Engaging Newcomers with the 4 F’s of Fishing

When you think about fishing, what stories come to mind? For me, it’s things like… Watching an octopus escape unassisted from the livewell, the Bahamian bonefish that got away, and seeing my daughter experience first-hand the joy of zipping across the flats in Capt. Grandpa’s boat. Certainly, there are some “big fish” memories too, but it’s not always about catching. Remember Walter from On Golden Pond or the Catfish Hunter from Grumpy Old Men?


At ASA’s 2021 Sportfishing Summit, keynote speaker Joey Coleman presented a framework he called “The 4 F’s of Fishing” that really resonated with me as it relates to engaging and retaining fishing newcomers. Below is my interpretation of the 4 F’s as a great lens through which you can view your outreach to new audiences.


1. Family – If your outreach focuses on time spent with family, you’re on the right track. RBFF research shows newcomers were motivated to fish for relaxation and family time. And they enjoyed it as “quality time spent with kids and loved ones.”


2. Friends – Newcomers were inspired (and invited) by their friends to go fishing. And they cited social connection, camaraderie and nostalgia as key benefits of participating. Make sure in your outreach to use imagery of friends – not the lone angler on a dock – to engage new audiences.


3. Fame – Who doesn’t love a good selfie? Ok, you might hate them. But fishing newcomers are avid users of social media. Inspire them to participate by showing them all the incredible Instagram-able moments they can participate in such as collecting bait, speeding over the water on a boat, holding (and releasing) a fish, and enjoying sunset.


4. Fun – If you’ve been fishing all your life, you might be hard pressed to remember a time when you weren’t targeting a particular species or using high-tech lures and equipment. But chances are, you started fishing for the pure fun of it. For that adrenaline rush you get when you feel a tug on the line and the ensuing chaos of excitement when you land even a small panfish (or maybe that’s just my family). Focus on those fun moments in your outreach and you’ll connect better with new anglers.


The research points mentioned above, along with a whole lot more, can be viewed in RBFF’s Resource Center online. We also have several free tools to help you get started. You can plug these in as-is or let them inspire your own creative development. Together, we recruited and reactivated millions of fishing participants in 2020. For the health of the industry, your business and the conservation efforts that rely on participation, don’t let them get away!