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Across the country, winter brings with it a unique set of ups and downs. For some it means early morning caravans and carpools to get fresh tracks on epic powder days. Others simply take solace in the fact that they can finally remove over-priced sheets of plywood from their windows because hurricane season has come to an end. However, once winter has set in, no matter where you live – if you fish – it’s damn near impossible to not salivate over the nearing of spring. In the midst of winter, and with spring in sight – there’s no better way to celebrate the seasons ahead than to gather amongst other likeminded, beer drinking fly fishing dirtbags and watch the freshest footage painstakingly stitched together into the year’s finest fishing films. Yes – the 2018 Fly Fishing Film Tour (F3T) has begun! We recently caught up with F3T staffer, Ryan Thompson to get an insider’s view on what attendees can expect from what promises to be the biggest and best Fly Fishing Film Tour to date.
Simms: Before we dip too far into this Q&A, how about giving us a little history on the F3T? What was the main reason for starting the tour?
Thompson: The Tour was started way back in 2007 by the AEG [Angling Exploration Group] crew, the guys that made the original Trout Bum Diaries films – Thad Robinson, Chris Owens, Brian Jill, Ryan Davey and eventually Jay Johnson.
The films they were making and their approach to fly fishing was different than anything that was in the sport’s “mainstream” media at the time. They knew that there were a lot of anglers out there like them, exploring new water and techniques, sleeping in their trucks and getting it done on a shoestring; the type of fishermen that weren’t being represented on Sunday afternoon TV. As a means to reach the people they knew would dig these stories the most, and as an excuse to fish and party their way across the country, they started to bring their films (and the work of some of the other early fly fishing film pioneers like RA Beattie, World Angling & Felt Soul Media) to fly shops and fishing guides’ living rooms. They’d buy a big screen TV from Best Buy, show the films on it that night and return it the next day. They’d decide where they wanted to fish next and then, figure out how they could put on a show there.
Those guys bootstrapped the tour until 2009 but ultimately, they wanted to focus on filming projects and growing their new production company, Motiv Fishing. It was at this point that Doug Powell, Chris Keig and Tom Bie, before he moved on to publish The Drake magazine fulltime, purchased the F3T and began applying some of the tour management skills they’d developed in the ski film industry.
Simms: Do you think anybody had an inkling how big that initial idea would eventually become?
Thompson: I don’t know. Maybe? I’m not sure anyone could have predicted the growth the tour has seen or the cultural shift that has happened across fly fishing in the years since the AEG crew hit the road. There are a lot of factors that have contributed to fly fishing becoming less your rich uncle’s pastime and more a sport that anyone can learn and enjoy, but the guys that started this thing deserve a ton of credit for doing something different, choosing to share it with people across the country, and inspiring a whole new wave of anglers along the way.
Simms: When did you join the crew, and in what capacity?
Thompson: I first hit the road in 2012. I was guiding during the summer and working on the Warren Miller ski film tour in the fall when Doug Powell and Chris Keig asked me to come help them with the F3T. That first tour I was just learning the ropes from Thad Robinson and Jay Johnson and doing whatever needed to be done on the road. I began managing the primary tour shows with Doug in 2013 and began working on the F3T fulltime in 2014.
Simms: The other day you and I were talking about the filmmakers you are working with today vs. the early days of the tour. Can you talk a little bit more about that?
Thompson: Several filmmakers who have been around since the early days are still in the mix, folks like RA Beattie and Felt Soul media. They’ve always made great films, though their skills and the technology their using have certainly evolved over the years. Each year it seems the lineup is made up of about half veteran F3T filmmakers and half newcomers to the tour. Those newcomers used to primarily come from within the fly fishing space, but in the last couple years we’ve begun receiving more submissions from filmmakers who have cut their creative teeth in other areas like skiing, climbing or conservation.
Pre-Show Swag Shower
Sold Out F3T from 2017