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the buzz on the flyfishing biz



The GEAR Issue

25 Hot Products/Selling Softgoods/ The Right Shop Mix/Fly Fishing in Schools/ Start a Travel Program/ Little Red Book of Fly Fishing June2010 AnglingTrade.com

the buzz on the flyfishing biz






16 The AT 25 New

6 Editor’s Column

Product Guide A sneak peek at

some new product... the best bets to make an impact in the months ahead.

By the AT Editors

What Utah told us about the state of the fly fishing industry, and why we need to find a fix quickly. By Kirk Deeter

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


Kirk Deeter kirk@anglingtrade.com Managing Editor

Tim Romano tim@anglingtrade.com Art Director

Tara Brouwer tara@shovelcreative.com shovelcreative.com Copy Editors

Mabon Childs, Sarah Warner

14 Travel Seminar: So you want to have a travel program? Here are some concise insider tips from one of the best travel providers in the fly business.

22 Softgoods Seminar

By Mike Mercer of The Fly Shop

What’s the key to selling shirts, hats, and the like with profitable effect? Knowing what kind of a shop you run, what your market is, and how big a role (if any at all) softgoods should play in your retail mix. By Geoff Mueller

The Key to Cultivating Generation Next?

Archery showed us that taking the outdoors inside schools is a win-win. Now, the National Fly Fishing in Schools Program is hoping to do the same. But who’s going to step up and support them? By David A. Rose

32 Gear Up for Sales

Monte Burke, Mike Conner, Mike Mercer, David A. Rose Photos unless noted by Tim Romano

The Little Red Book of Fly Fishing is specifically written to make fly fishing more accessible, with smart tips in bright, clear language. It should be a sales magnet. Reviewed by Monte Burke

36 Backcast Tom Bie of The Drake takes over the “final word” slot in Angling Trade... check out what he has to say.

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


AnglingTrade.com / June 2010

Managing your inventory properly is critical to bottom line success. Here are some case examples of things that work in different fly shops around the country. By Mike Conner

Tom Bie Geoff Mueller Ben Romans Andrew Steketee Greg Thomas Contributors

30 Recommended Reading

27 Fly Fishing in Schools...

Contributing Editors

CONTRIBUTORS Introduces the World’s First


24 Piece Display

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 brian@pitrivercompany.com www.pitrivercompany.com


Monte Burke is a staff writer for Forbes. An avid angler, he also contributes to a number of outdoors publications, including The Flyfish Journal, The Drake, and Angling Trade. He is the author of Sowbelly: The Obsessive Quest for the World Record Largemouth Bass, and the co-editor of the Atlantic Salmon classic Leaper. He lives in New York.

Mike Conner

Mike Conner received a Florida Outdoor Writers Association Lifetime Achievement Award for Communication in 2007 and Excellence in Craft awards for fishing feature writing. He was editor of Shallow Water Angler magazine from its inception in 2003 until its closing in 2009, and was managing editor of Florida Sportsman Magazine for 13 years.

Mike Mercer

Mike Mercer has worked at The Fly Shop for over 30 years, where his current job title is Travel Sales Specialist, defined by traveling to and selling some of the finest fly fishing destinations on the planet. In his spare time he designs fly patterns, and is the author of Creative Fly Tying. He is a native of the trout fly fishing heartland of far northern California.

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. He also freelances for a number of fishing and general outdoors publications and websites, and has made his home in Fort Collins, Colorado.

...at prices your customers can afford! AnglingTrade.com / June 2010

David A. Rose

15353 E. Hinsdale Circle, Unit F Centennial, Colorado 80112 www.anglersaccessories.com 4


David A. Rose is a writer, author, photographer, and fishing guide who lives in the Traverse City, Michigan, area. He’s now been in the outdoor educating business well over a decade, and become one of the state’s most influential writers and promoters of fishing. He’s also a frequent contributor to fieldandstream.com.

Enormous bank feeder. Shaky hands. Size 22 hook. Hair-thin 7X. Perfect cast. Miraculous mend. Tiny dimple. Tightening line. Boiling water. Bending rod. Surging adrenaline. Pounding heart. Now, let’s talk about your drag system. The smooth, dependable Sage 4500 series When the moment arrives, you’ll be ready. A sophisticated 3:1 geared graphite drag unit provides incredibly smooth startup and nearly unlimited power. It’s also fully sealed for maximum reliability and zero maintenance. Did we mention the optional ultra-light carbon fiber spools? How about the lifetime warranty? To learn more about the complete line of Sage reels, call 1-800-533-3004. © 2010 All rights reserved.









When Utah Governor Gary Herbert signed House Bill 141 into law this spring, I couldn’t help but see that...

a year into fishing promotion. God bless them for that. But if ASA wants fly fishing to be a segment under their “umbrella,” earmark $500,000 for fly fishing promotion, right here and now. Don’t give us promises with political strings attached, give the fly shop in Pennsylvania, or Michigan, or Utah some hope. Make something happen, right now. Interestingly, I happen to be writing this column after a week-long fishing assignment covering pro bass anglers for Field & Stream. So many of us in fly fishing (myself included) look to the bass world as the green pasture. “If we could only cross over, and be like B.A.S.S.” we’ll be fine.

as a reflection of the sorry state of affairs in the fly fishing market. I’ll save you the gory details on HB 141, but essentially what this did was award stream access control to private property owners, and severely limit angler access on many of Utah’s best trout waters.

AnglingTrade.com / June 2010

That’s bad news for Utah anglers and businesses. It’s bad for shops in neighboring states (or any shop nationwide that caters to traveling anglers). By way of legislative precedent, it should be a national concern too. What really troubles me, however, was how it all went down. The fishing lobby (especially fly fishing) essentially got outworked and out-classed by the real estate lobby and the Farm Bureau, among others… not by a little… by a lot. This was not for lack of effort on the grassroots level in Utah. But nationally, fishing dropped the ball.


AFFTA was, for all intents and purposes, AWOL on the matter. Perhaps distracted by the effort to launch the IFTD trade show, AFFTA chimed in only after the bill was passed, urging support online for

Outdoor Industry Association president Frank Hugelmeyer’s attempt to prompt Gov. Herbert to veto the bill. (Yes, that’s the OIA, that sponsors the Outdoor Retailer trade show.) I’m sorry, but I can’t shake the analogy of Nero fiddling as Rome burned from my mind. And the sad irony that OR did the heavy lifting on this matter is also telling. AFFTA can claim it has no funds for these battles… that a successful trade show is exactly the catalyst it needs to fight these campaigns in the future. I get that. But this wasn’t a loss by AFFTA; it was a no-show. For all the AFFTA critics who think the American Sportfishing Association might be the mother who can nurture fly fishing back to health, I have to ask, “Where was ASA?” The minute there’s a sniff of a restriction on saltwater fishing, from the Carolinas to the Marianas Trench, I get bombarded with press advisories. The silence on Utah, however, was deafening. Is fly fishing really that far off ASA’s radar screen? ASA, Recreational Boating and Fishing Foundation, and the (outstanding) “Take Me Fishing” initiative, plows $12 million

Well, I have some news for you. The bass world isn’t Utopia. There’s in-fighting there too. Bass fishing has the luxury of geography working for it… there’s good bass fishing in almost every state in America. And bass tournaments are pretty interesting to follow on television. But the bass world risks being bled to death by 1,000 cuts, each caused by a different interest that puts short-term profit above a long-term vision. We, in fly fishing, simply do not have the ability to survive an B.A.S.S. vs. FLWtype split in our sport. For better or worse, we’re all in this together, whether we realize it or not. The good news is that fly fishing is an inherently beautiful culture, not just a leisure pastime. Many people in the bass world I’ve recently spoken with would kill for the fly demographic, with the money and level of commitment therein. It’s time to pull it together. The debate should end, soon. If we get behind a new-vision AFFTA, great. AFFTA… show the vision. Don’t get into show-biz only. Make a difference. If it’s ASA, great. ASA, show fly some love. In the end, the course will be charted by the fly tackle retailer. You decide. You’ve earned that right. at Kirk Deeter

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“The Water Cooler Effect” Where is your next great idea going to come from? How do you make positive change in your business? The value of face-to-face casual meetings is often overlooked, but the reality is these opportunities often generate profitable ideas that you can take to the bank. I read an article in Inc. magazine last month. As an experiment, the magazine turned its office completely virtual, telling every employee to work from home. The entire editorial staff found other virtual office solutions that did not include their office desk and chair. As an interesting side note to the experiment, they discovered how important casual face-to-face meetings were in creating solutions to problems. The impromptu meeting in the hall, a shared lunch, or other water cooler events, all help create solutions for companies. For our industry to compete with others we must encourage collaboration.

AnglingTrade.com / June 2010

Each year after a season of fly fishing retail, I look forward to analyzing my business and then traveling to the industry show to compare notes with other retailers. I meet with my manufacturer partners and discuss business face-to-face, and often I come home with valuable information that helps me plan for the upcoming season. Through casual conversation in the aisles or over a beer, I hear about fly shops in Georgia, Pittsburgh and Portland and what is contributing to their success. Now I hate to state the obvious, but this is just good business. Talking with other shops has improved my business but it has also raised a concern: A lot of fly shop owners are hobbyists and not good retailers. They are long on passion for their sport and lifestyle, but they typically are short on business acumen. I often ask other shops about how they are addressing cash flow issues, margin management, marketing and promotional strategies, and employee recruitment. The reply that I get the most is ,“We 8

had bad weather this year and sales were slow.” I have news for you, the sun might not come out tomorrow, so how are you going to make your business adjust or, better yet, survive? As a retailer, I can understand why many fly shops view the annual trade show as a waste of time. I would agree that most of what has been offered in the past could easily be replaced by a rep visit to your store. Previous shows were mostly driven by manufacturers just wanting to sell you something, but as chairman of the Trade Development Committee for AFFTA I want to reshape the show into an event that will grow our industry and, in particular, grow your business. AFFTA now owns 100% percent of the show and our goals are to provide its participants, vendors and buyers alike with multiple benefits: A SHOWCASE OF NEW AND REPEATING PRODUCTS AND SERVICES. The show as it always has been is a once a year opportunity to see the largest selection of fly fishing products under one roof. Cast rods side by side, compare reels, inspect flies and create a product selection plan for the coming season. A FORMAT AND ENVIRONMENT IN WHICH COMMERCE CAN TAKE PLACE. This year I have personally taken a strong message to venders to bring their best game to the show. We are pushing a big emphasis on providing attendees with some IFTD “show only” specials that are unique for the specialty retailer. Give us something that we can use as door busters for our events. Price is a strong motivator for consumers and a few key items well promoted can produce lines of consumers. A PLACE WHERE ATTENDEES ARE EXPOSED TO NEW IDEAS AND METHODOLOGIES. The new IFTD is going to look very different this year with a strong emphasis on business.

I believe the healthier our industry is the easier it will be for my shop to grow and increase my profits. AN OPPORTUNITY FOR PARTICIPANTS TO LEARN NEW BUSINESS AND MARKETING SKILLS. This year we want to focus on improving your business. We want you to come a day or two early and invest in a “Profitability Boot Camp.” During this period, the four components of profitability (sales, margins, expenses and inventory velocity) will be explored in detail. The Boot Camp attendees will emerge with a basketful of ideas, concepts, skills, best practices and a road map for achieving improved profits. By investing in one or two additional show days and two more hotel nights, dealers can conceivably double their annual profits. AN ENVIRONMENT FOR THE INDIVIDUAL TO EXPERIENCE AN EPIPHANY ABOUT THEIR BUSINESS. Solutions… We all have plenty of problems, every fly shop deals with these on a daily basis. I sat down with a business partner this year and we listed out every task a fly shop owner deals with on a daily basis. We almost ran out of paper. Our hope is that we create the environment where you can learn to make your business more profitable. We want to help you find solutions. I am looking forward to the show this year and there is considerable excitement about the future. Come join us in Denver for a time of renewal, explore new opportunities, have some fun, but more importantly, come and learn how to make more money. See you at the water cooler… David Leinweber, owner of Angler’s Covey in Colorado Springs, and Trade Development Committee chairman for AFFT


Product Buzz & News Hardy & Greys Announces Major Rod Design Breakthrough Hardy & Greys is laying claim to the most significant development in fishing rod design for 25 years. The company’s “SINTRIX” material provides rods which are 60% stronger, up to 30% lighter and with hugely improved impact resistance over conventional carbon fiber. The new technology will be used in Hardy fly rods, which will be available in January 2011. Initial SINTRIX developments involve three Hardy fly rod ranges, one saltwater range and two freshwater ranges, which will include double-handed models. On a recent test trip to Florida, five Hardy & Greys product developers caught around 1,000 fish on SINTRIX rods. The fish ranged from 5lbs to 350lbs and the idea was to put the SINTRIX blanks in situations above and beyond normal use. Despite their best efforts to test the rods to destruction our testers did not break a single SINTRIX rod. Some of this action is available to view on YouTube. ™

Andy Mill, Hardy & Greys US-based consultant and five-time Gold Cup Tarpon tournament winner said about SINTRIX rods: “These new SINTRIX rods are the most powerful, lightest, smoothest casting rods ever designed EVER.” (Andy recently landed an 80lb Tarpon in just four minutes using a SINTRIX rod.) Hardy & Greys explains more about SINTRIX: “Decades ago when we moved away from cane and fiberglass, carbon fiber changed the way fishing rods were made. Carbon being remarkably strong for its weight gives us many advantages for modern rod design. The carbon rods we use today have of course advanced over the years but the trends for lighter and faster blanks lead to rods which can be brittle, unforgiving and prone to breakage during use. The carbon fiber in any fly rod blank is supported by a bed of resin, typically this resin or matrix simply holds the fibers in parallel alignment so that as the rod bends, the fibers can flex and return into position. However if a carbon rod is suddenly bent beyond its limits, the normal resins used in manufacture are unable to support the fibers adequately because the carbon fibers are stronger than the resin. The result is catastrophic failure due to

Survey Says… Angling Trade did an informal E-mail survey about the upcoming IFTD show and AFFTA. Here’s what the responses showed:

AnglingTrade.com / June 2010

Are you planning to attend IFTD? 33% Yes (75% of positives from within Rocky Mountain Region). 66% No. Have you attended FFR in the past? 95% Yes. 5% No. Are your business interests being served by AFFTA? 25% Yes, or “I think so.” 75% No. 10

the fibers buckling or, put simply, the rod breaks. These failures occur because typical modern fishing rod resins simply do not contain enough toughening mechanisms to give the fibers enough protection. SINTRIX is an enhanced fortified matrix resin which supports and bolsters the carbon fibers to withstand a far higher degree of bending and loading than ever before. Through technology, exclusive to Hardy & Greys Ltd, specially treated silica nano spheres are blended into a SINTRIX resin. Thousands of the nano spheres surround every individual carbon fiber giving a very even distribution of the particles throughout the resin which results in rods with unparalleled smooth casting actions. This technology is radically different from any previous nano rods using titanium nano or carbon nano tubes. These previous carbon nano technologies simply attempted to reinforce the carbon and not the all important resin. The bending strength of a SINTRIX fly rod is vastly improved over outdated common designs. Controlled testing has proven that SINTRIX fly rods are over 60% stronger and up to 30% lighter than previous carbon rods. A SINTRIX fly rod will bend further without damage and will also take incidental impacts far better than any conventional fly rod design. RailRiders Intros Bone Flats Collection RailRiders Adventure Clothing has immersed itself into the fishing category over the last 18 months, and has just launched one of the only apparel lines specifically designed for fishing the flats. The company claims notoriety for “making the toughest clothes on the planet.” Now, they claim the Bone Flats Collection features the ultimate feather-weight fabric, quick-dry material. Durable and stylish, this collection is essential for any hot and humid adventure. continued on next page...

I M P E R I A L F LY R O D S > Offered in an uncompromisingly gorgeous gloss burgundy finish, just holding an Imperial brings a few new words to mind. Imperial fly rods are lightweight, fast-action rods designed for maximum performance and value. The dynamic blend of high-modulus / high-strain SCIV graphite and premium-quality SCII graphite work together to outperform fly rods not only in the same price category, but those costing much more. A comprehensive line-up of 32 models – including four new switch rods for 2010, there is easily an Imperial that will impress the h**l out of you. In 2009, Imperial fly rods were awarded “Best Value” from Field & Stream and an “Editor’s Choice” from Fly Fish America.

R I O S A N T O F LY R O D S & O U T F I T S > Take a moment to offer our new Rio Santo series the reverence it deserves. Premium-quality SC II graphite with a smooth moderate-fast action provides performance that anglers at all skill levels will appreciate – at a price that deserves a few exclamations all on its own. Completely new for 2010, the Rio Santo is offered in eleven models from 4- to 8-weight, as well as five Rio Santo Outfits that include a die-cast aluminum reel, fly line and leader (already installed) and deluxe carrying case. The name translates to Holy Water – among other things.


“You won’t find a lighter weight shirt and pant,” says RailRiders president and founder John d’Arbeloff. “We have developed this collection to provide our customers the needed durability, quick-dry, UPF protection and unique airflow system, so they can enjoy their Flats Fishing experience.” The Bone Flats Shirt is an ultra lightweight top which offers maximum sun-blocking protection with a flip-up collar, moisture-management comfort and supreme ventilation. It’s made of a featherweight duralite fabric that’s low-maintenance and quick drying. It also has a back-mesh yoke and side vents for plenty of airy, breathing room for those incredibly hot and humid locations. It has a full-button front, two zippered vertical pockets and one-inch cuffs with button closure at the sleeve.

AnglingTrade.com / June 2010

The Bone Flats Pants complements the shirt, which are also superlight, tough and extremely airy. With these pants, you have an amazing temperature-regulating feature. Constructed out of two-ply 1.5 oz Duralite nylon fabric, the cooling element are 27-inch mesh panels, which provide air flow to your lower extremities. Grip Studs Enhance Traction New Grip Studs, made from tungsten carbide are easy to install, featuring a wide thread base and shallow sole penetration which won’t punch through the boot, and lock in place. Studs are available in two protrusion lengths, 1.9 mm, and 4.3 mm. Each 20-or 28-stud kit includes an installation tool. See waderstuds.com for more details. 12

Please see the “AT 25” New Product Guide on page 16 for a more comprehensive showcase of new and planned fly fishing items for retailers.

Kolanda Starts Rep Company, Hired by Hardy Rob Kolanda, a Colorado native who has made a living guiding, instructing, guiding, and managing in the fly fishing industry for the past 16 years (including stints with Front Range Anglers and Taylor Creek Fly Gulf Oil Spill Disaster… Shops), We simply do not know how far-reaching as well as and permanent the effects of the Deepcompetwater Horizon catastrophe will be with ing for Fly regard to recreFishing ational fishing Team in the region. AT managing USA, has started a sales business, and will represent Hardy & Greys in Colorado, editor Tim Romano went New Mexico, and Wyoming. to the Gulf on Rob Kolanda Calder Inspired Products assignment for Field & Stream, along with 303-931-8186 Robkolanda@gmail.com F&S contributing editor Hal Herring (as well as conservation editor Bob Marshall). Job Listings… Looking for a new position in the fly fishTo better understand some of the issues ing business? Angling Trade is working with in play, please visit fieldandstream.com, Infiniteand check out the “Conservationist” Fish blog for various reports and images. on an updated listing of industry job Also, numerous organizations are rallypostings. Simply visit anglingtrade.com, ing in support of cleanup and recovery and click on the “View Open Positions” efforts. The FishAmerica Foundation’s Gulf Fund, established in 2005 to provide prompt in the right-hand column. Also, funding for restoring fisheries habitat and please check out anglingtrade.com recreational fishing facilities devastated by between printed editions of the magazine Hurricanes Katrina and Rita, is expand- for more regularly updated industry news items. You can also view past editions of ing its Gulf Fund grant program to include fisheries and their habitats that are the magazine in electronic format. expected to be impacted by the oil spill. AFFTA and ISE Announce 2011 “Although no one is certain of the longSchedule Change term impacts of the oil spill, the FishIn first quarter 2011, AFFTA will sponAmerica Foundation is prepared to step sor “Discover Fly Fishing” areas in the up and assist local groups with funding two largest International Sportsmen’s to restore sportfisheries and their habitat Expositions (ISE), in Denver and once the restoration efforts begin,” said Sacramento, CA. FishAmerica Foundation Executive Director Johanna Laderman. “The foundation “The Association receives money for has a 27-year track record of successfully every AFFTA member booking in these helping community-based organizations two ISE,” said AFFTA president Randi who want to get involved in restoration Swisher. “So this change to sponsoring projects. Please go to www.fishamerica. ISE Sacramento should improve our org to get more information or to make a results. We expect continued strong recontribution to the Gulf Fund.” sponse from AFFTA members in the very successful ISE Denver, and new opporAlso check out the efforts being spearheaded by the Coastal Conservation Asso- tunities in the West’s largest sportsmen’s ciation. See ccalouisiana.com for starters. expo—ISE Sacramento,” said Swisher.

News Bullets:

Price is a powerful motivator. Using price to drive customers to your business is as old as retailing itself. I have been begging my reps to find me some promotional items for my early spring kick-off event. Michael White found 100 promotional wading mats in the backroom at Simms. We worked out a price of $7.50 and I advertized them as door busters for $9.99. We had over 50 customers lined up at our door the morning of our event. Lesson: A miscellaneous non-cataloged product with a desired logo on it can be used to drive customers to your store. --D. Leinweber

Fly-Fishing Tactics $7.50 retail a great solution.

DVD: $25.00 SRP

Kudos… Angling Trade editor Kirk Deeter, also an editor-at-large for Field & Stream, earned two 2010 first-place “Excellence in Craft” awards for magazine “fishing” and “backcountry” features from the Outdoor Writer’s Association of America. He has won five first place EIC awards in the past five years, all involving a fly fishing theme. The 2010 honors are for “In Search of the River Gods” (about dorado in Bolivia), which appeared in the July 2009 issue of at Field & Stream. – Tim Romano

for a low cost intro-guide to fly fishing to use with your classes or kits?

DVD: $29.95 SRP

ISE Sacramento: Jan. 20-23 Cal Expo

Affordable impulse items for anglers of all types & budgets

Are you Looking Softcover: $7.50 SRP

2011 ISE Show dates: ISE Denver: Jan. 6-9, Colorado Convention Center

Books & DVDs.

HC: $29.95 SRP

“This is our third year working with AFFTA as a sponsor,” said John Kirk, ISE’s Director of Communications. “The Discover Fly Fishing areas can be as large as 40,000 square feet, as in Denver, or less than that size, which will be the case in ISE Sacramento, a five-building show. The entire event sells out by early fall, so there is higher urgency for AFFTA members to get involved in our marketing plans. Participating exhibitors can expect more retail sales, more new and existing customers, and more media exposure.”

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Travel Editor’s Note: We are proud to have the staff of The Fly Shop contribute a regular column on building travel business for the retailer. This piece, by Mike Mercer, addresses key first steps for leveraging travel to a profit avenue in your business...

AnglingTrade.com / June 2010

Let’s face it - most of us wouldn’t even be in this industry if we didn’t feel a compelling need for adventure stirring in our heart... an inherent wanderlust often instilled in childhood by an endless array of sporting magazines, and hometown adventures. So it is only natural that fly fishing travel becomes an extension of our business, both as a savvy tool to generate extra income and broaden our customer base, as well as a way to to realize those inner longings to see the world (or at least the parts that have big fish!). But for most of us, the process of taking the first step into this arena can be intimidating, and the need to set in place sufficient infrastructure, daunting. From the perspective of a shop that has been down that road, made all the predictable mistakes, and experienced some of the successes, we would like to make a few suggestions to both encourage and help direct you down a path that is right for you and your business. There is perhaps no better way to dip your toes into the pool of international fly 14

exclusive agent, see how far in advance they are willing to offer you a specific week. How long will they continue to hold the spots for you, as you piece together your people? Be sure and give yourself a chance to succeed, and stay fishing travel than by putting together a in regular touch with the lodge or agent, hosted trip. Begin by choosing a destina- so they know you are serious. Destination that you are enthusiastic about, as tions normally have no problem allowthis passion will be obvious to others, and ing you to come along as a “freebie” make it easier to sell them on the idea when you bring a certain number of of accompanying you. And while you paying clients with you, but understand certainly want to do your homework on they get a lot of interest from people the lodge and fishing, it is OK to be hon- who are not really willing to do the est with them that you have never been necessary work You must prove to them there. Don’t make the mistake of subtly you are cut from a different cloth, and inferring to prospective clients that you are putting in the effort. have been to a destination when you have not, or are some sort of an expert regard- When you are actively searching for ing it. In the long run, this will only serve anglers to join you on a hosted trip, small things make a big difference. Call people, to undermine your credibility. Instead, agree that their questions are good ones, take the time to explain what the trip is all about, and be willing to patiently answer and while you don’t have the answers, their questions. Send them personal notes you will absolutely get them. along with brochures from the lodge; in If you are reading this, the chances are fact, miss no opportunity to personalize you already have a base of people who every contact you have with them. Send would love to go fishing with you. Part of them a fly specific to the destination, the draw for those folks should be your stuck to your business card. Pass along a excitement (as the fly fishing expert) about recent report from someone you know traveling somewhere new, and experiencwho has just returned from the trip, along ing something together with them for the with a fish picture. Anticipation is half first time… isn’t that what is really at the the fun of these trips, and it is your job as heart of adventure travel? the host to nurture this element, and keep it at a constant hum in the back of your Once you have chosen a lodge, make client’s minds. With these simple steps, sure and give yourself plenty of time to your adventures, and profits will cross realistically put together a group. If you are booking directly with the lodge, or an new boundaries. at

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The AT 25 New Product Guide Angling Trade made some calls, got the scoop, collected some product samples, and then hit the river (and flats) to compile this list of promising new products that have either just come out, or are coming to fly fishing retailers in the future.

AnglingTrade.com / June 2010

As you will see, some are big ticket items, others are accessories, and yet others are products that may not be even on your radar screens at all. In all cases, we tried to look at the “total store” scenario from rod rack to tying bench, and offer leads on things worth checking out for future sales opportunities. As the trade show season approaches, we will be at ICAST, OR, and IFTD (whether you are at one, another, or none of the above) to report on other things we see there. Angling Trade has you covered. Of course, we also want to hear any recommendations and testimonials you retailers have… contact us at editor@anglingtrade. com any time with your insights. 1. Simms Plans “Lodge Line” of Accessories Simms Fishing Products will launch a line of branded accessories that hit the “sweet spot” gift pricing niche in time for the 2010 holiday season. Simms will apply its logo and branding (and in some cases, Derek DeYoung designs) to products like a wallet, travel coffee mugs, cigar cutters 16

and humidors, a lighter, BPA-free aluminum water bottles a flask, and a necktie. All told, Simms will have about dozen accessories in the new Lodge Line. Also, look for Simmsbranded Wheatley fly boxes this fall. Prices will vary, see simmsfishing. com. 2. Orvis Helios Switch Rods We took an Orvis Helios Switch Rod on a recent Oregon steelhead adventure, and were more than impressed. Granted, we’ve long been fans of Helios (as have, apparently, many consumers, since the company reports solid sales performance through the recent tough market). New rods sizes (#9 and #10) branch away from the notion that Switch spells “Spey” in lighter line weights. Indeed, these rods have a more universal appeal for various applications (surf fishing, big salmon, etc.). Rods retail at $850. 3. Scott’s Fiberglass Series Scott is launching a new series of fiberglass rods for 2011. This series incorporates a new S-glass fabric

weave with a highly biased fiber distribution, and combines that with a new epoxy resin system. The blanks are joined using Scott hollow internal ferrules. These design features allowed Scott to significantly decrease the perceived weight of the rods, and get a smoother, deeper bending rod curve that recovers more quickly than previous glass rods. Scott went retro with the finish, back to a traditional yellow/honey colored glass, light brown wraps and touches like finish cork on the grips and cork insert reel seats. Models, from 6’-2# to 8’-2”-5# will retail at $595. 4. Loomis Goes Gunning, Lighter Details are being as closely-guarded as missile launch codes, but Marshall Cutchin broke the story on Midcurrent.com that G.Loomis will unveil a new Steve Rajeff-designed rod series at the upcoming ICAST show in Las Vegas. The rods will boast a significant weight reduction (nearly 20%), made possible through a unique graphite construction process, as well as certain epoxy additives. And given the Loomis tradition for pushing material continued on next page...


boundaries in the rodbuilding world (see GLX revolution 17 years prior), you can assume this will generate considerable consumer and industry buzz.

AnglingTrade.com / June 2010

5. Sumo Rod Rack We tried out the new Sumo Rod Carrier, which I also drove through the car wash to make sure it didn’t fall off. What we like most about the Sumo is its multiplejointed, four-point lever-lock mounts. In other words, it can be adapted to different base shapes and surfaces easily. It also has ball-and-socket connectors, and durable shock cord tie-down straps. If you’re going to hang a $700 rod and $400 reel outside your vehicle and drive from spot to spot, you don’t get many do-overs if the rod carrier fails. This one seems to work well, and at a retail of $150, is worth the investment to keep strung rods from hanging outside cracked car windows. 6. Mojo Mud Soft Weight We referenced Mojo Mud in the last issue of Angling Trade, but we like it so much—and realize many retailers still haven’t heard much about it—that we feel it belongs in a listing of hot products. We’ve actually fished the Mud for a couple years now, and have yet to find anything in the soft weight variety that forms as easily, then sets up as well. Decorated guide Pat Dorsey of the Blue Quill Angler in Evergreen, Colorado, is a believer too. He suggests making a base on your nymph tippet with a small piece of split shot, then forming, adding and subtracting Mojo Mud as you move from one run (different depth) to another. Mojo Mud is is tungsten-based. Retail is $10. 18

7. Z Reel What is it about fly fishers that make us gravitate toward things that make catching fish trickier? Okay… stupid question. Enter a reel design from a German manufactuer (Z-Reel) that involves a free hub, and no drag, other than a flap of leather at its bottom. The reel rotation is far from “freespool,” in fact, it’s probably just right for 95% of the trout hooked in most places. But for fighting hot fish, palm the reel, and use the pad. Called a “Natural 6” and suitable for 5/6 lines, retail is $370. Play with it, and you’ll be a believer too. See k-tequip. com for more details. 8. Sage Introduces Typhoon Backpack We let Romano test this one out… he’s a photographer, and he typically lugs stuff around in his river pack that’s worth more than what’s in Deeter’s garage. Here’s what he had to say: “I wouldn’t fully submerse this bag by any means, but if you’re out all day in rainy weather, you’re fine.” This isn’t a fishing pack made by a backpack company, it’s clearly a backpack made by a fishing company. There are two rod tube holders, one is extendable with a firm bottom… the other is essentially a water bottle holder that can be adapted. Sage is clearly branching into the soft goods/ accessories side with some smart thinking. Retail is $200.

9. Dan Bailey Eco-Grip Wading Boots are Comfortable That’s really the deal. Sure, this is about the 43rd rubber sole incarnation we’ve come across in the last 18 months, so we’ll spare you the whole aquatic invasive species lecture and debate. What Dan Bailey has here is a pair of boots that wears very light and comfortably, without sacrificing stability as the angler scurries over slippery rocks. The tread is as adequate as any rubber sole we’ve tested, and they are compatible with studs. Available in whole sizes, retail is $150. 10. Cablz Developed by Ron Williams, this very simple design in the eyeglass holder/ retainer world uses a thin surgical steel cable, that is light, strong, wind resistant, and also impervious to the sweat, grime, and other fishing goos that turn many eyewear holders into a stinky mess. Cablz has gotten some play in the hunting, golf, general outdoor, and conventional fishing arenas (Cablz earned new product showcase recognition at the 2009 ICAST show), and now the company seems to be pushing into the fly market. Retail is $12. 11. Orvis Mirage Reel for Trout When Orvis came out with the Mirage last fall, we took it straight to the Everglades to play with baby tarpon and snook. More recently, we fished the new trout model. In a

nutshell, we were impressed by a buttersmooth, enclosed drag, as well as the way it balances a 5-weight rod. Should be a successful staple in the Orvis tackle roster at a retail of $395. 12. Great Bay Rod Company EMG Switch If you aren’t familiar with the New Hampshirebased Great Bay Rod Company, you should be. Not only is Great Bay filling a pricepoint niche of under $400 for high quality, American-made product, the company also offers a “Dealer Protection Program” that channels Internet-derived revenues to retailers by region. The new EMG Switch Rod includes saltwater and freshwater design considerations.. Both models are 11-foot, 4-piece configurations in 6, 7, and 8 weights. The action is medium. Retail is $380. See greatbayrods for more details.

14. Tilley Hat Tilley is launching a new Organic Airflow hat, made from organic cotton.

Guaranteed for life not to wear out (tell us another hat that does that), and insured against loss (tell us another hat that does that too), the Airflow hat also floats. More importantly, it has a UPF rating of 50 plus, and its full brim design is safe coverage for the sun-averse angler.. Cost TBD. 15. Redington Women’s Clothing Redington is moving forward with a women’s clothing line that puts equal emphasis on form and function. The various shirts and pants come in a variety of colors, and are made from UPF 30, super soft, quick wicking polyester. Styles also feature excellent venting for air flow, which makes them good for hiking and the flats. Buttons are covered for casting benefits. Pricepoints vary by product.

Toll Free 877-785-9425


16. Buff U/V Headwear We’ve been stalwart supporters of Buff Headwear for years… we ran an introductory feature on Buff in Fly Fishing Trade. We wrote another product spotlight review in Field & Stream. And now we’re advocating a new, light line of Buff UV with more choices of patterns, and a lighter CoolMax fabric. We just took samples to the Bahamas for some intense heat testing, and frankly cannot imagine fishing the flats without the Buff. Retail is XX. continued on next page... 19

AnglingTrade.com / June 2010

13. Rainey’s TelStrike Indicator Designed by Dave Whitlock (which speaks volumes), this indicator is a yarn design that also features a thin stand-up “flag” in its middle. We know… an indicator is an indicator is an indicator, right? Not really. What sets the TelStrike indicator apart is that flag. If nymphing is the ultimate sensitivity and subtlety game, the slightest wobble or bend on the “flag” section of this indicator revealed takes that are often otherwise unnoticed. It makes the angler set faster.

A fly tying material that increases the bouyancy and visibility of your fly.


17. St. Croix Since St. Croix opened its Fresnillo, Mexico, manufacturing facility, the

company has been subtly, yet surely, redefining the standards for making low-pricepoint rods that cast like counterparts costing much more. The latest proof is the Rio Santo Rod, which just started shipping. We fished a 9’-5#, which is priced at $120 in the four-piece model. Rio Santo means “Holy River.” $120 means “holy cow.” It’s a mediumto fast-action stick, and 95% of serious fly anglers couldn’t tell the difference in a double-blind cast test.

AnglingTrade.com / June 2010

18. Gateway Hooks Loop ‘N Lock We aren’t easily enamored by the latest gimmick or gizmo… but the new Loop ‘N Lock hook from Gateway makes perfect sense. Simply form a double sliding loop knot… slide it on the hook from the side, and fasten tight. To switch flies, loosen the loop and pop the fly off. We had a chance to check them out, and no, we did not punt any fish as a result of knot failure (we punted fish the old-fashioned way, through angler error). You’ll want to incorporate this option into your tying resources. Various styles and sizes (dry, nymph, etc.) will be available in early July. 19. Streamworks As far as accessory items like pliers, lamps, and so forth Streamworks’ quality level for pricepoint is tough to beat. Check out the company’s new waterproof magnetic fly box, and articulating hat light. Romano tried the light, 20

clipped it on his hat, and had a perfectly functional headlamp for 10 bucks. This product also has “curb appeal.” Placed in the right spot in the shop, they can sell quickly.

Oregon to the flats in the Keys, and our personal favorite. As far as new styles go, Smith just introduced the “Forum,” which balances style with fishing function (they’re light to the point that you barely notice them on your face). Lenses are carbonic TLT, and retail is $120.

20. Rio Trout LT Line Rio Products just launched its new Trout LT line series (retail is $70), and we had a chance to test fish it on some early season, clearwater trout. The performance advantages of this taper are straightforward— a nice, solid-loading line, sans the hard smackdown. That obviously applies to places like lakes and spring creeks, but the functionality of the line by way of roll casts and accuracy in the 20-40 foot range makes this a contender for being many anglers’ “all-around” fly line.

22. NRS GigBob Is it a raft? A kickboat? A float tube? Well, really a little bit of everything. With all elements latched together, it is a raft. Detach the parts, and you have a sturdy float tube. The GigBob has been out for a while now, but after spending some quality time behind the oars, we’re growing rather fond of it. It’s priced at around $1500, but capable of handling a lot of gear and a lot of water (rivers with moderate rapids and lakes) for the individual angler who isn’t quite ready or interested in a raft or a drift boat.

21. Smith Glasses Make a point to look through the “Ignitor” lens shade in Smith’s Techlite glass. It’s definitely the hot color option for many guides, from steelhead rivers in

23. Patagonia Nano Puff Hoody Our first impression of the new NanoPuff Hoody from Patagonia was that it is really, really lightweight (14 oz.). It doesn’t take up much room in a day pack or the back of a fishing vest. That said, its Primaloft insulation is surprisingly warm. Ripstop fabrics are wind-

Investing in America, one rod at a time. Great Bay Rod Company makes high-quality, mid-pricepoint fly rods. We’ll help you sell them, too. With our Dealer Protection program we don’t just list your shop on our website. We call you with customer referrals.

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proof and water resistant, so it works equally well as an insulation layer, or outerwear on the water. There are two zippered handwarmer pockets, as well as a chest pocket. The hood is a plus. Of course, in the Patagonia tradition, this product is made with recycled materials. Retail is $199. 24. Bheestie Bag It happens all the time… you’re out on the river, or in the boat, a big storm blows in, or someone slips in the drink, and a cell phone or a camera gets soaked. No worries. With the Bheestie Bag, you turn off the power, drop the affected item in the pouch, seal the bag, and the contents inside wick away the damaging moisture. Many a camera has been brought back to life with this amazing system. Retail is only $20, which makes the Bheestie an attractive accessory for the shop, or the magic cure for the guide who wants to save the client’s day. 25. The Flyfish Journal By way of full disclosure, we should tell you that Romano and Deeter are both on the masthead of The Flyfish Journal. By further way of disclosure, we can tell you we would not be,

were it not a classy product with great production quality, and an editorial flavor that pushes new boundaries. Shops that carried the first issue didn’t return any. The just- released second issue is as strong as the first. Content involves all aspects from the fly fishing world,

from classic trout to largemouth bass. Contributors include John Holt, Monte Burke, Greg Keeler, Liz Steketee, and Copi Vojta. Those who leaf through it, are struck by first impressions. Those who stock The Flyfish Journal, sell them. Please give it a look. at

Looking for the ultimate personal fishing craft for flat and whitewater angling? The NRS GigBob is your boat! It’s frameless, stable and roomy. Take off the pontoons and you’ve got a great kickboat. Two boats in one! Folds up to fit in your car trunk and store in your closet.

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Softgoods =Hard Profits Making every stitch count Written by Geoff Mueller

AnglingTrade.com / June 2010

No matter how you slice, dice, or fold it; a shirt, is a shirt, is a shirt. They are useless for casting flies, hooking fish, or reeling them in. Nor will shirts keep you dry while immersed chest deep in the river. (You need waders for that.) Nonetheless, like the jackets, hats, socks, shorts, pants, and luggage of our revolving daily attire changes, the ubiquitous shirt—as the embodiment of broader sportswear and apparel categoriesis a potential retail lunker for expanding revenue sources. 22

For fly shops growing their softgoods footprint there are, however, snags. The gamble stems from lengthy purchase-order lead times, intuitively gauging customer demand for the upcoming season, and building successful formulas for inventory allocation and product showcasing. Roll the dice right—with educated foresight—and it’s game on. But fail the above, and risk holding a hand of inventory that could equate to a sales bust. When it comes to pursuing new softgoods ventures, the idiosyncrasies of regionality also factor in: What works continued on next page...

“Outdoor Retailer is one of the only places for us to view a wide range of relevant products which might indeed change, or at least impact, the face of our industry.” – Jennifer Mull, CEO and Owner, Backwoods


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in the Rockies, might not fly in metro markets such as those in California and New York City. Fly shops are individualistic beasts by nature, and softgoods are not necessarily a money-making lock for every shop. For fly fishing manufacturers, lateral expansion into these markets present hazards, as well. Still, many companies are banking on brighter futures in softgoods sales. The Manufacturers One need look no further than Orvis as a prime example of a fly fishing brand that’s struck paydirt in softgoods. Orvis pioneered its hard-to-softgoods crossover during the 1950s and ’60s under the leadership of then owner, “Duckie” Corcorane. Corcorane astutely noted that fishermen regularly brought their wives into the shop. And, often finding little of interest, these women stood around bored, perplexed, or both. This presented an opportunity, and Orvis retail shops soon began stocking softgoods.

AnglingTrade.com / June 2010

When Lee Perkins took the Orvis helm in 1965, he also realized that fishing tackle alone would not grow the company to the levels he wanted it. Perkins took the softgoods business a step further, branching into the mail-order/ list-exchange—now catalogue—arm of the company.

in place—things like large-scale art and web-commerce departments— wouldn’t be possible without the money generated by apparel, pet supplies, and so on. The Helios fly rod’s rise is one example of a hardgoods success piggybacking on this softgoods, moneygenerating pedigree. “It’s the hugest homerun the company has ever had. In 2008 and 2009, when business came to a screaming halt, Helios carried the company’s bottom line. Helios was the sales increase that kept Orvis profitable,” Rosenbauer says. Like Orvis, Redington started in the fly fishing business as a predominantly hardgoods, tackle manufacturer. Over the past several years, Redington has migrated into waders, fleece tops, technical wear, and now is in the process of growing out its apparel lines. National sales manager Mark Andresen was hired four months after FarBank acquired the company, when its overall dealer base was in a “rough state.” Andresen has spent the last six years improving back-end operations and marketing, and works closely with product developers, as well as distribution and sales channels in Canada and the U.S.

Today, with everything from dog beds to watches and leather jackets, softgoods, particularly the non-fly fishing kind, represent the brunt of sales for what started as a traditional hardgoods brand.

Orchestrating the company’s realignment into the softgoods realm is an additional, important part of this work. Today, softgoods sales total approximately half of Redington’s overall business and, according to Andresen, that number is poised to grow.

“The way we look at softgoods, from a rod-and-tackle perspective,” says Orvis marketing director, Tom Rosenbauer, “is it’s the cash cow that drives the fishing engine, which allows us to do all the cool R&D.”

“People only buy one fly rod at a time, and maybe three years later they buy another one—if you’re lucky. But you’ve got a lot of guys who have a 3-, 5-, 8-, and even a 10-weight. What else do they need?” he says.

Rosenbauer maintains that the rodand-tackle division is a self-sustaining, profitable business for Orvis. But he adds that the infrastructure currently

“With clothing, it doesn’t matter who’s making the product, it wears out, or we grow or shrink. You eventually have to get more.”


The “Tackle” Dealer Charlie’s FlyBox in Arvada, Colorado, may be one archetype of how to run a successful hardgoods-specific business. American Angler magazine recently named it and its owner, Charlie Craven, “Retailer of the Year.” Craven, now entering his sixth year of business with the shop, didn’t get this far by hawking apparel and sportswear: “We’re not a huge clothing dealer by any means,” he says. “I run a tackle store. I’m perfectly aware that I could sell a lot of clothing if I wanted to devote the dollars and space to it—the catch is I have no interest in running a clothing store.” Craven allots approximately 10 to 15 percent of total store volume to softgoods items such as apparel and luggage. “It’s really a different game,” he says. “And it’s a hard game to play from a flyshop perspective because of the way the clothing industry works. With the bigger clothing players like Patagonia, for instance, you order six months out. In a fly shop, that’s hard to do because you can’t predict anything six months out.” Sticking to a working formula of traditional hardgoods and fly-tying inventory, Charlie’s FlyBox is experiencing some growth in its overall softgoods sales. Craven attributes the trend to better quality product across the board. The Rep As far as shop owners are concerned, Craven is not alone in his trepidation toward major softgoods expansion. Jon Yousko, Northern Rockies sales rep for Simms Fishing Products, works with approximately 80 dealers in a territory that includes Montana, Idaho, and Wyoming. He says most of these specialty fly shops stick like glue to the tackle business that has traditionally paid the bills. “The fishing industry has always been a hardgoods-driven business over the last 10 to 20 years. There were a handful

of shops like Silver Creek Outfitters, Jack Dennis Sports, and others that had already been doing sportswear in different categories. For them it was a natural extension to break off and merchandise the product separately, but for most fly shops, it’s been some work,” Yousko says. “With most shops, you have to convince them that they can sell sportswear. And the larger challenge [for owners] is understanding how to sell it and how to merchandise it in their stores.” Similarly, fly shops cannot successfully merchandise softgoods the same way they would with tippets, flies, or reels. Yousko cites “educational hurdles” as the main barrier (or crux) for smooth entry into the softgoods business. And he says there is still much to be learned, especially as companies such

as Simms push deeper into women’s fashion and sales with a major launch scheduled for 2011. The Boutique Despite entry hurdles, and a shared hard-tackle-holdfast mentality across much of the Rocky Mountain West, clearly, when it comes to softgoods ventures, there’s money to be made. And in Zionsville, Indiana, a hotbed of many things other than fly fishing, Wildcat Creek Outfitters, has managed to tap that revenue stream. Landing in Zionsville was no accident. The town of approximately 10,000 boasts one of the highest per capita income levels in the state; and according to shop owner Chad Miller, it offers a white-collar clientele of local and destination fly fishers.

Miller says the downturn economy hurt high-end clothing sales during the past six to 18 months. But Wildcat Creek’s softgoods growth during the past four to five years exceeded expectations. Miller has done well with companies such as Patagonia and Redington, and recently added SmartWool to the shop’s escalating clothing arsenal. “SmartWool has opened us to new areas in the outdoors industry,” Miller says. “The reps we are dealing with are not fly shop reps. They carry brands such as Salomon (skiing, snowboarding, and technical outerwear) and we’re probably going to expand there more than we are with traditional fly fishing companies.” At 3,400 square feet, Miller devotes approximately 60% of his floor space to softgoods placement. The business continued on next page...


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AnglingTrade.com / June 2010

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is currently divided into four branches, which in addition to fly tackle and gear, include: Watersports/boats, destination travel, and local guide services. “We track all those,” Miller says, “and it all comes back to one thing... selling.” If the future of that “selling” means more in the way of wool socks and high-end fleeces, as well as brands one wouldn’t normally associate with fly fishing, it begs the question: When does a fly shop stop being a fly shop, and morph into a boutique business? For Miller, it’s a question he grapples with. “It pains me to say this,” he says, “but I don’t think we’re a fly shop anymore. I think we’re a fly fishing outfitter—in the truest sense of the form. An outfitter takes care of your every need. It books you on a trip, gets you in gear head to toe, everything. But we’re probably not a ‘fly shop’ anymore.”

likely to pull the trigger on a high-end than not, consumers will spend on fly rod than in years past, but you’re softgoods such as technical apparel and sportswear in pursuit of necessity and, still going to fish,” Sherman says. more often than not, small dosages of “The average softgoods transaction retail therapy. tends to be much less than the average hardgoods transaction. In talking Whether consumers choose to shop softgoods from a fly shop or a bouto my retailers the common trend tique hinges on a number of variables, I’m hearing is that the numbers of including who stocks what they like. If transactions are not down, in many cases they are up, but the dollars per local fly shop A is barren of anything other than hooks, hackles, aerospacetransaction is definitely down.” grade aluminum, and an array of Softgoods Phenomenon? pricey sticks, you can bank on boutique As long as the economy remains B getting that particular business. haphazard, any softgoods vs. hardgoods debate stems from the idea that How will core shops adapt to these untraditional but burgeoning softconsumers, already adequately rodreel-line-leader-tippet equipped, may goods avenues? Ultimately, it’s an not shell out for big-ticket items—this education process there for the takseason or even next. But more likely ing... or leaving. at

West of Zionsville, and even farther west of the Rockies, lies an Amazon of concrete roadways, albeit with excellent fishing opportunities scattered throughout, known as California. Simms sales representative John Sherman covers the Golden State along with Arizona, Nevada, and Hawaii— a 52-dealer territory.

AnglingTrade.com / June 2010

Unlike the Rockies, the Midwest, and even the East Coast for that matter, Sherman says his metro-California market represents a completely different animal—one where softgoods are quickly becoming king of the jungle. “Most shops are investing more into the softgoods category in recent years. The premium high-end purchases have been impacted by the economy big-time. When your home is worth less than half of what it was four years ago and your job has evaporated (or is in danger of evaporating) you’re less 26

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Fly Fishing in Schools... If This Industry Wants to Cultivate a New Generation and Emulate the Success of Archery, Supporting a School-Based Program is the Place to Start. Written by David A. Rose

The skills learned early in life are the ones that bond to us the longest.

I’m also confident some of your most fond memories are from those same formative years. Perhaps they are of learning how to cast a fly to a lake or continued on next page...


AnglingTrade.com / June 2010

Take, for example, the lessons taught in middle school: math, English, science, and the like. I’m certain, no matter your age now, you could still complete the fundamental problems taught to you as a youngster without much contemplation.


river while a mentor stood by your side; the tutor not only teaching you the essentials of fishing, but of the environment around you. These lessons, too, never seep free from our memories. It’s with the aforesaid in mind that the “National FlyFishing in Schools Program” (NFFSP) program was developed. The NFFSP is non-profit in-school course, with origins in Lincoln, Nebraska. It’s an offshoot of the “Fly Fishing Education Foundation” (FFEF), a non-profit 501c3, organized in 2009, which supports the means for grants that schools can acquire the NFFSP curriculum for their middle school and high school students. The FFEF also has a sister program for older scholars, “Learn How to Fly Fish,” with a program of study designed for colleges and universities.

AnglingTrade.com / June 2010

The NFFSP is a course geared toward public schools that not only teaches students in grades 6 through 12 how to fly fish, but its curriculum, “Cast a Fly… Catch a Student,” meets four National Academic Standards, which include language arts, physical education, science and technology. In other words, besides going through the motions of fishing, instructors educate students on ichthyology and entomology, and about the environment, conservation, and aquatic resources. The course edifies conservation and stewardship while it promotes an awareness of the out-ofdoors. The NFFSP is working with a network of groups in cooperation, including state education and fish and wildlife agencies. The founders of the program are Dena Cole—who’s been in the fly fishing industry over six decades, is the founder and director of the “School of Fly Fishing,” which was started in 1998, as well an author 28

on the subject of fly fishing—and his daughter, program manager of the NFFSP, Katie Cole—whose knowledge of fly fishing is over two decades strong. She’s been a staff member of the University of Nebraska “Outdoor Adventures” program and companion program in Arizona. A Growing Demand School participation has grown for the NFFSP in a big way in just one year, to the point of demand overtaking supply. From its start with eleven pilot schools in Nebraska, others have accepted the program, their locations spiraling out from Lincoln in concentric circles with several now established South Dakota, Colorado and eastward into Minnesota. And in the past six months, 150 schools have enlisted to participate in the program; this translates to nearly 20,000 students who will be learning how to fly fish in public schools in the next year alone. Schools are asked to participate for at least three years, which will help refine the curriculum to near faultlessness. That’s 60,000 individual students going through program from the last six months of recruitment. “The timing of the creation of this program’s is really perfect,” says Dena. “The whole country is coming to the realization that our kids are not spending enough time outside… They have a ‘get of the couch and play out doors’ attitude, if you will. We’re very fortunate in this respect.” Effectiveness by Association The program was actually brought to the forefront by a young girl, in 2008; the daughter of a friend of Katie’s who happened to be in the National Archery in the School Program (NASP). At the time, the Coles had been contemplating how to get a fly fishing course accepted in schools. The link to the NASP was just what was needed. “We figured if the archery program could be successful while using weapons

in public schools, then getting fly fishing gear into them should be a no brainer,” adds Dena. A school gymnasium, free from inclement weather, after all, would be the perfect place to learn to fly cast. The father and daughter team realized the NASP’s program was, indeed, similar to what they wanted to accomplish with a fly fishing program. “And the more we thought about it, the more we realized a similar path as the NASP was what was needed.” The NASP was started in Kentucky in 2002, and its curriculum has now been taught to nearly five million students throughout the United States. Its curriculum is taught through the Physical Education department (following National Physical Education Standards) to fourth through 12th grade students, which are instructed in International Style Target Archery. “Since they have been so successful, we’ve designed the fly fishing program after the NASP’s. And they have been very supportive, and have graciously helped us along every step of the way,” says Katie. The Basic and Beyond NFFAP Instructors use the K.I.S.S. (Keep It Simple Stupid) theory when instructing casting techniques to these kids by teaching the “11 steps to the basic fly cast” (mimicking the archery course’s 11-step program), which consist of learning to cast old-school style, with a book under the elbow (a sponge replacing the book), and basics of casting with pick up, back cast, forward cast, let down. “And we educate students to relinquish the notion that fly fishing is too hard, too expensive, and for mountain streams and trout species only. It’s a real eye opener for students and instructors alike,” says Dena. The cost for a school to gear up and start teaching is $3000. This includes one eight-hour instructor training and certification, the curriculum’s outline,

text book, DVD, and casting training aid, as well equipment including 10 Ross rods and reels, numerous targets, yarn flies, leaders, and rod cases.

agreed, and added: “The Coles are just so passionate about their program – and it’s just what sport fishing in general needs.”

To help schools faced with budget crunches, the FFEF has established the “Adopt A School” program, which a $3000 tax-deductable donation allows the National FlyFishing in Schools Program to be provided to a school in the name of the donor - named by the benefactor, if desired.

What lies ahead for the program may someday be collaboration with other groups. “After all, our goal is the same,” adds Katie. “We hope to someday partner the NFFSP with other programs that are being offered in school. We’ve chatted with Trout Unlimited about marrying their ‘Trout in the Classroom’ project with ours, as well the programming of other organizations. But that’s a ways out. For now, there’s still a lot of work for my father and I to do on our own.”

And what does the fly fishing industry think of teaching kids to fish in public schools? “Everyone talks about getting kids involved in fishing, but few follow through like this,” says Michael Smith, CFO of fishpond Inc, in Dillon, Colorado. “This is the most spiritual thing going on in the fly fishing world.” John LeCoq, co-founder of Fishpond

For more information on the National FlyFishing in Schools Program, you can check out their website at www. flyfishinginschools.org. at


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First, a full disclosure: the book I am about the review was co-written by the editor of this magazine. Hell, I even gave this book a blurb. Unbiased review? That’s for you to decide. That said, I tackled the reviewing of The Little Red Book of Fly Fishing, coauthored by Kirk Deeter and the late Charlie Meyers, the same way I have with any other book review. I asked these questions: 1) Is this book well-written and interesting? 2) Will its target audience like it? The answer to these questions is an emphatic “yes.” And this came as a surprise to me, because, well, I guess I’ve come to fancy myself as a guy who doesn’t like—and maybe more to the point, doesn’t need—to read “how-to” fly fishing articles and books. I believed I had somehow evolved into a species of reader and fly fisherman who only finds wisdom and pleasure in the more literary tomes, those that tackle the “why” and not the “how.”

The Little Red Book of Fly Fishing AnglingTrade.com / June 2010

Review by Monte Burke

Editor’s Note: Yeah, I’m plugging my own book. Think of it like selling caps with your own shop logo. I did, however, get one of the best writers in the business to give it an unfiltered look, and I truly believe this book can help expand sales and the reach of fly fishing... that’s why Charlie Meyers and I wrote it. Please sell many copies. -KD 30

But now I realize that’s a load of BS. Reading The Little Red Book of Fly Fishing reminded me of that. At my core, I am a hardcore fly fisherman. It is far and away my favorite sport and has been for as long as I can remember. And sure fly fishing is a lyrical pastime performed in some of the earth’s prettiest spots. But at its essence, fly fishing is about problemsolving. Which is what makes it fun. The casting of a fly rod is a physical act, but it’s also an expression of mental memory, a confluence of all the past fishing experiences we’ve catalogued in our heads. Every cast is a manifestation of an attempt to answer the very question that compels us to cast in the first place: “How the hell am I going to catch a fish?”

Ignorance rarely equals bliss on a river. The more you know, the more you will enjoy your time on the water. Which brings us back to The Little Red Book of Fly Fishing, which is very much a “how-to” book. Within you’ll find 250 tips, all written in bright, clear language. The tips cover just about every situation you could possibly face on the water. Some are more philosophical: bummed that the river you’ve just traveled 300 miles to fish is brown with run-off ? Tip # 142 will tell you why you should embrace that dirty water. Some are wildly practical: Does your back bark after a day casting from a drift boat? Tip # 220 says consider putting a wooden block under one foot, which will actually straighten your back. You may already know some of the things in the book, but I guarantee that there will be many tips in this book that you’ve never heard of before. Deeter and Meyers purposely modeled this book after two giants of the how-to genre: Harvey Penick’s Little Red Book: Lessons and Teachings From a Lifetime of Golf, by Penick and Bud Shrake, and The Elements of Style, by William Strunk, Jr., and E.B White, two collaborative books that became classics because they were written clearly and concisely by the best teachers in their given professions. The same is true for The Little Red Book of Fly Fishing. I’ve fished with Deeter. He is a masterclass fisherman and teacher. But maybe more important than that, he’s a dogged learner. One night on a party boat on Chile a few years ago, he spent hours perfecting the Bimini twist as the rest of the gathered fishing bums got hammered on Chilean wine. Meyers was a dean of the outdoor writing world, a trade in which he

had to be a nimble learner, then lucid describer. His presence is already missed. Thankfully, we will always have a piece of Meyers with us because of this book.

I’ve put The Little Red Book of Fly Fishing on my fly fishing bookshelf, right next to my McGuane and Gierach. It holds its own. The “how” should always accompany the “why.” at

1 - 8 0 0 - 4 3 7 - 3 7 9 4 · W W W. R A I L R I D E R S . C O M


I’ve been fly fishing for over 30 years and have been an Orvis guide and instructor. I fish hard and am very tough on gear, and much of my fishing is off the beaten path and I need my gear to be durable, comfortableand dry quickly. Here I am in action on the Madison River in Montana wearing my RailRiders X-Treme Adventure Pants. They are my favorite ‘under wader and wet-wading pants because they have a slim profile, a Velcro cuff that keeps them in place as I pull my waders on, and when the fishing is over and the waders come off, they dry amazingly fast. The X-Tremes do that and more – at the end of the day I can walk into any restaurant and fit right in. Paul Scott , Williamsburg, Virginia

xtremead.indd 1

5/21/10 5:21 PM



Successful shop owners know where their bread is buttered, and tend to specialize for the most part. Socalled destination fly shops, those close to renowned rivers, streams and coastal waters, keep inventories narrowly focused on the local fishing, with more limited offerings for waters or species outside their region. Conversely, shops in major cities that cater to a good number of globe-trotting fly fishers will typically have more diverse inventories to also cover those bases. In Florida and other coastal states, fly shops are increasingly carrying light conventional tackle, kayaks and more to increase sales. Those that operate in-house travel booking services, or even host group flyfishing trips, typically carry everything needed to fish a destination. Even in America’s heartland, you’ll occasionally find a freshwater fly shop that can hook you up for that dream trip to saltwater, and send you on your way with the flies and tackle you need. Typically, the shop’s owner or staff will be well-traveled fly fishers who have been there and done that. And some coastal shops do likewise for fly fishers looking for that Rocky Mountain trout or Alaska salmon trip. The key for shop owners is to find just the right balance. Again, the butter for the bread. The Fish Hawk in Atlanta, Georgia (www.thefishhawk. com) is a prime example of a full-service shop within a day’s travel of both eastern trout streams and coastal saltwater fisheries in South Carolina, Georgia, Florida and the eastern Gulf coast. Owner Gary Merriman has been open since 1974 and says his region is actually the whole country.

Gear Up for Sales

Fly shop inventories should reflect demographics. Written by Mike Conner


“Atlanta fly fishers are travelers. They fish a wide array of fresh and saltwater destinations both abroad and close to home,” said Merriman. “We consider that, but we know that our mainstay is eastern trout fishing, so approximately 65 percent of our product inventory is for trout fishing. We also outfit trout anglers for western trout fishing. Then again we are within a day’s travel to Gulf Coast, Georgia, South Carolina and Florida inshore fly fisheries, and our travel service, Fish Hawk Destinations, books trips worldwide, so we carry a wide variety of fly tackle and flies.”

I fondly recall the smell of mothballs wafting from bulk bins stuffed with saddle hackle, bucktails, furs and hides in a long-gone Ft. Lauderdale, Florida, fly shop. But that was in the late 70s, and mothballs have given way to fancy packaging on pegboards.

“Business has been flat at best in the last two years, and that has made me a better businessman, and I pay more attention to inventory,” said Merriman. “And I watch for trends, such as this past winter’s increase in flytying participation, which calls for increased inventory.”

But one thing has not changed: Fly shop inventories must be focused demographically if a shop is to profit, or simply survive.

Merriman also carries some conventional tackle for both bass and inshore salt water. continued on next page...


Miami is an international hub, and home of the Fly Shop of Miami (www. flyshopofmiami.com) which has a sister shop in Ft. Lauderdale. Manager Dave Olson was quick to draw demographic parallels to The Fish Hawk in Atlanta.

“My first rule of fly fishing in salt water is to have some spin gear aboard,” joked Merriman. “It can be a savior when the wind howls.” Vaughn Cochran, marine artist and owner of Black Fly Outfitters (www. backflyoutfitter.com) in Jacksonville, Florida, says a specialized inventory is essential for his shop, which is fly only. “We are a local, full-service fly shop. I would not call Jacksonville a fly fishing destination in the realm of say, Islamorada or Key West,” said Cochran. “For that reason, we have diversified our inventory somewhat.” “About 60% of our inventory is geared toward Northeast Florida inshore and nearshore fly fishing. However, we also outfit customers for Florida freshwater fly fishing, and offer an extensive fly inventory, both in the shop and online, for those heading elsewhere in Florida or abroad.”

AnglingTrade.com / June 2010

Cochran does assist customers in booking fly fishing trips worldwide through fulltime booking agencies, and his web site features a rather unique tool, the Fly Advisor, that is built around lodge-specific fly recommendations from guides and anglers worldwide. “The customer heading to say, Belize for permit, the Bahamas for bonefish, Montana for trout or the Everglades for snook can visit that section of our site and get not only an overview of the fishing, but learn of the go-to flies needed for the trip,” said Cochran. “And those flies are standard inventory items in our shop and online.” 34

“I would say we are partly a destination fly shop, given our proximity to worldclass flats fishing in Biscayne Bay, the Keys and Everglades National Park, and offshore fly fishing,” said Olson. “Yet fly fishers use Miami International Airport as a connection to popular fisheries in the Bahamas, Central and South America. These destinations offer limited or no fly tackle and flies, so we are like the proverbial last stop saloon!”

well on bonefish wherever you fish for them, fly pattern choice can make or break your trip,” said Olson. “So we carry patterns that do best in specific destinations. We have smaller flies tailored for Belize bones, and the bigger patterns that score on Florida bonefish. We also stock big peacock flies for fly

Olson gets appreciable walk-in business from anglers on layover, and his inventory of flies reflects that.

fishers heading to Brazil for trophy bass, in addition to smaller streamers for our smaller, local peacocks.”

“Though an 8-weight fly rod and machined reel, for example, will serve

Olson says he is in a unique position in that Argentinians who winter in South

Florida buy stream trout flies, 4- to 6-weight fly rods and waders from him that they cannot get at home. Despite this diverse customer base, Olson’s inventory is primarily focused on local fly fishing, at a 70 to 30% ratio. Smaller fly shops, such as Gruene Outfitters (www.grueneoutfitters.com) in New Braunfels, Texas is located within 30 miles of both San Antonio and Austin. It is a typical local fly shop, though unique in that it is located within a half-hour drive of a true tailwater trout fishery on the Guadalupe River, river and lake largemouth bass fishing, and a 3-hour drive of the Texas coast. Manager Jake DePriest says the great majority of their customers are locals, and about 60 percent of the shop’s inventory is slanted to fresh water, with the focus on trout.

“Our big draw is rainbow and brown trout fishing in the Guadalupe,” said DePriest. “The majority of our customers are beginner to intermediate fly fishers, so we can outfit them top to bottom, whether they are out for trout or heading to the coast to fish for flats reds and seatrout on the Lower Laguna Madre out of Arroyo City.”

to retail manager Keith Westra, online sales account for 80% of their total. “As far as inventory is concerned,” said Westra, “I would not say we specialize because we outfit fly fishers for a wide array of fisheries. To break it down, 50% of our fly tackle (in the store) is suited for trout, both in California and the Rockies,

“We do sell a lot of soft goods, outdoor wear and such, out of a small floor space so our fly tackle inventory must be tightly focused to our main fisheries,”added DePriest. “Since most of our customers buy flies rather than tie their own, we have really cut back on tying supplies to make more room for flies and clothing.” Leland Fly Fishing Outfitters (www. flyfishingoutfitters.com), located in the San Francisco business district, is a 6,000-square-foot, full-service shop with a major online presence. In fact, according


with the remainder a mix for steelhead, bass, stripers and saltwater species outside of California.” Westra estimates that 70% of Leland’s walk-in clientele are locals who fish waters within 5 hours or so of town for trout, stripers and bass. The others are tourists, with a good number from New Zealand looking for fly tackle hard to find at home, or at a slightly better price. “As far as flies are concerned, we do stock “destination kits” such as those from Umpqua, but most of the staff has fly fishing travel experience so we also like to cherry pick for customers from our bulk fly bins. There is nothing better than outfitting a customer the with flies that worked for you in a particular destination,” said Westra.


AnglingTrade.com / June 2010

From the standpoint of a fly fishing consumer, I am fully cognizant of this down economy’s impact on the local fly shop. The challenges to keep inventories relevant and current, and the pegs full, are readily apparent in shops that I patronize now and in the recent past. But enough shop owners seem to have a good grasp on their demographics. Though I do buy online occasionally, there is nothing that replaces going to my local fly shop, even though I kinda miss those mothballs. at


Keep it Public

AnglingTrade.com / June 2010

Why recent access issues in Colorado and Utah should matter to all of us

Editor’s Note: With this column, Angling Trade welcomes Tom Bie, publisher and editor of The Drake into the “Backcast” space that had formerly been filled by the late Charlie Meyers. I was grateful to have Tom assume the spot, knowing that he was one of the few editors I work with who had the chops—and had earned enough fly fishing industry respect—to pull it off with aplomb. After reading the column, I was more than pleased, because it appears to me that Tom has picked up right where Charlie would have left off. Charlie never had a problem with a hot issue, nor with plying through the story layers to present a perspective that accurately reflected the interests of the angler. Most media coverage of the Taylor River case hasn’t done that to date. Angling Trade just did. Here’s hoping that the industry takes notice of this issue, and we don’t end up echoing a “what happened in Utah?” thread in the future. 36

One of the most astonishing claims by attorneys in many Western river-access cases has been their assertion that allowing fisherman or floaters to “use their client’s river” somehow constitutes a Takings Clause violation of the Fifth Amendment, because it devalues their client’s property. But what these landowners—along with, apparently, the judges—have forgotten is that, despite what the real estate agent may have told the buyer, the river wasn’t part of the deal. What people are purchasing in these situations is extraordinary riverfront access that millions of ordinary Americans could only dream of having. But they aren’t buying the resource, because the resource was never for sale. As Kirk Deeter mentions in his editor’s column, Utah’s HB 141 is bad news for Utah anglers and businesses. But what’s being proposed in Colorado is far worse. What’s impressive about the Colorado case is that the attorneys have managed to divide two groups traditionally on the same side—floaters and fishermen. Here is where the Taylor River case is genius. Because the landowner runs a private fishing lodge, attorneys have been able to craft this as a fight primarily between a commercial rafting company and some well-heeled fly fishermen. So when The Wall Street Journal runs a story on the issue—as it did in April, the article makes it sound as if greedy fishermen are demanding to privatize waters, which clearly misses the point. The only fisherman who want to privatize those waters are a dozen potential clients of the “Wilder on the Taylor” real estate development, who haven’t yet learned that that they could spend the same amount of money to catch permit in Belize. But whatever. Several other media outlets covering the Colorado story also wrote it like a run-of-the-mill access debate, where it’s all about getting to the river or staying below the high water mark. But this case isn’t about the ability to legally cross someone’s property to get to a river. Nor is it about staying below the high water mark once you get there, which is the law in other western states like Oregon, Idaho, and Montana. This case isn’t even continued on next page...

AnglingTrade.com / June 2010



about touching the river bottom along the way, which you can’t do in Colorado or Wyoming, which is why dropping anchor in the middle of the Green River north of Pinedale in order to, say, pull a streamer out of a client’s shoulder, can get you cited for trespassing. Or so I’m told.

AnglingTrade.com / June 2010

No, this debate—inexplicably and unbelievably—proposes that nobody even be allowed to float past the property. Landowners in the Taylor River case are claiming not only that they own the property below the high water mark, and the land beneath the river, but that they also own the surface of the river, the river itself, the fish that swim through it, and the air above it. That this case is even being considered makes Colorado the laughing stock of anglers across the country. But because Colorado citizens are so used to getting beaten down in the process of handing over their access rights to the highest bidder, few have stopped to seriously consider what a ludicrous proposal this actually is. If this idea were to become law, here is what the discussion will sound like in bars across Oregon and Montana: “So let me get this straight: Some guy from Dallas waltzes into Colorado, buys a bunch of land along a public river, then says that nobody should even be allowed to float by his property? And the people of Colorado let him get away with that? Ha! What a bunch of pussies! Let’s be clear: This issue isn’t about safety or trespassing or takings or a few bad apples leaving trash 38

behind. This is about wealthy landowners wanting to privatize public resources for their own gain. Maybe there was a time when this wasn’t what it was about, back before there were blueprints for monetizing private trout fishing. But that is surely what it has become. And unless this industry and everyone in it wants to see situations like Utah become the rule rather than the exception, we all better start paying more attention. Of course, none of this comes as a surprise to fly shop owners around the country, many of whom are familiar with this scenario: Shop owner begs, borrows, and pleads

his way into a private lease deal with a landowner, then busts his ass over many years creating a roster of steady clients to pay for it, only to have the landowner turn to him at the end of the lease and say: “I been thinking about this—what do I need you for?” Soon the landowner—or someone he just sold to—builds a riverside lodge, hires the best guides away from the shop, and sends the shop owner back to selling midges and guiding public water. Now, wouldn’t it have been easier, and made more sense in the long run, just to fight for preserving public access in the first place? at


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Angling Trade June 2010  

Angling Trade Magazine - The Buzz on the Flyfishing Biz

Angling Trade June 2010  

Angling Trade Magazine - The Buzz on the Flyfishing Biz