “Everything You Always Wanted to Know About Fly Fishing” and has been writing the Eddy Line for nine years. He was one of the largest outfitters in Montana, but these days he now only guides anglers who value quality over quantity. If you want to fish with him, visit his website,

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