Josh Phillips is one of the hardest working entrepreneurs in the fly fishing industry, balancing his time between running Spawn Fly Fish (a fly head manufacturing company) while also making plays as a professional soccer player. We sat down with Josh and asked him a few questions about his journey to where he is now and what’s next for the multi-talented fly fishing athlete.
Flylords: So tell us a bit about your background and how fly fishing and soccer became part of your life?
Josh: I grew up with a rod in my hand and a ball at my feet. I was born and raised in the beautiful Pacific Northwest. From a young age, I was catching fish nearly my size in areas that, although I did not realize at the time, were truly remarkable. I was exposed to places like the Selway-Bitterroot Wilderness, Priest Lake, the confluence of the Snake and Salmon Rivers, the Grande Ronde River, Neah Bay, the Columbia River, and many lakes in Eastern Washington. Fishing runs deep in my family. My father, a fisheries biologist for most of his career and now a regional fisheries director, made sure that I grew up on the water. I was destined to become a fishing addict.
Flylords: What was your journey to becoming a pro athlete like?
Josh: I spent four years playing division one college soccer and earning my degree at Gonzaga University. During my collegiate years, fishing was very limited. After graduating from Gonzaga, I landed my dream job playing professional soccer in the United Soccer League (USL). For those of you unfamiliar with the sport, the USL is equivalent to AAA baseball or the NBA D League. This job doesn’t come with fancy cars or diamond rings, but it allows me a significant amount of time to fish as well as launch my own business, Spawn Fly Fish.
Flylords: How do you find a balance between competing on the field and still finding plenty of time to fish?
Josh: After training all morning and attending community events, there is ample downtime to explore with my fly rod. I’m fortunate enough to have had the opportunity to play on a team located at the base of the Colorado Rockies, and consequently, filled my downtime with exploring the surrounding area. After home soccer matches my truck is already packed and I set out for one of the many lakes, streams or rivers in Colorado. I’m usually accompanied by my girlfriend, whom I give credit to capturing a lot of my extraordinary fishing shots, and my dog, Koda. There’s nothing quite like camping under the stars or landing a trout on my fly rod at 12,000 feet. In the offseason, typically October through January, my fishing really ramps up. After playing a full season of over 30 games, fly fishing is hands down my favorite way to decompress from the competitive and taxing nature of professional sports. Back home in Washington State, I live minutes away from public parks abundant with sea-run cutthroat. This fishery is truly something special. Its no wonder Sea-run cutthroat have become my favorite trout species to target and I think should hold a spot on every fly anglers bucket list.
So tell us a little bit more about your company, Spawn Fly Fish
Adding up all my experiences on the water, my education, and my drive to succeed, I knew that I wanted to be more than just a soccer player who posts fishing pictures on Instagram. I wanted to create a company that could be in the hands, conversations, and stories of fisherman around the world. Four months ago, I launched Spawn Fly Fish
, a fly head manufacturing company. Spawn looks to change the way tiers and fishermen look at flies by adding a realistic element to every streamer in their box at an affordable price. With the help of many friends in the industry like Fly Lords
, we have spread rapidly. This is only the beginning and we can’t wait to share what’s coming next.
Flylords: So what is next for Josh Phillips?
Although my schedule is full and my addiction to fishing will likely worsen, I will continue living out my childhood dream of playing professional soccer. I’m not sure what is next in my journey, but I will continue to fight for a chance in the MLS, all the while developing Spawn Fly Fish
into a household name.
Josh Phillips is a fly fisherman and athlete currently located in CO. Follow his journey on Instagram @fishingjosh
Be sure to check out Spawn Fly Fishing for the coolest fly heads in the game! @spawnflyfish