Tuesday, July 19, 2022

2022 RBFF Report: slight decline, but fly fishing gets younger

As been the tradition for the past 12 years, the Recreational Boating and Fishing Foundation - along with the Outdoor Foundation - released its annnual look at fishing participation in the United States just prior to this week's ICAST fishing trade show. The 2022 Special Report on Fishing details participation trends in overall fishing, saltwater fishing, fly fishing and other areas of our sport based on licenses, surveys, tackle sales and many other datapoints from the previous year (2021).

Overall, more than 52 million Americans ages 6 and over went fishing in 2021. This was a four percent decline from the historic high in 2020, and yet still one of the highest numbers ever. Also of interest, women composed 37 percent of participants, the highest number ever.

With regards to fly fishing... participation in 2021 also declined four percent from the historic high of 7.8 million in 2020. The 7.5 million fly anglers is still significantly higher than anytime since records have been kept.

There's more good news. The majority of 2020 participants who lapsed were in the older age groups. This was offset by nearly 17 percent newcomers to fly fishing, mostly under age 35. Almost 60 percent of all fly anglers are now age 44 and under.

Diversity. Female participation continues to grow. About 19 percent of female participants were first-timers, compared to 16 percent of male participants. Conversely, the numbers of black and hispanics continue to be low at 8 percent and 10 percent, respectively.

Income and education. Fly fishing continues to be favored by those with higher income and with some college or college degree. Seventy percent of fly fishers have annual income of $50k or more, while 60 percent have at least one year of college or higher.

Demographics. Once again, the South Atlantic region (Virginia to Florida) had the highest number of fly anglers, representing 20 percent of the total. This was followed by the Mid-Atlantic and Pacific regions, at 17 percent.  Our region - Texas, Louisiana, Arkansas, Oklahoma - had 10 percent of all participants, or about 750,000 fly anglers.