Project Healing Waters: Helping Vets through Fly Fishing

Project Healing Waters Fly Fishing offers disabled military folks—both active and veterans—rehabilitation through fly fishing…

fly fisherman project healing waters
(Photo courtesy of Project Healing Waters Fly Fishing, Inc.)


It’s well-documented that the outdoors and outdoor recreation is wonderfully therapeutic. Project Healing Waters Fly Fishing (PHWFF) has been serving wounded military service members since 2005 through fly fishing—and has seen immensely rewarding results first-hand.

PHWFF started in Maryland and has since gone nationwide. They serve thousands of injured and disabled military folks each year through 216 local programs, and are continually growing.

Format of Local Programs

One of the things that makes PHWFF unique is its year-round program format, with meetings 1-4 times per month. This includes classes, as opposed to just one-time fishing events.
They offer classes in basic fly fishing, fly casting, fly tying and rod building. For those who have fly fishing experience, PHWFF volunteers teach them how to adapt their skills to their new abilities. One-day and multi-day fishing outings are also offered.

In 2017 alone, 3,636 volunteers dedicated more than 256,000 hours of service including 4,482 fly tying classes, 1,096 rod building classes, 1,775 casting classes and 1,549 fishing outings.

Partnerships with Other Organizations

PHWFF has important ongoing relationships with Fly Fishers International and Trout Unlimited, as well as local fly fishing clubs to provide program leadership and fishing skills. All the program services and outings are free for the program participants.

PHWFF wouldn’t be able to function as it does without the thousands of volunteers from these organizations and the general public, as well as the support from companies, foundations, government and individuals. Volunteers and donations are critical to support the mission of PHWFF.

kayak angler project healing waters fly fishing
(Photo courtesy of Joshua Williams)

Bringing Physical and Emotional Healing

When members of our military return to civilian life due to a disabling injury—whether temporary or permanent—they face serious physical and emotional challenges. PHWFF is honored to be able to help many of them find healing through fly fishing.

Here are a couple testimonials from people they’ve served:

“Sometimes I find myself speechless when people ask me what Project Healing Waters has done for me because words are untouchable to what this program has given my life and others. PHWFF saved my life and I’m completely serious about that. That’s why I want to do everything I can to give back, even though I’m still in recovery myself!" (Retired Captain Kimberly Smith, United States Marine Corps)

“This program has done more for me than all the years of therapy the military has thrown my way. Counseling and therapy are great, but what PHWFF has done for me is literally life-saving.” (SFC, Army Medic)

You can learn more about PHWFF and connect with them by going to their website, Facebook, Instagram and YouTube.

Bending Branches is proud to support Project Healing Waters Fly Fishing!

Call or email our friendly, Wisconsin-based customer service team today with your paddling questions: 715-755-3405 • [email protected]

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