Is your Scout a Complete Angler? Are you a Certified Angling Instructor?

complete-angler-patchIf a Boy Scout you know loves fishing, here’s his chance to prove it.

The BSA Complete Angler Recognition honors Boy Scouts who earn all three fishing-related merit badges: Fishing, Fly-Fishing and Fish and Wildlife Management.

The recognition was developed by the BSA National Fishing Task Force and replaces the Certified Angler Award. Unlike that previous award, the Complete Angler Recognition doesn’t require an online test. Once a boy earns the three merit badges, he’s eligible to receive the patch.

The program is supported by the BSA Supply Group, which will deliver the newly designed, controlled-access patch to Scout Shops. (Controlled-access means you can’t buy it online because you’ll need to prove a boy is eligible to earn it.)

Adults, there’s a new fishing patch for you, too. The BSA Certified Angling Instructor courses help you deliver a fishing experience Scouts won’t forget.

Read on for more details about these patches. And if you’re a fan of fishing, don’t miss this month’s Boys’ Life. April is the magazine’s special Fishing issue!

BSA Complete Angler Recognition

The Complete Angler patch may be worn by Boy Scouts who earn all three fishing-related merit badges. Those are:


The Fishing merit badge (Angler merit badge) was one of the original 57 merit badges offered. More than 2 million Scouts have earned the Angling or Fishing Merit Badge. In a recent Boys’ Life survey, fishing placed fourth on the list of preferred Scout unit outdoor activities, surpassed only by camping, swimming and bicycling.


The Fly-Fishing merit badge, the BSA’s newest angling badge, was introduced in 2002 and has earned attention within National Outdoor Programs. Major efforts to present this skill were made at the last three national Scout jamborees with great success.

Fish and Wildlife Management

Originally called Wildlife Management when it was introduced in 1972, the Fish and Wildlife Management merit badge is the most challenging of the three fishing-related badges because of its required conservation projects. The purpose of the Fish and Wildlife Management merit badge is to encourage healthy fish and wildlife populations while preventing lost populations.

Certified-Angling-Instructor-patchBSA Certified Angling Instructor

The BSA National Fishing Task Force provides leadership and guidance for all BSA fishing programs to ensure that Scouts have the best opportunities and resources to learn and enjoy the sport of fishing.

The task force is charged with encouraging and fostering a progressive learning experience for Scouts and Scouters through education, programs, literature, advancement, and other methods to teach and support fishing and conservation in the Boy Scouts of America.

Three Certified Angling Instructor (CAI) courses have been developed to build well trained instructors that can provide quality angling programs.

1. National Fishing Camping Schools

Fishing Camp Schools are designed as the primary fishing and fly-fishing training course to develop a national cadre of CAIs to bring quality fishing and fly-fishing instruction and programs to all BSA youth.  Courses include full coverage of skills development, resource awareness and improvement, merit badge counselor instruction, fly-fishing instruction with focus on teaching others, how to improve the council camp’s fishing programs, plus opportunities for a council to offer fishing opportunities year around — ideal for those wishing to enhance fishing program emphasis within their Scouting world and lead Scouts into the wonderful world of fishing and fly-fishing.

Camp Schools are planned for at least one per region providing four to six courses per year.  A Fishing Camp School will be a minimum of three days, with 22 hours of instruction.

For more information, click here.

2. Council-Run CAI Training Courses

The Council CAI Course is designed to help ensure councils offer successful fishing opportunities for Cub Scouts, Boy Scouts and Venturers. A team of dedicated and qualified adults can create huge opportunities for making fishing important within councils and districts.

CAI Course Directors should have attended a National Fishing Camp School.

Several Councils are adding a Scout Fishing/Fly-Fishing merit badge clinic as a one-day follow-up. This idea has been very successful, offering Scouts the opportunity to earn both the Fishing and Fly-Fishing merit badges.

3. High Adventure Base  “Train the Trainer” Courses

This CAI Course is developed for high-adventure staff running Scout fishing programs. The objective is to prepare the staff with the basic fishing and fly-fishing knowledge and skills — and how to teach them — thus improving the chances for Scouts to have successful fishing experiences.

For more info, go here.

Hat tip: Thanks to Ben Jelsema, chairman of the BSA’s National Fishing Committee, for the details.


  1. An article on the National Outdoor Award popped up as a related article and reminded me there was a blog last year on changes to that program. Whatever happened to that? Wasn’t a conservation strip going to be added, as well as requirements for the Venturing program?

      • I tried to get the patch at my local Scout Shop today. The shop personnel said that I needed the “required paperwork.” They just couldn’t tell me what the “required paperwork” was. I asked if the cards for my son’s 3 Merit Badges would suffice, but the staff just did not know.

        Hopefully other Scout Shops know more about the procedures for this award.

  2. I kind of like these awards that scouts can get by earning several related merit badges. My son earned soil & water conservation because he had the other two needed for the world conservation award. I think it gives older scouts something to work toward. What other badges would make good combinations? Maybe orienteering/geocaching/signs signals and codes? Or nature/bird study/insect study/reptile study?

  3. Excellent programs — I hope we see more resources in the future that help units support fishing and fish conservation programs. Really love the design of the Certified Angler Instructor patch. Not to be a downer, but the design of the Complete Angler patch is a bit underwhelming by comparison.

  4. In regards to Complete Angler & Venturing – The Complete Angler recognition began with Venturing. This new direction to include the third element, Fish & Wildlife Management in a triad of Angling related Merit Badges is obvious for Boy Scouts and we will be proposing the third element for conservation to the Venturing Ranger elective for the Complete Angler.. When the Boy Scout change was made the new Venturing advancement program was not published yet. The Ranger fishing elective has a Fishing and a Fly-Fishing component so we need to add conservation to complete the third element.

    Combining the conservation in the requirement is like adding butter to bread. A recent Baylor University study indicated that Scouts are 33% more likely than non-scouts to regularly participate in fishing. Additionally this study states that Scouts are 89% more likely than non-scouts to be active in a group that protects our environment. It makes me feel proud of what we all are doing!

  5. To clarify, Crew 191 specialty is fishing / fly fishing … the whole crew earned Certified Angling Instructor last year … FISH ON

  6. If an eagle scout who earned all three merit badges required as a youth and is now an adult Assistant Scoutmaster. Does he have to go to the Certified angling instructor course to be able to teach the merit badges for our scouts to be able to earn the complete angler award?

  7. information (AND REQUIRED PAPERWORK) need to be forwarded to the councils so they have it available for us to use. I asked my council folks and they didn’t have any idea or paperwork on this. A great idea, but needs to be communicated.

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