Behind the Scenes

Unveiling the creative process from idea to ink for Due West Angler's distinctive articles on fly fishing + science + conservation

Flies displayed include: chubby chernobyl, clouser minnow, barr's meat whistle, popper, crazy charlie, and turneffe crab
What's Due West Anglers cooking up this week?

We always pride ourselves in our content originality. The vast majority of the articles we publish are unlike 90% of the other fly fishing websites around. I'm sure you've seen new "Fly Co.'s" pop up to sell logo shirts, and write genetic blogs about fly fishing 101. It's been done... While everyone else is worried about getting seen and placing on Google by regurgitating all the same search terms, we're focusing on originality.

Obviously, our route takes more work. So, we thought it'd be fun to peel back the curtain and give you a behind the scenes look at how we generate new articles. This is our factory tour.

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Getting Started

We exist as a loose network of friends, anglers, scientists, die-hards. Through shared interactions, most often on the water (or on the way to the water) ideas start to bubble up. For example, trying to figure out what triggers cue a fish to take a fly led to this article, and visiting colleagues in Oregon led to our article about half-pounder steelhead. Adventures always spark something new. Exploring the wide cross-section of angling, science, and conservation provides ample opportunities for one of us to stumble onto something unexpected. And of course, the further away we can get from generic, seen-it-1000-times-already articles, the better.

These ideas mostly filter through Andy, he's the voice of Due West Anglers. He's usually the one putting pen to paper. If there's ever an "I" written in an article, it's Andy.

Baking an Article

All the ideas for articles exist in three stages, and we classify them based on how well they're fleshed out. Andy keeps a notepad organizing all the ideas into these three unfinished categories. Any "what if" or "wouldn't it be cool if" or "I heard that", it's all noted.

  1. Raw Dough: These ideas are the shower thoughts, the incoherent notes from the middle of the night, and any hunch that's waiting to be molded. We sure have a lot of raw dough around here, a fair bit probably never makes it to the oven. Raw ideas like exploring the transmission of invasive snails across the West lead to a great investigation, but other ideas like fly-fishing Jurassic Park (whatever that means) probably don't stand a chance at getting into the oven. As far as what makes it and what doesn't, well that comes down to inspiration. Maybe we’re trying to learn something for ourselves. Or maybe we stumbled on something unexpected, or uncovered details that add a new angle to an existing conversation. That's usually where we try to lean.
  2. Half Baked: If inspiration strikes, like when a research paper highlights interesting results, or if certain conversations get the wheels turning, we might put some raw dough in the oven and develop out an idea. Whether it's digging through research, or shaping ideas with each other, a spark usually sets the wheels in motion. Most of our better ideas make it into the oven right away.
  3. Cooling Rack: When ideas are formed into fully coherent paragraphs, they take on the persona of gooey cookies that just need time to cool. It takes a little patience to keep them from falling apart, but they're just about ready. They need time to sit, for us to think through other angles or refine the writing.

If Articles Are The Cookies, What‘s The Oven?

It's relatively easy to theorize, and come up with “tidy” conclusions when you're not bound by fact. Simply google the effects of barometric pressure on fishing and you'll see. It’s a crap shoot. That's not how we operate. Every idea that's passed into "the oven" undergoes a fair bit of research or testing. We lean on peer-reviewed articles, replicating results, and/or repeatable first hand experience as much as possible. We save odd once off encounters for our stories from the road. That might be a start to something, but we need more proof! Instead of pushing out an article that's still half-baked, we might decide to sit on the idea to get more evidence. In our attempts to understand urban carp, we observed (and fished for) carp for two full seasons at fixed, controlled locations, all to draw better conclusions in the end, and it made a difference. Our results were more robust thanks to a second season which allowed us to test and compare findings from the first season to really dial in the take-home messages.

Once Andy whips up his latest batch, we then have "taste-testers" evaluate. That might simply be further discussion with others, or having an editor give it a final pass. Usually another set of eyes (or ears) really helps flesh out ideas.

What Ideas Do We Pursue?

Consistent with our M.O. (fly fishing + science + conservation) we're often thinking of fish behavior, angling pressure, and translating natural phenomenon into understandable patterns that anglers can use to their advantage. Specifically, we've spend considerable brain power investigating how trout think and act. We've explored the prominent ecological theories about foraging to best explain their behavior, and tested those ideas on the water. But more and more we're exploring the unique qualities and habitats of all gamefish.

Going forward, there is a wide world of angling left to be explored. Trout will always have their place near and dear, but in our eyes the few remaining mysteries in the trout world will take longer to unravel. In the meantime, there's plenty more to uncover if you keep an open mind. Ultimately, the goal is for our library to be useful regardless of where you find yourself matching wits against a fish. Our article, the Dynamics of Fish Spooking, was one of our first to break the trout-centric mold, kicking off an expansion into the wider fly-world. To that extent, keep your eyes peeled for other upcoming articles, including our recently introduced Fly Calendar. Aimed at summarizing the main events happening in each month, this page will highlight hatches, spawning, and good times to target certain species.

Articles to date: >130, don't be afraid to dig through the archive.

Reach out!

If you've always wondered about a certain topic, or want to set us loose on something, we might just be the team for the job.

Have you ever wanted to pad the resume and do some science-infused writing? Send us an email!

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