Fly fishing forums are plentiful. Virtually every region where one can find fly fishermen has an associated forum where both local fishermen and outsiders congregate to share fishing reports, stories, advice and answers to general questions. At least, that's the idea. Unfortunately, it rarely goes to plan. More commonly, fly fishing forums fall victim to one or more of the many pitfalls that commonly afflict most internet forums: they turn into spam factories, they are largely inactive, they are excessively off-topic with little in the way of valuable information, they become insider popularity contests and are excessively hostile to newcomers and so on.
And there are good reasons that these issues befall so many a forum: building a strong, healthy, active forum community requires an inordinate amount of effort and dedication. The assumption is often that because the users are generating the bulk of the content, forum operators need do little more than sit back and watch the hordes amass. Nothing could be farther from the truth. Establishing a base of community members, moderating (which basically amounts to supervising) user contributions and cultivating a community that produces a lively, ongoing discussion is a daunting task. The special combination of forum operators, moderators and members required to build a valuable forum community rarely comes together regardless of the subject matter and this is precisely why most online forums are disregarded entirely by those of us with better things to do than troll forums all day long.
As a result, many fly fishermen have abandoned the forum medium entirely. Even those forums that offer some good information are still rife with the aforementioned maladies, making sifting through the rubble to find the gems a task not worth undertaking. But there are exceptions to the rule.
Enter PAFlyFish.com, a fly fishing forum with an ongoing focus that although it centers on Pennsylvania has expanded to include Pennsylvania's neighboring states, much of the northeast US and far beyond. PAFlyFish is the model of what fly fishing forums -- nay, all forums -- should aspire to be. Driven by its operator, devoted moderators and members, the forum offers something for everyone: general fly fishing discussion, fly tying discussions, stream reports, gear talk and more. Though that may sound much like what all fly fishing forums claim to offer, the key is that PAFlyFish actually succeeds at doing so, thanks entirely to its community. It is a community of individuals that are extremely knowledgable, generous with their time and information and welcoming to newcomers.
Whether you live in Pennsylvania, are looking to learn more about fly fishing in the Keystone State, or live in the Rocky Mountain West, the UK or Alaska and want to discuss gear, fly patterns or fishing tips, you're likely to find a captive and responsive audience at PAFlyFish.com.
And it definitely bears noting that there are other exceptions to the forum rule in the world of fly fishing. Not all fly fishing forums stink. Share your favorites in the comments below.
Ben James replied on Permalink
njflyfishing.com isn't bad, though it isn't in the same league as PAFlyFish. If you have a NJ-specific question, there's lots of knowledgable folks on there, even though the site can be a nightmare to navigate and there are a lot of personalities on there that I can do without.
blue replied on Permalink
The Stipers Online surf talk forum is a good one, though not specifically fly fishing (they do have a sub forum for fly fishermen).
It is excessively moderated and a bit too rule heavy, and sure there's too much of a regulars thing going on, but if you're looking for saltwater knowledge, there's lots to be learned there.
Rj replied on Permalink
I must disagree. Although there are many knowledgable anglers on this forum, many of them are very arrogant and condescending. Eventually you will get an answer to the question you ask, if you are willing to listen to crap before it. I have seen members say obnoxious arrogant things to people in tne beginners forum.
Chad Shmukler replied on Permalink
Rj - which forum are you referring to. PAFlyFish, or one of the others? Regardless, every forum has its share of contributors that the rest of the community can do with out. The trick is finding the balance between monitoring forum content at a level that maintains a certain level of decorum, but doesn't stifle conversation by creating a police state. You'll be hard pressed to find a lively, active forum without at least a few assholes. Again, this is part of why many people have abandoned the medium entirely. That said, I think forums like PAFlyFish offer more than enough reason in what the helpful, mature members offer to deal with the few sad sacks that hang around.
Charles Crawford replied on Permalink
Chad, nice article, and I couldn't agree more with your response to Rj. I have received nothing but great responses to my posts and questions and highly recommend paflyfish.com to anyone seeking advice or just looking for new ideas on any topic related to fly fishing.
As someone relatively new to the sport of fly fishing (have been fishing many, many years, but only recently took up fly fishing), I found your beginners forums especially useful when looking for information on equipment and places to fish.
Ed M replied on Permalink
As a long time member of paflyfish, I have to agree that it is the best forum I've ever been a member of. I belong to several flyfishing forums - some for many years.
Paflyfish is unique in that, in general, it is mainly made up of fly fishermen from Pennsylvania, though we have members from around the globe.
We hold several gatherings throughout the year, and a large portion of us have met face to face. It's really a great bunch of people with few exceptions. We pride ourselves on the willingness to help our fellow anglers. NO ONE gets left behind, so to speak. Many of us go to great lengths to help others, and the generosity of the members is without question.
Many of the "old timers" remember what it was like back in the day. All too often, flyfishermen weren't as willing to share their hard earned knowledge for whatever reason. We've vowed to not let that happen on our watch.
Many of my best friends and fishing buddies were met on paflyfish. These are the people I choose to spend my valuable free time with, and many are like family to me.
Through the sharing of knowledge and information, we'll make each other better anglers, and increase our enjoyment of the sport.
Come join us - all are welcome!
"Heritage-Angler" on paflyfish.com
Fred Rickson replied on Permalink
Well, after flyfishing for 65 years (tarpon to trout) and still finding and trying new flies and ideas, I don't read blogs because many folks today are too lazy to look for an answer before clogging up a forum with something like "what's a tippet." For the 35th time! Enough...a moderator does not have to suffer every lazy fool. Sorry.
J. Crawford replied on Permalink
Just tried to log on to PAFlyFish and got "ACCOUNT SUSPENDED" message. Anybody know what's going on
Chad Shmukler replied on Permalink
Wasn't like that earlier today, so my guess is an issue with their service provider. Hopefully to be resolved soon.
AB replied on Permalink
I have to agree with Rj. Paflyfish is ok but there are some very rude members. Don't even see as many stream reports on there anymore because the next day your inbox will be full of "spot-burning" hate mail :/ but if you can get past the smartass's or you think you know everything, Then this forum is where you belong
Me replied on Permalink
I have to agree with those that disagree with this article. I have been a member there since about the late 90,s. It used to be a great place but it has gone way downhill since then.
DH replied on Permalink
Speypages is No.1!! If you haven't swung flies you outta reconsider!
Bill Myers replied on Permalink
It may be a great forum...but I keep getting messages that they are not accepting members. I guess they aren't interested in bringing new people into Fly Fishing.