Adaptation: An Important Message From the Editor

*Please note, current subscribers will receive login information by email for the new website by 12/20. Thanks for your patience.

Rivers change. Constantly. Steelhead adapt and evolve. When Mt. Saint Helens blew in 1980, the Toutle River was decimated – a literal mud flow. Yet, within several years the fish were back in greater numbers than before. Elwah River steelhead adapted to the dams by adopting a resident trout’s life until they were again free to migrate. And migrate they are now doing. 

Just like steelhead, Swing the Fly has continued to adapt. We started as a digital magazine. Nine issues were published in that medium as we gained our footing. Print came about simply because you, the readers, kept asking about it.

 At the 2015 Sandy Spey Clave, I brought a single printed copy, which I had paid a $100 to print. The text was insanely large and sometimes ran right off the page because the issue was formatted for the web – not print – yet people kept asking where they could buy it. So, we adapted, and a print magazine was born thanks to the strong support of readers like you.

Here we are, in a blink, 20 print issues – and 29 total issues – later. I’ve continued to be amazed by the community of readers and writers who are so dedicated to swinging a fly – and Swing the Fly.

Yet, printing a magazine has also been full of challenges. The difficulties of 2020 have not skipped over the magazine and the businesses that support us. And our printing and shipping costs have risen over 30 percent in just the last three years. It is time to adapt again.

As much as we all look forward to receiving a quarterly publication in the mail – and as strong as the reader support remains – these costs have become unsustainable. For just one example, last issue I paid $22 to ship each magazine to Canada. I have never been a great businessman, but simple math tells me we have a serious problem there.

So, throughout the past year, with a steelheader’s thorough cast-and-step methodology, I have searched under every rock and crevice for a way to save money and keep the publication sustainable. While it is with sadness that I say we must move on from a quarterly magazine – which I know so many of you look forward to receiving four times a year – I am full of excitement for the next stage in the continuing adaptation of Swing the Fly.

The content has always been what has made Swing the Fly. The magazine just the medium for sharing it. Knowing how much you and I both value receiving something tangible in print, I am excited to say we are still going to do that. Swing the Fly in 2021 is going to be a new combination of print and digital content.

In place of the quarterly magazine, Swing the Fly is going to publish a larger, annual hardcover coffee table book, the Swing the Fly Anthology, that I am certain will continue to raise our bar. The Anthology will continue the tradition and style of the print magazine – photo essays, instruction, fly tying, poetry, artwork and more – and continue with our resolve to get better every edition. This shift from quartely to an annual release is going to allow us to save tremendously on shipping and printing costs  – while also improving the quality – keeping Swing the Fly sustainable.

Along with that book, is currently undergoing a huge makeover. To compliment the coffee table book, the website will now feature regularly published original stories, videos, imagery and artwork – available only to you, the subscribers, who will be granted member-only access.

 I strongly believe that this combination is going to be an amazing value for your subscription dollars, unmatched and unique in today’s digital-heavy world. And I am confident that this combination of print and digital will provide plenty for everyone who currently loves Swing the Fly.

This adaptation is going to also expand our opportunities for creativity and new mediums of content. As a first example, my hope is to ramp up live, interactive webinars. (I’ll host our first in December: “Rigging for Winter Steelhead: Q &A.”) Our new combination of print and digital offers a chance to further bring together our community and interact through these times when meeting in person is challenging. New additions to our content lineup will come throughout the rest of 2020 and into the new year, so stay tuned as things come together.

The Swing the Fly contributing editor team – Rick Kustich, Topher Browne, Sean Dahlquist, Steve Bird and Travis Johnson – are inspired and already working away to bring you the best swung fly content. And, of course, a huge part of Swing the Fly has always been submissions from you, the readers. I can’t wait to see where this takes you as well.

This community has carried Swing the Fly from the start. So many have given their time and energy towards seeing it grow, often with little in return – except, I hope, the satisfaction of paying tribute to the sport and fish we all hold dear.

Our voice is far from finished. We will continue to adapt and overcome the challenges and give our very best to help the fish do the same. The strength of support for Swing the Fly has been nothing short of incredible since the very start. I thank you from the bottom of my heart for continuing to adapt with us and keep this community thriving.

Below you will find logistical information relating to your existing subscription to Swing the Fly and moving forward. Please read on.

What happens to my current subscription?

The plan is to have your automatic subscriptions continue uninterrupted, and we feel the content we will offer is going to provide an even greater value for your subscription dollars. (Your subscription rate – including the book and member-only web content – will be less than the cost of buying the coffee table book separately!)

Most subscriptions were set up through an auto-renewing payment processing plan, either in Paypal or Paywhirl (2016). This was done to streamline the renewal process and keep me (Zack) focused on content instead of renewal reminders. If you wish to continue your subscription in 2021, NO ACTION IS NEEDED at this time. We greatly appreciate your continued support. And by continuing your subscription uninterrupted, you will be receiving the best possible deal on the Anthology coffee-table book and the member-only web content.

If you have remaining issues on your current subscription year, which will depend on your original subscribe date, you will be refunded by the end of 2020 for those remaining issues. (More information will come by email on this in the coming month.)

All existing U.S. and Canadian subscriptions will continue at current pricing; international subscriptions may receive a small shipping refund once we calculate the actual cost of shipping the book.

What’s now included in my subscription/membership?

Swing the Fly Anthology coffee table book: Retail Value of $55 + shipping, which exceeds the cost of your subscription!

Member-Only Access at, which includes: original content, webinars, exclusive fly tutorials which will be archived to refer back to for fly tying inspiration for years to come, instructional articles, stunning photos, Spey casting instructional videos and loads more to come as we see where this takes us!

When will the member-only website go live?

Welcome to the new website! Check it out and read some highlights from past issues of the magazine. The new member-only content will ramp up in January 2021, when we would otherwise have released our next magazine. We are currently working on getting a good content lineup ready!

And please bear with us while we tweak things and get the member only access ready!

How do I access the member-only web content?

All subscribers who have an email on file (anyone who subscribed online) will receive an email by the end of 2020, which will allow you to setup your password and login to the new site.

If you subscribed using a physical check and snail mail, we may not have an email address on file for you, please email and title “mail subscriber” to be set up with access to the web-only content.

When will I get the coffee table book?

The 1st coffee table book is scheduled to be released in mid-September 2021. Everyone who continues their subscription and has made a subscription payment (for most of you, by auto-renew of your existing subscription) between 9/1/20 and 8/31/21 will receive the book. (If there is a problem with your payment info, you will receive an email from us notifying you so you can update. Otherwise, no action is needed.)

What if I don’t like the new plan and want to unsubscribe?

We will be sad to see you exit the Swing the Fly community and hope you will consider giving it a try (You can cancel any time), but promise that no one will be forced to continue a subscription they don’t want.

For those of you you have been with us since the start (subscribed in 2015 or 2016), you likely subscribed using our old software. You can email us to cancel at

For those who have subscribed since 12/1/2016, you likely subscribed using Paypal. You can cancel through your Paypal account by locating “Recurring Payments” in your account.

If you have trouble, you can email us and title “cancel” at and we will take care of it for you.

Further news and updates related to these changes will come by email over the next few months. Stay tuned.

Thank you all for not only your past and future support of Swing the Fly but also for being a part of our community. Please stay safe and I hope you all have a chance to enjoy some time on the water this fall.

Zack Williams