Joshua Hutchins is the mind behind @AussieFlyfisher – Publishing some of the best content in the entire Fly Fishing industry. Since catching his first trout on fly at the age of 13, Josh has spent years traveling the globe in search of the best, and often most exotic, fly-fishing experiences. An incredibly humble, talented, and passionate angler, we are pleased to introduce Josh as our first feature in the “Faces of Fly Fishing” original blog series from flylords.
How old were you when you picked up a fly rod? Do you remember the first fish you caught?
I was first introduced to fly fishing when I was 13 years old on the Ovens River in Bright, three hours from Melbourne, Australia. I was trying my luck spin fishing until a friend of my grandfathers showed me a fish he had caught on what seemed like an impossibly small fly. I was instantly intrigued. That Christmas, I asked my parents for a fly rod. Along with the fly kit, came an instructional video on VHS. I studied that video meticulously and then finally caught my first fish on fly one year later. It was a 25cm (10-inch) brown trout from the Macquarie River, near my hometown of Bathurst. We didn’t have cameras on our phones in those days so I don’t have a photo, but the memory will never leave me!
When did you start getting interested in photography?
In early 2013, a friend of a friend, named Filippo, joined our annual New Zealand fishing adventure. Filippo was a professional photographer and videographer and now produces all our fly fishing short films. Upon returning home I began comparing my photos with Filippo’s from the trip, and realized I would love to learn more about photography. I told my wife I would only buy one camera and one lens to support my guiding business. Three years later, my equipment family has exploded to include three camera bodies, six lenses, underwater housing, tripods, filters and everything in between. Obsessed is probably an understatement.
Do you ever find it hard to juggle being the photographer and being the guy doing the fishing?
I am constantly juggling the decision about when to fish and when to take photos. I will always love fly fishing, but as my enjoyment of photography grows, it seems to be increasingly more of the latter. I enjoy capturing other people’s stories and sharing them through quality photos. The more I guide clients in beautiful places, the more I realize that I get as much joy from watching them catch a memorable fish as if I caught it myself.
In a recent Facebook post, you exclaimed: “Leaving my real job to fly fish full time is the best decision I have ever made”. Tell us a little bit about this decision. Did something happen in your life that told you to just go for it?
I’d been running my fly fishing guiding business part-time for three years while still working full time. I was grateful to have a job that paid me to travel to some of the world’s best fly fishing locations, so I was constantly tagging fishing adventures onto the end of my business trips.
As can happen with something you are passionate about, the fly fishing began to overtake my life (in a good way!), and I found myself trying to squeeze my day job around the Aussie Fly Fisher business.
I had thought about (…ok dreamt of) full time guiding and photography but I wasn’t sure of its financial viability and the risk of giving up a well-paid and well-traveled job. But in Feb 2015, my work approached me with two different choices: move to Melbourne and continue your role, or accept a generous redundancy and payout. The decision was easy – it was time to follow my dreams. I gratefully accepted the payout, left my job and started Aussie Fly Fisher Guiding and Photography full time in August 2015.
Congrats on your new son! Is it challenging to juggle life as a father and husband while pursuing your career as a professional photographer?
Thanks for the congratulations! It’s been awesome. Becoming a Dad was almost as good as catching my first trophy brown trout. Just kidding, it was way better. Before becoming a Dad everyone told me my life would change dramatically, and they were right – it got so much better.
In the early days, instead of an alarm, I had a baby to wake me up for my early-morning fishing trips. But I’ve been loving being a Dad. And now it’s just twice as hard to leave when I travel overseas.
You have hands down some of the best photography in the industry. How did you get so good? Is there any advice you could give to some younger photographers?
Thanks for your compliment, I really appreciate that. I still feel like a bit of a newbie just getting out there, having fun and trying to capture the moment. But I’m grateful that people are enjoying the pictures and that it’s inspiring anglers to get outdoors and embrace the adventure.
I’ve built my skills practicing shots on the water, spending time with great photographers, and asking lots of questions from people who are better than me. I’m also not afraid to have a crack at new things and I keep trying until I am happy with it.
When I look back at my photos from even a few years ago, I realize how much I’ve learnt just by slowly taking in more information and skills from the people around me.
My advice to young photographers would be to save up and invest in good gear. GoPro and wide angle shots are not always the best choices. Get out there and find your own style. Editing goes beyond an Instagram filter, and you don’t need to copy what other people might be doing with their shots. Find people whose photos you like and then ask them specific questions. Photographers normally can’t help talking about their gear and decisions around a shot. And, it may be cliché, but it’s important – have fun.
If you were stranded on an island and had one camera set up, and one lens, what would they be?
My current favorite camera body and lens are the Canon 5D III, and 70-200 2.8 Canon L series respectively. However, if I could only have one lens I would probably take my 35mm as it looks natural to the eye and is a good all-rounder.
Do you have a favorite photo that you have taken?
I have plenty of favorite photos. Most of which include my wife Anna, and my son Hunter.
Do you have any idols in the fly fishing world?
I tend to think people can sometimes compare themselves to others too much and so in general, I try to run my own race. I rarely idolize anyone for their fishing skills as I don’t think fly fishing is about how well you cast, tie flies or what camera you own, but rather about enjoying the moment and having fun.
In saying that, there are photographers in the fly fishing scene who I definitely look up to and admire. For example, Tim Pask was one of the first guys I saw taking underwater half-half photography and it inspired me to try that out.
Dave Anderson and Brad Harris are two other Australian fly fishing photographers with great skills and experience. They have shared so much knowledge and helpful advice with me. I look up to these guys for not only taking great images but for being willing to help me on my journey.
Phil is one of the all-round nice guys of Australian fly fishing. The ultimate trout addict of Australia, Phil still gets just as excited for a catch as a giddy school boy, and that passion and enjoyment of the sport inspires me.
Greg French, another Australian fly fisherman, is also the real deal. Greg is the type of guy that will hike into the hills, endure extreme temperatures, eat snakes and kangaroo, all in the hope of finding a new fishing spot.
Traveling the world and photographing epic fly fishing content can’t be as easy as it sounds. What are some of the challenges you have faced in this industry?
No, actually it is easy – it’s awesome.
Kidding. There are definitely some challenges amidst the great moments. It’s tough to manage the finances of the business and ensure that I can still put food on the table for my family. When your hobby becomes your job, there is an inevitable grey area between your leisure and work time.
I’ve been pretty committed to ensuring that I don’t give away my images or articles for free. Not because I don’t want to, but because every photo costs something, and we need people to understand that using (or asking for) photos for free actually devalues the whole industry. Magazines hunting free content generally die out. Quality content usually comes at a price.
The other challenges are just the unavoidable side effects of travel: lost luggage, living out of a suitcase, finding WiFi overseas and missing my family.
But even the early mornings and cold days are all in the name of fly fishing, and I love it.
Caramel and Lime Milkshake – don’t knock it till you try it.
Do you have a bucket list trip that you still want to take?
Unfortunately, I have many. Two species I’d love to catch next are Rooster Fish and Tarpon.
What’s next in the world of the Aussie Fly Fisher?
Between local guiding for trout and murray cod, I have a bunch of hosted trips to New Zealand, Argentina, Tasmania, Mongolia and Tahiti. I am most excited to head to Seychelles for the first time in December.
Make sure to check out the AussieFlyFisher on Instagram for some more epic content!
And stay tuned for our next guest in the “Faces of Fly Fishing” original blog series from Flylords.