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Fly Fishing Hits Mainstream (Again): Mending the Line Skyrockets to Number 1 on Netflix; Cracks Top 10 Globally

The book Casting Forward by Steve Ramirez, which is a storytelling element in the movie, similarly surged to be the #1 selling fishing book on Amazon.com.

Mending the Line Skyrockets to Number 1 on Netflix; Cracks Top 10 Globally

Mending the Line is now available to stream on Netflix. 

After some promotion on Friday by Fly Fisherman and others, Mending the Line skyrocketed to #6 on the Netflix most-watched list for the U.S. over the weekend, and by Monday morning it was officially #1. By the end of the week, it had cracked the streaming service's Global Top 10 list, despite only being being available in the U.S. (many movies on the list were available in multiple countries or worldwide). It debuted on Netflix on Saturday, March 23, and had amassed 3.4 million views in the week that followed.

The book Casting Forward by Steve Ramirez, which is a storytelling element in the movie, similarly surged to be the #1 selling fishing book on Amazon.com and the #122 book on Amazon’s overall Best Sellers in Books. Incidentally, the hardcover edition was the second-best-selling fishing book, the Kindle edition was third, and a previous title by Ramirez, Casting Onward, was fourth. Ramirez writes the Seasonable Angler column that appears on the final pages of Fly Fisherman.

"Hitting the #1 spot on the Netflix Top Ten over the weekend was truly unexpected and immensely gratifying," director Joshua Caldwell said. "It's clear that a movie touching on the subject of mental health, trauma, and veterans has struck a chord and is resonating deeply with audiences—perhaps audiences that are typically underserved by Hollywood."

The fictional story is based on an aggregation of real events and real people and tells the story of a Marine named Colter (Sinqua Walls) who is physically and mentally wounded from combat in Afghanistan and is ordered by a physician at a VA hospital in Livingston, Montana, to learn how to fly fish.

A line of fly anglers casting in a small verdant creek.
Mending the Line was filmed on the Yellowstone River, the Gallatin, at the Warriors and Quiet Waters Ranch, and (shown here) DePuy Spring Creek. The Afghanistan battle scenes were filmed at Camp Pendleton, California. (Eros Hoagland photo)

His reluctant mentor Ike Fletcher is a grouchy Vietnam vet played by Brian Cox. Most people will recognize the Scottish actor from his roles in movies like Braveheart, The Bourne Identity, Churchill, and the popular HBO series Succession, for which he won a Golden Globe Award for best supporting actor.

Ike knows a lot about fishing—he works in a fly shop and fishes the Gallatin with a bamboo rod—but the most important lesson for Colter is that you can close one chapter of your life and open another. New beginnings are possible for everyone, even for Ike.

Watch the trailer here: 

American Fly Fishing Trade Association Executive Director Lucas Bissett isn’t so sure that Mending the Line will have the same impact as its silver-screen predecessor, A River Runs Through It, which spurred a surge in participation and spending on the sport.

“The difference to me is that technology dicates a very different world than it did in the 90s,” Bissett said. “I don’t think as many people will be exposed to it. We live in such a different place that it’s going to be hard to break through the noise.”

But Bissett was clear to point out that that’s not because the movie isn’t good, and that he appreciated the lengths the filmmakers went to to create authenticity (like using an actual fly shop and employing Simon Gawesworth as a consultant). He also suspects there’s a chance that this new exposure could piggyback on the COVID outdoors rush.

“It could help a very specific portion of the population understand the benefits of fly fishing,” he added. “Setting it as a tool for recovery is very important. I hope that there will be more people that find fishing as solace as so many of us have.”

Recommended


Screen caps showing the movie Mending the Line on Netflix's Global Top 10 list.
Mending the Line cracked Netflix's Global Top 10 list, despite only being being available in the U.S. (Courtesy of Joshua Caldwell)

The Los Angeles Times wrote that Mending the Line is “A stirring tale of remedy and redemption. Worth a look for its lovely and magical fly-fishing sequences and stirring Big Sky vistas (shout out to cinematographer Eve Cohen), as well as its strong cast, authentic depictions, vital messaging and stirring excerpts from Steve Ramirez’s poetic, Texas-set fly-fishing book, Casting Forward.”

Fly Fisherman hosted a screening of Mending the Line on June 3, 2023 prior to its theatrical release at the Allenberry Playhouse on June 3, 2023, with Caldwell in attendance, and the more than 200 audience members took part in a panel discussion with wounded vets and ambassadors for the group Warriors and Quiet Waters.

On June 8, the non-profit Warriors and Quiet Waters had its own screening at a special event in Bozeman, Montana, and on June 9 the film enjoyed a widespread theatrical release in 400 locations in 43 states.

The star-studded film was thoroughly reviewed on page 24 of the June-July 2023 issue.

"This achievement underscores the growing recognition of the importance of mental health care in our society and the benefits of reconnecting with nature, such as through activities like fly-fishing, hiking, hunting, and more," added Caldwell. "Mending the Line's emphasis on the healing power of the outdoors offers a timely reminder of the transformative impact it can have on individuals' mental and emotional well-being. I'm humbled by the response and hopeful that it will inspire more conversations and actions to prioritize mental health initiatives and support for those who have served."


Josh Bergan is Fly Fisherman's digital editor; Ross Purnell is the editor/publisher.

Movie poster for Mending the Line



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