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The Greenbacks: Changing the World of Conservation

Five years ago, a small group of conservation-minded anglers sat down to discuss strategies for how to excite a new generation of young, passionate anglers. The plan of our small group -- eventually known as the Greenbacks -- was simple: change how conservation is viewed by a younger audience and make it engaging by thinking outside the box.

As Nick Hoover, one of the core members of our group noted, “After being involved with my local Trout Unlimited chapter for awhile, I realized the traditional chapter model might not be working for the majority of my peers. I thought it would be fun to find a committed core of young anglers like me who were having a hard time plugging into TU and together introduce some fun back into conservation."

Our first idea was to host a gallery event, later dubbed 'Surface Film', showcasing of some of the best fly-fishing photography from around the country. “We’re fortunate to know some very talented photographers that are willing to offer their images for the greater good”, said Tim Romano, also a member of the group and well-known professional photographer. Images were gathered, printed, and then framed by Anthology Fine Art in Denver. “It was a huge task to undertake, but it was something we felt strongly about, so we were all in,” noted Anthology Fine Art's owner, and Greenback, Zach Custer.

Yield to thy friends, not temptation

We recently published a quick tip from friend, former guide and all around wildly skilled angler Todd Tanner. Todd's tip urged more experienced anglers to yield the best water to friends that are less experienced anglers, noting "You won’t catch more fish, but you’ll end up having a better time and cementing your friendships." Initially, I took Todd's tip to be a matter of simple common courtesy, one that I assumed all good and moral fly fishers such as myself follow without deviation. Given some more thought, I remembered not only many times when I had faithfully followed this credo, but many when I hadn't -- and how that choice affects us as anglers.

Montana Cuttthroat
New anglers that catch fish are happy anglers (photo: Chad Shmukler).

My guess is that most anglers will share similar memories -- those of times we've passed on fishing our favorite honey hole, instead setting up a beginner angling friend and instructing him or her on just the right way to ply its waters, or of times we passed up pods of steadily rising fish, yielding them to a friend that sees such opportunities less often than those of us who get to fish more often. And, as Todd notes, those choices almost always pan out for the best.

Orvis and CEO Perk Perkins on Investing in the Great Outdoors

We spend a lot of time beating the drums of conservation, talking about the need to prioritize the preservation of clean water and healthy landscapes. We do it because we believe the message is simple: conserving our rivers, forest, streams and so on is good business. Not just in the sense that it allow us to pass down our hunting and fishing heritage to the next generations, but that it is literally good business; for those of us in the outdoors industries, the health of our businesses rely on the health of our lands and waters. Orvis, driven by its CEO Perk Perkins, is one of the companies that seems to understand these concepts particularly well.

Orvis 1,000 Miles Campaign
From a short video on the Orvis/TU 1,000 Miles Campaign, which is working to reconnect streams across the U.S. creating miles of spawning habitat and fishable water.

Anglers have grown accustomed to seeing Orvis' name attached to countless important conservation efforts that are tied directly to preserving, protecting and improving our fisheries. Whether that is through their support and partnerships with the Save Bristol Bay campaign and other Trout Unlimited efforts, American Rivers, the Wild Steelhead Coalition, the Atlantic Salmon Federation, the Deschutes River Alliance or The Bonefish and Tarpon Trust, Orvis's commitment to fisheries conservation is well demonstrated widespread.

Welding your own loops in sink tips and fly lines

For years, we've been building our own loops into sink tips via whipped loops, allowing us to hit trout and steelhead streams with sink tips of many different weights and lengths. Typically, we use different colored thread to help distinguish tips of different weights. The loops are relatively easy to build and when reinforced with UV knot sense are actually quite strong. While these loops have generally worked well, they often don't turn out as nice and neat as we'd like, and the thread wraps take a beating over time and have failed on us on more than one occasion. The alternative to whipped loops is welded loops which, while many anglers think can only be created by the manufacturer at the factory, can actually be made very easily at home.

Welding Sink Tips

A new video by RIO highlights the process and, with RIO's recent addition of colored (by weight) InTouch Level T sink tip material, has us a bit giddy about the idea of revamping our sink tip arsenal with vast array of color-coded tips in varying lengths with neat, manufacturer-quality welded loops.

22 of 52

Another year has passed, and passed too quickly. I suppose the upcoming year will go by even faster. I’ve been fortunate, lucky and very humbled the past 365 days. To continue to see and capture the world through my own eyes is a dream turned reality.

Patagonia Founder Yvon Chouinard
Patagonia founder Yvon Chouinard on location in the remote Andes Mountains for an upcoming conservation film titled “Finding Fontinals” (photo: Bryan Gregson).

I lived out of packs for 22 of the 52 weeks that I attempted to live. I observed many things outside the small box I live in. The more I travel the more I realize how much I take for granted, how much I really don’t know, how much I don’t need, how much time I waste on the meaningless, how many stereotypes are wrong, how many insignificant things are given great value too, and how much a single drop of water is worth.

I grew and I made too many mistakes along the way. I learned the hard way more than I’d like to admit. I was taught lessons. I could have been more compassionate, caring and understanding. I could have used my voice to be heard a little louder. I lost too many friends and too many loved ones.

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