OIF Says U.S. Fly Fishing Participation Declines 20 Percent

It’s been a long time since the fly fishing industry has enjoyed an “upside surprise” in any participation research. Still, it’s worth digging into the most recent numbers a bit, if only because data can be skewed by weather events and sampling techniques. (Note, for example, that bicycling showed an even larger decline in 2004-2005 than fly fishing, this in a year that Lance Armstrong won his 7th Tour de France and bicycle retailers reported increased sales.) Perhaps the numbers say something about buying habits: sports that require “technical” gear are on the decline. We think it also says something about time management; activities that require an overnight commitment are also losing participants.
But here it is: the annual Outdoor Recreation Participation Study done by the Outdoor Industry Foundation was released on June 19 and shows that between 2004 and 2005, participation in fly fishing decreased by 20 percent. Overall, total outings decreased by 11 percent. Trail-running and snow-shoeing showed the largest increases in participation. “‘The Outdoor Recreation Participation Study confirms trends that emerged last year: participants are focusing on low-commitment activities, especially those that can be done in a day, in locations near their homes and with limited technical equipment.'”
Interestingly, if you look at the OIF data for the past 5 years, the trend in fly fishing participation is still up. Since 2004 was a peak year, with 18.2 million participants, 2005’s 14.7 million participant count looks like a big drop, but it was still higher than participation in any of the three years prior to 2004.
You can read more details of the study on the OIF Web site.

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