Always Hold The Line
By: Seth Piccirillo
Some experience for themselves. Some guide, with a willingness to share that experience with others. Almost all Niagara Falls natives are familiar with the Niagara Gorge and its rare mix of amazing scenery and ever present danger. Many of us have our own spot or special pathway down to the rocks. However, very few of us create ways to connect Devil’s Hole to the whole world. With Hold The Line Outfitters, Chris Finitz and Phil Sirianni are doing exactly that.
Hold The Line Outfitters provides guided fly fishing walk and wade adventures on the streams and rivers of Western New York Steelhead Alley, including the Mighty Niagara River. Along the way, their tours are exposed to the natural beauty of the Niagara Gorge and our waterways.
“We decided to start Hold the Line locally, because we wanted to share our passion for the world class fishing and outdoor experience the region has to offer”
Chris and Phil both grew up here in Niagara Falls as part of proud families that are staples of this community. When these two friends and avid fly fishermen decided to open their business, they did so in their hometown.
“We decided to start Hold the Line locally, because we wanted to share our passion for the world class fishing and outdoor experience the region has to offer. The idea for Hold the Line was hatched about seven years ago when Phil and I were on a fly fishing trip in British Columbia,” Finitz describes. “We were influenced by the guides we met there. We were unsure if we could make it work in our region, but after talking with other local guides and experts we knew we could.”
Fly fishing is certainly not a new, but the growth of social media has created a renewed interest in the sport and the Niagara Region as a fishing destination. Niagara Falls’ upstream location offers many points of bank access to the Niagara River, attracting anglers’ especially in the Fall, Winter and Spring months, outside of our traditional summer tourism season. Chris highlights Devil’s Hole on the Lower Niagara in the Autumn, and the shoreline of the West River (Upper Niagara) in Spring as his favorite local fishing spots.
With each “Grip and Grin” social media followers can share in the experience of the catch and our city as a place to explore. But, it’s about more than a phot op. “There definitely is an increased interest in fly fishing and the outdoors in recent years. Many of our clients are either complete beginners or have angling experience, but were influenced to try fly fishing. There is also a definite increase in female interest in fly fishing, which is great to see in a sport that was traditionally mainly male dominated.”
"The finest gift you can give to any fisherman is to put a good fish back." – Lee Wulff
As fly fishing grows, so does the message of natural conversation, which is centrally important to Hold The Line. Chris and Phil’s tours feature catch and release techniques including proper fish handling, using fish friendly hooks, strong tippet to ensure quick landing, teaching new anglers to keep fish healthy. They are also advocates of the KEEPEMWET movement, which promotes releasing the fish in the best condition possible, minimizing air exposure, eliminating contact with dry surfaces, and reducing handling. As Hold The Line offers both fishing and an experience in a natural setting, Chris and Phil’s focus on conservation is both forward thinking and refreshing. After all, Finitz and Sirianni are not just providing a fishing exposition, but rather a tour of their home. They want to preserve and protect it for generations to come.
Learn more about Hold The Line and book a tour here.