With cabin fever at all time high, we wanted to take a break from the chaos and sit down (virtually, of course) with Flylords Founder and President, Jared Zissu. Jared and his team have documented some of the most jaw-dropping fisheries the globe has to offer, sharing the stories of the species and people that characterize these incredible angling destinations. If you can’t travel for the time being, you might as well put your waders on, sit on the couch, and live vicariously through this conversation…
What is Flylords and how did it start?
Flylords story has simple beginnings; In a firehouse dorm room in Sewanee, Tennessee. When I wasn’t studying or training with the Fire Department you could find me on the Elk River tailwater about 45 minutes from school. My freshman year was 2012, and Instagram was just starting to pick up momentum.
As my passion for fly fishing grew, so did the fishing photos I would post on Instagram, but I was posting on my personal account and honestly felt like it was getting a little annoying to my close friends. How many fishing photos did they really want to see? It was later that summer that I wanted to start a dedicated page for fly fishing. Once again, this was early, early Instagram days so magazines, blogs, and fly shops didn’t even really exist on the platform.
We became the first page to have a dedicated feed sharing inspiring images, stories, and news in the fly fishing world. I remember having a Lord of the Flies book on my kitchen counter that inspired the name of the account, but I made it shorter, and catchier. Flylords. It was never built to be a business, just something fun I did on the side with some buddies.
What is the primary objective of Flylords?
The primary objective of Flylords is to inspire people to get on the water. Whether that’s by sharing useful tips for improving your skills as an angler, or by sharing an epic trip story to the Seychelles. Our goal is to try and get people off the couch and into the outdoors. These people often become advocates for the sport and for conservation in general, so we try and have a strong conservation presence when we are covering industry stories, and environmental stories in general.
In a world saturated with digital media, what do you think has helped set the Flylords brand apart?
That is a great question. We search for unique people, unique places, and stories that have a deeper meaning – a deeper meaning than just a grip and grin photo of a big fish. That definitely helps us stand out. We have also built a team around some extremely talented individuals. Writers, photographers, cinematographers, editors, you name it. Our team has grown over the past few years and we are finally starting to find our stride in storytelling from video, to photo, and even written pieces.
You’ve had a chance to experience some of the world’s most exotic fisheries over the years. What goes into making a trip like that happen?
Planning for an exotic trip is not easy. We are fortunate that the fly fishing industry has lodges all over the world – I’m talking 5-star food and lodging in the most remote places on earth. That definitely helps. But the planning usually begins many months earlier. We need to finalize dates, logistics, stories, gear, and who we will be bringing on the trip. Many hours, even days go into planning these trips. But when they come together, and we can create some beautiful content it’s always worth it.
Being that your professional life hinges around personal passions, how do you keep yourself from burning out on fly fishing?
I would be lying if I said fly fishing is still what it used to be for me. In college, it was an outlet that I relied on to break free of work and worries. Today it definitely feels like work (laughs). That being said I have become more passionate about the business, and about telling great stories. I hope one-day fly fishing can be an outlet again for peaceful thinking and meditation. Until then I might need to find another hobby. Maybe bird hunting?
What’s one of your craziest experiences (good or bad) while traveling abroad?
We had a pretty dicey trip to Bolivia a few years back. It was one of my first trips coming out of college and at that time I wasn’t turning down any opportunities. This trip meant landing on a jungle airstrip in the middle of the Amazon jungle. We jumped into canoes and headed upriver on a 7-day camping expedition. We fished for Golden Dorado which was incredible, but let me tell you something, it felt like everything in that jungle wanted to kill you. Luckily we had the local Tsimane tribe traveling with us. They helped every step of the way, and it is still one of my favorite trips to date. There is something about stepping way out of your comfort zone for a trip like that. Some of those memories are the best.
What’s your favorite species to target?
I have two species that are my favorite – at least right now. The Blue Bastard, which we recently were fishing for in Australia. And the Triggerfish, which I have chased in both Christmas Island and the Seychelles. Both of these species have a lot of personality. They are saltwater species so they fight super hard – and seem to always know how to break you off. They are both also super visual sight-fishing experiences – that gets my blood pumping.
Any advice for those looking to get into fly fishing?
There is so much knowledge around the sport of fly fishing – on YouTube – on Instagram – in books – you name it. If you want to get into the sport start doing some research. Also, follow us on Instagram (laughs “That’s not a plug”) – but seriously, give us a follow and you will see the amazing places that the sport can bring you. The people that participate – and the amazing community that surrounds this sport – it’s one of the closest knit outdoor communities. We want to share content with people who have never picked up a rod before – in the hopes that a few months later they are compelled to book a trip with a guide on some local water. If you were thinking about learning to fly fish, now is a great time.