Flylords in Utah: how the digital media company is helping protect Utah’s waterways

UTAH – Fly fishing in Utah is a great experience for anglers of all skill levels. The state is home to a wide variety of fish species, including over five species of trout and different trophy fish, including species such as bass, pike, and even steelhead.

In addition to a wide variety of fish, another one of the biggest draws of fly fishing in Utah is the accessibility to the vast amount of public access to the state’s rivers and streams. Many of these bodies of water are located within national forests and wilderness areas, which means that they are open to the public and can be fished year-round.

In Summit and Wasatch Counties, access to pristine fisheries lies only minutes away. The Uinta-Wasatch-Cache National Forest, which lies less than 20 miles from Heber and Park City, offers miles of seemingly untouched creeks and streams, while the Strawberry reservoir in Wasatch County is one of Utah’s most popular fisheries and a part of the Blue Ribbon Fisheries program.

The fishing right here in our own backyards proves to be so outstanding that Flylords, one of the largest digital media companies in the fishing space, recently came on a trip to Utah to film and fish in Wasatch County’s Strawberry reservoir.

Jared Zissu, the founder and president of Flylords, recently spoke with Townlift about his company’s time in Utah and the origins and goals of Flylords.

Zissu founded the company in 2012, which initially started as a communal fly fishing Instagram page.

“Flylords started a little over ten years ago, just as an Instagram account in my college dorm room,” said Zissu. “I wanted to create a page that showcases everything I love about this sport without bombarding my friends and family with fish photos.”

Since then, Flylords has rapidly developed into the most prominent media company in the fly fishing space, reaching over 2 million viewers and readers monthly.

“[Flylords] continued to grow and evolve, and I became passionate about figuring out how to grow it,” Zissu said of Flylord’s growth. “By the time I graduated college, it was big enough that I decided to take the next year and try to make it into something bigger. We made a website and started creating a lot of our own content, and it slowly grew into what it is today, the largest media company in the fly fishing space.”

As producers of original content, Flylords is always finding new ways to connect and document different fishing experiences. As a result, Flylords came to Utah in late September as a part of their Fly Shop Tour, a five-part documentary series showcasing other fisheries and fly shops in five different states.

“Being a media company, every year, we have to continue to evolve and change and find creative ways to engage with our audience,” Zissu said, “That’s really where the fly shop tour started. We wanted to find a way to engage local communities and local shops, as well as local nonprofits.”

As part of their fly shop tour here in Utah, Flylords partnered with Fly Fish Food, the largest fly shop in Utah based out of Orem. From there, Fly Fish Food took some members of Flylords out on a guided trip on the Strawberry Reservoir, targeting cutthroat trout.

The Flylords team fishing the Strawberry Reservoir. Photo: Flylords.

“In every state on the tour, we would work with a fly shop or two and go fishing, then afterward, we throw an event to fundraise for a local nonprofit,” said Zissu.

The event here in Utah was hosted at Fly Fish Food in Orem and raised over $10,000 for Fish for Garbage, a nonprofit organization here in Utah which coordinates the annual removal of garbage and other debris from Utah’s waterways.

“An important part of this sport is protecting the outdoors and all these ecosystems we’re utilizing,” said Zissu. “It’s our public playground, and we want to protect that.”

“We love storytelling and connecting people because we think it is an amazing way to protect these ecosystems,” Zissu said about conservation issues important to him. “Take somebody from Salt Lake and Denver who have never fished before, and you put a rod in their hand and get them on the water; it instantly connects them. Being out on the water connects people to nature and the environment and gives them an appreciation for these places.”

The initial Fly Shop Tour will launch on YouTube on January 26 at 5 p.m. MST. Each episode will be released each week following that at the same time. The Utah episode will be released on February 22.

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