23 Fly Fishing Industry Statistics and Trends

Fly fishing is a type of fishing method that simulates the use of natural instincts to catch a fish. Artificial flies are placed at the end of a weighted line. These lures then land on the surface of the water, replicating how a normal fly would behave. Different casting techniques are used for the type of water being fished and the species being targeted.

Many anglers use hand-tied flies to resemble the prey that fish see on the surface of the water. If the fish bites at the fly, then the angler has a chance to land the fish.

Fly fishing can be done in freshwater or saltwater locations. In the U.S., the fly fishing industry distinguishes cold-water fly fishing from warm-water fly fishing. In the U.K., the market is distinguished between coarse fishing and game fishing.

Fascinating Fly Fishing Industry Statistics

#1. If fishing was a corporation in the United States, it would be listed in the Fortune 500 because of its economic impact. Licensed anglers generated about $48 billion in retail sales annually. (American Sportfishing Association)

#2. The economic impact of recreational fishing in the United States is valued at $115 billion. More than 825,000 people are directly employment because of the activities of anglers each year. (American Sportfishing Association)

United States Fly Fishing Industry Statistics by Age

#3. The fly fishing industry provides a small fraction of the overall recreational fishing industry. In 2012, the industry reported an economic impact of about $1 billion. (American Sportfishing Association)

#4. There are about 3.8 million anglers in the United States who report that they go fly fishing on a regular basis. 85% of those who participate in fly fishing activities are men. (Field and Stream)

#5. 64% of fly fishing activities occur at freshwater locations. The most common place to go fly fishing is in the Rocky Mountains, where 31.5% of the industry is located. (Field and Stream)

#6. Physical retail locations are responsible for a majority of the sales generated by the fly fishing industry. In 2012, 83% of all sales occurred at a fly fishing shop. Another 13% were e-commerce sales. The remainder of the industry revenues are generated by mail-order catalogs. (Field and Stream)

#7. Flies are the most popular item purchased by anglers within the industry, accounting for 18.6% of all revenues generated. This is followed by rods (8.3%), reels (6.4%), and leaders (5.6%). If fly-tying materials are removed from fly revenues, it would represent 7.8% of the revenues generated by the industry. (Field and Stream)

#8. July thru September is the most popular time to go fly fishing in the United States. About 36% of fishing activities occur during these months. In comparison, just 15% of fishing activities happen in January thru March. (Field and Stream)

#9. Guided trips represent almost 13% of the gross sales that the fly fishing industry is able to achieve each year. (Field and Stream)

#10. Total sales that are generated by small- to medium-sized businesses in the fly fishing industry generated about $750 million in revenues annually. The national average for a fly fishing retail location is $315,000 in revenues. (American Fly Fishing Trade Association)

US Fly Fishing Industry Statistics by Geography Location

#11. 15.8% of the U.S. population reports that they participate in fishing activities at least once per year. The average person goes fishing about 19 times each year. That means more than 890 million fishing trips are taken annually. (The Outdoor Foundation)

#12. About 44% of youth that are interested in fishing are girls and children are more likely than adolescents to be interested in fly fishing activities. (The Outdoor Foundation)

#13. 98% of people who describe themselves as anglers say that they will make at least one fishing trip in the next 12 months. (The Outdoor Foundation)

#14. 32% of anglers who participate in fishing activities are a college graduate or have a post-graduate degree. (The Outdoor Foundation)

#15. About 60% of anglers in the United States earn at least $50,000 per year in household income. 25% of anglers have a household income greater than $100,000 per year. (The Outdoor Foundation)

#16. About 39% of anglers that are active are above the age of 45. Another 29% are in the 25-44 age demographic. (The Outdoor Foundation)

#17. 15% of adults above the age of 25 say that fishing is their favorite outdoor activity. (The Outdoor Foundation)

#18. Just 5.3% of people who went fishing in 2014 said that they were fishing for the first time. Another 7.7% said that they hadn’t fished in the last 12 months when they went fishing that year. (The Outdoor Foundation)

#19. 81% of anglers went fishing for the first time at a freshwater location. Only 2.7% of anglers say that their first fishing experience was to go fly fishing. (The Outdoor Foundation)

#20. 3.6 million people say that they go freshwater fishing and fly fishing regularly. Another 1.9 million people say that the go saltwater fishing and fly fishing. 1.6 million Americans say that they regularly participate in all types of fishing. (The Outdoor Foundation)

United States Fly Fishing Industry Statistics by Market Size

#21. 63% of anglers say that they go fishing because it is a good way to get exercise, making it the most popular reason to go fishing. This is followed by being with family or friends (58.9%), being close to nature (54%), and enjoying the sounds or smells of nature (52%). (The Outdoor Foundation)

#22. The ethnic breakdown of anglers in the United States is somewhat similar to the overall population demographics. Asian and Pacific Islander households are over-represented by almost 100%, while Hispanic households are under-represented by more than 50%. (The Outdoor Foundation)

#23. Almost 13% of fly fishing participants are new to the sport in any given year. The majority of fly fishing activities take place within 2 hours of the angler’s home. Only 30% of fly fishing activities involve a trip of 4 hours or more. (The Outdoor Foundation)

Fly Fishing Trends and Analysis

Fly fishing is an affordable recreational activity that everyone in the family can enjoy. Although men make up a majority of anglers, the number of women who are getting involved in fly fishing is rising dramatically. The participation rates of women in fly fishing is up 25% since 2006.

This industry is unique in the fact that it is a mostly offline venture that happens at local shops. Although there is a small and growing e-commerce presence for the industry, online sales are primarily generated by the largest brands in the fly fishing industry. The average person goes to the location where they want to fish, purchases supplies locally, and maintains an inventory of flies and supplies they keep for future fishing efforts.

About 21 million people are thinking about getting involved in fishing in the next year, and that’s just in the United States. That means the fly fishing industry has a lot of potential for growth, even if it is only a small portion of the overall fishing industry.