Like many others I don't think it is a general decline of fly fishing in areas that encourage fly fishing. I live in southern Iowa and it is a 4 or 5 hour drive either north or south to fly fish for trout. I do enjoy our trips to the dreaded trout parks of southern Missouri for most of my trout fishing. During the spring and summer I spend most lunch hours with a fly rod on one of several ponds very close to the auto dealership where I work. I have only seen one other fly fisher on any of these occasions here. The bass, bluegills, crappies and even catfish are usually very cooperative and are fun on a 2wt or 3wt rod. I agree that most beginners are intimidated by the cost of some of the equipment that is so heavily promoted in the magazines and tv shows. I had played with some old fiberglass fly rods for several years before I planned a vacation in 2009 to Bennett Springs in Missouri to go trout fishing. I decided to get a little more serious, but still didn't have any money. I ordered a Three Forks Prestige combo from Cabelas in an 8 ft 5wt and about a dozen flies. The total cost was about $80.00 and I was ready to fish. While many shun the trout parks I enjoy them and the learning experience they provide. On that first trip I was able to watch fly fishers and even to get a couple to talk to me and I caught some fish. Taking their advice I then caught more fish. Over the next 14 years I have increased my knowledge, added a couple more and better rods including a Sage Launch and one of those Eagle Claw yellow rods, learned to tie flies, built a 2wt from a kit, and even have been able to encourage a few others to take up fly fishing, and life is good. My point is that I agree that you do not need high priced equipment to start fly fishing.
I think that women are the largest growing segment and we need to encourage and foster their interest as much as possible. At Bennett Springs I have had 2 different occasions where girls have approached me and asked questions about fly fishing and casting, obviously because I am old and look safe. Both times I showed them a couple of things and taught them to make a roll cast and a short over head cast, and how to set up a nymph or something under a "strike indicator" and let it drift down stream. One of them, after we talked, went up to the park store and rented a fly rod and came back and I showed her again and she started to catch a fish once in a while and was thrilled. If we want to have more fly fishers then some one has to teach young people, and if you take the time it can be a wonderful feeling.