LETTERS TO THE EDITOR
The Salmon Flyer is rapidly approaching a crossroads. Will this next year see the last four issues of our publication? Will it cease to exist due to lack of input and interest from the readership/membership? Will it exist in another format under different editorial guidance? Will The Salmon Flyer become a commercial venture with editorial, marketing and circulation staffs? The answers to these questions and others, should be intensely interesting to the members of "The Group". I would like to share my thoughts with you on these issues.
When I first became a member, Peter Lewis was the editor of the Salmon Flyer. Personally, I was very impressed with the editorial and artistic quality under his guidance. Then, Mike Radencich assumed editorship and the quality increased by a logarithmic order of magnitude as did the membership. Mike has clearly established a new "gold standard".
But, I understand that Mike's personal business committments have suffered due to his involvement with the Flyer. For this reason he must pass the mantle to someone else. But obviously, they will have large shoes to fill. The next editor(s) must consider the scope of work in this endeavor and the standards which have been set. Mike deserves our thanks and gratitude for a job so magnificently done!
The membership must contribute editorial material for The Flyer to remain viable. There is no reason for every member/reader to not submit at least one article, idea, problem, solution, pattern or letter to the editor in each calendar year. Yes, by way of confession, this is my first contribution, but not the last!
My hesitancy (and perhaps that of others) has been based on my lack of salmon fly-tying experience. After having seen some of the other members' works published in other printed media, I was/am intimidated. "What could I possibly submit to teach or inform them about tying classic salmon flies?" I've only been tying salmon flies sporadically for two years. After having had phone conversations with some of them it became clear that many with whom I've spoken and others who' have submitted articles have a desire and interest to teach, share ideas, or unravel mysteries or difficult problems for those of us who are novices. By reading, their own ideas and experiences are reinforced. Then, as we become more adept and experienced, we can share our insights with each other and the next "generation" of novices. If we, the membership, would submit our questions, ideas, and problems to The Flyer, then the exchange of ideas and information would increase dramatically. Good answers lead to more questions!
Next, should or will The Flyer become a commercial venture? Can it become a "magazine" without becoming commercial?
There is no doubt in my mind that the potential interest for this organization has remained largely untapped. I cannot remember having seen any "advertisement" or "notice" that The Flyer even existed. I heard of it by word of mouth. I believe there must be a significant number of fly tyers who would be interested. I expect a simple ad in American Angler would swell readership by 50% or more. Is that desirable? Probably so, from a financial and readership participation standpoint. On the other hand, could this "dilute" the content of material related to classic salmon fly tying?
If The Salmon Flyer is to move in a commercial direction and, perhaps, even if it does not, I believe there should be a stated mission and purpose for the organization, a name (The Jock Scott Society??!!), bylaws and a governing body such as a board of directors or officers. Such a body could give directions for the organization based upon input from the membership. The Fly Dresser's Guild has such a governing structure.
Based on Mike's figures in the October 1993 Financial Report, the October issue cost $613. This sum becomes almost $2500 per year for editorial and distribution costs, no small amount of money. Is it fair to ask the editor to be responsible for such a sum without some sort of representative guidance from the membership?
No, I am not an attorney. I cannot give advice on such potentially complicated matters. But I suspect that if The Flyer moves to the next plane, such as magazinehood, there may be contracts to sign and financial committments more significant than "The Group" has seen. It seems the institution of a governing body is imperative in this situation.
Personally, if The Flyer could be maintained as a publication dedicated to the art of the Classic Salmon Fly, I would like to see it expanded with glossy photos, greater reader participation and, perhaps, even commercial support. Otherwise, I am not really sure I want more articles on salmon fishing, hair wings and steelhead rivers, which are available elsewhere.
In closing, perhaps Chris Helm's idea for an Atlantic Salmon Fly tyer's workshop would provide a forum to discuss the future of The Flyer and "The Group". But, alas, Mike's last year will pass quickly and there may not be enough time to meet. The Flyer is probably the most expedient way of exchanging our ideas regarding the future of this publication. Our ideas, contributions and participation are essential!