This installment of the Video of the Week features a full film created by Benjamin Woodward about trout fishing in the great state of Arkansas. We were able to sit down and ask Ben some questions about the film:
Flylords: Tell me a little about you and your company, who are you and how did you get here?
Ben: My name is Benjamin Woodard and I am the fly fishing manager for Ouachita Outdoor Outfitters, owner of Woodard Rod Company, owner of Southern Fly Outfitters Guide Service, president of Trout Unlimited chapter #501, and the producer of the Film Fly Fish Arkansas.
Woodard Rod Company was founded to provide anglers in the Ozarks with the specialized tools for fly fishing on home waters and abroad. We believe that fly rods should be an effortless extension of your fishing abilities, and we design these rods specifically for that. Arkansas and Missouri are predominately tailwater fisheries, so our rods suit the needs of streamer gurus, year-round dry fly anglers, and heavier nymph rigs commonly found in the Ozarks. Growing up, I was lucky to be raised in an outdoor-orientated family. My dad took my brother and I backpacking every year from the early age of eight years old, and that is where I developed my love for the outdoors. The earliest memory of fly fishing that I have is waking up next to the Little Missouri River while camping here in Arkansas and seeing my dad fly fishing in the rolling fog for smallmouth and trout, I think that’s where it all really started for me.
Flylords: What made you want to do a film about fly fishing specifically in Arkansas?
Ben: Arkansas is an often overlooked state for fly fishing. The rolling hills of the Ozarks and the vast country of the Ouachitas offer multiple different species that can be fished effectively with fly rods 365 days out of the year including trout, smallmouth bass, largemouth bass, striper, and carp. There has never been a documentary so powerful that encompasses most major destinations in the state, and even with all that we covered there’s so much more that we just didn’t have time for. With the streamer game on the White and Little Red Rivers, year-round dry fly hatches on the Little Missouri River, the abundance of rivers full of smallmouth bass, and numerous lakes filled with massive striper and aggressive largemouth bass, it’s hard not to have the passion to showcase it on a larger scale. I love Arkansas, and I want others to experience the same joy I find here, so this film is the best advertisement I could think of.
Flylords: What makes Arkansas stand out from other states as a fly fishing destination?
Ben: At any point in this state, you are no more than an hour drive from amazing fly fishing. You can float, wade, or hike-in and find an abundance of fish and wildlife. It is less costly to vacation here than the more popular fly fishing destination states and our guide rates are low. Our scenery is gorgeous, and our community is strong. It’s a place that has open arms, and one you won’t want to leave.
Flylords: What were the challenges of creating this film?
Ben: Organization. Running three to four boats full of anglers on two out of the three rivers was difficult. Woodard Rod Company currently endorses eighteen different guide services across the country and without the help of our guides it would have been impossible.
Flylords: If there was one thing you wanted people to know about fly fishing in Arkansas, what would it be?
Ben: I believe that Arkansas is the next place of major focus for fly fishing in the United States. We have world record brown trout, rod breaking striped bass, plentiful smallmouth, and multiple diverse ecosystems all within short drives of each other. You won’t find more untouched and unpressured water in the lower 48.
Flylords: Can you tell me a little bit about the videographers who worked on the film
Ben: Andrew Mcneece, Jeff Rose, and Andrew Winn are amazing photographers and videographers with awards and recognition on a global level. They are amazing characters and whether they fly fish or not, they are passionate about this state and its wildlife. They are a rarity in this state, and I am proud of the work they have done.
Flylords: What’s the next step for Woodard? Are there more projects on the horizon?
Ben: We have three more films on the horizon with a little shorter run time but plenty of great action. We’re planning to showcase smallmouth in Missouri, striper on Lake Ouachita, and a film on the legendary city of Cotter, Arkansas on the White River. We’re planning on releasing a new series of rods this fall as well.
This video and other great videos by the Woodward Rod Co. can be found on there YouTube Channel.
Matt Fulenwider is part of Fly Lord’s content team be sure to check him out on Instagram.
Be sure to check out the past Video of the Week features: