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the buzz on the flyfishing biz




The MEDIA Issue

Trade Show Skinny/The Changing Media Landscape/Using Social Media for Sales Effect/Bahamas Travel/ “Dear Mr. Print Editor”/A Tribute to the Great Charlie Meyers March2010

the buzz on the flyfishing biz






24 How Can You Get More

6 Editor’s Column

From the Internet?

You don’t need a computer science degree to figure this out. You have options, and all it takes to make some web-savvy results happen for your business is a little effort, and following this simple advice. By Ned Desmond

28 Dear Mr. Magazine

Editor...Is print dead? Hell no. But for goodness sake, let’s pull off some blinders, join the 21st Century, and focus on what matters to the fly fishing world. By Geoff Mueller

A Media Issue, dedicated to the consummate media mentor, with insights on IFTD.

8 Currents The latest people, product and issues news from the North American fly fishing industry.

20 Business Profile Ecological Resource Consultants If you build it (or imrpove it), they will fish. How one company is showing that the integrated science of modern stream restoration can lead to improved revenues for businesses, communities... even shops and guides. By Kirk Deeter

22 Travel

36 A Media World in Conflict

What a fly shop owner must consider now, and why, in the context of dealing with the media, both local and beyond.

Out There in the Out Islands There are places in the Bahamas that, as yet, have remained relatively undiscovered. Few people, vast flats, and huge schools of big bonefish... Consider these hidden spots for your next client excursion. By AT Editors

By Matt Crawford

40 It’s All About Guides

Say what you will about advertisements, press releases, direct mail, and otherwise... when all is said and done, the lessons imparted by a pro guide, on the flats or otherwise, make a huge difference in how the sport of fly fishing is presented to newbies and aficionados alike. By Brandon D. Shuler

42 There’s No Business Like


Kirk Deeter Managing Editor

Tim Romano Art Director

Tara Brouwer Copy Editors

Mabon Childs, Sarah Warner Contributing Editors

Tom Bie Ben Romans Andrew Steketee Greg Thomas Contributors

Matt Crawford, Ned Desmond, Mike Michalak, Geoff Mueller, Brandon Shuler Photos unless noted by Tim Romano Angling Trade is published four times a year by Angling Trade, LLC. Author and photographic submissions should be sent electronically to 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.

32 Opinion Editorial Mike Michalak, owner of The Fly Shop, suggests that the trade show hoopla is but a symptom of a larger issue. A no-holds-barred perspective on the trade organization-manufacturer-dealer relationship and what might be done to improve it.

45 Backcast

Angling Trade dives head-long into the issue of trade shows, and what it will take to make dealers, manufacturers, and others, support another effort like this. By Kirk Deeter

A tribute to Charlie Meyers... mentor, friend, and inspiriation to anyone who cares about fly fishing in the Rocky Mountain West.

Advertising Contact: Tim Romano Telephone: 303-495-3967 Fax: 303-495-2454 Mail Address: PO Box 17487 Boulder, CO 80308 Street Address: 3055 24th Street Boulder, CO 80304

3 / March 2010

Show Business

Printed in the U.S.A.

CONTRIBUTORS Introduces the World’s First

FISH COUNTER Matt Crawford

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Available in: Rainbow Trout, Brook Trout, Golden Trout and Brown Trout Support catch and release Keep accurate count of your daily catch Track up to 100 fish Artwork by Joe Tomelleri Please visit our website for a list of fly shops Fly shop/distributor inquiries welcome 942 Quarry Street, Petaluma, CA 94954 707.763.7575


Matt Crawford is a public relations specialist and freelance writer based in northern Vermont. He is the former outdoors editor of the Burlington (Vt.) Free Press and served as the founding editor of what is now The Upland Almanac. In his 20-year journalism career he has written for newspapers and magazines, made radio appearances, blogged, and shot photos and video.

Ned Desmond

Ned Desmond is founder and president of GoSportn Inc, which launched, a social marketing site for small businesses in the sport fishing trade. In prior lives he ran the digital side of New York publisher Time Inc., started a couple of online companies, and wrote for a variety of publications. He wishes he was a better fly caster, but he’s working on it.

Mike Michalak

Mike Michalak is the owner of The Fly Shop. Based in Redding, California. His business is arguably among the most successful independent fly fishing retail operations in America. The Fly Shop’s annual catalog is a de facto barometer of the industry’s best products. The Fly Shop is also one of the leading destination travel providers in the business.

Geoff Mueller

Geoff Mueller is the newest contributing editor for Angling Trade magazine, and is now also senior editor at The Drake. He was recently the managing editor of Fly Fisherman magazine. Look for him hitchhiking from New York to Colorado come spring. / March 2010 prices your customers can afford!

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Brandon D. Schuler

Brandon D. Shuler prefers bare feet to shoes, sunburns to shirts, and Barthelme over Balzac. When not chasing piscatorial pursuits, he is pre-loading shotgun shells for the upcoming revolution. His neck is often red, and not from the sun. Brandon publishes frequently in Outdoor Life and SaltWater Sportsman and his fiction in Boulevard and Dark Sky and anywhere else willing to listen to the rants of a South Texas surfer and environmentalist–emphasis on the “mentalist.”

Rain Jacket. GPS. Water Bottle. Lucky Sherpa Hat. Sink Tips. Fly Boxes. Back-Up Reels. Toilet Paper. Matches. Clippers. Repair Kit. More Fly Boxes. Hemostats. Line Cleaner. Binoculars. Tippet Spools. Pliers. Measuring Tape. Cell Phone. Lunch. Chapstick. Ibuprofen. Sunglasses. Wallet... Introducing the new Typhoon Boat Bag Built with the innovative thinking you expect from Sage, the Typhoon provides even your most disorganized customers with dry storage and easy access to everything they need. Features include welded construction, hybrid zipper/magnet closures and adjustable organization system. Torrential downpour? Blizzard? Standing waves? Bring it on. For more information on the complete line of Š 2010 All rights reserved.

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We had planned to make this the “Media Issue” issue of for several months… I’m a print guy. I’ll admit that. I think that certain stories are meant to be read (and photos seen) while turning the pages in the comfort of an easy chair (or perhaps, in other certain seated situations). Just like I think some films are best experienced on the big screen.

yet an awful lot has happened recently that made me rethink the focus. Most significantly, as many of you know, the great outdoors editor of The Denver Post, Charlie Meyers, who was the “godfather” of this magazine and my mentor, passed away in early January. For a while, I was mentally paralyzed by the loss. And yet, I remember Charlie—the lifelong, “old school” newspaperman—explaining to me the importance of pressing ahead as a journalist, through deadlines, and mistakes, and writer’s block, and all that comes with this business. / March 2010

“Deeter,” he said, “the paper’s going to go out in the morning whether you’re in it or not.” In other words, the trick is to focus your time on finding ways to make the story happen, rather than expending that energy explaining why it cannot. That advice seems almost cruelly ironic in this day and age, when, in fact, many newspapers have ceased to print with the regularity of the sun rising in the east. Is the demise of the daily (and many magazines) a good thing or a bad thing, ultimately, for the consumer, and specifically the fly fishing audience? Depends on whom you ask. 6

But I’m not dumb enough to ignore the power of the Internet, and all the online options like web-zines, blogs, and the streaming video content to be found therein—no less than the movie studio exec. who understands the power of the Web, and Blu-Ray, and DVDs. There is, indeed, a time and a place for everything in the media world. The trick now, for a writer or editor, is understanding which “bucket” to drop your content in. Ultimately, the fact that consumers have an incredibly vast array of media options— from Facebook to The New York Times—is, I believe, a good thing. While some would argue that giving the “virtual microphone” to anyone who wants to say something waters down the quality of content, I’d argue that yes, the collective product might be weaker, but this paradigm now forces people who want to have their stuff read seriously to “up their game” in order to stand apart from the crowd. That’s no consolation, I know, for most writers, and certainly not for those of you trying to make sense of the ever-evolving, nebulous media world in the context of marketing your businesses. This issue of Angling Trade is meant the help you make sense of the media options available

to you. You have more opportunities in this regard than ever. Fly fishing, as a whole, has wonderful media avenues to pursue now. I would humbly suggest, however, that “opportunity” should not be confused for “alternatives.” This industry needs print, and video, and online—everything—to lift itself out of the doldrums. Forsaking one for the other, at this time, is foolish. Speaking of the industry… we’d be remiss if we didn’t cover the pressing issue of the day, which seems to be the International Fly Tackle Dealer trade show. Trust me, we cover it in these coming pages, from all sides. IFTD is, when you boil it all down, a public relations issue and a media topic, more than anything else. A detailed discussion, therefore, logically belongs in this edition. There are strong cases to be made on behalf of the show, and forceful arguments to be made in dissent. We’ll hit it from both sides, and we won’t be a mouthpiece for any one position. That’s what makes Angling Trade what it is… a journalistic forum. There is no other forum designed for retailers and manufacturers in the fly industry like this magazine. You know, of all the tributes paid to Charlie Meyers in recent weeks, I’ve been most struck by the people who found themselves at some point to be in Charlie’s journalistic crosshairs, but noted that, through it all, he was always fair, and honest, and right with what he wrote. Charlie, this magazine is indeed going out, on schedule. And we’ll be tough, and fair, and honest. Just like you would have insisted. And this issue is dedicated to you. at Kirk Deeter, editor

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Product Buzz Dealers Should Carry: Mojo Mud Tungsten Weight Check out the Fly Talk blog at, and you’ll notice we’ve added a department called “Stuff that Works,” featuring fly fishing products that are just plain functional and effective. Our first installment was on “Mojo Mud,” a tungsten- based soft weight that John Perizzolo literally cooked up in his back yard. Two things make Mojo mud a winner: It’s tungsten-based, so it’s eco friendly and sinks better than lead, and its consistency is good, both in terms of forming the weight on the tippet, and then how hard the weight sets up when immersed in cold water. Retail is $10.

Nervous Water Apps Introduces the Next Generation of iPhone / iPod touch Fishing Applications Named “FishHead” If you are looking for an iPhone application that helps you plan a fishing trip, get “FishHead.” This app, created by fly fishing industry insider John Sherman, provides weather, stream flows, tides and lunar tables, all in the palm of your hand. FishHead organizes the information by location so that users can access their pertinent fishing data to make on-the-water decisions. It’s also equally effective at home or at work. Track the flows of your favorite

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Use our Newsletter to stock what’s hot and sell more at better margins! THE SCANDINAVIAN SPEY CAST - II

Copyright: Newsline Video Production

Title: The Scandinavian Spey Cast - II Duration: 103 min. System: PAL Language: English Subtitles:Dansk/Deutsch/English/ Español/Francais/Norsk/Svenska/ Suomi

As in the previous volume, Henrik is back at the three fantastic world-class Canadian salmon rivers of Bonaventure, Petite Cascapedia and Grand Cascapedia. They are magical rivers, hailed as North America’s best rivers for Atlantic salmon.

Warning. This DVD including soundtrack is protected by copyright. The DVD may only be shown in private homes to which the general public is not invited. It is strictly prohibited to use the DVD, or parts of it, for public broadcasting e.g. through cable TV, for copying, editing, lending or renting. Violation will be persecuted. Producer: Soeren Brix, Newsline Video Production,

DVD: $39.95

HC: $39.95

SC: $24.95 / March 2010

Henrik demonstrates and explains how important the lift is for the cast, and how by doing an alternative cast, which Henrik dubs the Triple C, one can change the lift and direction of the cast. With this demonstration and detailed explanation it is easy to see how important casting techniques are and how they benefit catching results. To add to the intrigue, Henrik employs the use of the highly practical switch rods, which are becoming more and more popular.

And for the first time in his DVD series Henrik illustrates the seductive and very habit-forming dry fly fishing. It is surreal to watch how a big fish rises from the bottom to swallow an intriguing dry fly drifting on the surface. Remember, the water in these rivers is extremely clear, which only adds to the pleasure of viewing this type of alluring fly fishing.



In this volume of the Fly Fishing Academy Henrik Mortensen expands on the intriguing Scandinavian casting and fishing style he first presented in volume four. In addition to the overall fishing strategy message, the two foci of the film are efficiently and effectively employing the lift in the cast and the art of dry fly fishing.



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stream. Plan your trip around the best tides and look at the latest weather forecasts. This app is designed with both fresh and saltwater United States anglers in mind. The app has an advanced search engine which allows you to track your current location with the GPS chip in the iPhone or iPod touch; it will tell you the closest streams or tide stations. If a weather station is down or providing inaccurate data it will automatically find the nearest station that is providing accurate data. You can also search by current location, station name, city or zip code. Each of the different categories can be viewed in greater detail by clicking the detail view, which provides tide and river graphs and forecasts for weather and future and past tides events. Turn the phone for a horizontal view and the graph appears showing either the tide chart or river chart. You can hold up to 20 of your favorite tide stations and 20 of your favorite river locations. Like many other iPhone apps, you can swipe from one favorite to the next. While there are many other apps that have weather, tides, and river flows, there is nothing out there that compiles all of this relevant fishing information and organizes it for quick and easy detailed info. Fish Head is now available at the iTunes apps store at the introductory rate of $6.99. Boulder Boat Works Makes a Taxi Boulder Boat Works recently introduced its Convertible River Taxi (“CRT”), designed to optimize value and performance among drift boats. It features no wood to maintain, is priced at @$5200, and is constructed from a durable Vhmw-Polyethylene hull (available High side or Low side). Other features include: composite

Line-X gunnels, composite bow stem and transom, sliding/trim front seat, with optional two chair layout, sliding trimmable oarsman’s seat, adjustable oarlocks, adjustable foot brace, drink holders, rod holders, removable rear pedestal seat box, non-skid raised and leveled floors, in-floor anchor system, and optional dry storage boxes for all positions. See for more information. Japanese Fishing Technique Making Waves The traditional Japanese method of fly fishing, tenkara, is seeing popular uptake among many American anglers thanks to Tenkara USA, the first company to introduce the method to the United States. Tenkara involves fishing with a long rod… no reel, and fine line, and is ideal for small stream fishing for trout

and other species. The portability of the 12-foot-long telescopic rods is particularly appealing to anglers who like backpacking, and backpackers who have always had an interest in trying fly fishing but found it too intimidating. The simplicity of the system is opening the doors for many new fly anglers.

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Hardy Back to Some Beautiful Basics Hardy recently announced that its new continued on next page... 9 / March 2010

Through 2009 Tenkara USA worked on several videos to introduce anglers to tenkara fly fishing, and the company just recently released a DVD packed with content on the techniques and philosophy of tenkara. Tenkara USA is currently working with select dealers to promote tenkara throughout the country. One of the first fly fishing dealers to sign up is Blue Ribbon Flies, the renowned fly shop run by Craig and Jackie Mathews in Montana. You should check this out… both as a personal angling diversion and an avenue for new sales. See

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new St George trout reels are available. They are made in the company’s factory in Alnwick, United Kingdom, and they come in two sizes and two colors. The St. George Junior is 2-9/16” and the St. George 3” come in either a black or spitfire (silver) annodization. They are also available in either right or left hand retrieve. The Junior retails for $700 and the 3” for $750.

Deneki Outdoors Updates, Expands Website and Blog Deneki Outdoors owner Andrew Bennett has revamped www.deneki. com and made it a must-visit to anybody interested in fly fishing. As fly fishing blog-niks know, the site is home to both to one of the liveliest blogs in fly fishing. The Deneki Blog, updated by Bennett daily (and with occasional guest posts), is a place to pick up tips and tactics from Hardy’s New Uniqua reel has also arrived professional guides, see the latest gear in five sizes with a retail price tag of $175 field-tested and reviewed and learn about - $279. From 2# - 12#, these disc-drag, other aspects of fly-fishing – like how to machined barstock, large arbor fly reels make a shore lunch or take better on-thewere designed by Charlie Norris, the water photographs. company’s lead reel designer in Alnwick. Charlie has worked on these reels for “The new site is designed for both two years and every bit of Hardy’s 150 our daily blog readers and for people years of reel making have gone into the booking a trip with us,” said Bennett. new Uniqua. This series has the most “Even if you’re yet to be a Deneki client, accessible retail pricing that Hardy has you’ll find lively reads and videos about ever offered. fly fishing on the website.”

Deneki Outdoors operates four lodges designed for anglers looking for the best fishing experiences in remote destinations with fabulous fisheries. Their main quarry includes trophy salmon and rainbow trout in Alaska, steelhead in British Columbia, trout in Chile and the reel-smoking bonefish of South Andros Island in the Bahamas. Bennett gave away two trips – one to Alaska and one to South Andros – through website promotions in 2009. Fishbum II Arrives The last DVD in the series from AEG (Trout Bum Diaries), Metalhead, chronicles the epic journey of five fish bums and their friends as they travel to remote Northwestern wilderness in search of legendary steelhead; the hottest freshwater fish you can catch on a fly rod and also a fish whose survival hangs in the balance. Filmed as an adventure documentary, the fish bums face the challenges of Mother Nature, border police, and giardia. This untamed and majestic land offers the best opportunity for an angler to hook into a wild trophy steelhead. Anglers can purchase the DVD through fly shop retailers, on the Fly Fishing Film Tour, or online at www. / March 2010

Company / People News Simms Grows Product Development Team Simms recently announced the addition of two members to its product development team. Rose Quinn, sportswear & accessories product developer, joined Simms in December 2009. Christy Evans, senior merchandiser for sportswear & accessories, is the newest member of the team – joining Simms in February. 10

Quinn’s background includes apparel construction, patternmaking and sewing skills, as well as experience in domestic and international manufacturing and product commercialization. Quinn received her Master of Fine Arts degree from Boston University and her BA from Princeton University. Evans moved to Bozeman from Baltimore where she served as a senior developer for Under Armour’s accessories division. Prior to that, Christy held various merchandising and development roles with Columbia Sportswear, Mountain Hardwear and Griffin Manufacturing. Evans is a graduate of Bowdoin College. Windsong Brands Acquires Cloudveil From Spyder Spyder Active Sports, Inc. sold its ownership of Cloudveil Mountain Works to Windsong Brands LLC of Westport, Connecticut. The transition of ownership was effective February 16. All intellectual property and assets are part of the acquisition deal. Financial terms of the agreement were not disclosed.

Bill Sweedler, Windsong Brands CEO, said: “Our new board, which includes core outdoor industry executives, has chosen Jim Reilly, an investor, along with Windsong, to lead the company moving forward.” Reilly comes to Cloudveil Mountain Peak, LLC with years of outdoor and sporting goods experience, including serving as CEO of Cloudveil, COO of The North Face and executive positions with adidas and Nike. Fly Fisherman Cuts Staff… Fly Rod & Reel, The Drake Add Fly Fisherman magazine announced cuts that included managing editor Geoff Mueller, associate publisher Linda Wood. Longtime editor and publisher John Randolph, who retired in 2008, will work with the magazine on a consulting/project basis. Meanwhile, Wood, a long-time fly fishing industry advertising sales and marketing expert, has joined Fly Rod & Reel magazine and flyrodreel. com as advertising-sales representative. “After 27 years at Fly Fisherman,” Wood says, “I’m excited to join Fly Rod & Reel at a time when they’re re-investing in the magazine with higher paper quality, more pages and being perfect bound. This commitment to quality is remi-

niscent of my early days working with John Randolph, who taught me how to fly fish and appreciate the beauty of the spectacular places we anglers visit.” Wood will be handling fly-fishing endemic accounts and working on new business for Fly Rod & Reel; she’ll be based in her Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, office. She joins the FR&R sales team of Joe Healy, associate publisher, and Jeremy Hatch, advertising-sales representative. Mueller, meanwhile, has joined The Drake magazine after his departure from Fly Fisherman. He also joined the masthead of Angling Trade as a contributing editor. Infinite-Fish a Fly-Focused Recruiter For those of you who might likewise be looking to make (or forced to make) a career shift within fly fishing, check out Infinite-Fish (, which, since its inception in early 2009, has become has become the sole job seeking and recruitment agency specifically catering to the fly fishing industry. According to the company’s founder and director, Will Casella, approximately 30,000 people are employed within the fly fishing industry internationally, 60% within the US alone. Working within lifestyle industries has always been notoriously difficult, fly fishing especially so. The remote nature of many fly fishing continued on next page...

Gone from the equation is Cloudveil founder and AFFTA board member Stephen Sullivan. The company’s 11 / March 2010

In order to facilitate a smooth transition for Cloudveil’s existing dealer base, Spyder said it will manage the backend support, shipping, and customer service aspects of the Spring 2010 season. “We want to maintain continuity of service and brand integrity through this sale,” said Spyder CEO Tom McGann. “We wish to ensure Cloudveil retailers that the brand and its daily operations are passed off smoothly to the Windsong Brands team.”

involvement in the fly fishing market, minus Sullivan, will be determined in the coming weeks.


businesses limits the locally available applicant pool and competition in those areas is often fierce. Prior to InfiniteFish, there hasn’t been a large-scale venue for industry employers and employees to connect. “It has been a slow process, the most difficult aspect being the education of employers to the benefits of using our services for their staffing needs. The size and scope of our network of fly fishing professionals ensures businesses seeking staff the highest quality and greatest options of candidates possible.” According to Infinite-Fish, the outlook for the northern hemisphere summer (2010) season is looking far more positive than in 2009. “Last year it was clear that overall bookings of high ticket destination trips ($5,000+ per week) were down on average about 25% to most years, whereas local and regional destinations experienced only about a 15% dip; justification enough for many businesses to have reduced their staff. So far this year the general trend is a significant increase in destination travel bookings compared to 2009, resulting in a greater demand for seasonal employees,” Casella claimed / March 2010

In anticipation of this possible staffing ‘boom,’ Infinite-Fish is offering a free, two-week job posting on their website. “At this stage I am more concerned for the growth and the health of the fly fishing industry as a whole rather than my individual business. We have all suffered during the past 16-months. It is time somebody gets a break out there; whether it be the recent college-grad trying to get his first industry job, an experienced senior manager who was laid-off last season, or a fly shop looking for seasonal staff,” Casella continued, “We want employers to have the best quality applicants available for their open positions. If we need to give our services away for free in order to attract employers, so be it. Only with the right employees will individual 12

businesses be able to succeed and with that the entire industry will grow.” Infinite-Fish is offering its free jobposting service until July 2010. For more information about Infinite-Fish and its offered services, contact Casella directly at or 1.888.441.1587. Frank Moore in the Freshwater Fishing Hall of Fame The Freshwater Fishing Hall of Fame in Hayward, Wisconsin, included steelhead fishing icon Frank Moore of Steamboat, Oregon in its slate of 2010 enshrinees. Frank is considered by most in the know to be the father of steelhead fly fishing culture in Oregon and beyond. (And at 86, we can tell you, having fished with him a few months ago, not only is he most deserving of this honor for his lifetime achievements, he can still out-cast us with ease.) Frank joins Ray Scott (of Bassmaster fame) and others in the 2010 class. Among his achievements, Mr. Moore held Oregon fishing license #4; he founded Steamboat Inn on North Umpqua, famous for fly fishing summer steelhead; he earned the Sears and Roebuck Foundation – 1970 National Wildlife Federation Conservationist of the Year award for his work on the protection of steelhead and salmon streams. He was instrumental in the making and distribution of the film “Pass Creek,” which changed the way logging was carried out along streams in Oregon; he was the Federation of Fly Fishers Conservationist of the year 2003. And he’s one of two Honorary Members of the Wild Steelhead Coalition; as well as a member of the G.Loomis pro staff. Frank was elected by an advisory board including: Bill Gautsche - Chairman (Wisconsin); Larry Colombo (Alabama); Clem Dippel (Wisconsin); Mike Dombeck (Wisconsin); James Gammon (Indiana); Elmer Guerri (Indiana); Bruce Holt (Washington); Tim Lesmeister (Minne-

sota); Gil Radonski (North Carolina); Vin Sparano (New Jersey); Burt Steinberg (Missouri); Wendy Williamson (Wisconsin); Gregg Wollner (Minnesota) and Forrest Wood (Arkansas). Kudos to Frank, and to the Hall of Fame for its wise selection. Mike Michalak in the Fly Fishing Hall Mike Michalak, owner of the Fly Shop in Redding, California, was also recently elected to the Fly Fishing Hall of Fame. Under Michalak, The Fly Shop has become one of the most successful fly fishing retail operations in the world with broad reaching Internet sales, catalog sales, and a vibrant international travel business, in addition to catering to anglers in northern California. Mike contributed an op.ed. piece for this issue. Congrats, Mike. Far Bank Has Backbone Far Bank Enterprises announced the appointment of Backbone Media as its agency of record to handle public relations and social media for Sage Manufacturing, Redington and RIO Products International. “We are excited to partner with Backbone because of their proven ability in PR and compelling approach to social media,” comments David Visnack, Director of Marketing for Far Bank. “Backbone will bring a new energy and focus to our messaging goals while speaking to our core consumers with complete authenticity.” Gibb Joins Rollo Van Rollo announced the hiring of Nick Gibb as a manufacturers representative with Rollo & Associates. Gibb brings with him a background in fly fishing retail sales, purchasing, shop management and guiding that included stints in Arizona, Alaska, Colorado and Montana. He also holds a business degree and Coast Guard captain’s license. continued on next page...


One-on-One Pro Advice on Media Matters In the context of a discussion on working with the press, I go to the guy who literally wrote the book, Working With the Press. It just so happens that this author is also my father. William R. “Bill” Deeter has owned and operated a successful marketing and communications agency, Deeter USA (, based in Bucks County, Pennsylvania, for 25 years. Before that, he held key communications positions in several multinational corporations (M&M/MARS, S.C. Johnson, etc.). He’s still counseling clients on hot issues, from new product launches, to crisis control. And as an editor who sits on the “other side” of the communications table now, I find his candid perspectives on the evolving trends in media to be among the most enlightened out there... AT: What is the most important lesson to be taught about working with the media? WRD: In any message you convey, there has to be a win-win… in other words, land on a topic that is relevant and important for the media person you are working with. Make them successful in what they do, and they will, in turn, be willing to work with you. Editors, writers, bloggers, and reporters all have a job to do. Help them do that job, and you win. / March 2010

AT: A press release is the simplest, most basic tool for reaching out to the media, but is that outdated now? What makes a good press release? WRD: I think you have to consider all ways of conveying a message, and deliver it the way reporters or editors want. Whether you’re sending an E-mail, or making a call, your information has to be concise, credible, and to the point. Why should I care? Ask this question of yourself, before 14

others ask you. In a basic sense, a press release should be news… valuable content, written like a story. What matters most should lead. If the message doesn’t sink in with a headline and lead paragraph, it won’t work. And lose the self-serving fluff. AT: Do you find social and electronic media have eclipsed the importance of traditional media outlets in conveying a message? WRD: I think if you don’t consider all the options and use as many tools as you can, you’re making a mistake. A website and electronic media strategy are key. But the thing I will say about the institutional print titles is that they have credibility. Anyone can express an opinion on the Internet, and that’s fine, but most of the buzz about products and issues still, in one form or another, generates from what the major media players say. AT: What advice would you give to a business in fly fishing, from a manufacturer to the shop owner, about making a media strategy? WRD: Be honest, and have a message that matters. Know your brand(s) and company, and be consistent with the messages you wrap around that brand and company. And then deliver the message with repetition. Once and done doesn’t cut it; you need to

be out there with your message. You ultimately waste more campaign money starting and stopping than you do sustaining your efforts. AT: How does advertising fit in the mix? WRD: I think advertising is important, in that it is a company’s platform for making a case for itself. Sure, when other people say good things about you and your products, you win too. But how can that start if you cannot make a credible case about who you are and what you do? You have to reach out and say to a consumer, “here’s who I am, and here’s why you should care.” AT: But advertising is expensive… WRD: It can be. Poor advertising in the wrong place, with the wrong message is always expensive. Smart advertising in the right place, accompanied by broader thinking about how you dovetail that with PR and promotional efforts usually offers return on the investment. AT: Turning the tables, what do you think are the biggest pitfalls the media risk falling into at this time? WRD: Not being true to their mission, and their readers or viewers. Scrambling around, continued on next page...

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trying to be something they aren’t. Cutting corners on the quality of the product to save production costs. Efficiency is one thing, but when you sacrifice credibility and quality, you lose your value. It all revolves around credibility. Once it’s gone, it’s gone.


AT: On that note, what are the key tips to remember for someone who finds themselves in an interview situation, so that they come off as credible? What should our readers keep in mind with regard to working with the media? WRD replies with these tips...


Key Points to Remember • Nothing is “Off the Record.” • State what you know as fact. Truth is the only way. • Be prepared. Know your subject, objective, audience, and interviewer. • Expect the worst and have a plan for dealing with it.

• Speak to interviewer and not camera.

• Let the topic/subject drift.

• Stand up for your rights.

• Assume anything.

• Deliver your message early.

• Be afraid to take a compliment.

• Thank interviewer and crew for their time. • Be prepared from the time you leave your office/home. • Couch your position as necessary.

• Gossip, criticize, or speculate. • Use “YES” and “NO” answers.

• Speak only the truth/fact.

• Put the interviewer on the defensive without good cause.

• Be aware of and sensitive to time.

• Forget the importance of body language.

• Know what the interviewer wants/needs.

• Speak too fast or too slow.

• Ask for a copy of the final interview. / March 2010

• Consider interviewer friend or enemy.

• Be big enough to learn from your mistakes.

• Go into any situation without preparation. • Be too hard on yourself. • Say “NO COMMENT.

• Do not underestimate your interviewer. S/he has a job to do. • Keep things simple… easy to understand and follow. • Know what you want to say and get it said early. • When confronted with a question you are not prepared for, don’t be afraid to say… “I DON’T KNOW.” • Get to the interview early. You want time to get comfortable. • Be a positive force… strong, energetic, sincere, and straightforward. • Detach yourself from the subject matter. • Remember the importance of body language. • Practice to a point of comfort only. • Take a witness or co-presenter if possible. • You want to take control of every interview you give. continued on next page...



Environment World Trout Hits Milestone Patagonia announced its World Trout initiative has issued eight grants totaling $75,000 to global grassroots groups whose diverse efforts to protect and enhance fish and their habitat around the world exemplify the philosophy of World Trout. Grant recipients included the Wild Salmon Center at $10,000 for their Koppi River Salmon Diversity project; Pacific Rivers Council at $8,000 for their Umpqua River Legacy Program; Truckee River Watershed Council, whose efforts on Lahontan Cutthroat Trout Restoration received $15,000; Takshanuk Watershed council was allocated $10,000 for completion of their water rights reservations initiatives; Bahamas-based Friends of the Environment was the recipient of $8,000 for their sustainable crawfish campaign, Henry’s Fork Foundation’s film, Watershed, which is about impressive hands-on projects completed over the past 25 years, was allotted $3,000 to help distribute this informative film to anglers and other grassroots groups in the hopes these efforts can be replicated; Bonefish and Tarpon Trust’s research on critical tarpon habitat received $15,000 and Italian group Societa Valsesiana Pescatori Sportivi was sent $8,000 for enhancement of their threatened grayling habitat. / March 2010

Obama Administration, Governors, and Klamath Communities to Restore Rivers For the first time ever, there is now a viable, legally binding agreement to restore and protect the ecosystem, cultures, and local economies of the Klamath Basin, said supporters of two historic agreements that settle longstanding differences in the area involving Oregon and California. Members of a broad-based coalition that crafted the agreements, and their growing roster of supporters, gathered in Salem, Oregon, recently at a signing ceremony together with the Governors of Oregon and California, the Secretary of the Interior, and other high-ranking 18

Obama administration officials. The agreements have been five years in the making and by signing, stakeholders made a 50-year commitment to work together to restore the Klamath Basin’s resources and communities. The settlement agreements include the comprehensive Klamath Basin Restoration Agreement (KBRA) that addresses environmental and economic issues in the Basin, and a sister agreement, the Klamath Hydropower Settlement Agreement (KHSA), which outlines a rigorous process for removing four Klamath River dams. “Restoring the Klamath River fisheries from source to sea is a central focus of this restoration effort. Ours is the only practical plan to address removal of four dams necessary for fish recovery. And it creates a foundation for peace in our conflict-torn Basin by defining water sharing among competing, and growing, demands,” said Jeff Mitchell, Councilman and lead negotiator for the Klamath Tribes. America’s State Parks Alliance Launched Millions of Americans who rely on state parks for outdoor recreation are at risk of losing access to cherished natural and recreational assets, as severe state budget cuts sweep the nation. In response to this threat, the National Association of State Park Directors (NASPD) established the America’s State Parks alliance (www.americasstateparks. com) to mobilize and educate the public and policy makers on the positive impact state parks have on public health and local economies. Trout Unlimited recently praised the prominent national retailer Target for its decision to drop farmed salmon from its stores, instead carrying wild-caught salmon for consumers. Colorado Trout Unlimited Council Launches Raffle for Fly-Fishing Trip of a Lifetime Colorado’s Trout Unlimited (TU) council, in partnership with the nonprofit group Colorado Youth Outdoors, launched a “Catch a Memory” raffle that will benefit TU councils around the country.

“By buying a raffle ticket, people get a chance to have an amazing fishing experience with memories to last a lifetime,” said David Nickum, Executive Director of Colorado TU. “At the same time, the raffle will help fund national conservation efforts through Trout Unlimited and will encourage families to engage in outdoor activities with Colorado Youth Outdoors.” For a $20 raffle ticket, buyers will have the opportunity to win a trip for themselves and three friends. The winners will fly to Denver International Airport, and then take a private jet to one of the nation’s oldest and largest guest ranches, which rests on 140,000 acres of pristine wilderness in Wyoming’s Medicine Bow Mountains. Four days of guided fishing on 12 miles of private, world-class waters await, and by night winners will enjoy first-class hospitality and gourmet dining. Each of the four guests will also receive a $1,000 shopping spree with an outfitter to ensure they’re well prepared to “Catch a Memory.” Proceeds from the raffle will be split between TU and Colorado Youth Outdoors. TU’s proceeds will be shared between the Colorado TU Council and the TU council in the state where a ticket buyer resides – so that $5 from each ticket sold will benefit coldwater conservation in the ticket purchaser’s home state. The drawing will take place on June 30, 2010. The dates for the trip are Saturday, September 18 through Tuesday, September 21, 2010. Raffle Prize Details: Raffle Winner and Each of Their Three Guests Will Receive: • Flights to Denver International Airport (continental U.S. only)
$1,000 shopping spree to Charlie’s FlyBox (American Angler’s 2009 Retailer of the Year) • Private flight to destination • 4 days premier fishing with a personal guide • 3 nights lodging and opportunity to enjoy all the amenities at the ranch • Gourmet meals and inviting hospitality beyond compare • Commemorative Memory Book and DVD For more information about the raffle or to purchase a ticket, visit at


restoration and enhancement is engineering based, understanding hydrology, how water moves and how currents are shaped. The other aspect, of course, is understanding the biology in a given river. Every watershed has attributes and challenges. We put ecological and water resource engineering together to create an ideal fishery.” Before and after photos of the Blue River Restoration Project immediately upstream of the I-70 bridge. Silverthorne, Colorado.

Business Profile Ecological Resource Consultants Prove, “If You Build It (Or Improve It), They Will Fish” For years, the real estate world has been driven by an adage that the three things that matter most are location, location, and location. As for fly fishing (or all fishing, for that matter) the long-term success of any body of water, in terms of its ecological viability and/or, (dare I say it) economic value—sport fishery, commercial fishery, whatever—can be boiled down to a similar mantra. When all is said and done, its about habitat, habitat, and habitat. There are arguably few species so revered by fly anglers, and yet so susceptible to the devastating effects of ruined habitat, than trout and salmon. But some of us are just now waking up as to the habitat protection efforts that can and should be applied in order to keep us all in business, 20 years down the road. Interestingly, most of the habitat-driven efforts in the fly/trout world right now revolve around protecting the God-given public resources we collectively enjoy. Enlisting on behalf of these causes to save and preserve public trout habitat is a darn good thing, for the retailer, the manufacturer, the guide, and otherwise. / March 2010

But there’s also an aspect of habitat cultivation that has been woefully undertapped by both public and private interests. The truth is, it’s possible to take a trout-unfriendly environment, make some changes, and create a fly fishery. More likely, it is possible to take marginal water, and make a great fishery. And that’s exactly what Ecological Resource Consultants (ERC), an Evergreen and Boulder, Colorado-based consulting firm has done for 10 years.. ERC is quick to point out, however, that there’s far more to stream restoration and improvement than dropping a few rocks in the river and using a backhoe to dig deep pools. “We think it’s important to use a multidisciplinary approach,” explained Dave Blauch, an ERC vice president and its senior ecologist. “Part of habitat 20

As such, Blauch, who holds an environmental resource management degree from Penn State, works collaboratively with Troy Thompson, who studied civil engineering at Cornell, as well as the other several member of the ERC team, each of whom has a specific expertise to apply in the company’s mosaic, multidisciplinary approach. “It’s also important for us that our work appears and functions naturally,” added Blauch. “We don’t think good stream work should look like Disney World. When we walk away from a project, the best result is when people realize a great fishery, but don’t see any glaring signs that we were even there.” There are a wide range of issues that threaten fisheries, among the most common are mining, channelization, and the impact of livestock. Those issues can be mitigated, however, and a trout fishery restored or improved if there are key ingredients— moving water, trout friendly water temperatures (below 70 degrees Fahrenheit), natural structure like rocks and gravel bottoms, etc. The North Fork of Colorado’s South Platte River, for example, has been impacted by all of these issues. Perhaps more profoundly, this river is a water supply artery to Denver, drawing flows from Dillon Reservoir by way of the Roberts Tunnel, which cuts eastward through the

Continental Divide. As such, flows on this river are turned up and down by Denver Water, based on usage demands. These flows can cover a vast range, from a mere trickle when Denver Water closes the tunnel, to raging torrents when demands spike in metro Denver. That said, this stretch of river is also a popular fishing corridor, home to a number of commercial ranch operations, and private fishing clubs. ERC helped Boxwood Gulch Ranch in Shawnee, and The Perfect Drift Club in Pine, optimize the waterways on those properties. “We used to have a ‘sweet spot’ flow for good fly fishing that was between 100 and 300 cfs, but after we worked with ERC on our stream improvement, the fishing has been great when the river flows anywhere from 50 to 600 cfs,” said David Hill, a Perfect Drift member. “When the flows go up, we find the fish moving laterally within the river, rather than flushing downstream. Our fish are holding over from season to season, and the fishing gets better and better as the trout grow and stay healthy.”

In most cases, the cost invested in a stream improvement is usually earned back in terms of increased angler

“The stretch of the Eagle River used to have red rocks and no fish due to the mining in the area,” explained Jay Brunvand of the Town of Minturn. “But now it’s turned into a spectacular fishery. ERC was incredible to work with. And the efforts they poured into the project helped us develop a huge community asset.” In Telluride, the San Miguel River flows through one of the most visually stunning valley floors in North America. But due to the impact of mining in the region, the river suffered, especially in the stretches closer to town (and the mines). Now, this is one of the most productive freestone fisheries in the San Juan Mountains.

creating a need for us to go in, and use a multidiscipline approach to improve the river in a way that will last for many years.” In that light, you don’t have to own a river to have a vested interest in stream improvement done right. In fact, guides, shop owners, even the casual traveling angler, has a right, maybe even obligation to weigh in on these matters. For more information on Ecological Resource Consultants, Inc. and the various projects they’ve worked on in Colorado and elsewhere, visit If you’ve fished a number of the best rivers in Colorado, odds are that you’ve experienced their work. But you probably didn’t see any signs that ERC was there. -Kirk Deeter

“Bank restoration and silt mitigation above the Valley Floor, through downtown Telluride, have already improved water quality and insect life downstream,” said John Duncan of Telluride Outside “Three species of trout now successfully reproduce on the Valley Floor: browns and rainbows, in addition to the abundant brook trout population.” Interestingly, a lot of the projects ERC is focusing on going forward are “re-dos” of stream improvement projects completed years ago, which are now failing, both structurally, and ecologically.


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“It really is an evolving science,” described Blauch. “Years ago, people thought they could make a river fish better by sticking a rock here and a rock there, but over time, we’ve seen that it really doesn’t work that way. And in fact, as some of that old original work is failing, it’s



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The process ERC follows when working with clients (which include municipalities like Telluride, Montrose, Minturn, and Silverthorne in Colorado, as well as private landowners) is fairly straightforward: The ERC team assesses a client’s goals, conducts an initial baseline evaluation of limiting factors and opportunities, develops a plan with cost projections, navigates the red tape to obtain all the permits, implements a construction phase, then follows up with monitoring and maintenance as necessary.

usage. That means tourist dollars, customer revenues, and fly shop sales. For towns like Minturn, an investment of roughly $2 million is already paying dividends.

2/11/10 12:00:06 PM


Travel Written by the Editors

“Out There” in the Bahamas…

photos: Kirk Deeter

For any angler making a “bucket list” of places to go and fish to catch, bonefishing in the Bahamas should be a priority. The laid back élan of this country makes clear that, despite its relative close proximity to the mainland United States, you are in a different world. Trust us, the first time you settle in behind a plate of cracked conch and an icy Sands or Kalik beer, especially after spending a day watching silver bullets dart across pristine shallow flats, you’ll figure it out. / March 2010

To be sure, the Bahamas offer more angling vacation options than any one person can tackle in a lifetime. With over 2,000 islands and cays, you’ll find everything from all-inclusive family resorts to minimalist fishing bungalows to tailor a family vacation—or, in the case of the fly shop, a unique travel excursion to share with clients. In this light, there are many well-established resorts (in Andros and Abaco especially) with arguably the best flats guides in the world, yet there are also some appealingly affordable no-frills options to consider as well… especially if you go “out there.” Mayaguana Mayaguana is perhaps better appreciated for what it doesn’t have than for what it does. By that, we mostly mean people. Mayaguana is one of the largest islands in the chain, roughly 110 square miles (significantly larger than Manhattan, or Bermuda, or St. Thomas), and yet the population is around 300 people. You won’t find any high-rise resorts here, only the 16-room Baycaner Beach Resort, which offers comfortable beachside lodging and great food for less than $2000 per couple, per week, all-in. There are a number of small bars and hangouts, but you pretty much create your own entertainment on Mayaguana. For the snorkeler, scuba diver, or fly fisher, that’s usually easy. There weren’t any slick flats skiffs or full time guides when we were there last year, so we hopped a ride with a local lobsterman, who took us to the most remarkable flat we’d ever seen. Four- to 10-pound bonefish poured over the flat with 22

stunning regularity. Even more remarkable, when we made our casts, the bones came charging like we were ringing the dinner bell. Air transfers are sporadic and pricey compared with other islands, but it was well worth fishing here… blow your mind good. See Long Island This 90-plus-mile stretch of sand, and rocky hills (one of the few hilly islands in the Bahamas) slices the open Atlantic from a sheltered western flank where the waters are bathtub calm, and accentuated by a labyrinth of bonefish flats. Pressure isn’t an issue here either, as only a handful of guides work this area. You’ll find enormous schools of bonefish moving on the tides most days. And as a bonus, the deep sea action for wahoo and tuna is close to shore; we landed a 60-pound yellowfin within a couple miles of the beach. Consider Stella Maris Resort ( which offers single rooms from $160 per night to four-bedroom homes with a pool for $675 per night. The resort also flies you to its own private airstrip from Nassau. Acklins and Crooked Island From the air, Acklins and Crooked Islands look like a giant boomerang, and all the water in the sheltered crook are prime bonefish flats. Again, low pressure, high reward is the angling mantra here. We fished with guide Reno Taylor and enjoyed a particularly active daylight stalk among mangrove creeks. You’re most likely to find schoolies in the 2-3 pound range here, but you are very likely to encounter a double-digit bone on most days, or even the occasional permit. This is a flat where, if you have even a semi-decent cast, you can catch a dozen fish or more on a great day. Lodging: Check out Crooked Island Lodge (yellowdogflyfishing. com or On Acklin’s stay at the wonderfullyappointed IVel’s bed & breakfast (, a family-run operation in Mason’s Bay. at

We’ll make your customers really, really happy. Then we’ll send you a check. The High Lonesome Ranch Fly Shop Affiliate Program. Between our two ranches, we can provide your customers the trip of a lifetime. They’ll walk-and-wade our 7-miles of the White River. Cast to 20+ inch browns and rainbows on our three spring creeks. Or drift-boat fish the Roaring Fork or the Colorado River. Or sight-fish to trout cruising in our spring-creek ponds. If there are folks who don’t fish, we can accommodate them with horseback riding, hiking, mountain biking, birding, and more. Send one, send a group, or send an entire family. And when they depart, we’ll send you a check. Contact Tim Patterson at 303.283.9420 for more details.

The High Lonesome Ranch

DeBeque, CO 970.283.9420


How Can You Get More from the Internet? The answers are easier than you might think.... / March 2010

Written by Ned Desmond


The conditions are tough. Customers are spooky, and you are running out of ideas. Local newspaper and magazine advertising is expensive and who knows if it helps. Trade shows are fun, but to be honest they produce more talk than sales. Everyone says the Internet is the cure, but that website some guy built for you never shows up in Google. And all you want to do is get people out for a great day of fishing, and maybe make a few bucks by doing so.

ments out there. One is dread that comes from recognizing that old marketing approaches are not delivering results. The other is frustration that the Internet isn’t the slam dunk people said it would be.

I’ve heard this story dozens of times in talks with fly shop owners, guides, and outfitters. There are two clear senti-

The Internet really is a gift for small businesses. A small investment in cash and time produces an amazing result:

In the two years that I’ve been working on these issues as part of my GoFISHn project, a couple of realities have come into sharp focus.

regular contact with known customers and a 24/7 line in the water to catch new customers headed your way. Big brands like automaker Ford and financial firm Fidelity learned that years ago and so did some small businesses in categories like real estate. They shifted huge budgets online, which is one reason print publications are in trouble. The amazing thing is this: A one-person business can use the same tools as the big guys and see the same dramatic results. The key to success on the Internet is a willingness to learn, ask questions and do the online equivalent of tie-your-own knots. I have heard your objections. “I am a fisherman, not a computer programmer. Sounds like going to school and I hated school.” If you’re thinking that way, then chances are you aren’t just a bit ignorant, you’re doomed. If you can type with two fingers, “Dear customer,” and take pictures with a digital camera, then you’re on the way. The rest is not as tough as what you do in a day on the water, just less familiar for the moment. Why can’t I rely on some guy locally who is a web expert, just like I do a bookkeeper or a tax accountant? First, unless you learn this stuff you’ll never know whether you are succeeding or failing. Don’t expect your local webmaster to tell you; he may not know much more than you. Second, it saves you a lot of money. And third, online marketing is like a conversation. To be authentic and convincing, it needs to be you. Where to begin? You need to stay in touch with existing customers and you need to find new ones. The Internet does both really well.

Social networks Let’s start with Facebook. You want a Facebook Page because there are more than 300 million Facebook members, and no doubt some are your customers. A Facebook Page is the equivalent of a business listing on Facebook and is different from a Facebook Profile, which is a personal listing. Both are free, and both take just minutes to set up. Facebook members can “fan” your Page, which means they will see everything you publish on your Page in their personal Profile feed. Simpler than it sounds. To get fans to your Facebook Page, just link to it in all your E-mail and from your website. You’ll be surprised how quickly fans turn up. If Facebook is like a supermarket’s community bulletin board, then GoFISHn is more like the same idea in a tackle shop. (Full disclosure: I am the founder of GoFISHn, which launched in December. GoFISHn combines a custom website and social networking. If you ask me, it’s the future of online marketing, which is why we charge $24.95/month after a two-month, no obligation, free trial.) GoFISHn has business members, like you, as well as regular fishing enthusiasts, like your customers, and we tailor the experience to help businesses both connect with existing customers and find new ones (more on that below). Plus GoFISHn is efficient: When our members post a new photo gallery or fishing report, it automatically appears on their Facebook Page or Profile, and in their Twitter stream. Why Twitter? Twitter is not as important as Facebook or GoFISHn, but it’s also so easy that it gets a “why not?” check mark on the to-do list. Create an account in literally ten seconds and attach it to your GoFISHn account. Anything you publish will go into your

Twitter stream, where the fishing nuts who crave real time information will follow you. Customers yet to be hooked To hook new customers, you need a website. What is a website? These days, the definition is pretty flexible, and setting one up is easier than ever. It can be a blog on Blogspot or Word Press, or a GoFISHn profile, or a Facebook Page, or if you are a glutton for punishment, something built in a software package like Microsoft FrontPage or Cold Fusion and hosted at GoDaddy or some other hosting service. What makes a website a website is the ability to publish your marketing message on pages that have consistent and permanent web addresses (or urls) that are easily accessible to search engines. What makes a website effective, apart from looking presentable to consumers, is how well it performs on Google search results pages. Many small businesses mistakenly assess their website on looks – hey, flashy – and not with a checklist of make-or-break requirements governing performance in search results. Google doesn’t know ugly from flashy; it looks at concepts like keyword density, inbound links, internal links, meta descriptions, title tags and site maps to decide who gets the top of the search results page for queries like “Wyoming fly shops.” The good news is that systems like Blogspot and WordPress automatically take care of almost everything except the words; the Google optimizations are baked into the publishing software. GoFISHn does all that and more because we wrap our business customers in lots of relevant fishing information, which really helps in Google. If you use those systems, what’s left to you are the words and images that describe your business. But before you start typing and uploading, there’s an important and amusing homework assignment: continued on next page... 25 / March 2010

Customers you already hooked... E-mail You want to stay in touch via E-mail. New products, new seasons, specials. They are all a reason to send customers a quick note. So get all those E-mail addresses together and get an account at Constant Contact ($15/month). Easy-

to-use message templates, excellent data (how many people opened your email, and which ones), and very helpful, realperson customer support.


keyword research. What are the words and phrases associated with your business that are most common in Google searches? Those are the words and phrases that you want to emphasize and repeat in your posts. (Go to a site called Google Trends, a tool that will help you compare the frequency of words and phrases in search, such as fly fishing vs. flyfishing, or Colorado trout fishing vs. Colorado fly fishing.) There is more to winning at Google, such as including links to your site from other fishing sites (“in-bound links”), but the checklist is not long or hard. Post often on a platform like GoFISHn, make use of the right keywords and give it a few months. You’ll see results. / March 2010

Online Advertising – is it worth it? I’ve met a few folks who have done such a good job with their websites, E-mail marketing and social network-


ing that they don’t feel the need to buy advertising. And that’s a great measure of success. If you do want to advertise, the good news is that you can set up accounts on Facebook or Google in minutes with a credit card and experiment with what works. You choose how much you want to spend per day and per “click” on your ad (usually in the .50 cent range). The key is to make sure your ad links to a well-designed landing page on your site. It’s your future The other day my friend Andrew Bennett, who owns the Deneki lodges and is a very sophisticated online marketer, observed that the future of marketing for the sport fishing industry could not be more clear. In his circle of competitors and friends, the operations that dove into online marketing are doing fine, despite the economy, and the ones that did not are struggling. I agree. And that raises the question, “Why don’t you dive in too? The price is right. And so is the result. Service



E-mail account



E-mail marketing

Constant Contact, Mail Chimp

free to $15/month


GoFISHn, Word Press, Blogspot

free to $24.95/month

Social networking

Facebook, Twitter

free at

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Dear John Doe Magazine Editor: Written by Geoff Mueller / March 2010

“When there’s nothing left to burn, you have to set yourself on fire.”


—Stars, from the album Your Ex Lover is Dead

readership, are your lifeblood. The bad news is that your contribution to the stack may soon be severed. Sorry. Sad. True.

Mini-skyscrapers of paper and ink litter my apartment. The towers are built on foundations—bottom to top—of various magazine titles, each with its own unique personality; thick, thin, large, small, glossy, adventure, misadventure, tools, tips, trades, waves, snow, beaches, babes, and brawlers... As a magazine content producer/generator, that’s good news for you. We, the magazine consumers, your

Clearly, print still has a heartbeat in this household—many households. And as a word junkie, the magazine is my preferred choice for absorbing everything from news and entertainment to good literature,

investigative journalism, random curiosities, and mind-blowing wanderlust fodder. One of my favorite additions to the heap is yours. As a longtime reader, you nursed me through my fly fishing incubation phase; set me up, rod in hand and bugs on brain, ready to tackle new worlds. Through your pages I learned to not only talk the talk, but walk it—when to parachute a delicate PMD to a persnickety sipper, and where to book my yearly vacation in trouting Shangri-la, without returning home smelling like skunk. More than that, you introduced me to a community of fellow fishheads—a group of enablers in a world where fresh- and saltwater pursuits are the ultimate fix.

During our heydays together on the couch, your winter issue stirred my cabin-fever curiosities. A roster of

In this desolate new age, maybe, just maybe, I am your answer. Not me personally, but rather as the embodiment of your core audience— the consumer. While your accountants are busy crunching doomsday numbers and shaving flesh from the business core, now is the time to reassess values and explore the chemistry behind our bond. What brought us together in the first place, and what’s kept me (your reader) coming back can be summarized in one simple ingredient: Content. Yes, you hold a large market share of readers but, mark my words, from here on out you are being solely judged on merit. And merit comprises more than slick windowdressing. It rests on your ability to consistently deliver impacting, relevant, and thoughtful content in addition to spectacular imagery and sense-provoking, design-savvy packaging. Staying on the cusp of these achievements will take creative vision, as well as fresh investments in raw resources. Flipping through the latest issue of your magazine, I find pages devoted to this bug and that place, but as your ad count has systematically dwindled, it seems ,so too has the space for this quality content. As consumers who yearn for engaging reading, we’re looking elsewhere, to other publications across the board, as well as online, where everything from entertaining blogs and superlative images, to cinematically spectacular video and good stories litter the playing field.

Although you could loathe these collective wandering eyes for crippling print, don’t. Instead, take advantage of Internet digressions to reconnect to new readership and revenue streams. The Internet won’t obliterate print in the short term, but it forces you to be better, more intelligent in your approach to readers. As part off a well-designed media arsenal it will act as a tool for extending your outreach. And as the publishing world is flipped on its head, with companies like Apple blowing out iPads and threatening a revolution similar to what it did for the music industry, your print magazine may one day become a best-of-the-web edition—or a hybrid between two complementary entities, print and online. Last Christmas, in an historic first, sold more e-books for its Kindle reader than traditional books. As consumers’ tastes evolve, reaching readers online and drawing them into a glossy, exceptionally high-quality print pub is a promising reality for you. We know your magazine cannot match the instant gratification and efficiency of online information flow, nor can it throw multimedia knockouts of streaming video and explosive sound and image collaboration. But you have not lost the ability to captivate, especially in areas where online fails to emulate you. Above all, your magazine provides a tangible, collectible, indispensable service, which remains vital in ways a click-andforget online world can’t compete with. Ask any magazine writer or photographer and they’ll tell you there’s nothing more gratifying than seeing, touching, living, and breathing your final product in paper and ink. That is your advantage. Use it. continued on next page... 29 / March 2010

Those early days, you were king: The Magazine of Record. Then came other publications, lots of them, inching and wiggling in while the getting was good. With an influx of interlopers, you saw the market splinter by north, south, east, and west geographies; fish species; water types; conservation content vs. destination; and a burgeoning artistic tying world vs. an actual on-the-water fishing take. With competition came consumer choice, but also market volatility, which has been exacerbated by economic conditions, an explosion in online alternatives, and shrinking ad revenues. How you’ve weathered this complicated set of circumstances, all things considered, is nothing short of remarkable. And it’s a testament to the quality of your product. But as the fragmentation continues, I fear death by a thousand cuts may be at the doorstep, and it pains me to see you bleeding.

sharp-shooting editors rounded out an impressive masthead. And wading through an onslaught of advertising pages made skipping to the “good stuff ” a challenge and a sign of health. Today, that masthead has systematically dropped to one: You.


Moving forward, the importance of grasping a constantly evolving online cosmos is undeniable. But—call me old school—I like the magazine format. In addition, paper is a renewable resource. The North American paper and forest products industry plants approximately two million trees daily, more than three times what is actually harvested. Your magazine, thank you very much, has also yet to crash, get attacked by viruses, or serve spam and pop-up ads. / March 2010

What does the 10-year future hold? And how will we—consumers—fuel and feed our fly-fishing information needs? Your one saving grace in this whole debate may be the fact that now, more than ever, we need fly


fishing. This fundamental pastime, sport, hobby, distraction, whatever you like, remains my ultimate escape, and your magazine—words, images, insights, dreams, and ideas—provides a vital link to that reality. As I sit in my apartment caged in by heaps of words and images on paper, the elephant in the room, it seems, is whether or not you are the dinosaur in the room. But unlike Jurassic beasts on the brink of extinction, you have the power, in your pen, to help shape the future and prolong your own sustainability before it’s too late. Stay innovative, intelligent, and interesting, but most importantly stay relevant. After all, maintaining our relationship, and ultimately your livelihood, depends on it. at


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The focus on the location or sponsorship of our industry trade show is an interesting distraction from three more important topics: 1) The ever-expanding and warped distribution network of major fly fishing products; 2) The changes in principles that professional shops are quickly adopting, and 3) The fact that the trade association is essentially an arm of the media and manufacturing parts of the business, and the general feeling within the retail community that AFFTA has shown little concern with the best interests of the retailer. / March 2010

I would imagine that the cry of manufacturers in response to that last comment is now being heard from coast to coast. But it is a fact that major manufacturers in our industry don’t appear to give a rat’s ass about retailers, and I would challenge you to find a shop out there that would disagree with that sentiment. To the point, let’s address these key issues:

Mike Michalak’s Take on the Industry Editor’s Note: In the interest of fairness, especially within a discussion of trade shows and media in fly fishing, I feel obliged to include a pointed retailer perspective. As such, I humbly yield the floor to the gentleman from California. 32

Distribution I’d estimate that major brands of rods have fewer than one turn in most shops. That’s dumb with a big “D” and a significant change from sales a decade ago when a dealership was prized and hard to come by. Now every shop in town is homogenous, carrying all the major brands, and the gas stations in the Rockies even sell a few of the less significant rods and reels. Everyone is poised for the announcement of manufacturerdirect sales. Brands that I helped create are now managed by myopic bean-counters whose sole motivation is to load dealers with merchandise that will eventually be sold off on the grey market, E-market, or elsewhere, at a discount. In the meantime, that investment in inventory (even, or particularly, with extended dating) impacts a shop’s open-to-buy and hinders diversity of investment in other competitive brands.

Are there solutions? Yes, lots of them, beginning with the insistence that manufacturers return to a two-tiered product group; one for professional shops and a second for the big box and discount stores. If top-line rods and reels are going to be offered in big box and discount stores, then dealers need to either find other products to support, or develop their own brands. As for myself, take a quick look at the The Fly Shop catalog and you’ll see that those manufacturers who are selling direct or not policing the rampant discounting of their products on ebay and online are no longer wellrepresented. This was a very painful move and one that almost broke my heart in some situations. Principles I really believe that my success as a destination shop is umbilically connected to the urban, metropolitan, and other rural shops. Our guide service, fly catalog, and terminal tackle sales are synergistically hooked to the anglers whose passion for the sport and interest in fly fishing is fed on a routine basis by the San Francisco, Los Angeles, and other shops to my south, the Sacramento shops to the east, and (to a degree) all the other shops in the country. I take no pleasure in the unconfirmed rumors of shop inventory or payable problems. In fact, I don’t want to hear it. If they go, I’ll suffer. The big box stores aren’t going to create new fly fishermen, new fly tiers, fire up the old ones, or teach the kids. They’re not going to give the fly rodder a place to hang out, or provide much in the way of support or information. At the same time, some shops have no conscience regarding

moving into another region, attending a show in other shop’s back yard, and dumping dated merchandise at discount prices. The net result, in my mind, is that once great fly fishing shows have deteriorated into veritable flea markets, and are rapidly approaching Stage 4 cancer. Neither is there any reluctance to flood the web with discounted, top-end merchandise. Proof of this is the recent veritable race to dump rods from a certain manufacturer before its announced enforcement deadline. Shops should be as creative with their marketing as they were with their end-runs on the discount policy. All of this happens through bogus ebay accounts that continue to dump “used” merchandise at discounted pricing. The only stupid part of all this is the fact that dealers, as a group, haven’t responded collectively to the reality that every rod sold at an end-of-season discount will result in one fewer new model sold the following season. Do we really believe that the manufacturers can’t predict approximately how many rods of a particular model will sell with any degree of accuracy? Their goal is to sell as many rods at wholesale as is conceivably possible. And who can blame them?! So the market gets flooded (see distribution, above); the discounting is inevitable, a blind eye is turned to the process, and the individual shop with the drastically reduced margin is the one that’s most severely affected. AFFTA ambivalence If you really believe that our trade association or the manufacturers care about us individually or as a continued on next page... 33


group, turn this page and move on to something that resonates with you. What’s the proof regarding the association’s strict orientation toward manufacturers? The answer is that, after nearly two decades there isn’t a single organized buying group. There isn’t a vehicle for dealers to express collectively their feelings to manufacturers regarding any of the issues I’ve already highlighted. Like Pogo said, I’ve seen the enemy, and it is us! Perhaps the backbiting, paranoia, and petty regional jealousies keep us from uniting as dealers and sending the message that Fenwick got when Sage came on the scene.

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The fact is that when it comes to manufacturers, you and I are now nameless, faceless, and there are some dealers who will soon be penniless if the current trends continue. So why do I care? Because we’re all in this together! If you’ve been around long enough, you can remember that everyone once prospered in this industry simultaneously. I don’t believe it was “the economy” that took the wind out of our industry. It started before that. The operative word for success was once growth, not market share. And I firmly believe that if other destination, metro, and urban shops decline, the sport will suffer and my own shop will eventually suck wind, too. Perhaps I’m preaching to the choir here. Many retailers agree on the problems. Let’s look for answers together. Mike Michalak Owner The Fly Shop Redding, California



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Industries Collide:

Rapid Changes Shape Angling and Media Written by Matt Crawford / March 2010

Bob Shannon gets it. Owner of The Fly Rod Shop in Stowe, Vt., Shannon understands how important print and electronic media are to his business’ success. He runs ads in the local papers. He places upcoming casting clinics and seminars in sports calendars. He calls local and national writers to suggest story ideas. He’s even shut down his store for a 2-hour period in the middle of the day to guide a quick trip for a film crew from a national television show. 36

“Our goal,” says Shannon, “is to get something in the media about The Fly Rod Shop every month of the year. That kind of editorial exposure is way cheaper than paying for a 3-inch ad.” But Shannon finds his media strategy increasingly harder to wrangle. Editors he’s built a rapport with have left their positions. Writers he’s taken on day trips no longer churn out stories. More ominously, publications he’s worked with in the past no longer even exist.

The media landscape Shannon navigated reasonably well for more than 20 years has changed so dramatically that even experts within the freefalling media industry are unsure of what’s next. As a special report in The Columbia Journalism Review noted in October: “American journalism is at a transformational moment.” Imagine how hard it is for a shop owner to generate coverage of a flytying class in that atmosphere. “The difficulty with the media these days,” says Shannon, “is for me to figure out how to figure it all out.” Downs and ups To understand the root of Shannon’s confusion, it helps to take a snapshot look at the blood-soaked state of the media industry. Printed media – newspapers and magazines – are arguably in the worst shape they’ve ever been in. With competition increasing for both reader attention and advertising dollars, newspaper circulation in the United States has fallen to the lowest level since the 1940s. Newspapers have folded in cities like Denver, Seattle, Tucson and Albuquerque. Tens of thousands of journalists have been laid off and more than a dozen newspaper corporations have filed for bankruptcy in the past 18 months.

Winners in print’s demise, of course, are outlets on the Web, where readers are flocking and advertising dollars are starting to flow. In 2009, the Pew Research Center reported that for the first time, more Americans took their news from the Web than from anywhere else. But the Web is fractured, uneven and its reliability can be even more suspect than mainstream media. “There’s this vast sea of B.S. on the Web that can be difficult to wade through,” says Phil Monahan, who served as editor of American Angler until his position was cut in December 2008. “You certainly want a diverse array of opinions, but when you have 50,000 people reviewing things on the Web it’s very difficult to determine who’s telling the truth and who’s just a blowhard.” Monahan, who was editorial director of Saltwater Fly Fishing before it stopped printing in 2008, is now a contributor to, one of the more successful fly-fishing sites on the Web. MidCurrent has a reported 87,000 unique visitors per month – and growing – giving the site a readership greater than that of Fly Fisherman.

But Web outlets as a whole still have detractors who often fail to make distinction between a blog (like Trout Underground or Moldy Chum), a bulletin board (a forum, like that on or a site such as MidCurrent that produces original magazine-like content. “People come in my shop and thumb through the magazines, looking at different adventures and gear,” said Shannon. “I don’t get that same sense with the Web. Maybe it’s my age – I’m 50 – but I don’t trust it.” The Web is also disjointed, and as it rises to the place of prominence, groups with specialized interests (like anglers) will trade a handful of several strong voices for a boatload of opinions from those less entrenched. As important as the trend of readers abandoning traditional print for the Web is the reallocation of advertising budgets to electronic media. “Magazines are sort of suffering from both sides of the equation,” said Monahan. “We have this shrinking pool of advertisers, and a shrinking pool of money. Then add the fact that money is now being spent on a greater number of outlets, whether that’s a new Web magazine or a movie.” For a small shop owner like Shannon or bigger companies with constricting budgets, Monahan advises proceeding with caution before shifting advertising money to the Web. He notes that an understanding of web analytic tools is vital in determining which sites offer the level of exposure they’re charging for. continued on next page... 37 / March 2010

Stats from the magazine industry are equally putrid. According to the Publishers Information Bureau, magazines lost 58,340 ad pages in 2009. MediaFinder. com’s tally indicates more than 1,400 magazines folded since 2007. Magazine staffs have dwindled, too, with layoffs hitting virtually every title including heavy hitters like Forbes, Time, Sports Illustrated and People.

Outdoor media – particularly specialized fishing publications – have been hit hard, forced into the vortex by a mass exodus of readers to the Internet and an economic downturn that’s hamstrung advertising budgets for companies big and small. Take, for instance, Fly Fisherman magazine. With a bi-monthly circulation of around 100,000, Fly Fisherman enjoys the largest circulation of all the vertical fly-fishing publications. Regardless, three editorial staffers were cut in January as the magazine’s parent company, InterMedia Outdoors, attempted to trim payroll costs.


“And,” says Monahan, “I think the companies who used to advertise in national magazines should continue to advertise in national magazines. Visibility is a sign of strength.” Beyond the dollars It could be argued this rapid transformation of media, and in particular, those outlets dedicated to a pastime like fishing, is likely to have an influence on participation rates. Whether that influence is negative or positive sort of depends, and is just one of many unknowns. “As we lose these voices of people out there telling the stories of the outdoors, it kind of contributes to this downward spiral of participation,” said Mark Taylor,

outdoor editor of the Roanoke (Virginia) Times, a daily newspaper with a circulation of about 91,000. “We’re at a time where it’s critical to bring people into this activities, and the stuff we put out it generally feelgood about outdoor recreation.”

presence, churning out a blog and posting videos on his newspaper’s website. Whether that’s the future of outdoors journalism is anybody’s guess. “I don’t know, ” says Monahan, “if anybody knows where this is going.”

Outdoor media – whether print or electronic – is vital in providing readers crucial information on where to go, what to use and of what issues to be aware.

That’s the ambiguity – the uncertainty – that Shannon deals with every day as he tries to develop a media plan for his small shop.

“With everyone one of us that gets out of media,” says Taylor, “you lose another vehicle of spreading good words.”

It’s also the reality every writer, blogger, editor, advertiser and publisher must contend with. And, of course, readers, are caught in the middle, too.

Like Monahan, who left print and now writes for an on-line resource, Taylor has upped his electronic

Snapshot A look at several recent media changes within the “vertical” market of fishing:

Jan. 2010: InterMedia Outdoors, owner of Fly Fisherman, lays off three staffers of the magazine.

Jan. 2010: Fly Rod & Reel announces it’s cutting back to a quarterly and is improving print quality.

S  ept. 2009: Glossy quarterly The Flyfish Journal publishes its premiere issue.

M  ay 2009: Shallow Water Angler magazine folds.

Dec. 2008: Morris Communications, owner of American Angler, lays off staffers at the magazine.

June 2008: Catch Magazine – an on-line only publication – launches. at 38


It’s all about the Guide... In the “media and marketing” context, there is perhaps no more intimate and important connection with diehards, as well as angler prospects, than what is said and accomplished on the water with a working guide. Written by Brandon D. Shuler / March 2010

Stan stomps a bare heel on the casting platform. The power of the calcaneus against the formed fiberglass reverberates through the hull of my Kevlar–lined poling skiff flushing a mulling school of redfish. Stan spins on said heel and screams at me, “You’re the worst damn guide ever.” I pull the red bandana protecting my skin from the searing sun tighter to my face, like the banditos that used to haunt the shores of my beloved Laguna Madre. A grin is spreading across my face. I don’t let Stan’s ranting and cursing dissuade me because I know he’s lying. He’ll book me before the day’s over because Stan gets “it.” The ubiquitous “it” that so few charters understand or even knows exist. Stan understands, even though he is paying me for the day to put him on fish and maybe share a few of the finer points to perfect his already pretty damn near perfect cast, the success of the day ultimately rests with him: not me. As the day rolls along and the winds rise, I pole Stan along for miles chasing tail after tail. Some casts are spot-on and a hungry volunteer happily devours Stan’s fly of choice; others shun his offering like some drifting detritus. Idling back into the Port Mansfield harbor Stan asks me when my next open offshore day is. 40

“But Stan,” I goad him. “Why fish with me? I’m the worst guide ever.” I enjoy my days with Stan, but it also gets me wondering. We all know what clients are supposed to look for in a guide; but what are we guides to look for in a client? I know my answers, but I wanted to hear it from some of the best guides on the water, so I started with four guides I’d hire if I ever got a day off the water: Conway Bowman, Amanda Switzer, Chuck Naiser, and Mike Conner. To a guide, they almost all pointed out verbatim that clients should manage their expectations and be realistic about their casting abilities. Managing expectations is a broad field and can run the gamut from the positive to the negative, but for Bowman the negative-expecting client is the worst. Bowman’s biggest pet peeve is the “guarantee” fisherman. We’ve all had them. The guy that wants us to guarantee he’ll catch fish. Bowman says: “This is absurd! Let’s put it this way… name one profession, besides Men’s Wearhouse, that will guarantee its work? A surgeon ain’t gonna do it, and an attorney won’t either. But they’ll damn well try their best and charge the client a fee for their efforts.” The casting ability, too, is rather black and white and liable to fluster even the most unflappable personality. As Chuck Naiser, Texas fly-fishing legend, puts it: “I’d like to have an honest assessment of his casting abilities before we hit the water.” Naiser places fly fishermen into three categories of casting: Those who can, those who can’t, and those who think they can. “I can work with the first two, but I struggle with the third.”

Most of these client ailments can be handled easily before the client arrives dockside in the initial phone call. However, even if that first timid phone call goes off without a hitch, the client says, and can, cast 10 feet into his backing and spot fish from 75–feet out, what happens when he shows up on game day? Amanda Switzer thinks: “It’s not my experience that equipment makes or breaks the day on the water.” This goes for fashion too. My favorite client is the one who shows up with a worn pair of flip flops, a hem–tattered pair of shorts, a faded bandana, a fly box, two strung rods, and a weather–beaten shirt: He’s ready to fish. Most guides moan the second Mr. Catalog steps out of his 65K SUV with the packing seams still fresh in his shirt and the SPF–factor rating label still attached to his shorts. It’s this same client who usually makes two or three trips from SUV to dock to get all his gear to the boat. “Less is more,” Switzer says. “When they throw the latest tackle duffle on my deck, I tell them to open it up and take only what they need.” Most guides worth the salt on their cowling covers have extra rods, reels, and appropriate lines, not to mention flies that have been tested in the local waters. Clients that bring too much are cutting out crucial fishing space on already tiny poling–platforms; just bring what you need. Save the space to bring back a few filets or leave room to take pictures of that trophy catch–and–release monster. We guides, like Stan, are persnickety. We’re stubborn. At times, we’re even downright cantankerous. Yet the client has to realize that’s exactly why they’re

hiring us. Our knowledge on the water and our ability to find fish are what matter. We do ourselves, and our fellow guides, a service by setting the bar at the right height and helping clients jump over that bar by teaching. I learn something from every charter, and I’d like to think my client learns a little bit from me too. Clients, listen to your guide, be honest about your casting ability, know we are trying our damnedest to put you on fish after a low– pressure front with a barometer in the 31–mb range, and please, all guides beg you, leave the kitchen sink at home.

Captain Chuck Naiser Chuck Naiser Saltwater FlyFishing 361.729.9314 Rockport, Texas Specializes in tailing reds and Texas trophy trout. Captain Conway Bowman Bowman Bluewater Guide Service and Outfitters 619.822.MAKO San Diego, California Specializes in offshore flyfishing, especially big Makos. Captain Mike Conner Mike Conner Saltwater FlyFishing Stuart, Florida 772.521.1882 Mixed bag of Florida flats fishing to Everglades freshwater in the Indian River area. Captain Amanda Switzer GuideLines Montauk, New York 561.901.2639 Specializes in Striped Bass on fly and light tackle. at 41 / March 2010

Mike Connor, famed Florida Flats guide and editor of the now defunct Shallow Water Angler, agrees: “Just give me an honest assessment on how far you can cast. I can then find the fish in the right range for your casting abilities, but you have to tell me what those are.”

Bowman, Naiser, and I all blame other guides for this. Bowman says, “I think it’s a result of other guides blowing smoke up the client’s ass so they can work the tip.”


There’s No Business Like Show Business AFFTA Goes “All-In” with Plans to Host the International Fly Tackle Dealer Trade Show Written by Kirk Deeter

Orvis. Other key brands are already out and planning alternative dealer marketing efforts, Simms Fishing Products probably foremost among them. “Simms will not be exhibiting at the 2010 IFTD Show,” said Simms CEO K.C. Walsh. “This decision was made very carefully. The bottom line is that we feel the show is too late, too regional, and too expensive for the return it generates for Simms. We have communicated our decision to all Simms dealers. We have plans to debut Simms 2011 product line more directly to our dealers before the show. Both our dealers and our reps have responded very positively to this announcement, and they are excited about this new direction at Simms.” Many other manufacturers (and retailers) are on the fence. Some manufacturers have expressed willingness to AFFTA to participate, but have privately told Angling Trade that they are going to bail on the show if the dealer attendance numbers don’t stack up. Others (like Patagonia) are leaning against exhibiting, but might likewise be swayed to participate on some level if the prospect of strong dealer participation emerges.

The American Fly Fishing Trade Association (AFFTA) took a gutsy step recently when it announced the creation of a new International Fly Tackle Dealer (IFTD) trade show. That’s bold because AFFTA’s ability to pull off an independent trade expo (apart from Nielsen, which has organized the Fly Fishing Retailer trade show in agreement with AFFTA for the past several years) will likely determine the future viability of the fly fishing trade organization itself. Succeed, and AFFTA endures, one hopes with a war chest it can apply to marketing and outreach programs that broaden the scope of fly fishing in America. Fail, and everyone in this business, from manufacturer to retailer to the media, cannot help but wonder about the value and worthiness of AFFTA as it stands today. / March 2010

The “kicker” is that the specialty retailer will ultimately deal the hand that decides where the chips fall. Angling Trade asked dozens of retailers for their opinions on IFTD. Not surprisingly, the responses covered a full spectrum, from: “We’re behind it; this is an opportunity for the fly fishing industry to control its own destiny,” to “We doubt the value of participating in a show that’s been dying in recent years; our money and efforts are best applied elsewhere.” We’ve also talked to manufacturers: Some are in, including major players like Far Bank (Sage, Redington, and Rio) and 42

A Daunting Task The bad news for AFFTA has been fairly obvious for a few years now. The fly fishing trade show has been steadily shrinking. Dealer attendance is down to less than 100 (less than one-sixth the total number of specialty fly shops still standing in America today). Manufacturer/exhibitor participation has also dramatically shrunk in recent years, which is a major reason why Nielsen first proposed to integrate FFR with its Outdoor Retailer trade show, and then ultimately walked away from FFR last fall. “We don’t see any real potential in growing a specialized fly fishing trade show in this market, at this time,” explained Kenji Haroutunian, who ran FFR for Nielsen. Given the changing media and business dynamics that include earlier selling-buying cycles for many manufacturers and retailers, and the way product information is communicated via the Internet and otherwise, not a lot of business is written, nor new product stories generated, at the trade show anymore. AFFTA itself has an identity crisis, whether it realizes it or not. As author and fly innovator John Barr recently explained: “I just don’t know what AFFTA does, and what the organization is all about. I don’t know what (AFFTA) does for the shop, or for the angler.” He’s not alone in his confusion and/or ambivalence. Fewer than 10 percent of American retailers are currently AFFTA members; of the depleted number of manufacturer exhibitors at FFR last year, more than two out of three weren’t even AFFTA members.

In the broadest context, fly fishing is shrinking in terms of total revenues and total participation; this, despite the fact that “all-fishing” appears to be growing, or at least holding stable (according to government data on license sales). The ICAST “all-tackle” trade show reported sellout numbers at its event last year, prompting many to wonder why fly fishing doesn’t shoulder up with the American Sportfishing Association and ICAST… or, for that matter OR. As a team, fly fishing has had a losing record for years. We haven’t made a bowl game in many seasons. Frankly, it’s hard to blame those who want a coaching change. But it’s also hard to blame the coaches. From an objective vantage point, the people who have been charged with shaping a course for AFFTA, from staff to board, were essentially placed on a twoton pile of manure, handed a teaspoon, and told to “dig.” Yet now AFFTA finds itself in a public relations crisis. Successfully staging IFTD is more a PR issue than anything for AFFTA right now. And that’s complicated by the fact that many in the fly fishing media world are realizing that having no trade show might, in fact, lift their relevance and value (in an era when they’ve been hammered by dwindling ad support), in bridging a communications gap between businesses, retailers, and consumers. This PR challenge only grew in size when AFFTA announced that the new show would take place in Denver, in early September… essentially in the same place and time that it was last year. It’s All About Money There is, however, hope for AFFTA and IFTD, in that recent events have caused AFFTA to take a hard look at itself and the show. AFFTA is starting to realize that a trade show should be a means to an end, and not an end unto itself. The trade show organizers have decided to earmark 50% of proceeds directly for the “Discover Fly Fishing” initiative, designed to help retailers grow the sport at a grassroots level. If IFTD even matches the revenue generated last year, that contribution will be the most substantial boost this program has seen. Altruism aside, there must also be financial reasons for dealers to attend a trade show. If show organizers can make the investment it takes for a retailer to attend less than the reward said retailers will garner by being there, the time and date issues become moot points. Save a retailer $3000 for an investment of $1500, and you can have a trade show in Juarez, Mexico, on the Fourth of July, and they’ll come.

The Line in the Sand is Somewhere Else It would be easy to say that the IFTD show presents a “line in the sand,” and that if a manufacturer is behind it, they support a broader industry ideal, and if not, they don’t. But that’s not true. Is there solid rationale for supporting a fly-specific trade show? Yes. Is there reason to explore regional shows (some would argue the Denver show is already a regional event) and other avenues for manufacturer-dealer business? Yes. (It’s worth noting that some of IFTD’s detractors have been among AFFTA’s and FFR’s biggest supporters in the past.) I would submit that the division over this issue is not necessarily a bad thing, because it will “out” the companies that do nothing on behalf of fly fishing other than to have their reps squeeze dealers... minimal consumer promotion, no trade promotion, weak new product development. Nothing of real substance that matters to the dealer. All smoke, no fire. In my mind, the desire to change the paradigm is not a fault. The willingness to do nothing is. I keep a quote by Theodore Roosevelt on my desk, which seems appropriate in this context: “It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs, who comes short again and again, because there is no effort without error and shortcoming; but who does actually strive to do the deeds; who knows great enthusiasms, the great devotions; who spends himself in a worthy cause; who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who neither know victory nor defeat.” Retailers have the opportunity (actually responsibility) to identify which companies are the “timid souls” in fly fishing, and then vote with their business. Do that, and retailers will put fly fishing on the path it belongs. at 43 / March 2010

In that light, IFTD organizers are looking to establish some incarnation of the former “Passport Program,” which gives discounts for orders made at the show. They’re also looking at subsidizing hotel expenses, and implementing an aggressive outreach program to attract national consumer media that have not attended the industry trade show in recent years.

The intent is there. The rewards are there (or at least taking form). And the effort is there. Gary Berlin, former AFFTA president, recently took one for the team by rolling back his salary and position to business manager, so that Randi Swisher, a seasoned trade show professional, could step in and organize IFTD. Even Chuck Furimsky, of the Fly Fishing Show, graciously bowed out of the picture (he had an ax to grind with AFFTA, and had proposed an alternative trade event) to help make a single fly-centric trade show a possibility. The questions are, ultimately, do we want it, and do we need it?

continued on next page...


This space belonged to Charlie Meyers. Charlie passed away on January 5, 2010. Angling Trade was lucky to have him. We miss him terribly. He was our mentor, our partner, and our good friend. Moreover, his work at The Denver Post made him one of the greatest columnists the print world has ever known. The fact that he chose the outdoors as his beat was nothing short of a gift to anyone who loves hunting and fishing; the fact that fly fishing was something he held among his most sacred personal pursuits speaks volumes about the inherent beauty of our sport.

“I met Charlie at an ISE show the year he became the outdoor editor. Over the next few years we had long chats about outdoor writings, etc. I grew especially fond of him. He was a gentleman and so ethical. The outdoor world has lost a wonderful person.” Lefty Kreh “Charlie was the top newspaper outdoor writer in the U.S. for over 30 years and a great friend to fly fishing. He was a true professional journalist and a joy to be with. We will all miss him and our sport will especially miss his reporting. Some people leave a sunshine hole in humanity when they depart. He was one of them.” John Randolph

The best tribute we can think of to fill these pages is to share the following comments: “Charlie was an outstanding outdoor writer and a better person. His writings celebrated hunting and fishing as the spiritual experiences they should be. He was an advocate and cheerleader for wildlife agencies and sportsmen when we got it right, and a stalwart but fair critic when we got it wrong. I’m a better sportsman, and the Division of Wildlife is a stronger agency, because he was there for both of us.” Tom Remington, director Colorado Division of Wildlife (Note: The Colorado DOW is now advancing plans to name the area surrounding the fabled “Dream Stream” stretch of the South Platte River “The Charlie Meyers State Wildlife Area.”) “We all looked forward to Charlie’s articles, particularly when the seasons were changing. He let us know when the ice was off the lakes; when the rainbows were taking mayflies or when the brown trout were chasing streamers. He was a perfect spokesman for anglers but what I loved about Charlie the most, was that he was a conservationist.” Sharon Lance, National Trout Unlimited trustee

“Nobody could turn a phrase and hook a reader like Charlie. He was a poet, in his life, and with his words.” Jason Blevins, The Denver Post “Charlie was a dear personal friend and an irreplaceable ally to the fly fishing industry. When I am on a river or pond Charlie’s spirit will forever be along, still writing in his note pad and and maneuvering to get just the right light for another awesome photo. I will miss you Charlie.” John S. Barr “Charlie was a deep friend, a real friend. We understood one another very well... whether we were hiking to a small secret stream (we shared many) or driving to a famous river—Charlie always worked a story (or several). He was honorable, fun, respectful, always a gentlemen, an excellent 45 / March 2010

“Charlie Meyers was one of my dearest friends. He was one of the most genuine people I’ve known. He was a talented writer, but what made him great was that he was never afraid to advocate for the people and places that make fly fishing special.” Jack Dennis

“Charlie was as good as they come in this business. He did some great work for Field & Stream over the years, and he will truly be missed. He was also a hell of man who was impossible not to like, respect, and admire.” Anthony Licata, Field & Stream


outdoorsman/fly fisherman, and very importantly, an excellent writer. His was an extremely powerful voice for the people that will be missed by many. Our small fly fishing industry has lost one of the greatest allies we have ever known.” Van Rollo, Rollo & Associates “The pantheon of outdoor writers garnered a premature resident. If Mount Olympus has ‘box-seats,’ Charlie Meyers is in one. The subtlety of Charlie is what attracted me most to him. During frequent fly fishing discussions, scouting trips or interviews, Charlie would extract nuggets of information from me with the surgical and painless precision of a mosquito. Only moments after the aforementioned encounters would I realize that I had been bit.” Trapper Rudd, Cutthroat Anglers “If you’re lucky, you may have the fortune of crossing paths with a fewpeople in your life who have a powerful, indescribable energy that touches everyone. Charlie was

appreciation for the outdoors rubbed off on everyone he met and when he walked out a door, you found yourself wishing he could have been a fishing buddy, wishing he could have been a hunting buddy, wishing you could have known him better!” Jeff Fryhover, president, Umpqua Feather Merchants “The newspaper business in Denver took another hit when Charlie Meyers passed away. I canceled my subscription because I could no longer justify buying a week’s worth of papers only so I could read Charlie’s work on Wednesdays and Sundays. It’s funny because many of the things he wrote about I was familiar with, but I always wanted to see what Charlie had to say. He either had an angle that I hadn’t thought of, or made an argument that made me think. I had someone call me yesterday looking for some advice on how to go about getting regulations changed on a Colorado river. My first thought was, ‘How in the world are we going to do this without Charlie?’ Charlie’s work on environmental issues that concerned sportsmen was unmatched.” Mike Clough, Orvis / March 2010

“While Charlie was well-known throughout Colorado for his efforts in the Denver Post, his work and impact really stretched across the country. I had the great privilege of working with him due his special interest in fly fishing. He’ll be missed by many of us in the fly fishing industry - for me, with any future visit to Denver, the great memories I have from my friendship with Charlie will always coming flooding back. Here’s to hooking one on every cast Charlie!” John Mazurkiewicz, Catalyst Marketing

one of these rare individuals. Everyone who knew Charlie considered him one of their closest friends, even those who had met him for the very first time. His strength in action, the smile on his face and the compassion of his glance defined this man who embraced life with unbridled enthusiasm. Charlie’s time is a great example of a life worth living, and for those who had the pleasure of spending even a moment with him, their time will forever be changed.” David S. Heller, president, Ross Reels USA/Ross Worldwide Outdoors “Unfortunately for me, I did not have the privilege of meeting Charlie until later in his life. But I can tell you he was the kind of guy you want to know better. His love and 46

“We’ll miss you, Charlie. I feel blessed that I had the chance to spend time with you over the past couple of years. I feel my life is better because of knowing you.” Conway Bowman One of the the worst mistakes a young or inexperienced reporter can make is to write for his sources instead of his audience. When a writer tells a story aiming to please his friends or whomever he just interviewed, it shows, and that writer probably won’t last long. In the decade or so that I read Charlie Meyers, not only did I never see him make this mistake, but I think it’s fair to say that he would sometimes go out of his way to NOT please his sources. Whether it was a ski resort that he felt was charging too much for a lift ticket, or a Colorado Division of Wildlife official he disagreed with, Charlie Meyers never forgot that he wrote first and foremost for his audience—the at people of Colorado. Tom Bie, The Drake



OUR PRODUCTION TEAM IS BUMMED. Sales and production are often at odds around here. Produ ction says that time on the water benefits the product—which benefits you, the customer. But when orders are running high, that’s just more time in the factor y, right? Not exactly. Because this dispute is likely to get settled at the one place everyone can agree on: the river. OBSE SSED WITH YOUR NEXT CAST. RIOPRODUC TS.CO M

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Angling Trade Magazine March 2010  

The Media Issue 2010

Angling Trade Magazine March 2010  

The Media Issue 2010