One of the country’s top fly fishing magazines, Today’s Flyfisher, has gone under the knife and now boasts a completely new look. Tackle and Guns magazine caught up with editor Tim Smith to find out exactly what changes have been made.
T&G: Tim, we hear there have been some big changes made with Today’s Flyfisher and that it has been rebranded. What’s the story?
Tim Smith: Yes, the June issue is the first of the new-look magazine. It’s been rebranded as Total FlyFisher, bringing it in line with David Hall Publishing’s (DHP) Total Carp, Total Coarse Fishing and Total Sea Fishing publications. We’ve been looking into giving the magazine a facelift for some time now – it had a similar format and design for four years – we were given the go-ahead at the end of 2006.
Since then the team has been working on literally hundreds of ideas for new layouts and features, and the June 2007 issue sees the culmination of a lot of hard work.
T&G: You seemed to have a winning formula with the old mag, so what has changed?
TS: We’ve certainly not ditched everything from Today’s FlyFisher. We’ve conducted several reader surveys over the last few years and know exactly what our readership wants. We’ve digested all of this information and used it to improve the most popular parts of the magazine while creating new, regular articles to help structure the magazine to suit the reader.
One of the most noticeable changes, aside from the new design, will be the higher emphasis on stillwater trout-fishing instruction. With Today’s Flyfisher we were trying to cover all aspects of UK fly fishing, from trout to salmon to saltwater and so on. While this gave the magazine an open-minded feel there aren’t many anglers who actually partake in all of these disciplines. Our readership consists of over 80 per cent stillwater trout anglers – we have to cater for them!
T&G: Any changes to the team producing Total Flyfisher?
TS: The new design, which is much more modern-looking than that of Today’s FlyFisher, has been created by DHP’s creative director Mark Grafton and our designer Chris Sweeney. I’d like to thank both of these guys for all their hard work – it really does look the business. At the end of the day it’s the photography and design that grabs the reader’s attention making them want to read an article – and the lads have got this aspect spot-on.
Deputy editor Steve Cullen is still going great guns and, as always, has had a large involvement in the development of the title – he’s an essential part of the team. Sue Shaw is our ever-reliable business development manager and has done sterling work in presenting the new ideas to the trade. As always, she has been liaising with the editorial team to help us portray new tackle as effectively as possible. It’s great for the reader to find out about the gear to help improve their fishing, and great for our advertisers to get exposure for their products.
I’d also like to take this opportunity to thank Jim Foster (until recently DHP’s editor-in-chief) and publisher David Hall. Between them, they have helped us give the magazine a solid structure by pooling their experience in publishing fishing magazines, and offering stacks of advice and constructive criticism along the way.
T&G: What sort of features can readers look forward to?
TS: There are tons of new ideas in there. We’ve got a Great Quest series with Steve Parton in which we follow him on the big reservoirs as he attempts to catch a double-figure brown trout. He will reveal all the unusual methods used to track down the larger-than-life residents of the big Midlands waters.
Charles Jardine, who remains one of our key writers, has been let loose with his camera and each month reports on how his season is going – it’s a great diary-style piece. Charles also has a new mini-series in which he dispels the myths and untangles the jargon behind fly fishing.
I’m pleased that John Bailey is continuing to write for us too; we’ve given him the task of conducting our big interview each month. It’s a bit of a coup that John managed to track down Jeremy Paxman (a keen fly fisher) for the June issue and there will be many more big names to come. Hywel Morgan is back on board after a few months’ break. His series is entitled The Apprentice, and each month he takes a struggling fly angler to a different venue and tutors them in catching more trout.
On top of all these, we’ve got in the region of 10 pages of tackle reviews, easy to follow fly tying sections and a big increase in venue spotlights. As far as the venue pages go, in essence we’ve taken our very popular Agent X series and run with it… I’m confident it’s going to be very popular indeed.
Other contributors involved are Gary Champion, Glyn Freeman (both AAPGAI instructors), Howard Croston, Jim Crawford, Kevin Moss and the up-and-coming Dave Eggington.
The Total Fly Fisher team – did you ever see a more motley crew, Sue Shaw (left) being at the better end?
T&G: We understand TFF will be much more interactive with its readers. How can they get involved?
TS: It’s no coincidence that we’re pushing for lots of reader interaction. Not only do anglers love to see their opinions and pictures in print, but it’s a great way for us to get even more feedback and tweak the magazine further to suit the readers. Our flagship piece is the TFF Snowbee Challenge. This will be advertised at stillwater fisheries around the country and it involves readers aiming to catch fish above a target weight. In return for their photos and details of the capture we’ll send them a quality enamel badge for their efforts and – if it’s a great fish – some fantastic prizes from Snowbee. Readers can also get involved in a fly tying competition series and a fishery review section (This Month We’ve Fished) as well as letters and Q&A pages.
T&G: How do you see the trade at large benefiting from this rebranding?
TS: As far as tackle companies go we’ve now got stacks of products reviewed each month. In the last few issues of Today’s FlyFisher we reviewed maybe 16 or so products per issue. In the first Total FlyFisher we’re looking at around about 40. More products means more exposure – that much is obvious. However, we’ve presented the reviews in such a way that they are not forced down readers’ throats; the pages don’t look like adverts unlike in some other magazines. The readers can see through this and when this happens the pages can lose their editorial integrity.
I think the major boost will be for the commercial fisheries. As well as giving contacts and prices for the venues featured in the main articles we’ll be detailing at least 15 fisheries in our venues section each month. The TFF Snowbee Challenge will also provide heaps of exposure for fishery owners; these venues are the lifeblood of modern fly fishing in the UK and it’s time we went out of our way to bring them more business.
Finally, and this is the whole point of the magazine, Total FlyFisher is about helping people improve their fly fishing. If someone can be taught by us to cast a fly and catch a few trout they’re likely to be a fly fisher for life. That’s another reader for the magazine, another customer for the tackle shop and another regular for the fishery. Simple.
Tackle And Guns