Commercialisation of fly fishing, guides and discarded blogs!

I thought I would have a gander around at the state of the UK fly fishing blog scene seeing as how the forerunner of US blogs “The Trout Underground” has now packed it in. It makes me all nostalgic for the past, about all the blogs that I have seen come and go over the years.

Quite frankly I was disappointed!

I found blogs created by folk in the fishing industry to punt their shops, blogs not updated in a year as well as blogs which have been started and then abandoned in a matter of months.Some of these guys even though they have obviosuly taken advice from web companies somehow still get the blog lingo wrong – Nick Hart is an offender of calling a post a blog, a blog is the whole thing and a post is an update to the blog, it drives me crazy. I know that is kinda sad but if you are going to invest your time and money into your business then at least get the lingo right. It is like when you read an advert for fly fishing rods in the UK and it is written by someone who knows nowt about fly fishing and they call the rods “poles”

Some of these blogs ended up on some commercial blogs as “top blogs”


Some of these blogs are the big hitters like Hywel Morgan who disappeared back in March 2013 as well as Paul Procter who buggered off in March 2014. I know that Facebook is now being used to connect people and a lot of these guys now write and sell themselves through other forms of social media however to just disappear is just plain old rude. They are still active on Twitter though!

What I do not see is good old-fashioned fly fishing blogs about guys going out for a day’s fishing. In a nutshell that is what I know what a lot of people like to hear about as that is by far the content that creates the most activity here on The Urban Fly Fisher other than incredibly opinionated posts like this one.

In the current sphere of blogs If I had to choose one to read for ever it would be North Country Angler  which is a mixture of thought, fishing and fly tying education whilst not trying to sell you the answers. I find myself stomping all over the same rivers as the Streamside Diary boys and I find it hard to keep up with them. They fish, fish and fish some more. Relative 2011 newcomer The Unfamous Fly is also a good read with a mixture of all types of fishing whilst Becks and Brown Trout after hitting you with a giant header image catches fish in lovely places. Glen Pointon Fly Fishing is like reading some of those US blogs with the sweet pictures of huge fish.

Yorkshire Fly Fishing is also very good and I like the fact he has become a pike addict over the last wee while. I do not mind when blogs change direction as it is nice to mix things up every now and again. This is why I have a small spot for Small Stream Brown Trout Fishing who now enjoys coarse fishing more than actual small stream brown trout fishing. I do not think you can just fish in one style for one fish all the time without losing the reason why you go fishing.

Small Stream Addicts just scraped in to the good list as he made the ultimate sin of calling a Grayling a lady. I said it better on facebook and I will repeat it again here – I love Grayling, I just hate people talking about them as if they were anything but a fish. Grayling fishing a few years ago used to be a bit of a niche pastime, a few die-hard trout heads would venture out after the trout season was over to have a bash at the “ladies of the stream” and would pick them up on bugs fished deep instead of the standard match rod. It sure beats sitting with your feet up or doing DIY. My pals likened it to BDSM however I reckoned it was on the light side of bondage, maybe a bit of role play or tying up, no safe words needed. Full on BDSM would be fishing for tench in the canal with a fly rod – proper freaky shit!

Anyway, as I gander around the various forums as well as Small Stream Addicts all I read is:

“A great day with the ladies”

“Caught 6 ladies down the ****”

“Tough day with the ladies”

Maybe it is because I am a grumpy bastard as I have not touched a fly rod in a while but I have decided I loathe readingabout Grayling as Ladies. Oh sure, I will allow the odd comment and slip however if someone says “Ladeeeezzzz” again I am gonna go some passive aggressive on their ass and say “you mean Grayling right?”

Or possibly bottom scum sucking silver leaches!

Grayling on the Fly  does it right and he is from Prague.

Photo unrelated however that is a big toastool!

Photo unrelated however that is a big toadstool!

I look at blogs I used to follow and now every other post is about selling you their flies or how they have been sponsored by some company and check out my colleagues blog as he works for the same company who guides and we all got together at the weekend to suck each other’s cocks at a game fair.


Have you considered starting a blog for your guiding business?Yes? Please wear this wanky shirt at a game fair

There are now so many guys out their guiding on rivers that some associations have banned guides – Lamington on the Clyde now state :

Guided fishing is no longer permitted on Lamington & District Angling Improvement Association water without prior written permission and where permission is granted the permission letter must be carried for inspection by the bailiff. This new rule is highlighted on this years permits as well as here on the website and the secretary will also be writing to different angling bodies. As such ignorance of the rule will not be deemed an acceptable excuse and any guides found to be working the river without carrying the written permission letter will be asked to leave the river.
The Association respects the role of guides and instructors, especially when it comes to helping newcomers to the sport however with limited space on the riverbank our season members access to the fishing must remain our highest priority. When the subject of guiding was raised at the AGM several proposals were offered by members and the committee with the rule now in place being passed with a unanimous vote. We believe this rule is being introduced for all the right reasons and while it is not an outright ban on guiding it will be used to prevent large guided parties restricting the access to fishing for season members, especially at known busy periods of the season.

How stuffed full of guides are our rivers?

I wonder how many other associations will change their policies?

I know that part of the reason why some of the guides are not welcome is because they are not seen to give anything back. You can have one of these pro fishers get to know your river, guide people on it for at least a over a couple of hundred quid for a day, sell an article to a magazine with directions and permit details and all the club gets is increased fishing pressure through day tickets. Once the river is fished out and the fish are ultra spooky the hoards will soon move on to other rivers.

Or is it just sour grapes that someone is fishing your river and making some cash ?

I spoke to a Kelvin fisher about banning guides on the river and he told me I was a ruthless bastard and would probably go after the Scouts next.

A lot of guides are sponsored by tackle companies as an additional way to sell their products. I suppose it is just business and at least it is not as ruthless as Hardy using subliminal sex ads in their advertsing.

If you are middle-aged and fish with a Hardy you get an erection- no viagra required!

 It is not that I do not believe in advertising as I wholly embrace reviewing products in real life situations as you guys know it is just the way the industry centres around buying new shit every year annoys me – new rods, reels etc. What happens to the old ones? I think the industry focuses too much on existing middle-aged customers with some cash instead of people new to the sport that may not wish to invest as much cash. Ironically it is probably the unemployed looking for something to do with their time that probably has the most to give to local angling clubs.

Local fishing shops have a role to play in this as well. After moving to Helensburgh I decided to visit the local tackle shop to ask about any local venues I did not know about. To be honest I knew them all I just wanted a natter and to check out their stock, I bought some aquasure and some tippet which I never appear to have enough of. This guy did not know me from J R Hartley, did not know my fishing ability or anything, basically if I was a newcomer to the sport I would have left the shop and taken up Golf. He bombarded me with rules and regulations – Helensburgh Angling Club is dead mans shoes and will take years to get in, you cannot fish the estuary or you will get arrested for poaching. There is a loch owned by Luss estates where if you fish it the local gamekeeper will shoot you.


For pulling a fly through the water and returning your fish someone will shoot you?

I like to think I am a fairly competent guy and does not look like a headbanger but if this was the line given to me then what about someone new to the sport? I am reminded of visiting Cafaro Brothers in Glasgow a year or so before they shut down – they did not have any floatant and the guy walked away from me in the middle of a conversation.

Personally I would love to get my hands on a couple of hundred pounds  for some Light Rock Fishing gear for a group of brain injury survivors – the Glasgow Angling Centre kindly helped us out with some gear a couple of years ago after we found a hundred pounds in vouchers in a cupboard in someones office. We have been heading up to Carbeth as some of the guys mobility is not so good. Some of the guys want to try Sea Fishing and I think some Light Rock Fishing gear may be just the thing.

Maybe I should rent myself out for the day :

For £220 you get to meet me by the river and be guided around some hot spots where the trout may or may not be particularly belligerent, I am unable to comment on anyones casting and if you fall in and drown I will swear I have not seen you “in days” Lunch not included and i may not have that one fly we need.

Some awkward moments guaranteed !




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  1. Ian Firkins · January 1, 2015

    Brilliant! I will be sure to use the “L” word less often from now on! Have you seen
    Mostly fishing for brook trout in the States, but beautifully understated and worth it just for some of the pictures of those brookies – stunning. Happy New Year!

  2. Ben Lupton · January 1, 2015

    Never a truer word said. Where on earth has Paul Procter gone? Get your blog updated! Nothing worse than an out of date/abandoned blog.

  3. Alistair · January 1, 2015

    What I find more shocking is that I have never seen your blogs before – both added to my list for the future!

  4. Mike Agneta · January 1, 2015

    Ha. Much of the same is true with blogs in the US.
    I keep a very liberal “blogroll” over at my place, but once a blog goes dormant for more than 3 months, it goes into my “Blogroll Quarantine.” Once it hits 6, it’s banished. It’s a shame to see the constant turnover, but blogging is usually a pastime with few rewards.

  5. TC · January 1, 2015

    Blogging is a lot of work; writing a quality blog involves a lot of time and effort, and in a market as small — and as decidedly backwards — as fly fishing, there just isn’t much financial incentive to keep moving forward.

    I’m glad I wrote the Underground, but I do find myself wishing I’d done the work in a bigger, less-backward industry, where good bloggers might see some reward for the labor.

    Like you, I miss some of the older blogs (Tamanawis was a favorite, and I remember when you were getting to the prime water via a bus pass).

    While there are a few “authentic” fly fishing blogs still going, the majority of popular blogs are so uncontroversial — and so industry friendly — they might as well be written in vanilla.

  6. Alistair · January 1, 2015

    I like that idea Mike , I think I will call it the blog sin bin !

    TC I played phone tag with Mike from Tamanawis for a few weeks but never got time to get a proper chat! He is married with a child in Edinburgh

    I like your “written in vanilla” statement – a few of the blogs I used to enjoy now read like adverts for tackle companies.

  7. Andy Tucker · January 1, 2015

    There are still some good blogs and I agree NCA is about the best on the blog. The thing is blogs are and should be personal things . The best are written for pleasure and not for gain .
    I have found myself looking at blogs generally again there are good bad and dreadful just for the quality of the writing try having a read of the hippo on the lawn blog… one of my favourites.

  8. Bob · January 1, 2015

    Interesting read Alistair but over here at we would like to point out we have never sucked any cocks at game fairs, and never would. Well, apart from that one time Stu got drunk on Pimms and dished out BJs in return for Rapala Shad Raps at the CLA Game Fair

  9. Alistair · January 1, 2015

    Hey TC – thought you might like this:

  10. kbarton10 · January 1, 2015

    I’ve never referrred to fish as “ladies” – but only because my luck with them as don’t shave has been even poorer than fishing. Loved your article.

  11. Dave Southall · January 1, 2015

    Great Blog! Or should I have said Post???????????????

  12. Alistair · January 1, 2015

    You can say both Dave ! It just depends what you mean 😉 interestingly your stuff in Facebook is amazing!

  13. Spencer · January 1, 2015

    Stroll on the Spring!

  14. Ken Joslin · January 1, 2015

    High Alistair, To be honest I’ve been expecting yours to disappear, what with the move and growing family pressure, but I’m always pleased to see you are sticking with it. Your observation and humour are only two clicks away on , which is now over two years old, with no book deal in sight. My blog gets comments from all over the world and has hatched a few imitations, which is the best form of praise in my book. Having a blog also forces you to go out and try to catch a few fish, with all the perils and pressure that it can bring. Regards Ken

  15. Alistair · January 1, 2015

    It is not going to disapear – it has evolved with my life over the last ten years and will continue to do so until I no longer fish and
    even then I will still take a pop at folk that piss me off! Last season was a bit difficult and unsettling – this season I have got my shit together although come May I may have a bit of a problem for a while – can you guess what it is?

    I am disapointed I left Urban Field Sportsman off the list Ken as quite frankly yours is one of the most diverse sports blogs out their just now. I thouroughly enjoyed your post about shooting and rabbits – it made it exciting and made me imagine the experience in my head which usually only fishing trips can do.


  16. Ken Joslin · January 1, 2015

    Thanks for the boost Alistair. I thought a post on catching pike would be a nice variation. Trouble is, nobody told the pike. Good luck on the new addition by the way. Ken.

  17. Alistair · January 1, 2015


  18. kave · January 1, 2015

    YES! YES! YES!

  19. Alistair · January 1, 2015

    Thanks Kave!