Kayla Lockhart (@kayla__lockhart) is a name familiar to most fly anglers who pay any ounce of attention to the fly fishing community on Instagram. Her energy is second to none, and she has spent her entire career in the space working to promote inclusiveness, inspire future conservationists and anglers, and bring an element of transparency and optimism to the sometimes dark world of Instagram and fly fishing social media. We’re lucky to call Kayla a good friend, and were ecstatic to sit down with her and add her name to our list of “Faces of Fly Fishing“. Check out our interview with Kayla below!
Flylords: Who is Kayla Lockhart? Tell us a little bit about yourself. Where are you from? What are your home waters like?
Kayla: I was born and raised in a small town in Minnesota, and left to head west to Oregon in 2015 and Portland has been home for me ever since. My home waters range from the high desert, sage-filled terrain of the Deschutes to countless fern engulfed coastal rivers.
Flylords: What is your earliest fishing memory? Earliest fly fishing memory?
Kayla: The earliest memory that stands out was fishing with my snoopy pole in my dad’s old aluminum boat for bass, pike, and crappy (and hooking him in the back of the head) … and it wasn’t until I was 24 that I picked up my first fly rod, and caught my first midwest brown trout in a tiny stream, and never turned back.
Flylords: If you could only fish for one species for the rest of your life, what would it be?
Kayla: Bass – I effin’ love fishing for bass, it is what I grew up fishing for, it has the perfect balance of nostalgia and adrenaline and is never mundane – you can fish for them swinging, stripping flies, dry flies, poppers… it never gets old for me.
Flylords: You’ve been involved with fly fishing social media since it began changing the landscape of fly fishing with the advent of Instagram. What has it been like to see the platform and the community on it change?
Kayla: I have seen both sides of social media and fly fishing and I choose to utilize it to share my experiences on and off the water, by speaking up and advocating for our waters that need the amplified voice, great causes that are happening all around us, to get people to look at the outdoors in a different perspective and get more people to care about something that means so much to me…
The more people we have that feel as passionate about this sport as we do the better of a chance we have at protecting the resources that are such a keystone for everyone.
Flylords: Do you think the shift is for the better or worse? Why? How?
Kayla: The shift that I have followed in social media and the outdoors is for the better – I am seeing a more diverse outdoors, a more inclusive outdoors, and both of those things to me mean that we will have more knowledge and education brought into the sport to further a deeper connection and perspective of something that we all care about and with that can lead to some incredible changes for the good in this sport and within the lands and waters that need all the support and voices it can get.
Flylords: How have you dealt with balancing real life with the persona you show on Instagram?
Kayla: The real life and persona on IG really are not that different – I am incredibly transparent and share my true self within my Instagram.
When I am having a tough day,
I share that…
When I am dealing with anxiety and depression waves,
I share that…
When I go on a road trip and fish new waters and I am excited about discovering them,
I share that…
When there is a drop in steelhead numbers and there is a chance to step up and speak to the people in charge of managing that,
I share that…
I truly give myself to my social media and the support I receive I will forever be grateful for – the biggest struggle in balance for me personally is that I tend to give too much and need to recognize checking in with myself.
Flylords: Are there any life lessons that you have learned via spending time on the water?
Kayla: The first time I stepped out into a river with a fly rod in my hand was the biggest life lesson I have ever experienced… I found something that I can do outside myself, that gives back to myself. It has helped me find a community of people that I care deeply for and has helped me navigate so much in my life mentally.
Flylords: You were on the leading edge of the “50/50 on the Water” movement in fly fishing when inclusion in the industry and sport began to get much-needed attention. What progress in inclusion in fly fishing have you seen over the years? What do you think still needs to be done?
Kayla: It has been incredible seeing more women getting into the sport, I fully support that and love to see it. With that being said there is plenty of space in this industry to further the inclusion above just women in the sport. We still lack a “welcoming” embrace in this industry, there are still egos that can be broken down in the fly fishing culture, and I hope to be able to see those changes happen.
Flylords: How do you hope to see the industry change in the coming years?
Kayla: I would love to see a more open, and diverse industry – a more educated industry, an industry that is full of people from all walks of life that are fueled by the same thing – a love and passion for our lands and waters that give us the opportunity to do something we love, fly fishing – with this we can have a better chance at protecting and advocating for the fisheries.
Flylords: You’ve worked closely with the Mayfly Project for many years. What brought you to the program? Why is it important to you? How can folks get involved with the Project themselves?
Kayla: The Mayfly Project is something that will always be close to my heart – if it wasn’t for the mayfly project my story never would have even remotely been told. I am forever grateful for them. The May Fly project is changing kids in foster care lives, they are giving these kids a space and resources to heal and growing up with a rocky road childhood this cause means the world to me – having just one mentor affect a kid positively can change their outlook for the future and that to me is a powerful thing and has humans we can all do…. You can get involved easily by going to TheMayflyProject.com.
Flylords: Mental health is a topic you talk about a lot on your platforms, what role has fly fishing played in maintaining your mental health?
Kayla: Fly fishing has been the first thing that I have encountered in my life that gave me an opportunity to be present and look inward and help me discover things about myself that I never chose to accept, and with that came a community that I found that can relate and not feel alone while navigating mental health, and mental health awareness is incredibly important, the more we are open with it and discuss it the more connected we are with ourselves and our communities.
Flylords: Your love of vintage Americana is pretty well documented on your social media. What attracts you to previously loved decor and clothing? Do you have any vintage fly fishing gear?
Kayla: Oh man!! I could have an entire discussion just on this alone! Since I was a kid I would go to garage sales, thrift stores, and estate sales – I grew up without much means and these are just the places we would shop and I would find myself reworking and putting together vintage pieces that were one of a kind…and that never stopped as I got older. As an adult this is equally just as consuming in my life – Not only is it more sustainable to give life back into an old piece but the heritage and stories that can come with it are something I admire and love to learn about…and I also just simply love the way things were made back then.
Flylords: What’s next for you in 2022?
Kayla: Just going to keep on fishin’, keep on explorin’, keep on teaching and learning as much as I can and hopefully continue to never get jaded.