the buzz on the flyfishing biz
INSIDE THE PRODUCT ISSUE
Rod Warranties Revisited/What We Learn from Yoga Pants/Hot List of New Gear/The Evolution of Fly Product/Young Entrepreneurs/Predatory Angling... and more. September 2013 AnglingTrade.com
passionate about fishing since 1983.
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the buzz on the flyfishing biz
14 The Hot List
6 Editor’s Column
Angling Trade looks at the hottest new gear for 2014, including award winners from IFTD, and others that are creating buzz and sales potential. By AT Editors
24 Five Under 40
Youthful vigor meets respect for traditions... a look at five entrepreneurial businesses in fly fishing being run (at least in part) by those 40 and younger. By Geoff Mueller
A little support goes a long way. It took two beers and a conversation about women’s undergarments with my wife and sister-in-law to realize that fly shops can learn a lot from Lululemon. By Kirk Deeter
Kirk Deeter email@example.com
Tim Romano firstname.lastname@example.org Art Director
Tara Brouwer email@example.com shovelcreative.com
The latest people and issues news from the North American fly fishing industry.
32 Opinion Editorial:
Where we stand on Bristol Bay. By Scott Hed
Mabon Childs, Sarah Deeter Contributing Editors
Tom Bie Ben Romans Steven B. Schweitzer Contributors
Chuck Furimsky, Scott Hed, Geoff Mueller, Tom Reed Photos unless noted by Tim Romano
36 The Evolution of Gear
An essay on an angler’s transformation over the years, what gear shaped that, and what proved to be fads. By Tom Reed
34 Book Reviews Gary Borger teaches anglers to think and fish like “predators.”
Angling Trade is published four times a year by Angling Trade, LLC. Author and photographic submissions should be sent electronically to firstname.lastname@example.org. 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.
40 Opinion Pages: Rod
Warranties and Daisy-Chaining Drift Boats
By Geoff Mueller
Fax: 303-495-2454 email@example.com Mail Address: PO Box 17487 Boulder, CO 80308 Street Address: 3055 24th Street Boulder, CO 80304 AnglingTrade.com
AnglingTrade.com / September 2013
An open letter to the industry lets the warranty genie out of the bottle (again). Will this be the catalyst for some significant policy shifts in the future? And is it bad form to float through the same run, over, and over... and over? By AT Editors
Yoga pants and the trade show circus.
Advertising Contact: Tim Romano Telephone: 303-495-3967
The only accessories we don’t supply...
Tom Reed is a lifelong outdoorsman and a longtime Trout Unlimited employee. The author of four books, he writes and works from his home outside Pony, Montana. For more information please see www.tomreedbooks.com.
...are the fish! Geoff Mueller is our regular “Backcast” columnist, and is Angling Trade’s editor-at-large, which as most writers know, is not to be confused with “large and in charge.” Nevertheless, we value his insights more with every issue. He also is senior editor of The Drake.
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“MOJO MUD“ is now
Scott Hed is the director of the Sportsman’s Alliance for Alaska, and he’s played a critical role in the fight against the proposed Pebble Mine. In this issue, he shares some reasons to be optimistic that the world’s most prolific wild salmon fishery may well get protected... but he also warns there’s still work to do.
Chuck Furimsky is well-known as the mastermind behind the very popular Fly Fishing Show(s), the off-season extravaganzas where anglers buy themselves what they really wanted for Christmas. Chuck also happens to have an opinion on guides hammering the same runs, over and over.
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A Little “Support” Can Apparently Go a Very Long Way
AnglingTrade.com / September 2013
Just when I thought, after 24 years of marriage, I had run out of meaningful philosophical lunch conversations to have with my wife, Sarah, and her sister, Susie, I had the most extraordinary epiphany while with them the other day. Bison burgers (and perhaps a Colorado microbrew or two) somehow led to a conversation about women’s undergarments, and by extension, the venerable, apparently way-trendy retail chain named Lululemon Athletica. Lululemon specializes in selling things like yoga pants and sports bras, but what I hadn’t realized before is that the chain does so with a retail panache that has women literally lined up to shell out at a premium for their unmentionables. Now anyone who has ever met me in person knows two things: A) I am personally not an aficionado of fine yoga pants (though apparently our Backcast columnist Geoff Mueller is); and, B) whenever I can land on an angle that might worthily apply to selling things like fly rods and reels and lines with greater effect, I’m not afraid to write about it. 6
And so it is that I attached to the fodder for this column when my sister-in-law, who is not typically a candor-challenged individual, described in riveting detail the quest of finding a good sports bra. Apparently (and I did not know this) they are not all the same. Some are meant for more physical “real sports” endeavors, like playing hockey, or volleyball, or jogging, while others are meant for sports that are more aptly described as “outdoor activities,” like, well… fly fishing, for example. Thing is, apparently, when a woman walks into a Lululemon store, she is consistently, immediately met by at least one member from a team of experts trained and ready to help her dial in on exactly the right option for the right situation. Call that a new level of customer support. But it apparently works, because women, my wife now included, are willing to fork over extra bucks (a lot) for an expertise-driven bra, Fruit of the Loom be damned. Yes indeed, there’s a status factor involved as well. Another woman/ angler friend of mine described Lululemon as “the official uniform of the soccer mom.” (Perhaps not so ironically, the lunch conversation with my wife and sister-in-law happened between games of a youth soccer tournament.) But the status wouldn’t be possible without the sales, and the sales don’t happen without the expertise. It’s no different than one of the other shining examples of retail success—you can’t walk into an Apple computer store without being met by one of a team of geeks who can capably dial you onto the exact laptop, or iPod, or iPad you really need. In fact, those geeks are the reason most people go to Apple stores in the first place.
Which leads me back to fly fishing. And no, I am not calling fly shop people geeks. I am, however, suggesting that expertise is the critical factor that has kept the fly shops that are still around today in business, and will keep them in business for years to come. If you want to inoculate yourself and your business against the dangers of big box, and cheap imports, and online retailers… if you want to keep the products you sell from being considered commodities, the answer is really pretty simple. Know things, and be able to impart wisdom in ways that nobody else can. Know more about what’s happening in the river near your backyard than what some intern hired to make fishing reports for a website can muster. Communicate those things regularly and consistently. And be damn sure your staff can also. If there’s anything those of us in this business might actually agree upon, it’s that fly fishing is a how-to, where-to-driven sport. Boots in the water still matter for something. If you’re still into the “secret fly” or the “secret spot” in this day and age, that’s your problem, and it will be your undoing. After all, if expertise can be applied for substantial sales effect to sports bras of all things (and again, I am not trying to be critical of the sports bra business in any way, shape or, um, form), considering the beautiful nuances and complexities fly fishing inherently exhibits, the quest to impart genuine expertise should be considered an opportunity, not a challenge. at Kirk Deeter Editor
Currents Check Out the Revamped Fly Fishing in Salt Waters We want to lead this “Currents” section with a shout out to our friend and colleague John Frazier, editor of Fly Fishing in the Salt Waters. For those of you who FIVE MUST-FISH DESTINATIONS hadn’t noticed (NO PASSPORT REQUIRED) yet, the magazine has recently gone through a dramatic transformation. It’s a new look and feel, and the writing and photography quality is getting even better than it already was. Leafing through the latest issue, we see a healthy amount of advertising support, and we are struck by how well this publication is serving a very important niche in the fly-fishing world. So kudos, John, and we encourage everyone to subscribe, or at least go out and grab the latest issue. You will be pleased. In search of Northern Territory barramundi
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AnglingTrade.com / September 2013
Gary Jennings Moves to Hell’s Bay Boatworks
In related news, Fly Fishing in Salt Waters publisher Gary Jennings is leaving the magazine after 11 years at its helm to take the position of general manager for Hell’s Bay Boatworks. Jennings said that it was bittersweet to leave the publication. “Fly Fishing in Salt Waters allowed me to travel the world with a fly rod in hand and I am grateful and proud of my time there. The magazine is looking better than ever, but the chance to work with Chris and Wendi Peterson at Hell’s Bay was something that I just couldn’t pass up. I’ll still be involved with fly fishing, but will also be in the marine industry—the best of both worlds!” Jennings, who bought his own HB in 2001 8
said: “I can’t begin to count the number of fish or all the great times that I have had while fishing from their boats.” Jennings first became associated with Hell’s Bay Boatworks in 2000 when he brokered an agreement between Hell’s Bay and the Coastal Conservation Association Florida chapter where he worked as a regional director. Hell’s Bay continues to be a major sponsor of conservation by supporting CCA, the Bonefish, Tarpon Trust, Guy Harvey Ocean Foundation and the IGFA. Jennings’ departure leaves a sales position open at the magazine. Here are the details on the position… Sales Manager of Fly Fishing in Salt Waters. The ideal candidate will be well connected in the fly fishing industry, have sales experience and be able to travel and operate with a high level of independence. Position is located in Winter Park, Florida. To apply, go to: http://ch.tbe.taleo. net/CH04/ats/careers/requisitionjsp?org= WORLDPUB&cws=1&rid=1964 Redington Hires Ben Crook as Sales Manager Redington has hired Ben Crook as the company’s sales manager. Crook holds a bachelor’s degree in Commercial Recreation with an emphasis in outdoor retail. After college, he moved to Florida to work in the marine industry specializing in salt water fishing boat sales. He tailored his skills at Brunton Outdoor Group in Wyoming working as that company’s international sales manager. “Fly fishing is a way of life for me; I couldn’t be more thrilled to join the team at Redington and implement sales tactics to match efforts elsewhere within the company. The brand is positioned well for 2014, offering price conscious, quality gear as well as providing a gateway for people who have never fly fished to be exposed to the sport through innovative, attractive and quality products,” said Crook.
“As Redington Sales Manager, Ben is responsible for driving the Redington sales effort creating and implementing a national sales program that align with the goals of the product, marketing and customer service teams,” noted Redington General Manager, David Visnack. “His previous experience will no doubt bring insight to lead our sales team with authority and expertise.” 3M Inks Matrix Resin Deal with Jarden After recently selling the Scientific Anglers and Ross Reels brands to The Orvis Company, the 3M Company announced that it is strategically aligning with Jarden Corporation, a leading provider of a diverse range of consumer products including sporting goods, to commercialize the Powerlux brand composite technology for sporting goods. “We are excited to align with Jarden, home of such sporting goods brands as Abu Garcia, Berkley, Coleman, ExOfficio, K2, Marmot, Miken, PENN, Rawlings, Shakespeare, Ugly Stik, Volkl, and many more,” said Vic Genco, Director, 3M Engineered Products and Solutions. “With their broad and direct presence in multiple sporting good markets, we believe they are well positioned to expand the use of 3M’s Matrix Resin Technology into other sporting goods applications.” As a result of the agreement, 3M will work exclusively with Jarden to commercialize the 3M Matrix Resin Technology for sporting goods applications. Umpqua Reaches Deal with Fly Factory in the Phillipines, Dealer Fly Inventories Sould Benefit Umpqua Feather Merchants, the world’s largest manufacturer of fishing flies, has entered into a long-term agreement with a well-established fly factory in the Philippines. This marks the third new factory addition for Umpqua in three years. “It’s no secret 2013 has been difficult due to the failure by fly suppliers to meet industry demand. Umpqua takes this very seriously and will continue to aggressively follow our expansion plans to meet the industry’s needs.” said Jeff Fryhover, president & CEO.
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“We were very fortunate when this well established, high quality factory contacted us a few months ago. Unfortunately, they had been left in a very difficult position and our new partnership will enable them to continue focusing on tying great quality flies and enable Umpqua to focus on meeting the needs of the industry and helping dealers get back to healthy inventory levels.” said Fryhover. Umpqua will begin distributing flies from its new Philippine partner as early as October. Utah Stream Access Coalition Announces Video Contest
On the heels of its hugely successful photo contest this summer, the Utah Stream Access Coalition—the group spearheading the effort to maintain public access to trout waters in Utah—announced that it would hold a video contest this fall. Between now and November 15, entrants are encouraged to submit threeminute videos that revolve around these key themes: Advocate involvement in USAC’s cause, i.e. promoting others to become a member of USAC, encouraging Utahans to contact their elected officials in support of USAC’s cause. Educating and supporting USAC’s mission - To promote and assist in all aspects of securing and maintaining public access to, and use of, Utah’s public waters and streambeds. Illustrate waters, heritage, etc. that have been lost by enactment of HB141 - The
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Public Waters Access Act, and the impact that it has had on you/your family/ your life. Winners will receive prizes from the likes of William Joseph, Montana Fly Company, and Kast Extreme Fishing Gear. Southwick Associates Offers First Report of its Kind to Identify the True Size of the Sportfishing Market in America
With more than 33 million anglers in the United States spending nearly $42 billion a year on their activities, sportfishing in America is big business. From the Atlantic to the Pacific Ocean and everywhere in between, anglers young and old spend money on equipment, boats, travel, food, gas and more. But for those companies providing goods and services to sportfishermen, understanding precisely where those dollars are being spent has been elusive. That is until now. For the first time, detailed market data are available. Southwick Associates, the outdoor industry’s leading research and survey firm, is offering its 2012 Size of the Sportfishing Market Report that presents the actual dollars spent on a wide range of detailed sportfishing product categories and even for top brands. The report identifies the true size of the fishing rod and reel market, as well as those for fishing line, lures, terminal tackle, fly-fishing gear, fishing electronics, ice fishing, fishing apparel and other key equipment categories within the sportfishing market. “Understanding how and where fishermen spend their money can help businesses and organizations better position themselves to serve this lucrative group of consumers,” said Rob Southwick, president of Southwick Associates. “Our intention is to help sportfishing businesses better understand the U.S. sportfishing market and improve not only their business performance, but to provide the products anglers want.”
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Trout Unlimited Hails Forest Service Access Policy Trout Unlimited recently praised the U.S. Forest Service for establishing a new and improved policy that will enhance the amount and quality of restoration work conducted on Forest Service lands and waters—a change that will support healthier fish and game habitat and make fishing and hunting better on Forest Service lands. In June 2012, the agency published a proposed rule amending its National Environmental Policy Act regulations to include three new categorical exclusions aimed at “restoring lands negatively impacted by water control structures, natural and humancaused events, and roads and trails,” and recently moved to finalize its new policy. By developing categorical exclusions, the agency is identifying specific categories of activities that do not, individually or collectively, have a significant effect on the environment.
AnglingTrade.com / September 2013
Bonefish & Tarpon Trust Earns Milestone Protections in Florida
The Bonefish & Tarpon Trust reported recently that, thanks to the foresight of the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission and FWC staff, effective September 1, bonefish and tarpon were designated as catch and release species in Florida waters. 12
The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission also voted unanimously to pass the Boca Grande jig ban at its September 5th meeting in Pensacola by a 7-0 vote. The jig issue has been hotly debated over the past few years among bait and jig fishermen. Bonefish and Tarpon Trust noted that it is grateful to former FWC chairman Ken Wright, current chairman Dick Corbett and all the commissioners for taking these important steps to protect tarpon. The new regulations add language that enhances the definition of “snagging” or “snatch hooking” that applies statewide, and prohibits the use and possession of gear rigged with a bottom-weighed hook in Boca Grande Pass, which is key habitat for silver kings. Congratulations and thanks to the Bonefish & Tarpon Trust for these milestone achievements.
Absent project-specific circumstances to the contrary, permitting for activities that fall within a categorical exclusion can be expedited—bypassing the requirement to prepare an environmental assessment or an environmental impact statement. Request for Western Native Trout Habitat and Conservation Projects Announced The Western Native Trout Initiative (WNTI), a venture of the Western Association of Fish and Wildlife Agencies and a National Fish Habitat Partnership (NFHP), is pleased to announce that the Request For Proposals for 2014 native trout conservation project funding from the National Fish Habitat Partnership is now available on the WNTI web-page: www.westernnativetrout.org The Western Native Trout Initiative (WNTI) continues to be fully involved in the efforts to apply additional fiscal resources to the improvement of the status of western native trout. In 2012 alone, WNTI funded 12 projects with $560,000 provided by the National Fish Habitat Partnership and matched with over $2.6 million in public and private funding. The deadline to submit is October 25, 2013. at
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Hot List Angling Trade takes a look at 55 products that we think will generate considerable buzz among consumers in 2014. Our editors saw some of these at the IFTD and ICAST trade shows (IFTD New Product Showcase winners are noted with *), others at the Outdoor Retailer Summer Market, some on visits to manufacturers, and some were just sent to us. In most cases, weâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;ve also tested them on the water (or at the tying bench). This is not, by any means, an all-inclusive list, but it is a start at understanding what we believe is the most impressive industry-wide array of new product, in terms of breadth and innovation, in several years.
UNI French Oval tinsel
â&#x20AC;&#x153;Adult damsel tiers rejoice, 8/0 Unithread now available in blue! Other new products include: copper oval tinsel (copper rib/copper bead Prince anyone?), elastic band thread (just seems fishy), chartreuse and blue holographic tinsel, and various colors of mohair thread. All in all, pretty cool.â&#x20AC;? -Malcolm Robertson
Made from domestic cowhide, tanned the in the United States rather than less expensive, inferior imported leather (this is the same leather used to make custom holsters for pistols) the Hemo Holster, as its name implies, is a holster for hemostats. All Hemo Holsters are hand-boned and fitted tight around the hemostats, so they will stay put without extra retention devices like straps or snaps. Made in Bailey, Colorado, see sweetwatersaddlery.com.
S O U T H W I C K A S S O C I AT E S
Prepare and Repair Gear SG-20 A new repair adhesive called SG20 can keep seasonal gear in good repair and address any unexpected damage on the water. SG-20 sets in minutes and creates a watertight B E T T E R I N F O R M AT I O N .
What we can do for your company...Quantify market size, identify your market share and your competitors’, learn what your customers really want and develop smarter pricing strategies. Contact us for a sample report. seal on GORE-TEX, neoprene, canvas, polyurethane and an assortment of many other materials within one hour. So when an angler experiences an unexpected tear or puncture, waders, shoes, vests and more can be repaired quicker than with other sealants. With SG-20, simply dry off the torn or punctured material, apply the adhesive and let it dry. Within an hour the gear is usable again, keeping air, dirt and debris out. Repairs with SG-20 have been shown to be incredibly durable, lasting five or more years in the field. Retail is $20 per kit.
John DePalma 303-552-8454 firstname.lastname@example.org
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Tippetac is an innovative new product that holds your fly line and flies while you change up your rig from wherever you are fishing. Simple and unobtrusive, Tippetac’s powerful function comes from two elements: a rubber piece with a wedge and slit that holds your monofilament tippet/leader, and two strong continued on next page...
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rare-earth magnets that function as an attachment mechanism and an effective fly holder. Once you get used to Tippetac, you’ll wonder how you ever managed on the water without it.
waders G3 Guide Stockingfoot by Simms* The Simms G3 Guide Stockingfoot won at IFTD for “Best Wader” category, while the Women’s version (Women’s G3 Guide Stockingfoot) took home the honors for “Best Women’s Product.” Both waders incorporate 25 percent more breathable 5-layer GORE-TEX fabric Simms developed last year for their G4 series. Price ranges between $450-600.
AnglingTrade.com / September 2013
Orvis Silver Sonic Zippered Wader Orvis uses its sonic seam technology, adds a YKK zipper and creates a durable (4-layer), breathable, zippered wader that retails for $395, which explains why the company’s wader sales are up dramatically over the past 18 months and expected to vault even higher. Expanded size options, and a women’s convertible top are all available. 16
Redington Super Dry Fly Waders Super Dry Fly is the name of Redington’s new premium waders that feature a slimmer YKK Aquaseal zipper, and Cocona interior fabric that keeps moisture moving out of the waders, so anglers stay drier and more comfortable, even in extreme conditions. Retail is $499.95.
It looks like Orvis has a good grip on the felt alternative challenge with its new T3 Guide Boot ($219) that features soles made with a unique JStep rubber compound. JStep is famous for making boots for applications in slippery oil and gas production situations. We haven’t worn these boots yet (available next April) but we’ve held them, and they are the real deal. Orvis Pivot with Boa
BOOTS Redington Ruckus Youth Wading Boot* Redington took “Best Youth Product” honors at IFTD for its youthspecific Ruckus wading boot. Our kids think they look cool, and that’s what matters most. Built with all the quality of the adult boots yet at a fraction of the size and the price, the Ruckus Youth will retail for $89.95 so outgrowing them won’t hurt. Available in sizes 2, 4 and 6. Orvis T3 Guide Wading Boot with JStep
Orvis has also joined the BOA Closure System brigade with the advent of the new Pivot. These also feature JStep soles, and will retail for $179. G4 BOA boot by Simms*
Simms’ G4 BOA Boot took home the prize for “Best Footwear” at IFTD. The G4 BOA is highlighted by that company’s new RiverTread platform with Vibram Idrogrip rubber sole and its unique asymmetrical BOA closure system—there’s one wire, one dial on the side of the boot. What we like most is the black, stealth bomber look and feel of the boots. They’re going to be popular. Retail is $239.95.
Vapor by Simms
Patagonia Ultralight Wading Boots
Simms has also introduced a boot called Vapor that it says is more intended for long hikes, backcountry situations, and so forth. We took a pair to Iceland, which may be the ultimate setting for testing boots— the rivers there are loaded with slick vegetation, and the jagged volcanic rocks will test the durability and construction of any footwear. The Vapor passed with flying colors, and they were supportive, though light, and comfortable to wear. Retail is $169.95.
Patagonia has the light wading boot dialed in. Ultralight is comfortable, yet sturdy enough to provide reliable support. You’ll be particularly fond of these when you’re packing for a return flight from somewhere, and don’t have to pay the extra weight fine at the airport. Retail for felt or sticky rubber is $179.
Korkers Devil’s Canyon
Packs/Vests Vaquero by fishpond*
Black Canyon backpack (fishpond)* Fishpond has landed on a great design with its Black Canyon modular backpack system. This is an internal frame pack that also includes a detachable
Umpqua Famous 2500 Boat Bag Umpqua, as most of you know, has waded in beyond the fly realm into packs and such. We’ve taken a particular shine to the Famous 2500 Boat Bag, which actually serves as a Famous “Back of the Car” bag when we’re not on the water. Retail is $199.99. Umpqua Deadline 3500 Wet/Dry Duffel We’re also very hot on the Duffel, which serves as a great field pack, boat pack, backpack for day trips, or carry-on for travel. We like that it can segregate wet from dry. Frankly, it’s a great swimming bag, as well as a fishing duffel. Retail is $159.99. Simms Headwaters Guide Hip Pack We’ve been fishing with one for several weeks now, and have come to appreciate the rigid wall construction that isn’t too heavy. The Guide model, as you might expect, has extra capacity. Retail is $119.95. 17
AnglingTrade.com / September 2013
Korkers has offered up a new twist on neoprene with the introduction of the Devil’s Canyon Boot, which features a durable hard neoprene shell, and a stretchable, supple 4-way stretch neoprene section around the Achilles’ tendon area. The result is a boot that form fits around the ankle area (no gaps or rubs), yet is extremely light, durable, and agile. Retail is $200, which includes rubber and felt interchangeable soles.
Fishpond’s new Vaquero vest is a looker... made with waxed canvas, it is also very functional, with just the right mix of large and smaller pockets in just the right places. Retail is $159.95.
pack that can be warn as a chest pack or sling. Retail is $179. The really compelling attribute, aside from the fact that it has that distinctive, classy fishpond look, is that the product is almost completely made from recycled fishing net material. You know… the stuff that floats around in the ocean and will never disintegrate? Well, applied for this purpose, that everlasting trash becomes a supremely durable accessory. What was a problem is now an asset. Kudos to fishpond, once again, for combining environmental ethic with exceptional product design moxie.
Patagonia Stormfront Pack Sling The Stormfront Pack Sling applies the waterproof technology of the Stormfront pack (universally respected by photographers and others who demand unconditional all-climate protection) to a sling design. We’ve worn the sling and it’s functional, relatively light, and easily adjustable. A handle allows it to be carried as a tote, and it has an outside water-repellent pocket for fast access. Retail price is $199. No image of product was available at press time. Orvis Gale Force Sling Orvis offers a waterresisitant sling as well, the few-frills Gale Force Sling Pack, which retails for $119.
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lines Airflo Super-DRI Airflo chemists formulated SuperDRI, a new material that the company claims repels water, dirt and scum better than other fly line materials. The result is a fly line that rides higher in the water, and also reduces distance-curbing friction during casts. Retail price is $74.99.
The top Freshwater Fly Line at IFTD, we’ve been fishing Perception lines for most of the summer, and they do indeed live up to their billing. They float great, they’re slick, so they shoot, but most importantly, they accentuate the qualities of a fine fly rod, from mending, to double-hauling. They’re built with ultra low-stretch technology, that ultimately leads to more sensitivity. Retail is $89.95. Chard Grand Slam by Scientific Anglers* SA took the Best Saltwater line category at IFTD with this one... a versatile, all-around, all-sized flies, wind-buster for the flats and inshore. Inspired by/devloped with Keys guide Bruce Chard. Cortland Big Fly Lines They do what they say they do... help anglers huck large flies. The taper creates a powerful, positive energy for turning over big bugs.
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Four Reasons Why TROUT is the Best Buy in Fly… 1
It has the largest sustained print readership in the space.
Its readers are the most motivated anglers (they spend and act).
TROUT offers by far the best CPM value of any publication that covers fly fishing.
egacy of shable water. 4
TROUT UNLIMITED • W W W. T U. O R G • S U M M E R 2013
Money spent in TROUT supports the organization that protects the resources that sustain fly fishing. If you haven’t checked out TROUT lately, make a point to do so. We don’t do how-to. But we’re also not strictly a conservation publication. TROUT is a lifestyle publication that covers the conscience of angling in America. And we’re growing...
AnglingTrade.com / September 2013
For advertising information: Tim Romano; email@example.com.
Vapen Rod by Redington
rods Radian by Scott Fly Rod Company* We saw a number of impressive new fly rod designs in the weeks leading up to ICAST and IFTD, but we were confident that the “Radian” from Scott Fly Rods would ultimately be the belle of the ball. The premise for Radian is fairly straightforward—the company bills it as a model that combines “fast” and “feel” unlike anything else out there. Having fished the Radian for a few months now, we have to agree that it definitely feels unique, and performs as billed—it generates power and impressive line speed, but is impressively subtle and sensitive in more nuanced, technical casting situations.
AnglingTrade.com / September 2013
The rod uses what Scott calls ReAct technology. The thought is that distance, control and accuracy are compromised by vibrations in the rod during casting. ReAct counters vibration by increasing recovery of the blank without the need to stiffen the rod with more material. If the technical details sound like too much to process, you simply need to pick one of these rods up and cast it. The “holy cow” factor takes care of the rest. They also happen to be some of the most aesthetically beautiful rods we’ve seen in a while. They’re made in America, four-piece models range from 8’-6” 4-weights to 10-foot 8-weights, and they will retail for $795. In the context of production fly rods, this is going to be one of the major statements for 2014. 20
Whether you buy into the notion that a synthetic grip actually helps casting performance or not, and whether you go for the shockingly red color on the grip, you need to know this: We lined up six new rods from different manufacturers for a group of junior high school kids, and they all gravitated to the Vapen as first choice. We have also taken it out on the water many times now, and find the action and feel more than respectable. Retail for Red version is $349.99. Method by Sage Sage put a new emphasis on the slower, more traditional feel when it introduced its Circa rods, but now Method is proving that fast—actually make that ultra-fast—is still the action that tickles the fancies of many angling consumers. Method is all that. It’s a gun. Retail is $800-$1050. Redington Butter Stick Fiberglass gurus like Cameron Mortenson and Chris Hunt tell us that the new glass offering from Redington lives up to its catchy name. Redington didn’t just make a fiberglass rod, it made a fiberglass rod that fishes like a classic fiberglass rod. We actually took it for a testfish ourselves and concur that the action is right on the money. Retail price is $249.95. Superfine Glass from Orvis
The Orvis Company is revisiting fiberglass for the first time in decades with the unveiling of a new Superfine Glass series. They’ll be available in
January, and will retail for $395. With moss green blanks and brown wraps, they look like artifact rods, and the casting action (we tested them) will be right in the wheelhouse of most fiberglass junkies. Hardy Jet
Hardy converted a strong following with its Sintrix technology and Zenith rods. Now the company has applied that base science to a more moderately-priced series called “Jet.” They are very light and responsive, and yet also bulldogdurable. There are 20 models in the series, and prices start at $449. Encounter rod package from Orvis
Probably the rod with the most long-term, far reaching potential in the class of 2014 is the Encounter outfit from Orvis. The whole package includes a rod, reel, line and rod tube… for $159. The key is quality. We’ve seen packages at that pricepoint before, many times, but we haven’t seen a rod and reel that are as good as these for that price, ever. Winston Boron III LS (And TH) Winston is applying Boron III to a new series of medium-fastaction rods that are designed for delicate presentation scenarios. Retail is $795.
The company is also introducing a line of eight two-handers that range from 6- to 9-weights in a variety of lengths. Retail ranges between $830 and $940. G. Loomis PRO4x (ICAST)
Can someone please explain to us why one fly rod won best of show at the IFTD trade show, and literally about 50 yards away, in another New Product Showcase for the ICAST show, a different model was named best fly rod? Who figured that out, the people who set up the BCS rankings? Either way, the Loomis PRO4x is a performance taper, made with quality NRX blanks, at a kinder, more intermediate pricepoint (which varies by model). St. Croix Legend X
St. Croix’s new Legend X fly rods combine an exciting blend of graphite fibers with a revolutionary new handle and tactical look. Designed specifically for fishing larger warm-water species like musky, pike and bass, the new rods are built on blanks rolled with a blend of four carbon fiber materials, and that translates into power. Retail is $480-$490.
reels Sage continues to beef up its reel presence with some smartly-engineered and contemporary designed models, and
Abel Steal Your Face When we got wind of the new series of Abel limited edition reels, which are individually hand-painted with the Grateful Dead’s iconic “Steal Your Face” logo, we bought one. Abel has an agreement with Warner Music Group which allows them to produce 250 of these on its Super Series and Classic Series model reels. The Grateful Dead reels are available for a premium of $300 over standard pricing, but these things will stand out on the water, and maintain their value down the road.
ter reel honors at IFTD with this new model. We haven’t actually tried it yet, but we suspect this could slow a train... smoothly. It has twice the drag stength, with half the startup inertia. New Orvis CFO Made in America The Orvis CFO is an angling standard. What’s new for next year is in the name (and shown right on the bar stock aluminum frame)... they’re made in the U.S.A. Featuring a click and pawl drag, these reels will cost between $325 and $349. continued on next page...
Bozeman Reel You’ll want to check out the new Bozeman Reel Company, which has actually been in the works for several years now, but the company’s product lines are just coming to fruition. The reel we like best is called RS 527, which overachieves its $495 retail pricepoint. New from Lamson Lamson will bring a handful of new reels to the market in 2014, but the best of the class will be its Litespeed Hard Alox IV series. It’s the same ultra-large arbor design, modified to achieve a higher retrieve rate. Nautilus CCFX2* Nautilus is always pressing the envelope on drag performance, and it claimed top saltwa21
AnglingTrade.com / September 2013
Sage 2200 Series
this series won at IFTD in the best freshwater reel category.
jackets Acklins from Simms “Best Outerwear” at IFTD went to the Acklins Jacket from Simms. The 3-layer GORETEX fabric technology, 3-point cinch hoods, lightweight and unique corrosion-resistant zipper design that incorporates a secure hand pocket with pit zips impressed the judging group, which was comprised of fishing media and retailers. Dryfender Insulated raingear from Shimano Another product that took a top award in the ICAST new product showcase, Dryfender combines proven performance against the elements at a lower pricepoint than other high-end foul weather gear.
AnglingTrade.com / September 2013
Stormr Neoprene One of the hottest “new materials” we’re seeing in a number of products is actually the old wader standard neoprene. But nobody has applied that material to create a jacket as artfully and functionally as STORMR. The new-for-2014 Strykr Jacket (retail $299.95) is waterproof, windproof, high-stretch, and exceptionally thermal efficient. In 22
other words, it’s ideal for snotty, chilly steelhead conditions, or the sideways squalls often encountered while in search for striped bass.
eyewear Hatch by Costa* and Tuna Alley by Costa Costa swept the awards categories at IFTD and ICAST with Hatch and Tuna Alley, respectively. As the names imply, Hatch resonates on the river, while Tuna Alley offers a wider coverage that might be more applicable on the salt. Actually, they both look great, and feature Costa’s legendary 580 lenses... price depends on type, but these are sharp shades. Chromapop by Smith Smith Optics has introduced a new lens technology that should be a paradigm changer. Called Chromapop, the premise is that where color wavelengths cross (from blue to green, and green to red) the eye has trouble distinguishing color. Chromopop filters out that color confusion specifically in those areas. Whether you understand that or not, there are other more straightforward attributes that are easily grasped: These lenses do not utilize polarizing film; the treatment happens within the lens material (called Trivex). The Abbe value of Trivex (measure of clarity) is 45. Glass is 44. So it is as clear as glass and clearer than polycarbon. That said, it is 10 percent lighter than polycarbon, and a whop-
ping 75 percent lighter than optical glass. They’re anti-reflective coated, and four times more scratch resistant than plastic. So this is a legitimate best-of-all worlds combination. We tested the lenses and colors do pop more. There is value in sight fishing scenarios, where subtle motion and color differentiations spell the difference between noticing what’s there and what’s not. MSRP starts around $209; for more information see smithoptics.com Low Light Ignitor by Smith We field tested Smith’s new Low Light Ignitor lenses in Iceland and gave them a big thumbs up. Details definitely pop in gray sky conditions. Hobie Hydroclean Glass Another manufacturer worth paying attention to is Hobie. You might think of Hobie for boats or other things, but the company is marketing some really fine lenses for fishing and a number of stylish frames. We’ve been wearing Bayside with Hydroclean Plus glass copper lenses ($190) and the optical clarity is on par with the best in class.
other stuff C&F Design Intruder Fly Box* Won best fly box at IFTD. Waterproof. With magnets, $69.95.
Derek DeYoung UV Buff
naturally, it looks exactly like a living fish. They’re available in “rainbow trout” and shad-white colors (bass food in California, and everywhere else, respectively) retail for $12, and they’re worth every penny. Just tie good knots.
Ergonomically solid. Cutter is in the right place. Jaws clamp tight. And they’re made in the U.S.A. Retail is $159.95.
We’ve known Fly Production Specialist Brian Schmidt for years, so we’re never surprised by his brand of dirty pool. He developed two killer flies for bass that are better than bass lures—the Schmidterbait (read Spinnerbait) and the Schmidterbug (read Jitterbug). If you’re a fur and feather purist, you will be repulsed. The spinner variation has a real spinner (and marabou, and ostrich…). If you want to catch bass on flies, you’ll lose your inhibitions. Retail for these will be $9.
Adding a touch of color to ICAST was a collection of Derek DeYoung UV Buff, a sun-protective piece of headwear expected to be in retail shops by Feb. 1. DeYoung, a respected Montana-based fishing artist, has had his work grace fly boxes, flasks, mugs and apparel. Now his artwork is on a Buff - actually, seven Buff ’s. Patterned after fish (browns, brookies, rainbows, largemouth, tarpon and wahoo) and including a bass popper scheme, DeYoung’s Buffs are made with Coolmax® fabric that block 95 percent of the sun’s harmful rays and wicks away moisture. Retail price will be $24.
Finn Utility Essex Side Bag
Vedavoo Day Pack
Having spent a good deal of time reviewing new and innovative product designs, we think it’s appropri-
Two new products worth checking out are the company’s Thinline Tablet Messenger, a simple case that can be worn a number of ways, and affixed to other Vedavoo packs. It features a no-frills, fully functional design, and is made of 100 percent American-sourced materials, including tear-resistant woven Cordura. Retail is $79.
Flymen Fish Skull Fish Mask*
Another perennial winner at IFTD, these fly tying elements make many patterns more effective, and they make the tying process simpler. Umpqua Game Changer/ Umpqua Schmidterbait
Our favorite new flies are three new offerings from Umpqua Feather Merchants. We don’t like them because they are “classic.” They aren’t “flashy.” Not even particularly pretty. They’ve essentially taken the best attributes of bass lures and applied them to the fly realm. In other words, they’re dirty. The Gamechanger is exactly that. Imagine a Sebile Magic Swimmer in fly format. Designed by Blane Chocklett of Virginia, this has a multi-joint articulated body (built with Fish Spines from Flymen), that, when pulled through the water, undulates so
ate to bring things full-circle to the traditional by highlighting a new upstart company called Finn Utility. Finn specializes in making simple, classic accessories like the Essex Side bag, and a series of leader wallets and streamer cases out of leather, waxed canvas, brass and shearling. All products are made in America.
Vedavoo’s new Day Pack is just that, a backpack for carrying lunch, waders, raincoat, boots, and the sort. It is also made of the same rugged fabrics as their other products and lists at $149. at 23
AnglingTrade.com / September 2013
The Under 40s
Introducing some fresh faces of fly-fishing innovation
Written by Geoff Mueller
One of the greatest attributes of this sport is its ageless quality. Whether you’re 15 or 57, rivers don’t discriminate. On the water and in business, there are valuable lessons the gray-whiskered veteran will no doubt pass on to the fledgling— the trials, the tribulations, and the strategic moves that sparked successes. While on the flip side, we continue to evolve and grow thanks to new demographics stretching the boundaries; bringing innovation, business savvy, a fearless conservation ethos, and energy to the fold. Today these fresh faces extend well beyond the water and are infiltrating various facets of the game. From fly shop owners to edgy apparel startups to homegrown manufacturers to producers of the flies we can’t fish without, the following under-40 entrepreneurs have and continue to sink teeth into the marketplace. Their stories start, here.
AnglingTrade.com / September 2013
Vedavoo In July at the ICAST/IFTD collabo in Las Vegas I shook hands with Scott Hunter, the brain behind a relatively unknown upstart called Vedavoo. He was looking stressed, and for good reason. The booth I was standing in, one MacGyvered together with wooden crates, was in code violation: a fire hazard flagged for immediate 24
Scott Hunter hard at work sewing a new Vedavoo Pack
disassembly by the setup goons dragging their fists up and down the convention center aisles. Never one to shy away from adversity, Hunter hatched a plan to have his wood doused in fire retardant, saving his team from being booted. A couple of years earlier the cashstrapped entrepreneur had cobbled
together $10,000 for space at Outdoor Retailer in Salt Lake City. This booth landed in a dim-lit, untrafficked OR alley and proved to be a total bust. Then there was the time he dropped $6,000 for a prototype backpack that would end up stolen, copied, and manufactured by the plant he’d been negotiating with.
The list of situations-gone-awry goes on and, back in 2009, with a measly $700 left in his pocket, Hunter could have easily, perhaps wisely, called it quits. He got on Craigslist, instead, and bought a ’70s-era sailmaking machine for 300 bucks, “… and I bought another $300 worth of Cordura fabric, and buckles and hardware. I paid my website up for a year and I taught myself how to sew.” Teaching oneself how to stitch, embroider, and run a successful business simultaneously is no easy task. For Hunter, who’d graduated from Babson College in Wellesley, Massachusetts—a school renowned for its top-ranking entrepreneurial program—it was a challenge he relished. Before that he completed his undergrad at the University of Wyoming in Laramie. All the while, he was honing a vision for a
traditional consumer-product company that played into his passion for the outdoors. Today Vedavoo doesn’t have massive financial backing, doesn’t have infinite distribution channels, in fact it doesn’t have reps. But it’s got buzz and, despite the whole crate-booth fiasco, it’s catching fire. Unlike big names in the business, what Vedavoo brings is something different. Each pack, for instance, is customizable and built like an a la carte omelet, to order, via an array of preferences you select online. Vedavoo can achieve these specifics because its wares—including backpacks, slings, and gear pouches— actually come from Hunter’s calloused hands. The 30-year-old has been chief sewer since he bought that funky sailmaking machine and started the brand in 2009.
If Hunter’s tale sounds at all familiar, it’s because it’s not so unlike that of a dude we know from Patagonia Inc. Yvon Chouinard, no surprise, is a hero of Hunter’s and the two have spoken. “What I learned from those discussions,” Hunter says, “is that practical knowledge matters. But at the end of the day getting your hands dirty is really the best way to succeed.” Following those wisdoms while trailblazing his own path, Hunter keeps close tabs on growth, spends wisely, and doesn’t stray far from home. Americanmade production is a hallmark of the brand. Although Vedavoo is not yet available in stores, expect that to change with select specialty shops slated to carry it in upcoming seasons. continued on next page...
The Kurtz Brothers “product testing” in the tropics
photo by John Land Le Coq
AnglingTrade.com / September 2013
Like Vedavoo, Fishpond is another brand in the lifestyle and fishing accessories category. And although we’re more familiar with the Johnny Le Coq pond from which the company spawned, its 27-year-old twin brother co-owners, Will and Ben Kurtz, are the less recognizable entities. The Denver-based Kurtzs came on board about a year and a half ago when their father, Charles Kurtz, purchased half the company from former partner David Thompson. Ben was already working for the brand in its design and customer service departments, while Will had 26
gone from ski-bumming and guiding in Wyoming to working an array of positions at Harrow Sports—a company specializing in the racquet industry. Since the family bought in, the brothers have been ironing out inefficiencies, pulling the plug on Fishpond’s Kansas City shipping and fulfillment center and relocating operations under one Denver roof. Passionate fly fishers, Ben and Will both strive to broaden consumer reach with product lines inspired by on-thewater innovation and lessening environmental impact. In addition to the hydrophobic, TPU-welded,
and highly popular Westwater lineup and a new pack series using recycled fishing-net fabrics, the company recently acquired Nomad Nets along with the services of its founder, another former Harrow employee, Kevin Best. “I’d fished the [carbon fiber and fiberglass composite] net for three years and there was nothing on the market quite like it,” says Will Kurtz. “For us it’s been more of a vertical expansion and it’s not like jumping into apparel. It’s something that’s logical for the brand, goes with our bags and packs, and we’re pumped to have the deal inked.” continued on next page...
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As Fishpond continues to scoop up new business opportunities and grow, it remains a tight-knit entity. Peek inside day-to-day operations and you’ll find a suit-free environment where t-shirts and casual ball caps dominate. Likewise the “boss brothers” have their hands on everything from customer service and R&D to helping the crew pack boxes for big shipments and, of course, vitals such as securing beers for the team at closing. It’s loose, free, and a place where innovation flows, Kurtz says. “From in-shop operations to the products we produce, functionality is key. We’re a small business, with about six or seven guys in-house, but it makes us unbelievably nimble.”
and accessories crafted for function, style, and good times. Heard says Howler Brothers’ success stems from taking the time to fully formulate their brand before diving in. That included wrapping their collective heads around cutting, sewing, and sourcing in order to get best-in-class quality, as well as producing “…something for people to dig into and a get a real feel for the vibe of the brand.” At Howler that vibe is unmistakably laid back, fashion-forward, and ocean and river inspired. Heard is an artist first and surfer second. Both Brent and Stepanion, on the other hand, are avid fly fishers. Combined, their musical, business,
Heard says—Howler Brothers recently moved out of its garage space and into full-time digs, with a warehouse and small office in Austin. And with the company’s catch phrase “Heed the call” its team has been busy promoting that spirit through an active blog and the company’s “Pilgrimage” series that included last year’s Yucatan permit tourney at the Palometa Club. Heard says this grassroots movement has been essential to vaulting Howler from dive bar to big-venue status. “Whether it’s tradeshows or tournaments or events and athletes that we sponsor and blogs we support, the people we’ve met and community we’ve formed have been
AnglingTrade.com / September 2013
From Denver to Austin, Texas, another band of brothers powering the fly-fishing industry forward are the thirtysomethings behind the upwardly mobile apparel brand Howler Brothers. With Mason Brent shredding electric guitar, Chase Heard strumming banjo, and Andy Stepanian contributing lyrics and additional riffs the trio has been making music under the “Wrinkle Neck Mules” handle for more than a decade—ever since they met while completing their undergraduate degrees at the University of Virginia. After four years of touring and surviving on scraps they split. Heard, heeding another calling, eventually went back to school for architecture. Brent secured an MBA. And Stepanian went into the beer-making business. But they’ve since reunited, this time rocking limited-run lineups of garments 28
and outdoors chemistries have translated well into the breath-offresh-air clothing the brand delivers. Riding exponential growth—“Easy when you’re starting from scratch,”
the most valuable aspects of our growth—that word of mouth has been ultra-key.” continued on next page...
Grant & Julia Houx, Owners of St. Peter’s Fly Shop
St. Peter’s Fly Shop
AnglingTrade.com / September 2013
Word of mouth, whether you make clothing, produce packs, or you’re a business charged with selling those products, goes a long way when it comes to brand and relationship building. For St. Peter’s Fly Shop in Fort Collins, Colorado, the word on the street has been a resounding “Business is good!” ever since it recently turned the keys on its second location. Shop owner Grant Houx is a 29-year-old with industry experience that runs deep. Before he owned the shop, the Albuquerque-native was a part-time guide at St. Peter’s, while finishing his studies at Colorado State University. After college he took 30
“We were presented with a great opportunity to get the shop,” he says, “and took a stab at it really knowing nothing about running a business in this industry.”
to the equation that he brought in tow from previous gigs at Gander Mountain and Jax Mercantile (another Fort Collins-based outdoors mainstay). St. Peter’s has since aligned with top brands all housed within a beautiful, historic storefront. It specializes in guiding local waters, delivers accessible educational programming, hosts saltwater and steelhead expeditions, and continues to nurture its reputation through specialized events that reach out and into the community.
Houx, together with his wife Julia, dove in and when they surfaced for air found buoyancy and stability in the form of a skilled and trusted staff. Manager and longtime friend Jin Choi, for instance, lent expertise
Although Fort Collins isn’t necessarily a destination for bigname waters, it is a terminus for the college-bound. After the summer ebb, every fall its population flows with about 30,000 new and
guiding to the full-time level on rivers ranging from Wyoming’s North Platte system to gradient-rich waters of Front Range Colorado’s Cache la Poudre River. Running a flyshop, however, was not on Houx’s radar until the impromptu opportunity presented itself in 2007.
returning students. And St. Peter’s has been successful tapping into that demographic, with everything from targeted seminars to a guide school and on-the-water demos. Riding a wave of good fortune and fishing, in 2011 the Houxs purchased Angler’s Roost on the south side of town, integrating its clientele into the St. Peter’s mix. With shops catering to both Old Town in the north, as well as the southern reaches of a sprawling Fort Collins, Houx has successfully bookended the market.
The seed for MFC was planted in 1996, during a 5-day float on Montana’s Smith River. Trina was entertaining a group of clients when one of the sticks turned to his guide and asked the question all young, carefree fishing professionals loathe to be asked, “Just what are you planning on doing with your life, son?”
Crunch these numbers: Since it started in 1998, MFC is currently one of four or five larger players in the fly-tying business. It churns out about 35,000 dozen fly patterns a month, year round, via manufacturing facilities in Thailand and Cambodia. And, this past May it added 85 new tiers into the fray.
“It’s allowed us to be able to service the entire community more efficiently,” he says. “And even more than Fort Collins, it’s enabling us to expand our goal of being known as the best shop in Northern Colorado… as far as our array of products, customer service, and the most comfortable spaces to want to shop, hang out, and buy flies.” Montana Fly Company While the benefits of educating fly fishers to the profits of selling flies have helped foster St. Peter’s expansion, bug sales are the raison d’être for a business like Adam Trina’s Montana Fly Company (MFC). The 40-year-old founded MFC after “guiding” his way through an extended aquatic entomology degree at the University of Montana. By combining fishing and science, Trina says, the business of producing bestin-class flies followed naturally.
At the time, Trina confesses, he didn’t have a clue. “I was enjoying my life just being on the water; guiding and tying flies and having the winters off to ski. It really wasn’t too bad. It was simple, but rewarding.” The pointed question, nonetheless, stabbed at the psyche and over the course of that same Smith float a plan was hatched, focused on a buggy marketplace. There were decent flies in the bins, Trina says, but they weren’t the same quality bugs he and his guide buddies were using, tweaking, and inventing daily on the water. The theory was that “guide flies” would have traction with consumers primed to catch more and bigger trout.
But all things that start skyrocketing eventually level out to a degree. In recent years MFC’s overall fly-tying sales have, Trina says, come close to hitting a ceiling. Its new tying staff expansion stems from market share opened up by the uncertainty of Idylwilde Flies, which this past spring lost—at least temporarily—its manufacturing capabilities. Meantime, Trina has been proactively exploring opportunities for vertical growth in the form of MFC’s expanding lineups of tools, accessories, River Camo fly boxes, and digital device cases. Staying innovative and hungry, he says, is key to longevity, and something all newcomers should consider. “The fly-fishing industry is not that big, meaning that designing one small product can be a tough sell as far as trying to make a living. You must focus on being innovative and stay open to change if you’re going to make headway fighting any of these pre-established big brands.” at 31
AnglingTrade.com / September 2013
“If you look at science in general, it’s all about being analytical,” he says. “And much of that mindset exists in the scientific perspective that lends a hand to forming business acumen. Being able to analyze data and being really comfortable with math, which I did a minor in, has helped immensely.”
That formula, aided by some exceptional timing, proved to be a winner. MFC took root in the mid’90s, just in time for Brad Pitt to slap a large trout on the big screen and launch the sport into the stratosphere. Competition was thin, other than Umpqua, and there was room to achieve a toehold and grow.
BRISTOL BAY CAMPAIGN HEADING TOWARD TIPPING POINT?
Those associated with fly fishing have engaged in many ways. Individual anglers have commented to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, written letters to and met with their members of Congress, slapped the ubiquitous No Pebble Mine decals on their rides, and more. Trade associations and the companies that supply our gear have donated cash and product to support the efforts of
report, you can find it on the EPA’s official web site for Bristol Bay (http:// www2.epa.gov/bristolbay). The bottom line still boils down to the fact that construction of a large mine in the headwaters of the planet’s most productive wild salmon fishery will have serious impacts to the waters that support the fishery. It’s what nearly 1,000 sport fishing and hunting groups and businesses have been saying all along: Large-scale mining is simply not appropriate in this location. This isn’t “all mining is bad,” but it is “mining in Bristol Bay is BAD.” EPA received nearly 900,000 public comments on its revised study, and the majority of total comments submitted, as well as the majority of comments from Alaskans and the overwhelming majority of comments from Bristol Bay residents sided with EPA taking action to protect Bristol Bay. EPA is expected to release the Final Bristol Bay Watershed Assessment before the end of 2013, after it considers the public comments as well as input from a second round of peer review from a panel of independent scientific experts.
AnglingTrade.com / September 2013
Written by Scott Hed, Director – Sportsman’s Alliance for Alaska
While the debate over the proposed Pebble Mine in southwest Alaska’s famed Bristol Bay region has seemingly been around forever, it is reaching a critical stage in late 2013. While “forever” may be an exaggeration, it has been around eight years that the fly fishing industry has been on the front lines in what many view as the top-tier freshwater fisheries conservation battle of our day. 32
those working day in and day out to ensure Pebble never comes to fruition. Magazines and web sites have donated space to run public service advertisements. Fly shops and film tours hand out educational materials in their stores and at their events. TU and FFF chapters have shared information with their members who’ve become further engaged. It’s been a real team effort. And it’s paying off. In early 2013, the EPA released the second draft of its Bristol Bay Watershed Assessment. If you want to read the minutiae in the
At that point, the angling community will need to join with Alaska Natives, spot hunters, commercial fishermen, jewelers, chefs, restaurants, and the general public to call on President Obama to take a bold action to protect the world’s most prolific wild salmon fishery. To sit on the sidelines of this battle is unacceptable. This fight will one day be viewed as one of the signature victories in fisheries conservation history. But only if we keep up relentless pressure. You’ve helped the campaign get this far, now let’s finish this thing! Stay on top of Bristol Bay happenings at www.SaveBristolBay.org. Read more at anglingtrade.com. Breaking news: Earlier this month, Anglo American, the major player in Pebble, withdrew from the project. at
BUsiness: www.TU.org/TUe Become a TU Become e n d o rasTU e dendorsed B Us in es s : w ww. T U . o r g /T U e
RECOMMENDED RECOMMENDEDREADING READING
The Angler As Predator By Gary Borger
As reviewed by AT editor Kirk Deeter on the Field & Stream fly-fishing blog, “Fly Talk” (Please visit www.fieldandstream.com to track the daily commentaries by Deeter and his AT partner Tim Romano.)
As fate would have it, a few days later a new book by one of my favorite instructors and writers, Gary Borger, showed up in my mailbox. The title? The Angler as Predator. The book is now one of my favorite how-to books on fishing. It cuts to the core of something that’s extremely important, something we rarely discuss. The mental game. There is a definite science to this sport. You have to know how to load your rod with the right force. Time your casting stroke just so in order to punch out long casts. You must be in tune with the insects trout eat to know which fly to tie on. And you have to drift the fly precisely, reading currents to reduce drag until it floats like a natural insect. Those are all very important things to master. But sometimes we pour so much time and effort into understanding the physics, entomology, and hydrodynamics of good fly fishing that we forget about the psychology of the sport. This is the great angler’s trump card and Borger covers it better than anyone else I’ve read. He talks about being like a leopard as you fish, approaching the fish with stealth. Watching. Blending in. Minimizing sound. Recognizing opportunities and knowing how to subdue your prey quickly and efficiently.
AnglingTrade.com / September 2013
The bottom line is that good fishing is about exploiting the weaknesses of your quarry. Since most fish we chase with flies have brains about the size of almonds, this might not seem difficult. But brainpower shrinks fast when unfocused, loaded down with thoughts like wading headlong into a run, or punching out that 60-foot hero cast. When I guide, I’d rather take a predator with a 30-foot limit on her cast than an angler who can show me his backing knot at will, any day.
About a month ago I was fishing with a bunch of friends and the weather conditions were particularly nasty. As we regrouped in the lodge one evening, I asked one buddy how he’d done that day, and he said: “Some anglers are casters, and others are predators. Today, I was a caster.” Which was a gracious and eloquent way of saying he’d been skunked (he wasn’t the only one).
This book is volume four in Borger’s ambitious Fly Fishing, The Book Series, which will ultimately cover everything from casting to reading water, to picking flies. I am sure this one will stand out. You should get the whole series as these books become available, because Gary Borger is really one of the masters of the craft (as is his son Jason, who provides illustrations and commentary as well), and he’s spilling the beans with uncommon candor and insight. The Angler as Predator costs $24.95. at
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The Evolution Of Gear And The Gear-Head
AnglingTrade.com / September 2013
Written by Tom Reed
The Montana ranch house I live in was built in 1908. I doubt that the cased bamboo fly rod I found in the barn shortly after I closed on the place is that old, but when I turn it in my hands, admiring the ferrule wraps and the texture of the wood, smelling that musty antique odor, thinking about the man who wrote 36
his name on the storage sock, I wonder where it has been. What rivers and streams it has been on? What kind of automobile did it ride in? Was it ever on the back of a horse for a trip into the high country? On the Madison? George Grantâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s Big Hole River? Yellowstone? The Yellowstone itself ? And it takes me back.
Gear has a way of doing that, inspiring sentimentality. Making one think back over time, transport to place and moment, transcend. This is not my fly rod, nor will it ever be, even though I own it. I have never fished it, but I will and only in that action will I feel as if it is continued on next page...
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mine, for I will remember the place and the first fish I catch on it. My own fly rods are different, for they have been held in my hands on sweaty hot days or knocked about in airplane overhead baggage en route to some place I’ve never been. When I look at that fly rod I found in a dusty old barn, I think about how things have changed and how they have stayed the same.
AnglingTrade.com / September 2013
What has changed over time is gear. One of the first books I read as a young fly fisherman was Ray Bergman’s classic Trout, published in 1938. Bergman writes of whippy fly rods for wet fly fishing, of silk lines and bamboo, of evolving technologies like nylon for fly line and glass for rod building. Back then, it was even called something different. Not gear—tackle. I wonder what he would think if he saw the “tackle” of today, our graphite and boron wonder sticks, our specialized equipment for every occasion and every condition. I love having a quiver of gear as much as the next guy, from Spey rods to tiny 1-weights, sinking line and floating line and weight forward and shooting heads and large arbor reels. But sometimes, I think about those simple days of leather fly wallets and cane. My first fly rod was a telescoping steel number, only about seven feet in length with all of the action that you’d expect, kind of like waving around a metal T-post in the air. It came with an automatic retrieve fly reel that would scare the hell out of you if you accidently bumped the button that zinged in the line. I never did figure out why someone felt that winding in the line by hand 38
was just too cumbersome, but that’s one innovation that came and went. I remember when my Dad handed me that rod on the banks of a Colorado trout stream and told me, “Just crawl up really slow behind that willow and toss this fly in.” I do remember catching a lot of brook trout that day, clumping about in rubber hip-boots that had all of the traction on mossy cobble that roller skates do on a twelve-twelve metal roof.
they still make. For flies, there wasn’t such a thing as foam quite yet. I was a voracious reader of outdoor magazines, back when there were a bunch of legitimate outdoor magazines published in New York City and I read a lot about graphite, a new innovation that would make a champion fly caster out of you. So I saved up some money. I can still remember walking into the sporting goods store and buying that first graphite, a 4-weight about eight feet in length. I thought it made me cast better, but in all honesty, I was practicing a lot and that is what made me cast better. Practice.
From that steel rod, I graduated to something that was a lot more limber, a four-sectioned bright yellow fiberglass rod that was as whippy as one of those branches off that same willow I had hidden behind a few years earlier. I thought that rod was pretty cool because you could pull apart the reel seat and handle, turn it around, and set it up to spin cast. I threw a lot of flies with that rod and by the time I was backpacking into some high mountain lakes as a young teenager, I’d caught a lot of trout on spinners tossed with the rod set on “hardware chucker.”
Pretty soon, though, I had to have something different. Something better. More expensive. Lighter. Faster. I had to have better fly line and somewhere in there, I switched to weight forward and figured out I could get a few more feet on my cast and a bit better control. The fly reel stayed pretty much the same, but I picked up another one just so I had two, threading one with sinking line so I could strip streamers. And then along came foam and I started tying up foam beetles and ants and hoppers and that was pretty darned sexy too. The fly boxes themselves changed a bit from the old aluminum clips to neat compartmentalized boxes, to using foam right in the box for pinning the hook.
The fly reel by then was a simple one with a plastic drag screw and a clicking wind-up sound. I thought that was pretty cool too, as was the bright white fly line that was double tapered. If I used strike indicators, they were pinch on adhesives, which
All the innovations haven’t been that great. I remember when I started tying on a new barbless hook that had an extra kink or two just past the point before the bend. The idea was the kink would theoretically keep the fish pinned, but it would be
I was probably about 10 and I was fully fevered with fishing.
a lot easier to release without that barb. Problem was, it was hard to get a good hook set and besides, how hard is it really to pinch down the barb to begin with? So those hooks went the way of the dodo. Today’s innovations have in fact improved a good fisherman’s cast just a bit. But face it, there’s no substitute for practice, for patience, for reading the water. It doesn’t matter if you can bang out the long casts and double haul like a mother, you still have to mend and read the water and avoid drag. There’s a fly rod for every occasion and like all good fly fishing junkies, I’m a gear—or tackle—nut. I’ll buy
the big rods for the big game, the Spey rods and the delicate bits of perfection. There’s a bamboo rod manufacturer over the mountain from me and a buddy of mine made the mistake of letting me borrow his bamboo one day. Or maybe I made the mistake of borrowing it. Someday, I’d like to think that there’s a bamboo in my future other than that old rod I found. Fiberglass has even made a resurgence. My favorite rod is boron, but then again, I have a wonderful light graphite I use for the smallest creeks. I have a few large arbor reels, a few reels that go “click” and a few that are silent. A friend of mine goes full throwback with silk line and old school
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bamboo and a classic English reel. I still tease him whenever he steps into the water with his retro setup wearing the best and newest lightweight waders money can buy. But gear alone won’t get you there, just as the very best guide in the world won’t catch fish for you. Practice. Patience. Presentation. That’s what makes the fisherman. Having the gear to go along with it is sure a damned nice touch, though. Tom Reed is the author of Blue Lines, A Fishing Life, from Riverbend Publishing. He lives near Pony, Montana. For more information, www.tomreedbooks.com at
Opinion Pages This industry is never short on opinions. As such, we at Angling Trade want to highlight some of the hot issues in the words of those who bring them up. The hottest, at the moment, is the topic of fly rod warranties. David Leinweber recently wrote an open letter to the industry, and since we first ran it on anglingtrade.com, it has generated considerable debate and comment. In case you missed it, here it is: Rod Warranties... It’s Time for Us to All Have a Real Discussion About This Matter
AnglingTrade.com / September 2013
Written by David Leinweber, owner of Angler’s Covey, Colorado Springs, Colorado
When will the fly-fishing industry mature and stop this absurd practice of giving away free rods for the lifetime of the consumer? Even if a model is discontinued, many consumers are offered replacements with new models for free. I believe this practice is heavily damaging the profitability of our industry, and I think it is time to consider real change. 40
As so many discussions within this industry go, rod warranties have always seemed to be a “hot” topic. I know few (retailers) who love them, and most hate them. Yet the industry seems to be stuck in place with little to no interest in addressing or resolving this issue. As a specialty retailer myself, I believe warranties are the number-one cause of premium rod sales decline. Fly-fishing retailers are tired of this mess created by rod manufacturers. It is past time for manufacturers to address this issue, change their
practices and develop warranties like those in other outdoor industries. This is an ongoing discussion among retailers throughout the world. We need manufacturers to step out, take a risk, and change this destructive business practice. Warranty rod repairs are adding more and more rods to the secondhand market, most of which will be honored with the original manufacturer warranty. The website eBay is full of rods that carry lifetime repairs free to second, third, fourth, etc., users. Generational, unlimited rod repair,
“Lifetime Warranty/Guarantee” has also hurt the fly rod industry by decimating individual rod building and all but eliminating blank and component sales. For a consumer, there is too much to lose in comparison to a lifetime of unlimited rod repairs. Unfortunately, the major rod builders won’t reverse their policies. The end result is a mess that lingers. There’s no simple route to a solution, but one avenue strongly supported by retailers would be to charge two different prices—one for the rod itself, the second for
the guarantee. This is the same model through which we can insure our cars, appliances, and many other major purchases. The rod sale would be at a margin and the “insurance” sale could be paid directly to the rod manufacturer. Most manufacturers could take advantage of the Internet and develop an online registration process where the consumer could purchase a one-, five-, or 10year warranty directly from the manufacturer. This would have a direct effect on pricing, reducing continued on next page... 41
AnglingTrade.com / September 2013
for free (or at minimal cost) is a senseless approach to business. As retailers, we will benefit when it becomes widely known among our customers that used rods— including eBay purchases—do not carry a warranty. If the angler breaks it, the rod should either go in the trash, or it is going to be costly to get it repaired. At that point, a new rod purchase will begin to look pretty appealing again. At one time, many of us believed that warranties helped garner high-end rod sales. But this argument has changed.
AnglingTrade.com / September 2013
domestic rod costs, making it easier to compete with imported rods.
to hell, and wait for UPS to ship a new one. Why spend more money?
Other than fly rods, there are few things we can buy that carry lifetime warranties against anything beyond basic defects. This business practice has driven the price up on premium domestic rods resulting in our customers purchasing less expensive imports, big box alternatives, or even quitting the sport altogether. The lifetime warranty subtly encourages rod owners to stick with what they have. It rewards secondhand buyers and takes away from new rod purchases. For our industry to thrive, we must restore incentives and foster policies that encourage new retail purchases.
As specialty retailers, we should let the major rod makers know how we feel. More than that, we should ask for a reversal of the lifetime warranty practice. Several of us are looking for manufacturers who will take the lead. We realize the risk and we will, in turn, support those manufacturers who have listened to us, and we will get behind those brands.
Over the past decade, fly shops across the country have seen premium rod purchases decline. There are several factors pointing to the decline of premium rod sales compared to the “pre-warranty” era. It may be competition, the economy, it may be the advent of the Web, it may be the increasing cost of repairs; it may be a lot of things. My opinion is that there is little incentive for someone with a “lifetime warranty” to buy a new rod. For the record, 25 years is more than double any standard warranty that I am aware of. Why would anyone with this kind of warranty go out and buy a new rod? Our customers aren’t dumb. There have, arguably, been no truly great leaps in contemporary fly rod performance in a decade. Would you buy a new car if the old one was performing adequately and was guaranteed for life? Maybe. More likely, you’d hold onto it a lot longer. Stick the tip in a fan and bust it all 42
We believe selling the warranty independently from the sale would have a positive effect on our industry. It would reduce the price of the initial sale and afford the customer the option of purchasing the insurance independently, even giving the consumer more options. The extended warranty would have an expiration date; just the way it is with so many other retail products. As it stands now, there is no realistic reason for someone to replace an old rod with a current model. Beyond the hype, the differences between rods are minimal in the hands of all but the expert. It’s the Indian, not the arrow, that most often makes the difference, and most anglers know that. Many of us were hoping that AFFTA would have placed this as a discussion item at IFTD, and that didn’t happen. We cannot wait another year to push this idea forward and change the retail suicide strategy our industry has adopted. As a specialty fly shop retailer, I want to make the following recommendations to rod manufacturers:
1. Discontinue the lifetime warranty on fly rods and approach the warranty issue the same way every other industry handles it. 2. If consumers want a warranty beyond guaranteeing against defects, sell it separately, and for a limited, specified time. Just like washing machines, computers, and every other warrantied product. 3. Figure out how much the current system is costing you and reduce the price of the rod models by that amount. 4. Sell the optional warranty for the difference, through dealers, for a modest commission (since we have no investment in inventory). 5. Make the warranty available only at the time of purchase and only to the original buyer. 6. Develop a policy, work out the procedures, communicate with your dealers, and make the change in the next buying season. It is time to make big these changes and support the health of our industry. If you agree please voice your support. If you have a better or different idea, or would like to modify the above recommendation, let’s hear it. This letter is based on comments from retailers from throughout the world. Over the past decade, more than half of all specialty fly shops have gone out of business. You could point to a number of factors such as the Internet, distribution issues, or just bad business practices, but the practice of providing lifetime rod warranties must be
included as the chief bad business decision our industry has made. It has hurt our ability to thrive for too long and it is time for change. Rod manufacturers, please step up, take the risk, we will take notice, and we will support you. Angler’s Covey will give preference to any rod manufacturer that will take on this issue. And here are some comments from others: “Good points. Very tough change short term. Especially for the first manufacturer that takes this direction. There are a lot of failed industries of the past that can show how hard this type of thing it is to change. Takes guts, leadership and a healthy company to be the first. It would be better if the industry got together on this and made the change. It could be phased in by product line.” Eric Korstad “This sounds to me like a very positive step to support dealers and manufacturers. More rod sales are good for all. As are lower prices! Thanks for your leadership on this issue. Call on us if we can help.” Frank Smith, owner Hunter Banks Co., Asheville, N.C.
“MAP pricing is standard for niche markets. Eliminating warranties
in the door. I have to go out and sell something (doing well). Someone please save the article here. If Uncle Dave’s idea comes to fruition they’ll know the source. It’s a niche industry and needs to remain that way by service and integrity. If you want to sell more rods or service, GO SELL SOMETHING! Don’t ruin the industry for me because you feel entitled to sales. Go out and earn them every minute of every day.” Ben, Steel City Anglers “Anyone who thinks fly shop are making huge profits on high end rods is nuts. Moreover, potential clients are well served by listening to a knowledgeable sales associates who have handson experience with these products and can give you the pros and cons.
and consequently reducing prices may bring more customers to the table for a while. It’s not just rods but a great amount of products (look at the price of net magnets, leaders and indicators). It will also open the door for box stores to put their weight in when there’s a $150.00 performance rod. If wally world reaches a point where they can dictate pricing to a rod/ reel manufacturer the fly shop’s day is done. As an outfitter only (no shop) I can’t wait for a customer to walk
Another point. The real cost of developing and even building these leading edge rods is very expensive and if you don’t believe it you know very little about the design process, materials, and how rods are actually manufactured. Also keep in mind that the performance matrix such rods exhibit generally filter down through the product line. As such, all customers benefit from the development work. I think the warranty situation is unfortunate and a huge hassle for dealers. My vote would be for nontransferable warranties, front-end warranty assessments at the point continued on next page... 43
AnglingTrade.com / September 2013
“Part of the reason I buy top end fly rods are the lifetime warranties. I would say if you do not want to continue to provide a lifetime warranty don’t charge twice what the rod is worth. In my opinion
with the newer and less expensive rods hitting the market losing the warranty may put a final nail in the high end rod coffin. If you charge a premium I expect a premium. The high end rod market always had a small pool that consistently bought from these companies, dont make it smaller by losing customer service.” Dave Holsman
of purchase offered directly by the manufacturers for a stipulated period, free shipping and packaging by shops who made sale (part of customer service), return shipping by the manufacturer (included in the original assessment).” Paul Prentiss Question from the editor: What do you think will happen first? A new line of rods specifically offered without warranties? “Insurance” sold on a separate basis? Limiting the terms of warranties? Voice your opinions by joining the discussion at anglingtrade.com.
AnglingTrade.com / September 2013
“Daisy Chaining for Trout” By Chuck Furimsky When you hear “daisy chaining” your thoughts usually involve about a dozen or more tarpon circling nose-to-tail in a reproductive ritual off the Florida coast. But there is a similar ritual that seems to be growing for a number of reasons that’s not all that appealing to me. This one is performed by drift boats in certain rivers. They don’t revolve around a small area as the tarpon do, rather, they are rowed up a quiet shoreline of a long hole and then drift down the deeper middle channel that’s filled with feeding trout. Clients fling their nymph rigs with shot and indicators as seasoned guides control the drift. As the clients watch their bobbing indicators, the guide prepares to shout “hit it” when a trout pulls down the float. The client hooks up, lands a nice brown, smiles and takes a photo, ready to do it again, and again. Row up, drift down... on the same spot. 44
This may be an effective technique but there are too many negatives that become obvious when you watch it firsthand. Over 20 years ago I saw this, perhaps where it was first invented, on the San Juan River. An early morning arrival at a long hole with rising fish made me think I died and went to heaven. In a few hours that turned ugly for me. Drift boats with local guides and anxious clients drifted over the rising fish. That’s always an unwelcome irritation to someone casting dry flies to those fish. After they went by I mellowed for a while. Then they rowed back up the hole even closer to me, only to drift down again. Some guides did this the whole day, I can only guess, because I packed it in by noon. That was my last trip to the San Juan and the spot I later found out was called the “Texas Hole.” On my most recent trip to Montana, I spent a week on one of my favorite dry fly rivers, the Bighorn. I once again saw more of what chased me from San Juan. I always knew that one of the Horn’s favorite client flies was the San Juan Worm. Now the Bighorn has adopted “daisy chain” drifting from the Juan. At least there are more slow holes and stretches of river to fish dries at the Bighorn, but it’s getting more difficult to find your own piece of river. Pressure? Let’s look at long hole below the “Afterbay Launch.” On many mornings, about 25-30 drift boats are launched at this first ramp. A majority of them are guided trips, and the guides like to start off the day with clients hooking fish.
So they drift down the center, row back up the bank of choice, maybe three times on average. Doing the math, that’s 75 floats down the first 200 yards of river with two clients chucking double-fly indicator rigs, giving the fish a look at, say, 300 choices to bite for breakfast! Thank goodness there are so many fish you see bent rods on every drift. But for a guy walking down the bank trying to spot rising trout, forget it. Come back after lunch when all those spooked fish chased from their shoreline feeding lanes by upstream rowers may return, as most boats are now downriver. Who’s in Charge? It’s difficult to place any blame for this developing “daisy chain” phenomenon at the Bighorn. First, it really works. And do you want to see other guides using it, getting the high hooks for the day, thus a bigger tip, and your numbers dwindle? A good stretch over a productive hole could land your client 3 or 4 nice trout. How can you repeat that success? Row up and do it again... and again. For the most part, the clients enjoying this type of fishing are happy with the success. If you’re a bad caster, no problem. Can’t create a drag-free drift? Still no problem. Don’t know when you get a strike? Again, no problem. All you need to do is cast 20 feet with a rig your guide has perfectly readied before the drift begins. Let him keep boat pace with your indicator, and set the hook when a sudden “hit it” breaks the silence. If this is the success and fun you expected, the day will be one to talk about at evening dinner.
So the burning question in my mind is whether the client or the guide
dictate if and how much to use the “daisy chain.” Is it OK to catch 20 fish for the day or must you have 50 fish or more to make it a successful outing? How about the tip? The guides I know all love the sport, but also eat, have families, and sleep somewhere. Don’t expect their pad to be neat. Sorry guys! But I wonder if a new angler gets the hang of the indicator float success and wants to learn more, a guide jump at this challenge? Maybe watching a big brown head lift up and suck a perfectly presented dry fly would sweeten the tip.
The San Juan gave us the worm and the “daisy chain,” I wonder what’s next? When I return to the Bighorn I hope the “chain” will have gone away (the worm I can appreciate). Granted, my trip coincided with extremely cold water at the Bighorn. That kept hatches late or at a minimum, which made nymph fishing the best way to get novice clients into more fish. You can do that, however, by drifting the old fashioned way, with the river. Maybe more guides will consider rowing their boats merrily down the stream. Or am I just dreaming? at 45
AnglingTrade.com / September 2013
I like the guys who sit down and ask, “How was your day?” The guys that turn me off are those that ask, “How many fish did you catch?” There is a big difference in these personalities. The first guy will be good dinner conversation, the second guy will have the bigger cigar, more expensive wine, and probably rented an Escalade for the week. He’s the one that would ask the guide to go back over the spot he got a strike, guaranteed.
followed AFFTA itineraries across the hottest reaches of the country—all during the height of summer. This year that road ended at the junction of Elvis meets conventional tackle meets fly fishing thanks to the merger of ICAST and IFTD in Las Vegas… in July.
The Circus Circuit
Tradeshow secrets from Vegas to SLC to Orlando and beyond Written by Geoff Mueller
AnglingTrade.com / September 2013
This year I had the double-your-tradeshow pleasure of attending the International Fly Tackle Dealer in Vegas and was Outdoor Retail-ered a couple of weeks later in Salt Lake City. During the course of those travels, let it be known, I’ve found the answer to what makes the ultimate fishing tradeshow. Surprise, surprise, it’s not live bait and Bill Dance: it’s yoga pants. But before I get all limber and zen-like on you, let’s take a second to rewind. My show circuit indoctrination began around ’06, just in time to catch the historic blowup between the Mustache (aka Chuck Furimsky) and the Acronym (aka AFFTA, aka the American Fly Fishing Trade Association). Since then I’ve trekked consumer and industry show rows from the Rockies to New Jersey, partied like it was Y2K during the final Denver incarnations of IFTD and, more recently, have 46
If this all sounds a little circus-y, it’s because it has been. And now as a full-fledged carny, who’s gone from pitching booths to barfing on sidewalks to opining on which new rod has more feel than another—this year it was Scott’s Radian, by the way—I finally reached a tradeshow tipping point. It was time to seek new perspective. As far as circus acts go, SLC and its summer Outdoor Retailer is like Cirque du Soleil and Ringling Bros. all wrapped up in a vegan burrito. The show plays host to tigers of the outdoor industry; big hitters with names like Arc’teryx, GoPro, Reef, and North Face. Moreover, it houses team yoga-pant contortionists, as well as a lake-locked tsunami of stand-up paddle boarding bro-brahs. According to event organizers yoga, alone, has grown by 272 percent over the past decade into a $16 billion industry. And it’s a commodity deserved of its own space: The Yoga Zone. Fifteen years ago there was no yoga-specific show for retailers. Much of its success has been attributed to crossover appeal. Admittedly, fly fishing may not have the six-pack abs, Gumby-like flexibility, or wide sweeping consumer appeal of yoga or SUP. Regardless, it’s been generally welcomed under the summer OR umbrella, largely based on the fact outdoor-oriented people find merit in it. And, vice versa, fly fishing plays well with other outdoor lifestyleoriented groups… with rivers and oceans being mainstay components
of what people look for when they venture out of the house. With that in mind, OR has become a viable answer to a small but elevated list of fly-fishing and crossover brands: from Redington and Costa to Howler Bros., Smith, Orvis, Patagonia, Umpqua, Fishpond, and more. Combined, we’re a drop in the OR ocean, but that isn’t necessarily a bad thing. Instead there’s room to move, to grow in a loose, young, energized, and more estrogen-laced environment—a fresh atmosphere absolutely conducive to co-mingling. Although it could be said the ICAST/IFTD merger has brought its own dose of excitement—which I’m sure it did for certain brands and dealers—I’m willing to make a Vegas-size bet that we registered low as far as crosspollinations with the Bill Dance and crankbait crowds. Of the fly-fishing manufacturers I spoke with at OR it’s been a similar sentiment across the board: SLC isn’t the solution for everyone. It continues, however, to be a worthwhile exploration. This became increasingly evident after three days of untangling loops across the OR casting pool—yes, they actually had a fly-casting specific area this year. As I jammed fly rods and magazines into the hands of rock jocks, paddle heads, yoga queens, camping fiends, extreme hikers, skinny bikers, moms, dads, and their kids it dawned on me that collectively we all shared an innate curiosity about all things outdoors, including fishing with a fly rod. Brilliant, let’s do business. Whether it’s OR or Orlando you’re teeing up for 2014 remember this: It’s all a circus, of course, but the variety of acts are unalike and the nature of the tradeshow beast is continually evolving. at
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