Teaching others to fish has been a rewarding, lifetime devotion for James Marsh. For over three decades
he has made his sole profession producing fishing and other instructional outdoor videos. Although he has
cast, on-camera, in fresh and salt waters around the world, catching almost every species of sport fish that
swims, his most rewarding experiences comes from fly-fishing at home in the United States of America.
As you can see by watching their video series, during the twelve year course of production, James' wife
Angie, starting from scratch, became an accomplished angler, proving that it doesn't take a life-time to
learn how to fly fish skillfully and successfully. Assisting in the production of the series greatly shortened
the learning curve for her and their instructional DVD's can do the same for you.
Like many avid anglers, James began fishing at a very early age. Thanks to his father and grandfathers, at
a very young age 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 five or six catching bass and bluegills
from local farm ponds and lakes.
In his early twenties, James 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 Birmingham and later 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 primarily 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 fishing locations to include the Atlantic
Ocean and Caribbean. At a that time, when there were no cable TV stations, only three networks and a few
independent stations, his syndicated show was able to obtain very high TV ratings at twenty-six 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 during the winter months 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 its 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 half of the nation's homes had VCRs, 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 World's largest distributor of boating, fishing and other
marine related videos) as exclusive distributor. This same joint venture now has forty-six instructional video
and DVD programs on fishing, over twenty-six boating programs and numerous other outdoor and fishing
related programs such as instructional GPS, sonar (fishfinder), radar and navigation videos. Many of these
programs are available from companies such as Cabelas, Bass Pro Shops, REI and West Marine. He
currently continues to produce programs for 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 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 help 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 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 other offshore
species was done using conventional tackle. He has taken three sailfish on the fly in one day off the
Mexican coast. Trips to Alaska provided huge rainbow trout, grayling and several different species of
salmon on the fly.
In 1998, James and his wife Angie, started fly-fishing for trout extensively. He purchased every video, book,
magazine and ask every question he could get any fly 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 quality of the videos that were available at the time. Most of them were
"watch someone catch a fish" or TV formated programs rather than instructional and educational
programs.. The only real attempts at instructional videos that existed were on casting and fly tying. The
casting videos poorly attempted to show viewers how to make long cast of up to one-hundred feet or cast
that completely straightened the line. None focused on how to make accurate cast of distances appropriate
for trout. None demonstrated how to make (messed up cast) curve, pile, and other such cast that are
actually necessary to get drag free drifts when fly fishing for trout. The program host's main objective
appeared to be showing the viewers how far they could cast.
The fly tying videos were like the fly fishing programs, mostly, "watch someone tie a fly" programs. In other
words, in James' opinion, most all of the videos available on fly fishing for trout didn't include what should
be the most important subjects such as the details on what the trout eat, fly presentation, etc. It was also
obvious that most of the programs were produced by people that spent more time selling gear in a fly shop,
or by guides promoting their services and spent most of their time attempting to teach beginners the
basics. The tying videos were usually hosted by professional fly tiers that regularly tied hundreds of rough
imitations necessary to compete with the low priced Keyna and Asian flies. Most all the fly-fishing videos
were and still are for that matter, hosted by people more interested in selling something else, such as a
service or product, than they are teaching the viewer how to catch fish on the fly. Most of the anglers
James meet caught trout more as a result of luck than actually knowing what they were doing or anything
about what they were trying to imitate.
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's what "Fly Fishing DVD" set out to do. He
wanted to teach anglers, including those that were just beginning and 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. Most anglers have to rely on pure
luck. That's why he used the marketing phrase, "you can get your Ph.D in fly fishing right here".
James doesn't except offers from sponsors because he doesn't want any obligations to anyone. He doesn't
spend any of the DVD program time that customers are paying for promoting any particular product or
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 for trout 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 of them are
digitally recorded from coast to coast on dozens of different streams. Hundreds of hours have been spent
capturing, studying and shooting closeups of insects and other trout food. Some of these programs are yet
to be released. Several that are almost but not fully completed will be released in the near future.
Production of fly-fishing videos is their 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..
|Fly Fishing the Great Smoky Mountains National Park