Meet Creative Director Brett O’Connor
Tell us about yourself?
I work in the advertising industry as an Executive Creative Director. Same role as Don Draper in Madmen, but with a little less whiskey in my top draw. At the weekends I’m either teaching people to cast, guiding or fishing myself.
How did you come to be involved with Fly Culture?
Pete and I first met each other many years ago as roomies, while sitting our AAPGAI exams. He thought that with my fishing, advertising and design skills I might be able to add something to the team.
Did you have to think about it when Pete asked you to join the team?
I think my initial response was ‘Hell Yeah!” When we started discussing the project it soon became apparent we were on the same page.
Have you known Pete long?
It must be over ten years now. Taking the AAPGAI exam is a pressure cooker environment. We became kindred spirits, getting up early practicing our casts, or quizzing each other before our written exams. We managed to laugh a lot of the time, which relieved that stress. I’m pleased to say we’ve been great friends ever since.
Is print dead?
We often discuss this in my day job. We live in an extraordinary digital world, but is there still room for print? Digital is an amazing tool and it’s changed the way we read, write and communicate. That said, it’s become more and more apparent that consumers miss that tactile interaction you get from print. Turning the page of a book, receiving a hand written letter, picking up the 12” Vinyl sleeve and enjoying the artwork. Its no surprise these things are making a comeback. Print certainly isn’t dead.
Is there room for a new magazine in the UK?
The million-dollar question. From chatting to fellow fishers I trust there is. I do believe the fishing industry has evolved in recent years. We need to cater for this new market. It’s younger, cooler, and even edgier at times. We’re fishing for species in far-flung places like never before. We appreciate Fly Culture may not be for everyone; it’s a bit Marmite but we accept that.
What are your hopes for Fly Culture?
Fly Culture is not a money making venture. It’s about creating something different that fishers will enjoy reading and immersing themselves in the imagery. I hope it becomes a statement piece that fishers will leave out on their desk, or at home on the coffee table. We’ve had a great response so far, many friends and newfound friends helping with articles and photography. I certainly hope the magazine will inspire others to contribute for years to come.
As a fly fishing instructor do you still get a buzz from teaching people to fly fish?
Absolutely. I first qualified through the Salmon & Trout Association as a STANIC instructor nearly 20 years ago. Observing a client’s face light up when they cast further than ever before or performing their first double-handed spey cast is a lovely moment. Watching their expression of awe when catching a fish still brings out the excited boy in me too.
What is it like living right next to a river?
I’m very lucky to be living along side the chalk stream River Lambourn in Berkshire. When I first moved to the property, my wife pointed out I spent more time in the river than in the house itself. The river is narrow, shallow, tree lined with quite a few deep pockets, so can be challenging fishing. It’s full of grayling and wild brownies with a few stocked fish too. Amazing wildlife from swans, deer to kingfishers, it’s like a little nature reserve.
The real bonus for me is when friends pop round and we have a fish. On occasion I introduce their children to the sport. Whether that’s a kick sample for the creepy crawlies or catching a fish. To have the opportunity to do either is pretty awesome.
Where are you happiest?
In short, the answer is in water. I’m a fly-fishing addict. Whether I’m standing in a river for salmon, a chalk stream for trout, or a saltwater flat, I rarely think about anything else at that particular moment than making that fish eat my fly. Oh and being with the wife and my little one. Not in that particular order, just in case she reads this.