So sorry... this game is SOLD OUT 😢

Freshwater Fly DELUXE version with wooden components and a faux leather bag to hold them in! Plus, the Kickstarter edition Strike Card pack… of course!

I am SUPER amped to be able to offer a few copies of this fantastic game at the deluxe level!! 😁🎉🎉🎉 Many sincere thanks to Dennis Hoyle (founder of Bellwether games) for allowing me to carry the deluxe version! Upstart is the ONLY retail shop carrying the deluxe version!!! SUCH an epic opportunity to bring a few copies to my fellow Upstarts out there!!  ❤️❤️

Ok let’s move along before I wrote a poem thanking Dennis. Seriously though… A-MA-ZING! 🥳

Another thematic powerhouse by the good people at Bellwether and game designer Brian Suhre!

This game is as close to actual fishing as you can get without throwing on your hip-waders and strolling into the local stream; geared-up with bits of feather and string and assorted glittery stuff glued to hooks and such! 🎣

The deluxe wooden components definitely add to the tactile joy one gains and are beautifully made. Now, do you NEED the wooden components to enjoy the game? No. But do you want them anyway… yes you do!  Or at least, yes I do! 😍

The game plays rather quickly (when compared to multi-hour crunchy games) and is a whole lot of fun! One thing I have heard in the various video reviews and such is that the game is a bit repetitive… and yes, there is something a tad repetitive about trying to be the first person to catch as many fish as possible! I mean, this IS a game about fishing after all, right?  Hehe.

This didn’t bother me at all.. as the game has plenty of variation with the finesse actions and the various combinations of dice and proper drafting and casting and all of that!!

I really enjoyed it… but buyer beware – fishing is sort of something that involves a bit of repetition! But then again that’s where the Zen-like peace comes from…

Why does rolling a handful of dice cause so much joy?!? 🎲🎲🎲🎲😁

Gosh if I know… but I smile ear-to-ear each time a new round begins, and we roll the collective dice to set things up before the drafting!!

So, how does this game work?

In summary – it’s a lot like actual fishing… hehe. Choose a lure, draft a die, and then take actions! See… just like fishing! Hahaha.  Dice can be used to cast, reel, or finesse; but more on that in a minute.

The game takes place on a central game board that represents the stream where you are fishing as well as on your own personal player board that represents your rod and reel. The game board is set into 3 rows and then further subdivided into 6 columns (one for each side of a 1d6 die.

Each of these grid spaces contains a different fish. And finally at the bottom of each column there are hatch markers. Matching your lure color to the hatch markers is what allows you to take a shot at actually hooking the fish! It might be important to note that the hatch marker pips are set out 4 to a column and are known prior to players choosing their lure color.  So, the only way to end up with a lure that is woefully underrepresented (and therefore find yourself unable to even try to catch anything in a given round) is if you just go off-grid and choose a color that is lacking severely in the ol’ hatch marker pip area! Uh, maybe don’t do that. 🤓👍🤔


On their turn players may choose to cast their line (in hopes of catching some sweet fish). To do so, players place the die at the top of the column represented by that same number (so, draft a die proudly displaying the side with 5 pips, and place it at the top of the column marked with a die showing 5 pips – easy!).  Then, they place the casting token onto one of the three rows of fish – over the fish they would like to try and catch.

The higher the die number one drafts, the farther upstream one can cast. [This comes in handy later as your odds of catching a fish increase as your lure drifts along downstream.]

The ability to actually CATCH a fish (sort of an important aspect to fishing and in this game 😜) is dictated by the type of lure one has chosen and the presence of hatch markers showing that same color. I won’t; get into the nitty gritty but suffice it to say that catching a fish requires setting your lure onto that fish (by initial die location or by drifting the casting token downstream) and then scoring strike cards based on the number of hatch tokens that match the color of your lure. Bam!

But wait there’s more!

Getting the fish on your line is just the beginning of any solid fishing tale… and again, this is no different in Freshwater Fly! I just LOVE the thematic integration here folks!  Seriously… the game is well thought out and the purity of the theme is palpable – well done!!

OK… so where was I?  Ah yes, die action option TWO!  Reeling!!

Your reel is represented by what appears to be an actual cardboard reel-face overlying a rondel. When you catch a fish and move it to your player board for reeling and a’ rolling… you take one of the matching colored hatch pips and use it as the reel handle. I LOVE this! It’s brilliant!

SO, in order to actually spin the reel and start hauling your catch into your bucket (duly fastened to your waders so that it doesn’t float out into the middle of the stream), you draft a die and then compare the fish strength of your catch to the die. If the die is higher than the fish strength, you can turn the wheel clockwise that many steps. If it’s lower, you cannot spin the reel.  Note to novice sports fishers… not reeling is not good as the fish remains in the water. 🤣😁👍

The reel is divided into 5 pie sections and when the reel lands on any of these spaces you must immediately take the action there. I won’t go into all of these bonus actions;  but suffice to say they involve desperately trying to catch that fish! Well, maybe not desperately… unless you fish like I do… in which case in this game and in real life… things are desperate on the waterfront!

Lastly… finesse.

The third die action possible in the game is to draft any die and sacrifice it to increase your finesse capacity by two (max finesse is 4). Finesse is used as a bonus action to alter die values, move a hatch token one column over, reveal an extra strike card, swap out your fly (can’t be done with a fish on the line.. hehe) or change up drag on your line.

There are also bonus actions in momentum and skill… but I’ll leave those to you all.  I don’t want people reeling from the extensive length of this write up! See what I did there??  REELing.  🤣😅

7 fish – No, this is not the name of a swanky seafood place in Seattle… 🐠🐡🐟🐠🐠🐠🐡

Once any player has reeled in their 7th fish, the game ends. Points are totaled for common achievements and personal achievements, as well as for points on the fish themselves.

The winner is declared the top fisherhuman and may boast of many exaggerated fishing tales until the next game is played. Suitable exaggeration includes size of fish, closeness to actually catching the fish, and demanding that the one time their fishing pole bent at 90 degrees they were most certainly NOT stuck on an old tire at the bottom of the stream!

Video Review

Here’s a short video by Tom Vasel over at the Dice Tower. Spoiler alert – he actually has a lot of great things to say about the game… but… he thought it felt a little repetitive. 😉🤔 The video is HERE.

And HERE you can find a great solo run-through by Brian over at Super Board Sunday!!  Love these guys!!  Brian and the guys over at Super Board Sunday are super-cool humans… and their podcast is a blast!! Thank you for what you do, gents!! You can check them out HERE if you’re looking for a fun, laughter-filled podcast about your favorite games!

Final notes…

This is a really fun game with a TON of thematic integration! The artwork is superb… the components are well made, and the wooden deluxe components are sweet! The game comes with a couple of mini expansions in the box… and there is a solo mode for those quiet, lazy solo fishing days – perfect!

A game that will sit proudly on the shelf of any outdoorsy Upstart for sure…

Ages: 14+
Players: 1 – 4
Play Time: 40 – 90 minutes
Designer Brian Suhre
Artist: Darryl T. Jones
Publisher: Bellwether Games
Deluxe version was unavailable at
time of this listing (OCT 2020)!  Standard
Kickstarter version of the game (not deluxe)
for $50 on eBay.
Our Price: $52.50
Link to BGG: Freshwater Fly


So sorry... this game is SOLD OUT 😢


Freshwater Fly DELUXE Kickstarter Edition – Wooden bits, faux leather bag, and KS Strike Card pack included!!

Freshwater Fly is the second standalone game in a series from designer Brian Suhre that integrates modern game mechanics with the surprisingly rich and uniquely refreshing world of angling. In Freshwater Fly you will encounter a rushing mountain stream teaming with fish, armed solely with a rod, reel and selection of flies. To catch fish and earn valuable achievement points you will need to carefully perform a series of tactical maneuvers while executing a deliberate and evolving strategy.

Begin by examining the ever-changing hatch in the current, and tie a fly to match your target fish at just the right time and turn of the river. Then choose to cast upstream to drift your fly with the current and gain extra bites on your line, or push your luck with a pinpointed cast for the perfect catch. In either case, it is wise to cast near rocks to boost your skill and uncover new fishing techniques, while keeping your supply of finesse charged for the next challenge. Your rondel reel, which physically spins, provides you different bonuses as you draw in your line, depending on how aggressively you choose to fight the fish you’ve hooked. Applying drag, for instance, will negate the fish’s strength, but leveraging your momentum could provide you a unique action to set you up perfectly for your next cast.

At its core, Freshwater Fly is a dice drafting and set collecting game…

…with elements of creative puzzle solving and pushing your luck. Each turn you select one die from the dice pool and assign it an action that relates to the particular fishing maneuver you want to take. Higher valued dice typically earn you more powerful actions, but accumulating lower dice totals can earn you free turns. The dice you select will also unlock or multiply various bonus actions you can use to solve the most stringent fishing puzzles in unique and rewarding ways.

The sets of fish and flies you collect will help you achieve personal and common goals, but to obtain victory you must focus on those goals which overlap in the most valuable ways, while not falling behind in your total fish count. The game ends when a single player catches a seventh fish, achievement points are awarded, and the winner is declared.

—description from the publisher

Additional information
Weight 5.1 lbs
Dimensions 13 × 13 × 4 in

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