Meet James Marsh, our Fly and Product Designer
Like many avid anglers, James began fishing at a very early age. Thanks to his father and
grandfathers, James was able to fish several North Alabama ponds, Guntersville Lake, and
the Gulf of Mexico on a regular basis. His fly-fishing experience began at age twelve
catching bass and bluegills at local farm ponds and lakes. In his early twenties, he became
interested in fishing for the large spawning bass in Central Florida lakes and the St. Johns
River. For eight years he spend at least a month a year doing such in addition to fishing
other lakes and the Gulf of Mexico as often as he could.
In 1976, he started fishing the BASS pro circuit, along with a lot of other regional and local
bass tournaments, and did so until 1980. These tournaments took him from his home in
Mobile, Alabama, to such places as Arizona, New York, and Florida competing against
many of the pros that helped found the professional bass circuit.
In 1980, James found that he was spending far more time saltwater fishing than bass
fishing and stopped competing in the bass tournament circuit to start the first ever
syndicated TV series on saltwater fishing called the "Gulf Coast Angler". After a successful
first year and several added stations, he changed the program name to "Fishing with
James Marsh" and expanded the locations to include the Atlantic Ocean and Caribbean. At
a that time when there were not any cable TV stations (only three networks and a few
independent stations) his syndicated show was able to obtain very high TV ratings at over
twenty-five major markets that represented about half of the nation. For example, in the
Tampa, Florida market, running at prime time, 7:00 P.M. Sunday nights, his ratings
exceeded that of the three other competing programs with the exception of Sixty Minutes.
The ratings of several of his programs in markets airing on weekend schedules exceeded
that of NBA (basketball) programs.
In 1985, he founded a new business called "Fins N Tales". Fins N Tales produced Bass
Video Magazine and Saltwater Video Magazine that provided quarterly videos to it's
subscribers. His new venture and its concept, two fishing video magazines, was sold to his
partner, Ted Thomas, in 1987. At that time, about the same time that more households
had VCRs than not, James began producing instructional videos on fishing. At the end of
the first year, he sold one-half interest in his programs to Michael Bennett and licensed
Bennett Marine Video, of Marina Del Ray, California (now the Worlds Largest Distributor of
boating, fishing and other marine related videos) as exclusive distributor. This same joint
venture now has forty-six instructional videos and DVD programs on fishing, over thirty
boating programs, and numerous other outdoor related programs such as instructional
GPS videos. Many of these programs are available from companies such as Cabelas, Bass
Pro Shops, REI and West Marine. He currently continues to produce non fly-fishing
programs for his joint venture with Bennett Marine Video.
In 1992, James begin fishing the SKA professional "Kingfish" circuit, as well as the SAA or
"Saltwater Anglers Association" circuit. He competed in these tournament circuits in the
Atlantic Ocean and Gulf of Mexico from North Carolina to Texas until 1998. During this time
he was sponsored by Ranger Boat Company and was on their promotional staff for their
new line of saltwater boats. He tested and helped improve the 25 foot model doing such
things as crossing the Gulf of Mexico with twin outboards for power.
During the 1980s and 1990s, James wrote numerous magazine articles for several national
publications including Marlin Magazine, Sportfishing Magazine and others. He traveled
extensively fishing in several countries. His saltwater fly-fishing experience during those
years was primarily limited to sailfish and other offshore species such as dolphin. Most of
the other offshore fishing for marlin, tuna, wahoo and such was done with conventional
tackle. He has taken three sailfish in one day on the fly off the Mexican coast. Trips to
Alaska provided huge rainbow trout, grayling and different species of salmon on the fly.
In 1998, James and his wife Angie, started fly-fishing extensively. He purchased every
video, book, magazine and ask every question he thought he could get any angler to
answer. Having produced instructional videos on fishing for many years, James was
amazed at the low level of both the production quality and content of the videos that were
available at that time.
In 1998, James decided to produce his own series of programs that would teach anyone
what they needed to know from start to finish. He would have probably named it "The
School of Fly Fishing" if similar names had not already been used so often by others. In
effect, that is what he set out to do - teach anglers, including those that were just
beginning, or those that had progressed to a level somewhere in between a beginner and
an expert, what they needed to know in order for them to be able to catch trout as a result
of their actually knowing what they were doing without having to rely on pure luck. That why
he uses the line, "you can get your Ph.D in fly fishing right here".
Since 1998, Angie and James have fly-fished in forty-four states (James 49). They fly-fish,
on camera, year round throughout the nation on a regular basis. As of November 12,
2006, the date this was written, they had already spent over two-hundred days fly-fishing
during the first ten months of the year of 2006.
They have caught and made videos on just about every item of trout food that exist,
including most all the important species of mayflies, stoneflies, and caddisflies. The
production of these programs has and still is taking a lot of time, money and considerable
effort. Unlike most fly-fishing videos, their videos are not shot in a day or two at one or two
locations. Each one is digitally recorded at numerous location from coast to coast.
James created and maintains four websites. Fly Fishing Great Smoky Mountains National
Park, Fly Fishing Yellowstone National Park, Tom Mann's School of Bass Fishing and
The Perfect Fly.
Hundreds of hours have been spent capturing, studying and shooting closeups of insects
and other trout food. This quickly led to the "Perfect Fly" (see history). From 1998 until the
present time, James has created "specific" fly imitations of hundreds of the things fish eat.
He has over 180 specific mayfly imitations alone. Thirty years of saltwater fishing
experience and hosting 46 instructional saltwater fishing videos provided James a huge
knowledge of the food saltwater fish rely on. Designing flies to imitate this food came
natural. Production of fly-fishing videos and creating new flies is Jame's profession, not a
part time effort to promote another related job, product or business. Teaching others to
fish has been a lifetime endeavor for James Marsh.
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