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the buzz on the flyfishing biz

®

Inside the

2012 “Opinion” Issue

All Fishing is Good Fishing/Simms Sells Direct/ Conservation for Profit/An Eye on Access/ The Client is Not Always Right/Industry Beefs (Served Rare)/Who’s Growing the Sport?/And Much More March 2012 AnglingTrade.com


the buzz on the flyfishing biz

CONTENTS

®

Features

Departments

Editor

24 All Fishing is Good Fishing

6 Editor’s Column

Managing Editor

We all have our connections to the water. Whether that happens on the ocean or in the river--with conventional tackle, or on the fly--it’s all good. And anglers of all walks must foster the ideals that transcend generations.

Working Together. So the manufacturerselling-direct cat is completely out of the bag. How retailers and manufacturers work together may be changing, but the need to do so is not. By Kirk Deeter

By Jennifer Pullinger

26 Conservation for Profit

Putting our money where our mouths are when it comes to resource conservation is one important way to ensure this market has any future at all. But are we really doing enough? By Geoff Mueller

32 What’s Your Beef?

Our man asked retailers about AFFTA, the trade show, and “growing the sport.” To say he got some candid, critical responses is an understatement. Let’s take the pain points, and build some collective strategies for success. By Steven B. Schweitzer

38 The Customer is NOT

Always Right But our job is educating them to make them smarter, and right more often. How you get them there can spell the difference between successful and failed customer relationships. By Brett Wedeking

44 All About Access

The latest people, product and issues news from the North American fly fishing industry, including our annual mojo meter on The Fly Fishing Show, and a Q&A with Far Bank’s new VP of global sales, Paul Clark.

Tim Romano tim@anglingtrade.com Art Director

Tara Brouwer tara@shovelcreative.com shovelcreative.com Editor-at-Large

Geoff Mueller Copy Editors

Mabon Childs, Sarah Warner Contributing Editors

20 Simms Sells Direct An in-depth interview with Simms’ chief K.C. Walsh on the decision-- the rationale, the reaction, and what this spells for the company and its specialty retailer partners.

Tom Bie Ben Romans Steven B. Schweitzer Contributors

Joe Cermele, Jennifer Pullinger, Brett Wedeking Photos unless noted by Tim Romano

36 Spotlight on Innovation: Flymen Fishing Company Is Martin Bawden the Patrick Sebile of the fly tying accessories world? One thing is for sure--he’s thinking out of the box, and turning “heads” in this market. By Kirk Deeter

46 Backcast Views from the Backseat... AT welcomes its newest columnist, Geoff Mueller.

Angling Trade is published four times a year by Angling Trade, LLC. Author and photographic submissions should be sent electronically to editor@anglingtrade.com. Angling Trade is not responsible for unsolicited manuscripts and/ or photo submissions. We ask that contributors send formal queries in advance of submissions. For editorial guidelines and calendar, please contact the editor via E-mail. Printed in the U.S.A. Advertising Contact: Tim Romano Telephone: 303-495-3967 Fax: 303-495-2454 tim@anglingtrade.com Mail Address: PO Box 17487 Boulder, CO 80308 Street Address: 3055 24th Street Boulder, CO 80304 AnglingTrade.com

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AnglingTrade.com / March 2012

Until we get a handle on public access--the issue we all think about, but few companies and conservation organizations want to wade into--we will not have a way to ensure the future viability of fly fishing. By Tom Bie

8 Currents

Kirk Deeter kirk@anglingtrade.com


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CONTRIBUTORS

Tom Bie needs no introduction. He is the publisher and editor of The Drake, and a contributing editor for Angling Trade. Perhaps more germane to this issue and his story that appears here--nobody in America is more dialed into the topic of angler access than Tom. He’s planning a sabbatical from writing about the fly fishing industry for AT, but editor Kirk Deeter plans to beat him into submission. (Or should that be submissions?)

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Joe Cermele is one of the rising stars in outdoor writing. He’s the newest fishing editor of the venerable Field & Stream brand, writer of that magazine’s monthly fishing column, and producer of the acclaimed “Hook Shots” video series. Whether he’ll admit it publicly or not, he also happens to hold fly fishing in the sacred recesses of his heart. We know, because we’ve fished with him. He’s a regular contrubutor to Angling Trade. Geoff Mueller is Angling Trade’s editor-at-large, and also senior editor of The Drake. His bylines in fly fising media extend almost as far as his bootprints on various rivers and flats throughout the world. This issue marks a new era for Geoff, as he inherits our “Backcast” column from the likes of the late, great Charlie Meyers, and that Bie guy. We’re most comfortable that the last word in Angling Trade is still in very capable hands. Jennifer Pullinger is a first-time contributor to Angling Trade, but by no means a newcomer to writing about the fishing industry. Now a freelancer based in Virginia, Jennifer worked for the Recreational Boating & Fishing Foundation, and her poignant, heart-felt essay on why “all fishing is good fishing” should strike a chord. No doubt, this won’t be the last time you see her good work in the pages of this magazine.

Steven B. Schweitzer is Angling Trade’s resident “cage shaker.” He’s never been afraid to ask the tough questions, nor more importantly, to back the answers he gleans with enlightened, thoughtprovoking, been-there, done-that commentaries. Steve is a well-published business reporter, the author of the definitive book on fishing Rocky Mountain National Park, and, we’re proud to say, AT’s newest contributing editor. Brett Wedeking is a passionate angler, an industy insider (from the fly shop side), and a pretty damn fine writer to boot. In this issue, he tackles the retail taboo of “the customer is always right.” According to Brett, well... they’re not. But making them so, by ushering them through the learning curve, can spell the difference between retail success and failure. This is his second contribution to Angling Trade.

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EDITOR’S COLUMN

Working Together is More Important Now than Ever The bottom line is that there’s a larger fish to fry. Fewer and fewer people, per capita, are fishing these days. We can talk about steady (or even increasing) fishing license sales, but the truth is, licenses are more segmented now. You buy a license for this species, a stamp for that one, and so forth. Revenues might hold steady, but given the general population expansion in the United States, if you filled a room with 100 people today and asked how many people fish, the show of hands would be less, per capita, than it was, even 20 years ago in most places. That’s the real problem.

You’ve heard the news: Simms is selling direct online. Like Far Bank (Redington), and Orvis, and Patagonia, and many others do now. Did anyone really think this wasn’t inevitable?

AnglingTrade.com / March 2012

So what now? Is this a nail in the coffin of the specialty retailer? After all, while many companies have straddled the direct-dealer gray line effectively for years, Simms was a different animal—a brand that was built through the specialty store, rather than one that had its own outlets from the onset. I don’t think it’s a death knell. I do, however, think it signals that the fly fishing sales paradigm has changed forever. How things used to work 20 years ago… well, that’s done. You can expect more manufacturers to deal direct, and through big boxes, than ever before. Some (not all) would be stupid not to. 6

Wherever the “growing the sport” debate surfaces, I hear plenty of comments like, “I don’t care if we grow the sport, I like my space on the river.” Fair enough. And if your job is merely selling flies near the honey hole, you’re probably bullet proof anyway. But if you’re sitting in a suburban strip mall with that attitude, you’re a dead man walking. What it all boils down to now is working together. And how we should work together now is a completely different scenario than it was in the past. Soon, you’ll be hearing more about how Simms and other companies are amping efforts on the grassroots retail level. You should be thinking out of the box as well. Speaking of the “box,” I know for a fact that Cabela’s is ramping up on the fly side. Who’s really growing the sport (putting fly rods in the hands of newbies)? It ain’t AFFTA. And Orvis got sick of waiting for something to happen, so they implemented a national “101” program that’s yielding results. But have you also had a look at

the latest Cabela’s fly fishing catalog? I can also tell you that Cabela’s is making a concerted effort to enhance staff expertise when it comes to fly fishing. I’ve seen the training modules. They’re scary good. And, by the way, all this “my consumer show is better than your show” stuff is a moot argument when you consider that every Cabela’s store (or Bass Pro) is a living, breathing outdoors expo, almost every day of the year. What really frustrates me is the kneejerk reaction toward cannibalism. It’s as if we’ve conceded that the pie is only so big, and now we have to eat each other to stay afloat. I see that in product sales, I see that in media sales, I even see that with the trade organization itself. And that’s complete hogwash. It’s short-sighted. There’s still plenty to go around. If we’d just get off our butts and make good things happen by working together… But we have to tune into the real issues, like conservation, and access, and crossing over to the gear world, to really make this happen. We need to protect the realm, and grow this sport, together. And that’s why we made this issue of Angling Trade focus on these issues. Let’s get it all on the table. Let’s argue. Let’s crank up the debate. But in the end, let’s also realize that we’re all into this sport for the same sacred reasons. Let’s put the turf wars aside, and do what’s right for the consumer, who just wants to fish. Do that, and we all can win. I still believe that. Kirk Deeter Editor

at


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Currents Quotable: Far Bank’s Paul Clark Far Bank Enterprises’ new director of global sales, Paul Clark, has spent a considerable portion of his professional career in the golf world, holding positions at TaylorMade, Adidas Golf, and Fila North America. We asked him about the synergies between marketing the sports of golf and fly fishing to similar (even shared) demographics, and here’s what he had to say.

around information that you get locally. The demographics of golf and fly fishing are similar in terms of median age, income, and all those things. And they both hinge on instruction. The specialty fly shop is usually the best place to start.” Loop Lands Investment, Is Back on Track

Chris Verbiski, CEO of Goldcup, added: “Our decision to invest in Loop was based on Loop’s continuing ability, even under adverse business conditions, to lead by example with innovation and new product development. As an avid angler logging several hundred days a year on the rivers and flats, the Opti Series and the newest Cross S1 series are simply amongst the best casting performance rods I have ever used. This company brings incredible value to the industry and we will work with the Loop team to build the brand and broaden our markets.”

On fly fishing and golf manufacturers consistently coming forth with new models. Is that gimmick or substance driven?

AnglingTrade.com / March 2012

“I think any time you’re offering products on a performance platform, the performance advantages have to be validated. They have to be demonstrated when you stand the old product next to the new one. I wouldn’t make a product with a new paint job, and say that it’s really new. I think in golf the driver intros are probably coming too quickly. You have to hit the right rhythm on new product. That might not be every year, and it might not be five years either… it might be more like every 30 months.” Golf has a lot of big “chain stores” as well as smaller pro shops… are fly shops really “pro shops?” “Not to the same extent. The pro shop is soft goods driven. There’s always a strong place for a fly specialty store, because it’s a specialty sport, and the romance revolves

in the fly fishing industry, we are pleased to now have the financial and business strengths that our new partner brings to Loop. We now look forward to reestablishing our products in the industry and continuing our goals of producing superior angling tackle.”

Somerset Rocked By Joe Cermele Swedish company Loop Tackle Design and Goldcup AB announced that Goldcup has acquired a 75% equity ownership in Loop. Under the guidance of a new board of directors, Loop management informed its suppliers, distributors, retail sales shops and loyal customers that although Loop has experienced several challenging years, this new partnership creates financial stability and will now allow the management team to resume principle focus on producing quality fly fishing tackle. Christer Sjoberg, CEO of Loop, commented: “With 30 years of leading edge product development

(Editor’s note: Every year we look at the Fly Fishing Show in Somerset, New Jersey, as a mojo indicator for the coming year. If this year’s show was as reliable a bellwether as past shows have been, there’s reason for optimism.) On Friday, January 27, one parking attendant in a bright-orange vest after the next waved me down the road cutting through New Jersey’s Garden State Expo Center complex. By the time I reached a lot with open spaces, I was about a half-mile from the entrance to the Somerset Flyfishing Show. In 15 years of attending, I never had to park so far away. If spirits at the show were high in 2011, they went off the charts in 2012. continued on next page...

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AnglingTrade.com / March 2012

extradited to Boulder. Her preliminary hearing was March 5. As of our press time, none of the other three suspects, who are all selfproclaimed “gypsies,” have been arrested. We are, however, reporting updates on anglingtrade.com.

I stock up on tying material at Somerset, and to be honest, I found it hard to shop this year. Reach for a pack of Flashabou and you’re bumping into someone. Need some thread? You had to wait your turn to sift through the drawers. When I went to pay, the poor girl at the register looked absolutely flustered from non-stop scanning since the 10 a.m. opener. And it wasn’t just material flying off the shelves.

into other programs. G.Loomis, which is the main sponsor of the International Flyfishing Film Festival, packed the room after the show closed Friday for screenings of this year’s features. Friend and steelhead guide Gary Edwards was hoping to get 50 people in his seminar room, which held 65. On Saturday, 96 people showed up to listen to him talk about fishing New York’s Salmon River.

“All day the show aisles were just bustling, “ said G.Loomis’ John Mazurkiewicz. “Our crew was very pleased with the number of NRX and PRO4x rods sold.” Those are two pricey models worthy of a test before purchase, but if you wanted to try one, you had to get in a very long line at the casting pool. That, however, didn’t seem to faze those anglers eager to head home with a new stick.

“The people are there, buying and checking it all out,” John Mazurkiewicz said. “It’s well worth the costs and effort for companies to spend a January weekend in Jersey.”

The numbers and enthusiasm on the show floor also spilled over 10

Busted! Police Nab “Gypsy Fly Shop Robbers” Boulder, Colorado, police have arrested one suspect thus far in the series of fly shop thefts around metro Denver. Sylwia Dytlow, a Polish national, was originally arrested in Chicago, and

Dytlow and her three cohorts (two male, one female) allegedly hit several Denver area fly shops, including Rocky Mountain Anglers and Charlie’s Fly Box, where more than $11,000 worth of gear, specifically high-end rods, was stolen. The thefts took place February 1 and 2, 2011.

Product News MidCurrent/Angling Trade Rolling Ahead with Gear Coverage

MidCurrent is now producing a regular bi-weekly gear-focused E-newsletter which is sent to thousands of MidCurrent subscribers. Gear reviews produced by Angling Trade and MidCurrent editors are also added to the MidCurrent website five times a week. If you want to be a part of the most comprehensive, evolving gear guide in fly fishing, submit your products and information by first contacting tim@anglingtrade.com.


RIO Offers New Line

ideal casting area of the fly line, and goes from a subtle sea-grass green color head to an easy-to-see sand-colored running line. MSRP is $79.95 Costa Sunglasses Casts New Double Haul

RIO Products introduced a new line to the highly successful Tropical OutBound Short series. The new Tropical OutBound Short F/I line is a floating line with a short intermediate tip that is great for fishing sub-surface in tropical conditions.

Costa’s collection of performance sunglasses is expanding in 2012, with Double Haul being first in line to debut. It features Costa’s patented vent system in Double Haul’s frame front to alleviate lens continued on next page...

Designed for fishing Baja, along Florida beaches or in the Amazon, the Tropical OutBound Short F/I line is ideal for chasing peacock bass, dorado, trevally, roosterfish, jacks and other tropical species. With a short, heavy head and an aggressive front taper, it is adept at casting large flies and making ultra long casts. To prevent the line from wilting in typical tropical heat, it is built on a tough medium-stiff core and features a hard saltwater coating with XS technology for the ultimate in slickness. This line also has a welded loop on both the frontend and back-end for fast and easy rigging. AnglingTrade.com / March 2012

The new F/I line has a floating running line and body with a clear 10-foot intermediate tip that sinks at 1.5-2.0 inches per second. RIO’s DualTone load-locating system makes it easy for anglers to find the


CURRENTS

fog in extreme weather conditions, as well as full-eye coverage to allow full range of vision while on the water. Double Haul features a large fitting frame with Hydrolite no-slip nose pads, sturdy integral hinges and durable co-injected molded temples for a comfortable “forget-they’reon” fit. The new style is available in tortoise, black and the new translucent crystal frame colors. Anglers can customize Double Haul in Costa’s patented 580™ lenses in either glass or polycarbonate (580P). Costa’s 580 lenses block yellow light at 580 nanometers on the light spectrum. Costa’s 580 lens color options include gray, copper, amber, and blue, green and silver mirror. Double Haul is also available in Costa’s 580 Rx program. The new style will retail from $179 to $249 depending on lens customization, and is available online at www. costadelmar.com and at authorized Costa retail outlets. PEAK Fishing Marks 10th Year In Business

AnglingTrade.com / March 2012

2011 was third consecutive record sales year PEAK Fishing marked its 10th year producing premium fly tying vises and equipment by announcing that their 2011 sales set a company record for the third consecutive year. According to Brand Manager Al Ritt, PEAK Fishing’s sales were up 44% in 2011 over 2010. Said Ritt: “In 2009 sales increased by more than 49% over 2008 and have increased each year since.

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Sales in 2011 were significantly more than double the sales we experienced in 2008 and the early indications for 2012 are positive as well.” For more information about PEAK Fishing, PEAK’s contract fabrication and manufacturing capabilities, or becoming a dealer, visit their web site, www.peakfishing. com, contact them by phone at 970622-9601, or e-mail them at info@ peakfishing.com.

People News Welcome AT “Editor-at-Small” Mabel Romano! Angling Trade managing editor Tim Romano and his wife Ellie welcomed their first child, daughter Mabel Romano on December 30, 2011. So if you notice Tim’s e-mails were sent in the middle of the night, now you know why.

Far Bank Hires Hutnak as Soft Goods Manager Far Bank Enterprises brought new talent to its soft goods product development with the hiring of Markus Hutnak as Soft Goods Manager. “In this newly created role, Hutnak will oversee and direct all apparel and luggage design and development for both Sage and Redington, and his expertise ensures category expansion for both Sage and Redington with high-quality offerings for our customers,” comments David Visnack, director of marketing and soft goods. Hutnak joins the Far Bank team after his previous position as the National Geographic Society’s Director of Licensing for its outdoor equipment and apparel. Prior to that, Markus consulted with Ralph Lauren on the development of its RLX collection, advising on the intersection of the outdoor


Stein Joins American Tackle Ben Stein is the newest addition to the American Tackle staff. He will be assisting in sales and customer service. Ben grew up in New Orleans, Louisiana fishing for redfish and trout at a very young age. Along continued on next page...

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AnglingTrade.com / March 2012

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with fishing “all tackle” applications, he developed a passion for fly fishing that has carried him to exotic destinations such as Baja Mexico, Guatemala, Venezuela and Costa Rica. While pursuing bonefish and tarpon he managed to find enough time to work for World Wide Sportsman in Islamorada, Florida. After a move to Orlando to work for Bass Pro Shops he was commissioned by Grande Lakes, Ritz Carlton Orlando to assist in developing a fishing and outdoor program on property. Ben began the first ever two-day fly fishing school associated with the Ritz Carlton and has taught hundreds (maybe thousands) in their fly fishing program as well as guiding them to trophy largemouth bass. Darrin Heim of AT says, “we are excited to have Ben be part of our team, his vast angling experience will be a real asset to the development of our products and growing our customer base.” Ben will be based at AT Headquarters in Oviedo, Florida, and will be representing at upcoming trade shows. To contact Ben Stein: ben@americantackle.us Simms Hires Flack to Rep Central America

AnglingTrade.com / March 2012

Simms Fishing Products is proud to announce that Wil Flack of San Pedro, Belize will have sales representation for the iconic brand in Belize and Mexico – including the Yucatan Peninsula. Born and raised in British Columbia, Flack worked as a steelhead guide before moving to Belize where he owns and operates the Tres Pescados Fly Shop

(www.belizefly.com) in downtown San Pedro. “Take Me Fishing” Awards Announced by Outdoor Nation and RBFF Outdoor Nation, the youthled movement championing the outdoors, and the Recreational Boating & Fishing Foundation (RBFF) recently announced the winners of 10 Take Me Fishing Awards. Take Me Fishing Awards invest in innovative ideas for increasing youth participation in recreational fishing and reconnecting youth to the outdoors. Funding is made possible by RBFF, a nonprofit whose mission is to increase participation in recreational angling and boating. “Fishing is one of the top gateway activities which often leads to participation in other outdoor pursuits,” said RBFF President and CEO Frank Peterson. “We’re pleased to support these awards as

a way to connect youth with the outdoors and create future anglers and boaters who will cherish and protect our outdoor spaces.” Outdoor Nation awards a total of $25,000 to youth-led projects through a competitive application and review process. Ten projects from across the country were chosen for the Take Me Fishing Awards. You can view a description of all winning projects at http://www. outdoornation.org/page/ rbff-awards “Thanks to RBFF, we continue to empower young people to champion an outdoor lifestyle and become leaders in their communities,” said Chris Fanning, executive director of the Outdoor Foundation, the organization that oversees Outdoor Nation. “Take Me Fishing projects will increase the numbers of young fishing enthusiasts, engage diverse and underserved populations and provide valuable skills that will last a lifetime.” continued on next page...

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Environment New Group “Conservation Hawks” Created to Educate Hunters and Anglers on Threats to Resources and Opportunities

Conservation Hawks is a new conservation group dedicated to educating hunters and anglers on the most important threats to our natural resources and outdoors traditions. This non-partisan group run by passionate, dedicated sportsmen, defines its mission to “defend our sporting heritage and pass on a healthy natural world to future generations of Americans.” Conservation Hawks believes climate change is this century’s most important threat to sportsmen. The group’s initial efforts will focus on informing and mobilizing the sporting community on the issue.

AnglingTrade.com / March 2012

“It’s time to stand up and show we give a damn about our kids and our grandkids – and about our hunting and fishing,” said CH Founder and Chair Todd Tanner. “If we don’t get a handle on climate change, we’re putting everything we care about at risk.” Conservation Hawks supports a science-based approach to climate change and climate change mitigation. The organization is convinced that America’s conservation legacy will evaporate and benefits from past habitat 16

projects will disappear if future greenhouse gas emissions can’t be controlled. Wildlife biologist William Geer, the climate change initiative manager for the Theodore Roosevelt Conservation Partnership and a former director of the Utah Division of Wildlife Resources, sits on the Conservation Hawks board of directors. “As a biologist,” Geer stated, “I can tell you that climate change is real and that it’s already impacting our fish and wildlife. As a father and grandfather, I can tell you that global warming scares the hell out of me.” Conservation Hawks is registered as a Montana nonprofit public benefit corporation and has received tax exempt status from the Montana Department of Revenue. Sportsmen Support New Forest Service Planning Rule Hunters and anglers support a new rule that allows the U.S. Forest Service to plan for the future based on a number of important factors vital to health of the agency’s 193 million acres of public land and the fish and game populations that depend on healthy habitat for survival. “Sportsmen understand the intrinsic connection between intact habitat for fish and game, and hunting and angling opportunity,” said Steve Kandell, director of Trout Unlimited’s Sportsmen’s Conservation Project. “This new rule requires the Forest Service to plan for the future by placing an emphasis on the sustainability of water resources and the restoration of fish and game habitat throughout its system.”

The rule essentially gives a management planning roadmap to individual forests around the country. The rule was drafted after a lengthy collaborative and sciencebased process that considered ample public comment—public forums and meetings took place all over the country over the last year. The new rule would require the use of sound science, robust public participation and regular monitoring to gauge progress. Additionally, the rule would approach land management on a landscape level, and require the maintenance and restoration of water resources identified as priorities by stakeholders, with a special focus on riparian areas. “While the rule is certainly a step in the right direction,” Kandell said, “there are parts of it that are too vague to ensure positive outcomes for fish and game. We look forward to working with the Forest Service to strengthen the rule.” The new planning regulations are required under the National Forest Management Act of 1976, which requires the Forest Service to direct the development, amendment and revision of management plans for national forests and national grasslands. In addition to the 193 million acres of land, the regulations impact the management of more than 400,000 miles of rivers and streams and about 3 million acres of lakes. Fracking Rules Draw Praise from Hunters and Anglers The Bureau of Land Management’s proposed rules on public disclosure of the contents of hydraulic fracturing fluids, as well as the handling of wastewater and the integrity of well casings, represent a


fish and wildlife are conserved when oil and gas are developed on public lands. The draft rule on hydraulic fracturing, or “fracking,” is a prudent response to concerns about the potential impacts of drilling and the handling of drilling fluids on the lands that are crucial to the West’s water supplies, fish and wildlife, said Brad Powell, energy director for Trout Unlimited’s Sportsmen’s Conservation Project. TU is a member of the SFRED coalition.

step forward in ensuring responsible energy development on public lands, a sportsmen’s coalition said Monday.

Sportsmen for Responsible Energy Development has called on the BLM to make sure resources such as water,

The proposed federal rule would require public disclosure of the chemicals in fracking fluids before and during drilling. Companies stating that the fracking mixtures are proprietary would have to continued on next page...

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explain why the information should be kept from the public. The proposal also addresses testing to ensure the integrity of well casings, pipes placed down a borehole and held in place by cement to keep the oil and gas from mingling with anything else. The document includes rules for safely storing and disposing of waste from recovered fluids.

based approach that sustains our nation’s fish and wildlife resources and outdoors opportunities.” Scientific Report Puts Pebble Mine Threat in Perspective

AnglingTrade.com / March 2012

Some states, including Wyoming and Colorado, have approved regulations requiring disclosure of fracking fluids’ contents as increased drilling has raised concerns about the chemicals used.

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“Complete and timely public disclosure is an important step toward ensuring that public health, water quality, fish and wildlife are protected from contamination by hydraulic fracturing,” said Michael Saul, attorney with the National Wildlife Federation, also an SFRED member. “BLM is moving in the right direction by mandating disclosure of all chemicals and by codifying the prohibition on unlined storage pits.”

The proposed Pebble Mine would siphon as much as 35 billion gallons of fresh water out of the headwaters of Bristol Bay, Alaska every year, eliminating critical salmon habitat, and would likely facilitate the development of a much larger mining district, further endangering the world’s largest wild sockeye salmon fishery, according to a new, comprehensive report.

“Sportsmen are pleased that our federal decision makers recognize the need to increase transparency during all phases of energy planning and development,” said Tom Franklin, senior director of science and policy for the Theodore Roosevelt Conservation Partnership, an SFRED member. “We will continue to work closely with the administration, Congress, industry and our conservation partners to assure that public lands energy projects employ a science-

“Bristol Bay’s Wild Salmon Ecosystems and the Pebble Mine: Key Considerations for a Large-Scale Mine Proposal,” examines the potential impacts of the proposed Pebble Mine on Bristol Bay’s wild salmon fishery, which produces up to 40 million mature wild salmon each year. The 111-page report, produced by the Wild Salmon Center and Trout Unlimited, details multiple issues and concerns driven by the potential exploitation of Pebble’s

massive deposit of copper, gold, and molybdenum. Examining a wide body of studies, reports, and the best available scientific information, the report analyzes preliminary proposals for the mine, concluding there is too much at stake ecologically, economically, and culturally to risk development of the Pebble deposit. “This report shows the far-reaching impacts that development of the Pebble deposit would have on Bristol Bay’s world-class salmon fishery and largely pristine watersheds,” said Guido Rahr, President of the Wild Salmon Center. “In addition to risks posed by the chronic leaching of contaminants or a catastrophic failure, the proposed mine would substantially alter the hydrology, water table, and available habitat for salmon, which are extremely sensitive to changes in their environment.” The report emphasizes that approval of the Pebble Mine and its infrastructure will likely lead to the development of a much larger mining district, substantially increasing the odds that mining will harm Bristol Bay’s wild salmon ecosystem. An unprecedented coalition of Alaska Native tribes and corporations, sportsmen, commercial fishermen and others have asked the EPA to protect Bristol Bay by withdrawing the watershed as a disposal site for dredge and fill activities under Section 404(c) of the Clean Water Act. The EPA is currently conducting a scientific assessment of the Bristol Bay watershed to determine whether largescale development would adversely impact the region’s natural resources.


“AT DAY’S END; MOJO MUD MEANS MORE FISH IN THE NET!”

New websites Yellow Dog Fly Fishing Adventures has announced it has redesigned its website. See www.yellowdogflyfishing. com to check it out.

Pat Dorsey, Pro Fly Fishing Guide & Author

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Hardy Cup Set for August

AnglingTrade.com / March 2012

Hardy & Greys Limited has scheduled the second annual Hardy Cup to take place August 4-5 2012 at the Catskill Fly Fishing Center and Museum. Casters will use cane rods to make two distance casts and one accuracy cast. First place winner will receive a Hardy cane rod of his or her choice. Second place is a Hardy Perfect fly reel, and third place earns a Hardy St. George reel.


INTERVIEW

These are the guys who will skip a day of fishing to visit our factory. We know they exist, because the call all the time to complain that we won’t sell to them. That’s who we’re catering to by selling direct. (Note: While Simms is moving to a newer, larger facility with a showroom, the company affirmed it will not sell retail from the new location). No fly shop in the U.S. carries 100% of our product line. We do. But we’re only selling full MSRP, with taxes, and we’re charging a shipping and handling fee. Consumers will have to pay a premium to buy direct from Simms. And when they shop online, they will have three options: Buy direct, but from the nearest fly shop, or buy through one of our 12 affiliate shops.

Simms Sells Direct Simms to Sell Direct, Yet Reaffirms “Specialty Matters Most” Commitment… CEO K.C. Walsh Answers The Tough Questions

AnglingTrade.com / March 2012

Simms Fishing Products dealers were informed this week about the company’s decision to make substantial changes to its distribution plans. Most notably, starting in August, consumers will be able to purchase Simms gear through www.simmsfishing.com. The company also says it will forbid dealers to sell current products on or through Amazon and eBay. The decision by Simms to sell direct comes as a surprise to few. Still, Angling Trade has received feedback from the retailer community ranging from anger to total ambivalence. In most cases, the reaction has been a desire to get more facts. 20

With that in mind, Angling Trade editor Kirk Deeter interviewed Simms president and CEO K.C. Walsh. Here are the questions and answers: AT: How will Simms selling direct possibly benefit the specialty shop? Do you recognize that there are consumers out there who buy waders at fly shops now, who will not do that in the future? K.C.: We see four basic consumer groups in fly fishing: 1) Traditional fly shop consumers (like myself) who like the experience of being in a shop. They want to try things on, and they’re looking for expertise. I think they’ll continue to shop that way. 2) There are “efficiency” shoppers, who work in a tower, and don’t have time to shop in stores. They shop online, and are not super sensitive to price, sales tax, and those things. 3) The “close-out” guy is shopping at consumer shows and looking for deals on close-out websites. 4) Then there is the “brand fan” that connects with Simms specifically.

I don’t see this as a move to compete with fly shops, rather a way to fill in a void that is not being filled. We’re also investing significant dollars in the website and web support, in a way that ultimately strengthens the brand, and I believe will ultimately benefit all of our dealers. AT: So if Simms sees added revenue as a result… K.C.: We’re going to be investing heavily in the website, web support, and other things that support the brand. And I think a stronger brand will benefit dealers. AT: Orvis, Patagonia, and others have long had their own direct sales platforms, but Simms is often considered a different animal in that context, because it was born of the specialty fly shop. Is this a change in philosophy? K.C.: Our number one core value is that “Specialty Matters Most.” We depend on the health and vibrancy of the specialty dealer, and we intend to


INTERVIEW

grow the brand through the specialty dealer. I firmly believe that moving to clean up our distribution (shutting down retailer sales through Amazon and eBay) will grow the specialty shopping. I don’t expect all dealers to believe that now. But if we see that direct sales are having a negative impact on specialty dealers, we will stop doing it. AT: Do you run a risk on the inventory/fulfillment side? If a dealer cannot get product X from Simms, but his customer can get it by ordering direct from Simms, isn’t that going to hard to explain in the context of not competing with dealers?

AnglingTrade.com / March 2012

K.C.: Good point. We have actually promised our dealers that they will take precedence over Simms on inventory calls. Unlike (some of our competitors), our inventory is all in the same warehouse. If we start to run low on an item, we plan to take Simms off the Buy Now option list.

AT: Do you think this opens the door for other companies that now only deal through specialty retailers to follow suit? Is this the tip of the iceberg? 22

K.C.: When I wake up in the morning, I think about three things: The Simms brand, the people who work for our company, and our specialty retail partners. I know if we clean up the distribution situation (removing eBay and Amazon) and

solidify the Simms brand, that’s going to lead to more stability. I think that’s also going to drive more customers. So I know this decision is good for

Simms and our dealers. But I can’t tell you about other companies, and I can’t say their plans or possible actions factored into our decision. I think this is a decision all manufacturers have to make for themselves. AT: Do you really think you are going to be able to clamp down on sales through eBay and Amazon? K.C.: Yes I do, I think we can and we will. The issue is that these sales are largely undifferentiated, which turns our bricks and mortar retailers into showrooms. Amazon has no differentiation­—all our products are listed as Simms. When I last looked, there were 18 different listings for our G3 waders. What I see on Amazon is a junk show for our brand. Now, the counter argument of course is that we get more eyeballs this way, and increased exposure is better for the brand. If that were true, however, we’d open Wal-Mart as an account (not happening). Where we want to see Simms at the end of the day is in beautiful fly shops, and on beautiful fishing websites that work together and promote both our sport and Simms. at


AnglingTrade.com / March 2012

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feature

All Fishing is Good Fishing

AnglingTrade.com / March 2012

Written by Jennifer Pullinger

My grandfather was an angler, although he would probably simply call himself a “fisherman.“ Every summer, for as far back as I can remember, he would gather friends and family - his friend Sparkplug, his brother-in-law George, his sister Betty, and others - and head to the Outer Banks to fish for striper, spot, bluefish, puppy drum, and sea trout. If you needed to find him at any given hour, the first place you would want to look is near the shore, where he could be seen sitting on a bucket, waiting patiently, or when the fish were biting reeling in a flounder or croaker. 24

For more than 25 years, both in the spring and fall, he and my grandmother would pack up the truck and make the 600-mile round trip from their home in Central Virginia to Cape Hatteras. The family would stay in a wind- and salt-weathered cottage - bunk beds lining the walls, sand ground into the carpet, and that distinctive “salty fish” smell wafting through air. My grandfather stopped making the drive only when his knees became too frail to withstand walking in the sand or hiking over the mini-dunes to the ocean-side. I know he missed those getaways.


I never asked my grandfather why he enjoyed fishing so much. Perhaps it allowed him the time to clear his head and think of nothing but breathing in the salt air - a good old-fashioned remedy for anything that ails you. It was probably also the “sport” itself - his competitive drive to want to catch the biggest fish. Even though he couldn’t make it to the beach anymore, there were plenty of local rivers and lakes were he could reel in some catfish, bass, crappie, bream, and carp to get his “fishing fix.” I know he preferred the saltwater action though, but if I had asked him pointedly what kind of fishing he preferred, I am sure he would have said: “All fishing is good fishing.” Whether you are a freshwater, saltwater, or fly fisherman or woman, there are many reasons to believe that “all fishing is good fishing.” Fishing in general is considered a “gateway” activity - for young people especially - to lifelong participation in outdoor activities, which in our cushy, overly techno-driven, “air-conditioned” modern culture, is a good thing for our collective physical health. Will we remember those times when we sat on the couch and watched some mindless television show with our parents and grandparents? Nope. Getting outside, fishing with friends and family, lead to real memories and health benefits that no virtual home video game can replicate.

25

AnglingTrade.com / March 2012

Call me nostalgic, but I believe fishing is a way for our mobile phone-distracted, “too-wired” population to get back to its roots. Should fishing be a “movement,” much like the “slow food” movement, where the message is slow down, protect local resources, and “fish mindfully”? In many ways, it already is. Fishing provides the opportunity for us to decelerate the oft-hurried pace of life, look around, and appreciate na-

spend a whole bunch on boats and things but it can also be as simple as you choose to make,” says Greg Martel, Deputy Director of the Virginia Department of Game & Inland Fisheries Bureau of Naturally, conservation is integral to Wildlife Resources. “It can begin with a the act of fishing. As anglers, we owe simple inexpensive rod with bobbers and it to the environment and to ourselves bait or you can get as involved as you to not just take from fishing, but to want.” Much like my upbringing, it was give something back. We do that when my father and grandfather who taught we purchase a fishing license or fishing my brother and me how to fish. Interesttackle or equipment. Funds from exingly, however, women are one of the cise taxes on rods, reels, tackle boxes, largest growing segments in fishing today, and other accessories go back to state Martel says. fish habitat preservation and aquatic “I grew up in the Midwest, in the upresource conservation programs so per Peninsula of Michigan. We had a future generations of recreational ancottage by the river, and that’s basically glers can continue to fish from healthy how I started with my father,” says Sean and abundant streams, rivers, lakes, Dailey, General Manager of Cutthroat and oceans. Anglers, a fly shop and guide service in Silverthorne, Colorado. “He’d want to 2012 actually represents an important take me out every week and we’d go up year for that effort - it’s the 75th annito the cottage and go fishing. It’s just big versary of the Wildlife and Sport Fish Restoration Program (WSFR). Accord- in the culture of where I grew up. Everyone fished. Everyone hunted,” Dailey ing to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, WSFR has contributed more than says, adding, “It just seemed like the right thing to do.” $14 billion towards fish and wildlife conservation and restoration programs Growing up, it was part of my “family since it was put in place in 1937. culture” too. Fishing, quite simply, is as all-American as apple pie, and, dare I If you have ever had the chance to say, baseball. It’s just a great way to spend stand in a babbling brook or have the time with friends and family, and reconsurf rush up against your legs while nect with the outdoors and our natural fishing, you know why people love the resources. It’s that legacy of appreciation sport. “The more people that get infor the water and fishing that my grandvolved in fishing, the more people will father left his family. It likely affected my get involved in conservation and probrother’s educational and career choices; tecting our resources,” says Brian Trow, he is a biologist with the North Carolina owner of Mossy Creek Fly Fishing in Division of Marine Fisheries. Harrisonburg, Virginia. “Someone who has never stood in a stream before Today, when I think of my grandfather, I envision him with a fishing pole in is not necessarily going to care about hand. When he passed a few years ago, the future of a stream or pollution or my grandmother even requested that that sort of thing. Without people gothe image of an angler with a fishing ing out and enjoying watersheds, the pole be engraved on his headstone. ForChesapeake Bay, or the ocean, people tunately for his children and grandchiltend to care less about them.” dren, he left a lasting trail of memories The barriers to entry are also low for that only make me wistful for the slow those new to fishing. “Yes, you can pace of my youth. at ture and all that this earth provides. No matter your preference - fresh, salt, fly - you get the benefits. It’s what makes “all fishing good fishing.”


feature

Conservation For Profit Written by Geoff Mueller

of lesser or larger degree in the flyfishing industry? The simple answer is that good science, as it pertains to fisheries health, can and should have a direct cause and effect on your bottom line. --Before we move forward, I’d like to direct your attention to the 1,000-pound gorilla in the room. There he is in the corner, decked in capilene long-johns, wrapped in a recycled fleece cardigan, brooding under a trucker hat adorned with a guitar and an ultra-catchy slogan. He’s gripping a fly rod and a surfboard, chalked digits rifling through some supercams and carabineers. This substantial simian is, of course, Patagonia. Mine waste near the headwaters of the Arkansas River. Leadville, Colorado.

AnglingTrade.com / March 2012

I’m going to go out on a limb here and say it. Science is boring. It’s aloof, obese in its convoluted statistics, sticky in its pretentious verbiage, unapproachable at times, and just generally obnoxious. On the other hand science, as it pertains to fly-fishing, is essential. And it’s more digestible than say quantum physics or Big Bang theories because in most river and stream cases we’re able to document cause, adverse effects, and positive change during our lifetime. Think of it this way: The river is a petri dish. Trout are the indicator species, while pollution, water withdrawal, and temperature 26

fluctuations are the variables. Colorado’s Arkansas River, for instance, underwent years of neglect and abuse in the form of point-source pollution stemming from mismanaged mine sources. And historically, its water has been siphoned to inhospitable levels for trout. Recently we’ve seen conservation proponents work with water managers to pinpoint solutions that have helped fortify the system through four seasons. These improvements have come full circle over the past 20 years. It’s science you can see. There are plenty more cases of fisheries in peril; ones that with sound science stand a chance. But what does this all mean for you, a small business owner or player

Say what you want about Patagucci or Pradagonia, but Patagonia Inc. has been a conservation leader in the outdoors stratosphere for decades—as perceived by a massive consumer base and larger corporations that heed its advice, such a Wal-Mart. And green is not a bandwagon Patagonia has hopped on in recent years just to generate more green although, funny enough, it’s worked out that way. The company grew by 25 percent in 2011 and is poised to post another 30 percent spike in 2012. Regardless, from the get-go conservation has been an integral theme coursing through the fabric of this lifestyle brand. At Patagonia headquarters in Ventura, California, there lives a quote on the wall from late


Sierra Club Executive Director David Brower. It reads, “There is no business to be done on a dead planet.” Simple, elegant, somewhat morbid, this statement is easily translated into flyfishing terms. Take, for instance: There is no fishing to be done on a dead river. Dead rivers make things like casting, rowing, vacation planning, gearing up, down, fly-tying, drake hatches, surface-slurping browns, and anything else you may wish to encounter on a sinuous, free-flowing stretch of water negligible. Taking this dead river idea a step further: When there is no fishing to be done, the business of fishing tanks, too. Today in America the dead river phenomenon is less a doomsday prophecy and more and more a

recognizable, repugnant, fact of life. But that does not keep Patagonia founder Yvon Chouinard from fishing for environmental action. In fact, Chouinard has spent the last several years ramping up efforts such as the World Trout Initiative (which has raised more than $400,000 for various causes since its inception) and 1% for the Planet (founded in conjunction with Blue Ribbon Flies owner/operator Craig Mathews), in addition to just going fishing. These days Chouinard fishes May through November. He does a lot of salmon, steelhead, and bonefish angling, and in the summer he fishes Idaho, Wyoming, Yellowstone, and British Columbia. That’s a pretty solid line-up. And considering his

not-so-rosy outlook for the planet, it might very well be a matter of get while the getting’s good. “We’re living an unsustainable lifestyle on a very limited planet,” Chouinard says. “You look at the history of the world and civilizations have come and gone. The ones that are gone have left us because they’ve exceeded their resources—every single one.” Chouinard is openly pessimistic and unapologetic about this stuff. So much so that last November, when consumers were out practicing their pre-shopping calisthenics in anticipation of a Black Friday wallet-workout, Patagonia put its money where its continued on next page...

AnglingTrade.com / March 2012

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mouth was, purchasing full-page real estate in The New York Times. The controversial ad featured a 60-percent recycled polyester zip-up saddled by the words: “DON’T BUY THIS JACKET”. This not-to-bepurchased jacket, according to the ad, was “knit and sewn to a high standard; it is exceptionally durable, so you won’t have to replace it as often…. But, as is true of all the things we can make and you can buy, [it] comes with an environmental cost higher than its price.” The “don’t buy it” campaign subsequently went viral, sparking debate over whether or not Patagonia’s message was to be interpreted literally, or whether or it was simply a marketing ploy aimed to grow sales—sales from a company with a deftly branded green conscious, such as Patagonia’s. Whether a matter of slick marketing or conservation foresight, it doesn’t really matter. Patagonia’s ad was a success in sparking consumers to stop and think twice. Savvy shoppers vote with their dollars. Many continue to vote Patagonia because its message makes sense. Back to this dead planet, dead river business, Chouinard— who also says he is bored by the

AnglingTrade.com / March 2012

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monotone barrage of science and its mountainous statistics—is quick to point out that science without action is dead, too. “We’re already way too late to ever stop global warming,” he says. “But I have a company based on selling outdoors products and I feel like I have more responsibility than your average taxpayer or your average company to protect wild nature. In fact there are not many other outdoor companies in the industry that feel that way—in fact I can’t name any.” --Although Chouinard doesn’t name any, there are flyfishing entities working to protect opportunity— Orvis and Simms, for instance—as well their bottom line. AFFTA (the American Fly Fishing Trade Association) recently partnered with TU to oppose H.R. 1581, the Wilderness and Roadless Area Release Act of 2011 that would essentially release millions of acres of inventoried lands and wilderness areas on BLM property to potential development. According to TU national communications director, Chris Hunt, “The logic is if you protect

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intact habitat, you’re protecting flyfishing opportunity for the longterm. And of course, if you’re protecting flyfishing opportunity you’re creating economic opportunity within the industry.” In Colorado, Scott Fly Rods and its president Jim Bartschi have worked in conjunction with TU to support habitat protection efforts in the Alpine Triangle. This high-elevation swirl of public land is located between Silverton, Ouray, and Lake City, housing native cutthroat and introduced brookies that swim the headwaters of trophy trout streams such as the Animas, Lake Fork of the Gunnison, and Uncompahgre rivers. To be able to say a company like Scott Fly Rods in Colorado is onboard with the Alpine Triangle effort gives an organization like TU a leg up in the lobbying department. “It shows the powers that be that this isn’t just some high-country playground for a bunch of doofy fly fishermen, this has an impact on a business in Western Colorado that is significant,” Hunt says. “It’s a great example of how we partner with the industry because it’s in their best interest. We’re the beneficiary, but the real beneficiary is the angler—a TU member.” TU, for all the good it does, is clearly TU-centric. Membership support drives action, pays staff, while industry support equates to clout on Capitol Hill. When I ask Hunt what TU would look like without the flyfishing industry’s support, he’s stumped. “It would be a different organization. Much different. Much smaller and probably a lot more continued on next page...


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exclusive. I’m trying to think,” he pauses. “Maybe the question to ask is ‘Would the flyfishing industry be able to exist without TU?’”

was an equally mega investment in manpower, and received little in the way of public attention. More importantly, it worked.

It’s a good question.

“The river is a lot cleaner in terms of metals now and our fish, where they used to live three or four years before they would die from bioconcentrations of heavy metals, they are now living to be seven or eight years old and are seeing growth accordingly,” Felt says.

---

AnglingTrade.com / March 2012

Greg Felt is not a member of 1% for the Planet. Nor does he belong to Trout Unlimited. But he’s not a slacker either. Felt has a reputation for tackling issues related to Colorado’s Arkansas River head on—those directly affecting his bottom line as a small business owner. In fact, Felt, who is a managing partner at ArkAnglers FlyFishing’s Salida and Buena Vista locales, is more involved than most. His natural resource and related resumé runs deep: As far back as 1998, he has been a key advocate for the Arkansas River Voluntary Flow Management Program—which aims to maintain hospitable flows for both recreational and fishery interests. He also took two weeks out of a busy schedule in 2002 to visit DC, where he lobbied to defeat HB 1091, legislation that would have made it illegal to float fish through private land. Felt is articulate, soft-spoken, and absolutely unrelenting in his missions to instigate change for the greater good of the resource. And thanks to this drive, the Arkansas River is one of those contemporary science experiments where we’re actually able to see real-world results in a relatively short timeframe. Historically, the river was plundered by point-source pollution from abandoned mining operations. During run-off, concentrations of heavy metals seeped into the system and killed fish. The federally funded mitigation project Felt was active in cost millions of dollars, 30

In addition to water quality, another important development on the Arkansas has been that of water quantity. There are no reservoirs on the mainstem Arkansas above Pueblo, but there are major tributaries managed for water delivery that directly influence the upstream fishery. Because you can’t change the gradient of a river, flows are paramount— when they drop below 400 CFS on the Ark, habitat suffers and the brown trout fishery dives. After a long, concerted effort in conjunction with the Colorado Department of Wildlife (CDOW), Felt and like-minded river stewards have helped successfully educate the water management community to what’s at stake. “They get it,” he says, and bridging that gap in understanding has been no small feat. When Felt refers to the “water management community,” he is talking about forging fish-friendly inroads with notoriously water-hungry entities, including the feds at the Bureau of Reclamation, the Southeast Colorado Water Conservancy District, plus municipalities such as Pueblo, Colorado Springs, and Aurora. Amazingly, Felt has made these inroads as Greg Felt—small business owner, family man, flyfisher, rafter, and guide—not a small player in a larger entity.

“In my own experience over the past 20 years, I’ve done better working as myself and being involved in things from a variety of angles,” he says. “Groups like TU have clout, a large membership, networks they can mobilize, paid staff with jobs to do. The flipside of working with any conservation org is their inherent reputation, which can get you put in a certain box. Depending on the subject matter this may be good or it may serve to marginalize.” So far going solo has paid off. As the fishery has improved, so too has life at the checkout counter. A recent angler satisfaction survey by CDOW named the Arkansas one of the most popular rivers in Colorado. Twenty years ago, Felt hosted a number of fishing slideshows. When he asked attendees to raise hands if they’d fished the Ark, he’d get a couple of ho-hum responses. Today it’s the vast majority of people raising their hands. Felt’s advice for like small businesses wanting to make headway in the conservation arena? Do not underestimate the validity of your position in society and what your thoughts mean to people in power, he says. Equally important is the necessity to get it done now, because waiting for the 11th hour to turn back disaster is too late. Involvement today takes foresight, commitment, and guts. Meantime, Patagonia is not waiting. TU is not waiting. And neither is Greg Felt. Science may be boring, but when it comes to fisheries health and the businesses that depend on those fisheries, it’s a subject we need to keep alive in order to thrive. There is no fishing on a dead river. Remember that. at


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AnglingTrade.com / March 2012

great market with a broad audience of both fly fishing and outdoor retailers alike.”


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reaction to three key themes. The industry has spoken, so let’s dig in. Key Theme #1: The Industry’s Trade Show Woes An important issue on the minds of the industry is the sinking trade show (International Fly Tackle Dealer Show) value proposition. In the very halls of the tradeshow, in nearby bars and behind doors of closed hotel rooms, it’s still questioned with “hush-hush” banter how the trade show benefits manufacturers, retailers and the industry as a whole. Because the trade show is the annual comingout party for AFFTA, it’s clear that the questions are directed at AFFTA. The issue, however, can be re-framed as a simple supplydemand concept.

D T IF

What’s Your Beef? Discussing Industry Pain Points Reveals Passion and Anger Written by Steven B. Schweitzer

AnglingTrade.com / March 2012

Years from now, this Angling Trade issue could be known as “when it all started.” “It” being an industry revolution. The editors of this magazine came to me with a bold shockjock style idea – they wanted me to investigate and write about the industry’s hot buttons, pulling out all stops. “Be sure to hit all the nerves,” they told me. So off 32

I went, talking with my industry insiders and starting several chatboard discussions on the web – doing research the 21st Century way. By no means is it scientific, but with the smallness of the fly fishing industry, it doesn’t take a wide swath of research to get to the meat of an issue in a hurry. What I found out was a very fervent, sometimes emotional underground

Manufacturers and exhibitors (suppliers) want dealers and retailers (buyers) to walk the halls. Buyers, on the other hand, want it all: education, new products, more exhibitors, cheaper accommodations, tasty locations, and of course, the show held at a different time of the year. So who’s going to budge? It’s safe to say that more suppliers will exhibit if more buyers show up. And, more buyers will show up if the overall value proposition is increased. So, it all boils down to building the trade show value proposition muscle. AFFTA’s focus is on the wrong end of the value chain. According to recent AFFTA accounts, upwards of 80% is spent on marketing to manufacturers continued on next page...


AnglingTrade.com / March 2012

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to buy booth space at a show, ironically called the International Fly Tackle Dealer Show. I bet if the same amount of money is spent on attracting dealers to the dinner table, the cooks will show up also. I’ve been to the show every year for the past eight years and was an exhibitor for two years. If I were a manufacturer, I would question the ROI of going to the show. Remember, it’s all profit dollars spent to go to trade shows, so if it costs $12,000 to go to a show for 3 days, that means a manufacturer would need to sell an incremental $24,000 (assuming 50 points of margin) in those three days just to break even. That may be doable for the big boys, but honestly, there are plenty of small up-ncomers that just can’t muster those kinds of break-even numbers to justify a booth and staff to sit in it. It’s a costly proposition unless a significant amount of business is inked or new partnerships are formed.

AnglingTrade.com / March 2012

Manufacturers will always question the value of going until dealer attendance is up, putting inked business in their favor. I have high admiration for a few of the retailers who took action at the 2011 trade show. A prominent few retailers brought back the Retailer’s Roundtable, all but forgotten from the show agenda only weeks before the show in New Orleans. I question, however, why it took extraordinary efforts of a few retailers to make it happen, shouldn’t this have been part of AFFTA’s IFTD strategy all along? It certainly drives show value for retailers. 34

Key Theme #2: It’s time to Admit It – Retailers Are the Problem

but I have to ask: Is the sales rep function in the fly biz a ‘dying breed’ or ‘dying need’?

And the awards are in – the Glass Stomach Award goes to the industry retailers. We have our heads so far up our behinds when it comes to retailing in today’s market that we need a glass stomach just to see where we are going.

Regardless how you slice it, the problem is in the mirror. It’s time we saddle up our humble ponies and start getting ‘Business Ready in 2012’. The change has already happened and business has blown by you. Are you ready? Do you have a POS system? Do you know how to calculate ARPU? ROI, ROA? RONA? GMROI? EBITDA? Inventory Turns? Answer this: What’s more important, attracting new customers, selling high-margin inventory or retaining current customers? If you struggle with any of these questions, you are most likely a hobbyist turned fly shop owner, and you run your business like a checkbook. If that’s you, it’s time to learn how to be a savvy retailer, not just a fly shop owner. Manufacturers don’t want hobbyists selling their stuff.

I see a trend – many newcomers to the industry “get it” and our seasoned retailers don’t. “It” is how to connect with and sell to the new style of buying habits customers exhibit today. Remember, it’s harder to change customers; it’s easier to change yourself. But most of us deep down don’t like change. We don’t know how to compete; we think local when global is where it’s at. We blame big boxes, but the product line-ups are barely competitive. And, we secretly want some of the biggest of the Bigs to come play with us at IFTD (courting Cabela’s and Bass Pro Shops come to mind), despite them being the very “Bigs” we are afraid of. We market to the same niche market over and over, and we complain we aren’t getting new customers. We don’t know how to diversify. We don’t know how to differentiate ourselves from the local competition – we often don’t know what our core competencies are. We don’t really know who our customer is. We depend on sales reps to communicate on behalf of the manufacturer. Yet, there are plenty of inexpensive ways to communicate at the speed-of-now so that manufacturers and retailers can connect directly. No offense to the quality sales reps I know,

Key Theme #3: Attracting Newcomers To the Sport Unanimously agreed, attracting newcomers to the sport is of utmost concern by everyone, for everyone’s sustained interest in the fly fishing business. This gargantuan task should be shared by everyone, but ironically, it isn’t. Here’s a short list of what we can do as an industry to invigorate new ways to attract entrants into the sport: 1. Survey what other industries do to attract new entrants Why reinvent the wheel? How does the archery biz do it? How about paddling sports? Or the shooting sports? Seems to me that the general outdoor retailing world has a lot to offer us from a best practices point of view.


2. Use successes to attract likeminded entrants A great discussion thread was offered on the Angling Trade LinkedIn chat area – why don’t we leverage successes in our media as a way to attract new entrants? Absolutely! For example, if you had a success with an event, highly publicize the results afterwards in an effort to attract similar likeminded individuals to your next event. Working with military vets, recovery programs, children, women and young adults all come to mind.

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3. Go after blue oceans, not red oceans I’ve mentioned it before and it’s worth repeating again. Find new opportunities when fishing for customers, don’t rehash the old ones. These new opportunities are called blue oceans. Red oceans are just a blood bath. I see a huge blue ocean for this industry by closely aligning ourselves with members of the Outdoor Retailing world. Wouldn’t you think marketing to kayakers, backpackers, birders, shooters or trekkers would be a good way to prospect for new entrants? (AFFTA – step up and help the retailers here.)

NEXT STEPS

• Use this article as your problem

statement. Leverage the industry voices to help you build strategies, action plans and implementable success steps attacking what the industry finds to be most problematic. What I found out with this little article exercise is that the industry has some great new (and experienced) minds to leverage. It’s prudent to listen to them.

• Take the Lead. Ensure IFTD delivers against AFFTA’s first and second pillars of the Mission Statement (http://affta.com/ about-affta/mission+objectives/). The fact that retailers took the initiative to restore the Retailer’s Roundtable tells me AFFTA was asleep at the wheel. AFFTA, get ahold of the wheel again. For Retailers and Manufacturers:

• Take The “Occupy Reno” Challenge. If manufacturers will buy booths when more retailers come, and more retailers will

come if there’s more value in the show, then let’s focus on ALL going to create that value chain we look for. AFFTA – do your part in creating more value in the show. Manufacturers, put your best products and services forward. And retailers, come in droves… let’s “Occupy Reno.”

• Give AFFTA Advice:

It isn’t all on AFFTA’s shoulders. Retailers must be part of the solution. Offer counsel to AFFTA on how to make the IFTD deliver more value to YOU. The Trade Development Committee should hear from you early and often. What I have seen in this incestuous business over the past decade is an industry trade association that doesn’t follow its own charter, retailers that don’t want to admit it’s time to get more professional, manufacturers distancing themselves from the fly shops, and finger-pointing apathy all around. No wonder we ask where the newcomers are. Isn’t it time we all own the problem and buck up to solve it? at 35

AnglingTrade.com / March 2012

Change only happens when there’s discontent. We’ve hit the discontent mark in this industry. Everyone’s involved in the solution, no one is exempt. AFFTA… take the lead on bringing new value to the industry and helping us all to be business-ready in 2012. Below are a few good steps to consider for our industry organization AFFTA, and for the industry members as a whole:

For AFFTA:


BUSINESS PROFILE

Innovating Into the Spotlight: Flymen Fishing Company Written by Kirk Deeter

was spinning away at his own vise when he had an epiphany of sorts. “I was tying nymph flies, and I realized that something was bugging me,” he explains. “It occurred to me that all flies are blind.”

Not all that long ago, French entrepreneur and gonzo fisherman Patrick Sebile shook the foundation of the conventional tackle world by introducing a wildly innovative array of liquid filled crankbaits, articulated swimbaits, and other lures that were so revolutionary, they literally changed the R&D and sales paradigms in that market.

So he set out to create a line of “Nymph-Head Heavy Metal” tungsten beads that offered some key benefits— eyes for one, as well as a faster sink rate than other beads, a more realistic profile, and various color options. “We pay so much attention to the smallest detail on flies, like wing cases, and tails, it seemed like an oversight that we weren’t paying the same attention to the bead heads on flies,” he says.

AnglingTrade.com / March 2012

What is it that they say about “necessity being the mother of invention?” Turns out that Bawden 36

And there are plenty of angler consumers, especially fly tiers, who agree with him. Out of the gate, Bawden was virtually shunned by the mainstream business entities in the fly fishing market. But on the grassroots level, his Nymph-Head beads took off like wildfire. He fueled that fire by exhibiting at various consumer shows, and eventually enough people started walking into their fly shops and asking for those funky new beads that retailers started raising eyebrows… and placing orders. By the IFTD show in New Orleans last year, Flymen had firmly earned its place in the spotlight, earning New Product Showcase “Best of Show” awards (as voted on by dealers in attendance) for Fly Tying Material— the “Fish-Skull Sculpin Helmet”—and Saltwater Fly Pattern—the Fish-Skull Crafty Deceiver. If you haven’t seen or read much about the Sculpin Helmet, or Flymen’s Articulated Shanks for tying gaudy streamer flies, take a minute and check out the company’s product pages by visiting flymenfishingcompany.org. Of course, Flymen has also been written up by Field & Stream, Fly Fishing in Saltwaters, and elsewhere.

The more you learn about Martin Bawden and the intriguing array of products he’s offering through Flymen Fishing Company, the more you realize he may well be in the fly fishing lane of that same road to success. South African by birth, and now based in North Carolina, Bawden has been fishing for most of his life, yet interestingly, he admits to having fallen into fly tying a mere five or six years ago. It’s that fly tying niche, however, where Bawden and Flymen Fishing Co. are, if you’ll excuse the pun, turning the market on its head.

is no limit to the use of new materials and new techniques for creating flies. I think we’re only starting.”

So with a little ingenuity Bawden was off and rolling, with no more than a half dozen years experience in one of the most tradition-bound facets of the sport. Apparently innovation is enough to break down the barriers. “A lot of people think of fly fishing, and fly tying in particular as a ‘been there, done that’ hobby that is bound to the past, with little or nothing new to create,” he says. “I come at it completely differently. I think there

At this point 95% of Bawden’s products—a good portion of which, he’s proud to point out, are manufactured in the United States— are sold through distribution channels and retailers, but he does maintain a connection to end users, just to be sure that demand keeps growing. Question is, will Bawden be able to keep the innovation nozzle cranked open to continue to fuel that demand in the years ahead?


He’s not worried about it. He says he has more than a few more tricks up his sleeve.

“That said, I think I’ve just gotten started, to be honest with you. I have a long list of new product ideas and I feel like we’re only limited right now by time and resources. But we plan to introduce between two and four new products at the IFTD trade show in Reno this August. They’ll be in the Fish-Skull or Nymph-Head brands. And we have something major to introduce in 2013, but I can’t talk about that yet, because it’s still in development.”

“We’re growing fast, but we’re also growing carefully,” he explains. “There are already a lot of ‘me too’ products in this market. So we’re not going to create something that isn’t completely new, or innovative, or offers the angler an advantage over other options.

No doubt, there is a following of fly tiers hungry for innovation that will be watching and waiting eagerly. And in this day and age, in this market, having a following that’s already willing and able (as opposed to having to reeducate and convince customers) is a pretty sweet position for a business to be in.

That’s not to suggest that Bawden expects a call from Pure Fishing (which decided to buy Sebile, rather than compete against him) any time soon. But don’t be at all surprised if some of the major fly industry players— including many retailers—decide to jump in that fast lane with Bawden and go along for the ride. at

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feature

The Customer is Not Always Right

Written by Brett Wedeking

AnglingTrade.com / March 2012

Written by Brett Wedeking

How many times have you heard something like: “I’m looking to pick up a new pair of waders. Yeah, my buddy has Gore-Tex waders, he loves ‘em. So where are your neoprenes?” 38

How many times have you exercised the utmost restraint at the urge to strangle this uninformed customer? I feel your pain. Yet, as industry professionals, in the shop or on the water, we make sure the customer has what they need to have a good


time. The most important piece of our job is education, followed by trust. Fly anglers are a skeptical bunch. I mean, we don’t even believe each other’s stories, right? As such, we must show the customer why one method or technology is better than another, and how it benefits them. And they, in turn, must believe us for the relationship (sale) to work. We’re in this together; without the customer we don’t have an industry. And unhappy customers means an unhealthy industry. There are plenty of situations where difficult clients or customers test your knowledge and professional abilities. Luckily there are constructive strategies to dealing with the crankiest of anglers. At the pro shop where I worked for over a decade we published ads that said: “We’ll never sell you anything you don’t really need” and showed a picture of some bizarre, worthless fishing contraption. Point being, it doesn’t behoove us to sell you some really expensive trinkets you don’t want. This should be a mantra of our entire industry.

The best way I’ve found to educate the wader skeptic is to relate waders to something they’re already familiar with. Chances are if he’s in wader country then he’s probably a skier/snowboarder or a hiker. If not, he’s familiar with these activities. When you compare the layering and comfort aspects of modern ski clothing or hiking duds to breathable waders, the whole concept is often immediately assimilated. Now that you’ve

attained some credibility, you’ve built his trust. Skeptical customer now realizes you’re not just trying to get into his wallet. The response the next time they visit the shop is almost always, “Man, I can’t believe I waited so long, those things are so comfortable.” Education, trust... and now they’re your customer. There are a plethora of common and frustrating situations for the pro shop staffer with different solutions and it still mostly comes down to education and building trust. I love the guy who has fished since before graphite and will be dammed if he’ll buy a four-piece rod. Easy enough, line a couple of your favorite 5-weights up and make him continued on next page...

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However, I’m still constantly amazed by how outdated some client thinking is. The neoprene vs. breathable debate is a classic example, and I would guess as many as half the customers that walk through my door still don’t wear breathable waders. Often they come in looking for an upgrade and figure out what the whole breathable thing is about. The problem? They’re skeptical, even defensive about spending

$300 or more on waders. After all, his $80 neo’s have kept him dry. It’s an, “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it” scenario for them and a, “Seriously? It’s been like 15 years!” scenario for you. I realize this mindset may differ, depending on where you operate.


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Same goes for fly lines. At $75, it’s tough for some to swallow the investment, but that $75 might be the least expensive way to improve their fishing (after practice). The best thing you can do is build a following of folks who wanted to come in and talk to you at the shop because you improved their overall fly fishing experience.

cast them. This time he’s proving to himself his own misconceptions without a word from you. You avoid being the bad guy, you’re just showing him a good time, casting in

the parking lot. More than likely, also, a rod in his price range will far outperform whatever vintage stick he’s currently fishing with and you may have a rod sale to go along with your moral victory.

It’s much the same on the water (guiding,) but everything there happens in a relatively short time frame. Inflated egos (sometimes behind the oars too), inflated perceptions of abilities, and high expectations make for a frustrating day for client and guide. It can be tough to build trust in a single day but again, educating the client on realities of the fishery, weather, difficulty, etc. and adjusting their expectations appropriately, they’ll come away with a great experience and hopefully rebook. Educating yourself on the client is just as important. Mike Copithorne of Off the Hook Fly Fishing in Napa, California, starts the discourse from first contact. “I ask them when the last time they fished was,” he explains. “What’s their ideal day of fishing? How many days a year do they fish?” It’s important to educate ourselves on what we’re getting into for the day. Arming yourself with as much info as possible makes for a more enjoyable day for guide and client. We also have to be realistic as Mike points out, “Whatever they say I usually divide it in half. Unfortunately, it’s what you often continued on next page...


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have to do. They’re not trying to be dishonest, it’s just natural human tendency to inflate our abilities.”

AnglingTrade.com / March 2012

How often do clients tell you they fish 20-30 days a year, then first thing you end up teaching them is how to roll cast? The reality is the majority of clients are paid well and very good at whatever their career is. I’ve seen it plenty of times; out on the water they expect to excel, like they do in their world. Instead they struggle and get upset with themselves and guide too. If you smooth it over too much or give up on them, waiting it out for a tip, they can feel it and both of you will be disappointed with the experience.

42

“Be honest with them, when it’s not working. Build their confidence and remember this is what they do for fun. Good guides are able to do it without much effort.” says Mike. “Again, education. Everyone needs to be informed of the expectations and realities of a day on the water. If this is the case, even if the client gets blanked, they’ll at least learn a few things to take away and have a fun experience in a pretty place. If they had a good time, they’ll come back for more.” Our crazed world of fly fishing contains a cornucopia of personalities and egos, on both sides of

the counter, or oars. Obviously not all of them are amenable, customers and clients often come in with unrealistic expectations, even distrust based on past experience or simple ignorance. In our position as shop pro or guide, we have the opportunity to blow apart their notions and replace them with truths about new, beneficial technologies, methods and trends. When we teach our customers and build their trust, they will have a more positive experience on the water and we have a stronger industry. We can have our cake and eat it too. at


photo: Corey Arnold • www.coreyfishes.com

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Public Access... Are You Fighting for It? You Should. Written by Tom Bie

AnglingTrade.com / March 2012

Besides, I hope people in this industry will fight for public access over privatization because it’s the right thing to do, not just because they haven’t yet been invited to fish a contrived stretch of water that was purchased, perfected, and manicured before they arrived.

People sometimes say to me, “Sure, private water sucks—until you get to fish it.” But I’ve always felt that the opposite was true: that the satisfaction of finding fish on your own, on a stretch of public water that anyone can access, is twice as satisfying as having your hand held next to a stash of corn-fed counterfeits that would rise to a postage stamp if you could cast it out there. 44

Landowners scream that “there is an assault on private property rights” taking place. But this is just posturing and grandstanding. The current trend falls heavily on the side of taking resources from the public domain and granting them to private interests, led by the state of Colorado. I doubt there are many riparian landowners in the country who truly believe they have a right to prevent people from floating past their property. But that’s irrelevant. All that matters is whether an attorney with billable hours on the brain can convince his landowner client that the legal question remains unanswered. We can talk all day about Public Trust Doctrine, historical use,


English Common Law, civil trespass, and navigability. But when you take your kid down to fish the river you fished growing up, and you find the “No Trespassing” sign where one hadn’t been before, it will be because someone showed up in a courtroom and said, “Where? Show me where the law says I have to allow fishermen or rafters access to my river?”

river in Colorado is “navigable.” But the Colorado? The Blue? On December 19th, 1870, Captain Samuel Adams addressed the 41st Congress with a presentation entitled. “The exploration of the Colorado River and its tributaries.” Adams said: “On the 12th of July, with two of my boats, we started for our destination. For the first 12 miles

Understand that I’m making a distinction here. I’m not talking about spring creeks flowing through someone’s pasture. Even “Wilder on the Taylor,” the lightning-rod ranch in southern Colorado, has water that none of us can fish. Why? Because they “created three miles of meandering fishing stream through a hay meadow.” Fantastic! There’s your “sanctuary.” But keep your hands off the Taylor, because that belongs to the rest of us. In 2009, Lewis Shaw, president of the company that owns Wilder on the Taylor wrote: “I am confident there is no credible interpretation of legal statute, case or authorization permitting rafting, floating or any transit through or over private property deeded and titled under the laws of Colorado.”

In some states, ownership is determined by navigability—a term with its own fuzzy legal doctrines. And I will concede that not every

One of the most reliable legal tools for riparian landowners has long

But a very interesting idea, presented in the January 2012 issue of the Syracuse Law Review by Nathaniel Amendola, outlines the legal concept of “givings,” which might cause a landowner or his attorneys to second-guess taking a fisherman to court. Givings doctrine could turn the tables on a litigation-happy private fishing-club owner by “seeking to determine under what circumstances beneficiaries of government actions must be charged for received benefits”—such as fish being planted in the river by the state. The logic is simple: If eminent domain law protects private property owners from unfair actions by the government, then those same private property owners should not gain unfairly at the expense of the public. Like, for example, by turning a public river into a private one. at

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AnglingTrade.com / March 2012

Well, Lewis, I am equally confident that there IS such authorization. It’s called Section 5, Article 16 of the Colorado Constitution, which states: “The water of every natural stream, not heretofore appropriated, within the state of Colorado, is hereby declared to be the property of the public.” So there.

the current of the Blue was rapid.” This was 1870, and Sammy and his party weren’t in creek boats. How can that river not be considered navigable more than 140 years later?

been the “takings clause” of the Fifth Amendment, which basically states that if the government “takes” something of value from a landowner—often through eminent domain—that the landowner deserves just compensation. (“You have ‘taken’ my right to charge $500 a day rod fees!”)


BACKCAST

The backseat affords room to stretch, digest, crunch, tinker, and fiddle with the issues inherent to flyfishing longevity. And great minds and pens have warmed it before me, including The Drake Magazine publisher and editor, Tom Bie, and the late journalist/conservationist Charlie Meyers. These two, being both direct and indirect mentors, have done a lot to help shape not only how I think about the sport and business of flyfishing, but how it is approached and lived by many.

Views from the Backseat Written by Geoff Mueller

AnglingTrade.com / March 2012

From this vantage—parked in the “Backcast” section of the magazine—the view ain’t that bad. It’s here that I’ve been allotted 700 or so words to dish out over a swath of topics that hold close to our hearts, livelihoods, and recreational well-being. I can spot Deeter at the helm, steering the ship. When the sailing’s smooth I kick up my feet and recline, crack the window, and peruse the state of flyfishing as it streams past the periphery. Lately, however, the flow of the road has become bouncy, more potholeriddled. There’s congestion ahead in the form of new battles to familiar fights, such as water quality and quantity. When both suffer, either solo or in unison, so too does the state of flyfishing. Working in our favor, there’s also foresight and intelligence buried deep in these streets, some savvy detours, and committed groups, individuals, and companies working to maintain the course of fisheries health. 46

The Drake began injecting new life into a stale portrayal, when it entered the print-media fold as an independent in 1998. In fact, it has done such an influential job that several publications have followed suit, adopting similar formats and pulling talent from the same pool of quality writers. This notion of why we fish over how we fish is a breath of freshness in an industry hampered by barriers of entry, ranging from inane linguistics to insane and overly complex product variables. When you boil down the debates, for instance: the fluoros, monos, Skagits, Scandis, cheaters, a lot of friggin in the riggin’, pegged beads and eggs, swung or dredged, East versus West, homegrown or hydroponic, ultra-tech gadgets, fabrics, and people more interested in Czech, Polish, and French nyphing techniques than their cultures, women, and beers, what are you left with? The answer is simple: Man and woman, nature, a free-flowing river or two and, perhaps, some gullible fish. Flyfishing is essentially a simple sport. This simplicity is a key nutrient to its growth down the road. An influx of a next generation of flyfishers willing to partake,

given the means, and presuming the resource remains, is key. One person who understood this simplicity aspect was Meyers. From his position at Angling Trade and from his regular seat at The Denver Post, he drove home topics ranging from large trout to the need for ample public access. And he always presented his words with an honest pen, holding no punches on relevant and timely issues. Meyers in his heyday, much like Bie today, possessed a contagious voice. One that whether we necessarily agreed or not, we listened to because it was informed. So here I am, riding the back of the bus with hefty shoes to fill. It’s my imperative over the next several issues to engage you, the reader, with 700 or so choice words in-tune with this microcosmic anomaly of an industry we call flyfishing. In this particular issue, we learn about conservation for profit. And I believe that late Sierra Club Executive Director David Brower hit paydirt when he stated: “There is no business to be done on a dead planet.” And this statement epitomizes the adage of keeping it simple, stupid. Someone also once said, “There’s no business like show business.” Let’s let 2012 be the year to show the rest of the outdoors cosmos that flyfishing—as a community, as an industry, as a sport, as a collection of varied and effective media channels—contains the means to bridge the consumer void between young and old, to bolster ironclad conservation measures that sustain business and fishing, and to demonstrate we have the foresight to see this thing through. at


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Profile for Angling Trade LLC

Angling Trade Magazine Issue #19  

The Opinion Issue #19

Angling Trade Magazine Issue #19  

The Opinion Issue #19