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9ason 09-09-2009 03:18 PM

I need help keeping interest in our club
I am not sure if this belongs here, but I think since it is club related it might fit.

Due to the condition of the economy and it being summer time in Texas, our member participation is dropping. I know a few of our once active members were laid-off from their jobs, and they soon left the club. I understand that, but we have officers who havenít shown up except maybe twice all year long. We have people who make promises, but never follow through and I find this the most frustrating.

Here is a little back ground, my wife and I run the meetings. I think one thing that turns the older guys off of the meetings is my wife does most of the talking since she can prepare for meetings during the days while I am at work, and she is also more dynamic/ energetic (talks a lot) than I am. The older guys (when they do show up), also, only want to talk about non-fly-fishing things and when we finally do get back on topic nothing is ever decided upon (i.e. monthly fishing outings).

My wife and I have tried to prepare different discussion topics to help people learn about fly fishing, such as fishing in different seasons, or where good places to fish different times of the year. Every time we try, we get shot down by the old all-knowing fishing gurus who tell us that what we looked up only is true for [fill in a species of fish you donít fish for] and not [species of fish you do fish for]. The discussions go nowhere, and nobody participates after that. This makes preparing for meetings to be a chore and no fun anymore.

What do other clubs do to retain interest in fly fishing in their clubs? Iíve asked numerous times what people want during our club meetings, but nobody speaks up. And to top that off, lately, only 1-3 people have even been coming to the meetings. Iíve lined up people to spin deer hair, tie other types of flies, and demonstrate how to make a bamboo rod. Weíve also had Steve Hollensed and Allen Crise give presentations and casting seminars. People show up for those, but not the regular meetings and outings. Weíve only had one outing this year and that was last month and my wife and I were the only ones to show up.

Please help me run a successful club, though, I probably should have asked this long ago before too many people dropped out.

Thank you very much I appreciate yíallís input.

Rip Tide 09-09-2009 04:36 PM

Re: I need help keeping interest in our club
Meetings at our club are standing room only.. over 225 on a good night.
We don't meet in the summer, in fact the first meeting of the season is tonight.

Meetings open with a round of fly tying (just 3-4 guys), coffee, and there's usually some tasty goodies.
The business meeting starts promptly on time
After new business, there's a raffle that supports the insurance fund. I don't know where all the stuff comes from, but there's alot and there's some quality items. Fly tying material, gadgets, hats, that sort of thing

A short coffee break, then the program.
Power point/slidehow presentations mostly. Once a year a movie and pizza and the 'fly tiers roundtable' night is very popular
Sometimes (like tonight) it's a club member talking about a trip he's made. Often it's a regional writer, guide, lodge owner, that sort of thing....
Sometimes they bring in a national personality

In the winter we have our expo and banquet.
We have a major speaker that appears at both the banquet and the expo.
Lefty, Bob Clouser, Dave Whitlock.....
Plus for the expo there's others that give seminars, fly shops, other clubs, the state DEP, guides, lodges, rod builders, authors, and lots of tyers.
The expo is free and highly promoted. A lot of new members join at this time

We also have a website, a monthly news letter, and stretch of river that we maintain.
There's classes for beginners, rod building, beginners fly tying and saltwater tying
Plus a lot of other stuff I'm likely forgetting

But things are not always rosey and there are often disagreements on how things should be run
That's why there's an election for club officers each year

Rip Tide 09-09-2009 05:06 PM

Re: I need help keeping interest in our club
...I should probably add that club officers have a separate monthly meeting and club meeting are free, open to the public and promoted on all the regional fly forums and in the news papers

peregrines 09-10-2009 12:29 PM

Re: I need help keeping interest in our club

Well from another thread it sounds like you have at least one new member with fire in his eyes (Newtofly), so that's a good thing. If you can get some more members like him you'll be all set!

You might want to reach out and enlist a group of folks to come up with a poll of current and former members to see where their interest are- you could ask a bunch of focused things like how likely would you be to participate in:
beginner fly tying class
group trips to local waters
casting clinic
weekly group tying get together
monthly meetings
conservation/stream improvement projects
informal tying sessions or casting on the lawn before meetings
family day
participation in project healing waters or other "service' work (One group around here has an annual event with special needs kids fishing on a very heavily stocked lake that is awesome for both kids and members)

but also ask some open ended questions, like

what can we do to improve the club?

what activities would you like to see?

What activities or committees would you like to get involved in?

You might get some good feedback, and perhaps identify some folks that would be willing to step up, and maybe even get some returnees since you're showing you value their opinion and input. But i think it should be a group effort to come up with the questions, to crunch the numbers, and come up with recommendations etc to get others involved in the process- even if it isn't perfect as far as you're concerned, just to increase the sense of ownership among the different members in the group. And it could be a way to get others to step up to take charge of different activities.

As Rip Tide mentioned his club is very well attended, and heavily publicized-- look around for places to put up flyers fly shops, sporting goods stores, churches, super markets, and free announcements in local papers in "events section" and maybe get a table at local outdoor sporting shows. Some new members will bring some fresh blood and energy-- and may energize some of the older or more experienced folks as mentors, instructors and at clinics.

Group dynamics can be weird though. I think a key part of this may be that you and your wife may be doing too much- it's easy for someone with great intentions and very motivated to step up and try to get things cooking- what happens sometimes is that it becomes easy for some folks to sit back and snipe from the sidelines-- sort of a passive aggressive reaction for folks with fragile egos--- and they'll shoot down ideas for one reason or another-- or no reason. Maybe one way to approach it, to someone that's always finding a reason to shoot down an outing for example- is to maybe seek them or others out in advance and try to broaden the load sharing-- enlist their help in soliciting ideas-- ask if they'd be willing to lead the charge on a trip, do a presentation for a meeting or help out on a clinic (or whatever comes up) by appealing to their "experience and knowledge". I think if you can find a way to share the load, it will give folks a better sense of ownership and lead to more active participation and involvement. I don't mean to imply that you or your wife is doing anything wrong- not at all- you're both filling the vacuum left by less engaged members-- and trying to turn things around. But if you can find a way to reach a few others that are already in the club, and bring in some fresh blood you may get some fresh ideas, more excitement and more participation.

Just my 2 cents.


flyguy66 09-10-2009 11:14 PM

Re: I need help keeping interest in our club
why do you want to be a member of a fly fishing club?

why do you want to run one?

let the answers to these 2 questions be your guide and don't deviate or lose sight of them based on the response you get or how many folks do/don't show up. nobody is showing up now. nobody is giving you any better ideas now. nobody is even telling you what they want instead now.

you've heard "build it and they will come?"

well, build it and stay at it and like-minded fly anglers will eventually be attracted to it.

the most important thing is to have positive goals and engage in positive actions driven by those goals. if it ain't fun...stop it! life's too short to be unhappy.

sounds to me like you got a bunch of grumpy, negative old farts who probably weren't worth much anyway. fishing clubs tend to be over-populated by this type. the successful clubs i've been in and seen just ignore them and get busy. soon enough, the old geezers either get with it or get lost. there's a lot of great knowledge and wisdom to be gleaned from our senior anglers when they have good attitudes. but when they have crappy attitudes, they're just poison.

Guest1 09-11-2009 12:28 AM

Re: I need help keeping interest in our club

Originally Posted by Rip Tide (Post 67409)
Meetings at our club are standing room only.. over 225 on a good night.

Holy Cow! If I got every single fly fishing person in my entire area to go to a meeting, I could drive them all there in my compact car. No joke. With the Canadian friend I got hooked on fly fishing and myself included we're up to a grand total of four. I'd even have a seat open if one of you came up and wanted to go along. 225! I wish! 9ason, I can't get 'em to fly fish let alone join a club.

HuronRiverDan 09-11-2009 08:04 AM

Re: I need help keeping interest in our club
Jason, I know how you feel, my club is about like yours. You just have to keep on trying to do what you're doing; maybe you can turn the "Old Farts" around. Peregrines gave you some great advice and I think a copy is going into my bag for our next club board meeting.


9ason 09-11-2009 12:59 PM

Re: I need help keeping interest in our club
Thanks everybody, I like everyone's ideas.

And Mark, Newtofly, is the main reason why I started this thread, I want to be able to reflect a quality club with vast amounts of interest and knowedge.

We "try" to do a lot of what was mentioned. We've done casting clinics, tying days, we are about to get a webpage up and running. We, also, are somewhat sponsored by our local Academy Sports and Outdoors store, they let us meet for free every month and help with advertising when we do have a big function. We also sit at gunshows every now and then if there is a vacant table. (Gunshows are usually pretty good advertisement, in fact, I found out about the club at a gunshow, I was showing my wife what a Tilley hat was and how I wanted one and the guy selling them had an NTFF [North Texas FlyFishers] logo that I asked him about.)

We have monthly meetings, and try to have monthly outings. We've talked about a conservation/stream improvement project on the only flyfishing only lake in TX. The Fort Worth club started it and we were supposed to help out with it, but that never has come to fruition.

I will pass this information on to the more active members to see what they think.

peregrines 09-11-2009 03:12 PM

Re: I need help keeping interest in our club
Good luck 9ason- it sounds like you may have a core group you can rebuild around. And it's great you have a spot for meetings- that's been a big issue with some clubs I've been in. A website will help too- you'll probably get a lot of new members from that.

Some other projects some clubs do is help build/maintain fishing access for the handicapped (Project Access) and help out dept of fish and wildlife folks with stocking etc- maybe the Texas dept has a PR person that you could contact to piggyback on events they might have to recruit new members, and/or find out about volunteer opportunities for projects. F&G folks like area fisheries biologists can also make good speakers for meetings.

You might also give some thought to affiliating your club with a national group like the Federation of fly Fishers. clubs seem to operate pretty autonomously but they'll help give the club more exposure-- and it's a good way to network with other folks with leadership roles in clubs that may have dealt with the some of the same issues and do joint projects/trips etc. You can do a search here to see if there is already one on your turf:

Good luck!


Liphookedau 09-12-2009 07:42 AM

Re: I need help keeping interest in our club
Hi 9ason.
I know how you feel as it's very hard to get people to meetings,I'm a member of both Fishing & Hunting Clubs,mostly "Old Farts".
However we seem to get a cross section,in one of the clubs,especially when
we have annual General Meetings,Guest Speakers,Reports of Members trips,displays of latest gear,clothing,Christmas Parties, etc,as the main thing is to try to get everyone involved,change the executive,have committees,Junior & Senior to share the workload,voice opinions/ ideas.
Good Luck.

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