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the buzz on the flyfishing biz


Inside the

2012 Success Issue

Effective Events for Shops/Flying Pig Rods/ Building Guide Business/Media Evolution/Q&A with AFFTA’s new GM/Steelhead in the Balance/Arapaima in Guyana/and More June 2012

the buzz on the flyfishing biz






26 Bringing Home the Bacon

6 Editor’s Column

Managing Editor

Mow the lawn. We can care all we want about improving businesses and introducing fly fishing to newcomers. But none of that happens minus habitat. What are you doing to pitch in? By Kirk Deeter

8 Currents

A punk rock band leader pours personal passion into making a line of fly rods... but fly shop reception has put him out of the “mainstream” again. Can he pull it off? Apparently, he can make pigs fly.

Contributing Editors

Mabon Childs, Sarah Warner

Tom Bie Ben Romans Steven B. Schweitzer

Photos unless noted by Tim Romano

Costa has supported an effort to further develop sport fishing in Guyana, including a film project that revolves around the quest to catch the elusive and rare arapaima on the fly. By Kirk Deeter

Can we grow business through efficiency? Craig Langer of THE FLyBOOK gives us two examples of shop owners who have done exactly that.

34 AFFTA’s New Man AT’s Q&A with AFFTA’s recently hired general manager, Ben Bulis. He offers frank responses on the challenges he faces, rebuilding trust, and how he things AFFTA can serve dealers better.

46 Backcast Steelhead in the Balance. It’s up to the media to help protect some of the Northwest’s best wild steelhead fisheries. By Geoff Mueller

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. Printed in the U.S.A. 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 / June 2012

Guide Side

Copy Editors

Joe Cermele, Tom Keer, Craig Langer, Will Rice

36 The Real Media Skinny

AT’s man goes inside with a fly outfitter in Wyoming, who took a viable business and increased profit considerably within a matter of a few years. By Will Rice

Geoff Mueller


30 Guest Editorial

42 Turning Profit on the

Tara Brouwer

24 Costa’s Guyana Vision

By Geoff Mueller

By Tom Keer

Art Director


28 Eventworthy

A long-time media insider goes to the sources... print, online, and otherwise... to explain just where the future is--and where the value lies--when it comes to the “three G’s,” that is, “Gutenberg Greets Gates.”

Tim Romano

The latest people, product and issues news from the North American fly fishing industry, including product news, the latest environment/conservation issues, events, happenings, people news, issues and more.

By Joe Cermele

Looking to create a reason to attract dedicated anglers and newbies alike into your store? These three retailers from three corners of the country have pulled it off with maximum bottom-line effect. Here’s what they have to say about doing a “grassroots” event.

Kirk Deeter

OKAY, WE ADMIT TO VEERING WILDLY WHEN DRIVING OVER BRIDGES, SIZING UP THE NEIGHBOR’S CHICKENS FOR HACKLE AND A POTENTIALLY UNHEALTHY INTEREST IN SMALL INSECTS. And yes, we’ve been known to whip dueling micrometers from pocket protectors to check line thickness from time to time. The upside? Products like our RIO Gold trout line. RIO Gold’s revolutionary taper design provides phenomenal loop stability for maximum distance, and at the same time, allows easy loading at close range. It handles flies from #2 to #22 and excels in every situation a trout angler might encounter. When our fanaticism results in what might just be the best, most versatile trout line ever made, we figure we deserve a little forgiveness. At least from our fellow anglers.

Ready to fish the ultimate trout line? Fish RIO Gold.



Joe Cermele is the fishing editor for Field

Because It’s NEVER Too Early To Think About Accessories!

& Stream magazine, one of the oldest and most respected outdoors brands in the world. We’re proud to be able to tap Joe for stories now and then, because we can legitimately claim “we knew him back when.” Truth is, he’s an avid fly guy, and he’s also a punk rock afcionado (and guitar player), so the opportunity to write about “Flying Pig” rods and the anti-establishment mindset that went into creating that brand was right in Joe’s wheelhouse.

Tom Keer is another name that keeps popping up in the context of writers shaping the fishing industry. He’s covered a wide range of fishing topics for a broad list of media brands, and he’s also on the forefront of promoting the sport on behalf of the Recreational Boating and Fishing Foundation. He’s going to be a featured speaker at the upcoming ICAST trade show in Orlando, Florida, this July. And Tom never minces words. In this issue, he gets real about media... the standards, the future, and where real writing talent lives.

15353 E. Hinsdale Cir. Unit F Centennial, CO 80112 ph 303-690-0477 fax 303-690-0472

Craig Langer queried us about writing an opinion editorial-style piece for the magazine, and we said “yes.” It wasn’t so much based on the writing he’s done, rather, we’d already learned from various guides and retailers who have worked with Craig how THE FLyBOOK has made them money, simply by helping them streamline and organize their business operations. We figured if Craig was willing to give some insights away for free, the least we could do is print them.

I nt ro d uc e s t he World’s Firs t


Geoff Mueller is Angling Trade’s editor-at-large, and he’s also integrally involved in producing a magazine called The Drake (you may have heard of it; it’s a hot title for the “in-crowd”). Geoff is one of the most talented writers and editors in fly fishing these days, and we affectionately refer to him as “The Mule,” simply because when we know we have a tough issue to address, we can count on his chops to carry the load. In this issue, he writes about grassroots events done right. (He also writes our Backcast column.)

Will Rice (a contributing editor for The Drake, and a long-time AT team member) just quit his day job with a Fortune 500 company to engage more with the fly fishing industry. We don’t know whether to kiss him on the lips or kick him in his ass. Either way, we aren’t ashamed to run his great copy. In this issue, Will reports on a guy who blew his guide business up (in a good way) in a tight economy.

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


Mow The Lawn

none of that would have happened if it weren’t for clean habitat and trout in rivers. Now, those of you who know me well will hopefully agree that I’m not a “fire and brimstone” type. Do I have opinions? You bet. Can I be sharp with the pen when so motivated? Sure. This is, however, the first and last time I’m going to get on this soapbox, so please pay attention. I’ve been around fly fishing a long time. And I’ve learned that none of this stuff happens without habitat. Ain’t no rods nor reels sold… ain’t no fly shops… ain’t no guides… no exotic travel companies… nothing, without trout in good places. And I’ll take that a step further (realizing that trout fishing is at least 80% of the fly fishing world), and say that there aren’t any fancy saltwater reels, or flats skiffs, or tropical lodges, unless there’s a population of fly fishers (who fell in love with trout, first), to make their worlds go around.

When I was 13 years old, my first “job” was mowing lawns with my dad’s Jacobsen mower. Dad provided the machine; I was responsible for the gas. And back then, gasoline cost about a buck a gallon, so I hired out for $3 an hour, and for a sweaty afternoon, I made enough profit to buy all the comic books, baseball cards, and packs of Bubble Yum I could chew. I recall, however, my first business crisis. I hadn’t remembered to fill my red plastic gas can, though my best customer—who had the biggest lawn in the neighborhood—was expecting me for our usual Saturday morning appointment. Mom had another obligation, and Dad was tied up also, so I had no choice but to visit our next-door neighbor and ask for gas. And, thankfully, he hooked me up.

We need to fix that. But I will say that TU is one of the largest and most effective grassroots conservation organizations in America. Democrat… Republican… if you fish, you fish. In this day and age, quality fishing is one of the few things we might all agree on. Say what you will about TU—and I’ve voiced my criticisms of that organization in the past—but the fly fishing industry ultimately revolves around trout. Trout—like every other fish we endeavor to chase with a fly rod—depend on habitat.

“I’m done,” I said. “I returned that can full.”

Thank goodness for Patagonia, and Orvis, and Far Bank, and Costa del Mar, and Scott, and others who have already done so much.

And so I did. Because that’s the way my family does things. / June 2012

Actually, I know some of the brush-back. The guide or outfitter gives a trip for a TU event; it sells for less than what it’s really worth… guide whacks out the full day, and there’s no tangible thanks on the other end. Just more appeals to give more, do more, and all that.

So I did the job. Later on, Dad ran me to the gas station where I filled the neighbor’s can and my own. Yet after I’d returned the neighbor’s tank and was ready to rest on my laurels, my Dad stopped me and asked what I was doing.

“You’re not done,” Dad answered. “You need to mow his lawn also, because he made your work possible.”

Now I have opted to take a job with Trout Unlimited, editing that organization’s quarterly, TROUT magazine. It’s a great opportunity with an established national media entity. And I am honored. But the real reason I took the job is because I couldn’t say no. I’ve made a career out of fishing and writing about it. But 6

How any guide, or any shop owner, or any rod manufacturer, etc., can wake up in the morning and look at themselves in the mirror, if they know they’re not putting something back in the tank is beyond my comprehension.

I’m asking, as a favor to me and a favor to this sport, that you consider amping up involvement with TU. Or CCA, or TRCP, or any other organization that puts habitat on the front burner. It’s time to mow the neighbor’s lawn. Kirk Deeter Editor, Angling Trade



Currents Bristol Bay Update

billions of dollars in mineral potential against one of the most prolific wild fisheries on the planet. And 2) it’s not a debate that fits neatly within party lines. Two thirds of hunters and anglers oppose Pebble. Visit http://www.capwiz. com/savebristolbal/issues/ alert/?alertid=61010161&type=ML to voice your hope that the President initiate the Clean Water Act Process to stop Pebble, and do it now. Have your friends and customers do the same. Don’t worry about writing that down, Angling Trade will publish this link online also at

The Environmental Protection Agency released a draft watershed assessment of Bristol Bay (relative to the proposed Pebble Mine) on May 18. In it, the EPA acknowledged that the Bristol Bay region accounts for 46 percent of world- Company Spotlight: Global Rescue wide sockeye salmon, and noted that the fishery supports 14,000 sustainable jobs and yields $480 million in economic impact annually. The EPA also noted that even with a minimal footprint, Pebble Mine would block up to 87 miles of key salmon (and trout) streams. And it suggested that, “at least one or more (mining) accidents or failures could occur, potentially resulting in immediate severe impacts and detrimental, long-term impacts on salmon habitat.” / June 2012

In other words, the EPA has stated the obvious, for the record. (At least it has stated those facts that have galvanized the vast majority of the fly fishing industry behind efforts to protect Bristol Bay). Does that mean the Bristol Bay fight is over? Not hardly. What must happen now is that to Obama administration must be convinced to allow the EPA to use its power under the Clean Water Act to restrict the permits necessary to build Pebble. In an election year environment, that won’t be easy. Two things make Pebble the most compelling environmental hotbutton issue right now. 1) It’s an all-in, high stakes game, pitting literally hundreds of 8

Many anglers dream of fishing in exotic locales and catching species beyond their wildest imaginations. In fact, the “adventure travel” realm may be one of the hottest, most recession-proof segments of the fly market. There has been, and will continue to be, a strong market of anglers willing to go “beyond the norm” to scratch that itch. But despite the best intentions, and the best on-site preparations, bad things can happen. So what’s the “bail-out” plan for an angler who finds himself or herself in serious distress, half a world away from home? I recently had an opportunity to fish with Don Causey, long-time editor of the candid “Angling Report,” (and “Hunting Report”), who has carved a niche by never mincing words

about the “do’s and don’ts” for those who are willing to drop cash on a lifetime adventure. Causey once found himself in a tough spot, having fallen out of a tree stand on a hunting trip in Africa, and in need of serious, immediate medical attention. “The biggest mistake an adventure angler (or hunter) can make is not having a backup plan in place that helps them get home, and in the care of the best medical professionals, should something go terribly wrong,” he explained. The truth is that a professional jet evacuation from the third world can cost thousands of dollars per hour. In the worst case, a heart attack in the Amazon can end up costing the equivalent of a family inheritance (if one is lucky enough to survive). In the best case, a simple insurance plan can save your life, and have you in capable hands within hours. That is, in essence, what Global Rescue is all about. Global Rescue is one of the fastest-growing proven companies that handles medical and other emergency evacuations. Based in Massachusetts, Global Rescue operates on a simple premise. You pay the weekly (or yearly) membership plan (a year’s medical coverage is $329 for an individual, and short term coverage is $119), and if you wind up in trouble, they come in a medically-equipped plane and pick you up with expert professionals (doctors and paramedics, many of whom are veterans of elite military rescue units), and whisk you back home where you get the highest standards of care in the world. If you’re a world-traveling angler yourself, the potential benefits are obvious. But if you are a facilitator continued on next page...

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of other world-traveling anglers, the benefits of understanding and recommending Global Rescue are also important. By being a part of the Global Rescue “Affiliate” program, a fly shop, trip coordinator, or otherwise, stands to earn a 10 percent commission. In other words, you tell your client to go catch tigerfish in Africa, and encourage him to take out an membership plan before he takes his trip, and you earn not only the 10 percent commission, you also have the peace of mind of knowing that, if something goes terribly wrong, you’ve done your ready best to ensure the safest, most rewarding trip possible. Hundreds of thousands of traveling sportsmen and sportswomen are proof of the value of this program. The fact that Global Rescue is growing exponentially reinforces that. For more information, check out

Company News / June 2012

Fishpond Makes Significant Structure Changes

Fly fishing accessories and lifestyle brands Fishpond and Lilypond recently announced major business changes. Co-founder, David M. Thompson has sold 50 percent ownership interest in Fishpond and Lilypond to Denver businessman Charles H. Kurtz and his family, making the Kurtz’s equal partners with John Le Coq, co-founder and co-owner since 1999. In addition, 10

all operations for Fishpond and Lilypond have moved to a central location in Denver, Colorado. “After 13 years of successful growth, I am pursuing charitable and other interests,” notes Dave Thompson. “Along with the rest of the team from Kansas, I will be working closely with the new and existing employees in Colorado to ensure a smooth transition for all our dealers. I wish the best for both Fishpond and Lilypond in the coming years and know the team in Denver aspires to do great things with both brands.” Fishpond and Lilypond say the changeover won’t affect operations, particularly in relation to dealers and orders. The company emphasized that avoiding any disruption is paramount to continuing relationships with existing customers. “After working with John on both Fishpond and Lilypond for multiple years, I have a great affinity for these brands and want to see continued growth for us and our dealers,” adds Ben Kurtz. “Consolidating offices from Lenexa and Dillon to one central location and having all operations under one roof will be extremely beneficial to our business goals.” “As a founding partner, it is my commitment to all our dealers and customers to continue to deliver the heartbeat of our brands with unequalled product design, creative branding, customer service and a passion for the outdoors allowing us to help protect the environment we all share,” says John Le Coq. “I am proud to have new equal business partners with Charles H. Kurtz and family. I also wish Dave and his wife Cindy well in all of the new opportunities that exist ahead of them.”


Pat Dorsey, Pro Fly Fishing Guide & Author

The Mother of All Redfish Adventures? Louisiana Captain Gregg Arnold has built a strong national following among anglers who like to go fishing in the “Land of Giants.” Now he’s taken things to a higher level by launching “The Mother Ship,” the 72’ luxury yacht, Southern Way, which accommodates up to 8 anglers, plus their guides and crew.

A Mother Ship experience begins with limo service from Louis Armstrong New Orleans Airport to Breton Sound Marina, where anglers are shuttled by skiff over 10 miles into the Biloxi Marsh. Anglers will be stationed directly in prime fishing water – eliminating the need for the long daily runs and increasing fishing time. The Mother Ship will offer continued on next page...

This reuseable tungsten putty is environmentally friendly, easy to use, and the choice of the pros.

15353 E. Hinsdale Circle, Unit F Centennial, Colorado 80112

303-690-0477 / June 2012


a lodge-like atmosphere for intact or mixed groups. It will also offer food and accommodations that eclipse anything currently available outside New Orleans, Arnold says. Rates will range from $2500 per day for a single angler, down to $700 per day per angler for parties of 8. A three-day minimum is required. For information contact Gregg at, or call the Mothership hotline at 601-466-0152. Cabela’s Announces Long Anticipated Denver Area Stores
 Construction to begin this fall; both locations scheduled to open in 2013 Cabela’s Incorporated announced plans to extend its footprint in the

Colorado market, building stores in two Denver-area locations – Thornton and Lone Tree. Construction is scheduled to begin this fall and Cabela’s expects to open both locations in 2013. The stores will be Cabela’s second and third in Colorado, joining the Grand Junction location. “Because of the longstanding loyalty of our customers in the Centennial State, the abundance of outdoor opportunities across the region and Denver’s proximity to Cabela’s headquarters, it’s the perfect situation to open two stores,” said Cabela’s Chief Executive Officer Tommy Millner. “This is the first time we’ve simultaneously announced two stores in the same metropolitan area so that says a lot about how we feel about the Denver area.”

The 110,000-square-foot Lone Tree store will be located in Douglas County south of Denver in the new RidgeGate Commons development along Interstate 25 at RidgeGate Parkway, about a mile south of Park Meadows Mall. RidgeGate Commons will be located on the southwest quadrant of the interchange and is being developed by Coventry Development. The 90,000-square-foot Thornton store will be located north of Denver in a new retail development along Interstate 25 at 144th Avenue. Another Baston Generation Batson Enterprises, a U.S.-based, family-owned wholesaler of rod blanks and rod building components

proudly introduced a third-generation Batson to the industry recently. Keller Batson (22) is the latest addition to the 17 in house professionals at Batson Enterprises based in Sequim, Washington. Keller will be mentored by one of the finest and most respected designers in the industry, Mike Thorson. Keller’s responsibilities will include SolidWorks designs that Batson Enterprises provides to its customer base worldwide, new product development with the TEAM’s input as generated by the industry needs or requests, and working closely with Batson’s OEM accounts to help those folks bring their visions to life. His 11 years as a rod builder and his lifetime of fishing will be assets in helping the Batson TEAM provide the industry with new and innovative products. Bill Batson, CEO of the company, said: “We are very excited that Keller has made a choice and commitment to join the TEAM, and to keep the family legacy alive. We look forward to continuing the growth we have seen in the past 12 years.”

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Tsimane Back on Track in Bolivia The popular Tsimane lodge in Bolivia, home to some of the best golden dorado fishing in the world, fell on rough times recently by losing its permission to operate from the Bolivian government. AT just received word from the company that the issues have

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lages, spraying around the lodges and sleeping under bug nets have all proven incredibly successful.

been largely resolved, and the lodge is set to resume trips. Here’s what they sent: / June 2012

We are very proud to announce the Tsimane 2012 season, after a tough political issue in Bolivia! We would like to share the letter from Ken Morish, a good friend and one of the most important business partner and travel agent of Untamed Angling. “The fishing operation we consider to be one of the most interesting in the world has faced some significant hurdles over the past couple of years. First the news that several anglers had contracted Cutaneous Leishmaniasis (a nasty little disease carried by infected female sandflies) sent a major shock wave through the angling community. Since the operation and visiting anglers have become aware of this disease (which occurs in over 80 countries were the weather and warm and sandflies roam) there have been no reported cases. Basic common sense adjustments including no longer fishing in shorts and shirt sleeves, wearing bug dope when near the native vil14

Their next challenge pertained to the native Tsimane people’s protest of building a super highway right through the center of the national park in which they live and operate. The highway, which was to connect Brazil with the Pacific, was a big money deal and their successful protest greatly enraged Bolivian president Evo Morales, leading him to temporarily revoke their license to operate the two lodges that we refer to as Tsimane. This, in turn, lead to renegotiations with the government, the establishment of a new highway route (that did not go through the park) and the government eventually re-issuing Tsimane’s permits. The problem was that this re-issue process took longer than expected and forced all anglers booked in April May and early June to reschedule to later dates. It was a real disappointment for those anglers and we feel very badly for all who got dragged through that process. But the good news is that this operation is now up and running again and we could not be happier. I still maintain that the week I spent there was the single most interesting and rewarding week of fishing in my adult life…the coolest trip ever. Have a look over my trip report for the full story. They still have some great openings for this season.” Hardy Cup Set for August On August 4, 2012 Hardy USA and The Catskill Fly Fishing Center and Museum (CFFCM) will host the second annual Hardy Bros. Cup bamboo rod casting competition. This annual casting event will be open to all individuals and the only requirement is to use a bamboo fly rod 9’ in

length or smaller. This casting contest will be based on two distance casts and one accuracy cast. Handicaps will be applicable to rods under 8’ in length and a tie breaker will be determined by the age of the rod. Casters should be able to cast a sight fly 50 feet with a 7.5’ leader. Leaders and sight flies will be provided. The overall point champion will receive their choice of a Hardy Bamboo Fly Rod, second place choice of a Hardy Perfect Reel, and third place choice of a Hardy St. George reel. The winning caster’s name will be engraved on the Tiffany-designed “Hardy Bros. Cup” that will remain on display in the Catskill Fly Fishing Museum.

Last year’s competition (the first) included casters from all over the USA, Canada, Argentina and Japan. The top three finishers for 2011 were: Masaki ‘Take’ Takemoto, Jin Woo Lee and Mike McFarland. Hardy recently received notice that Masaki ‘Take’ Takemoto will return to defend his title. The Hardy Cup Casting Championship will coincide with the CFFCM’s Summerfest and Anglers Market. continued on next page...

August 16 -18, 2012 Reno, NV New for 2012 - IFTD is offering forums & discussions regarding significant issues facing the fly fishing industry. Controversies & Conversations

A forum that discusses & dissects the industry’s most important & relevant issues. Topics Include: • • • •

The Role of the Specialty Fly Shop for the Future The Direct Sales Movement by Manufacturers and What It Means For Retailers The Role that Ebay & Amazon Currently Play in the Industry AFFTA’s Relevance Moving Forward

In addition, expert panels, forums & classes will be providing a mix of technical tools for Retailers Panels Include: • • • • •

New for 2012 - Retailer University

20 Fantastic Sales Ideas & Concepts for Retailers Marketing & Building Your Guide and Outfitting Business New Fly Rod Trends for the Future Fly Line/Spey Line 101 Wader Technology - What the Future Holds

IFTD -A Marketplace of Ideas


The Anglers Market, now in its 29th year, is one of the largest fishing and outdoor flea market and fishing collectible show in the USA. Visitors will find over 100 tables loaded with fishing collectibles and treasures. In addition to fishing and outdoors related items, local craft and gift vendors will have something for non fishing companions and families to peruse. On Sunday, Jubilee Day will be held to celebratecommunity milestone events: a kids fishing derby, Agnes Van Put’s 96th birthday and cake for all. Vendor space is available. For more information contact the CFFCM at 845-439-4810

Product News RIO Adds New Lines RIO Products, manufacturer of fly lines, leaders and tippet material, added one new line each to its SlickShooter and Powerflex Core Shooting Lines to give saltwater, salmon and steelhead anglers more distance and ease while casting. The Powerflex Core Shooting Lines have a strong monofilament core that results in the thin diameters, great strength and durability anglers need to obtain more distance thanks to reduced friction between the line and the rod guides. The

slick XS Technology and supple cold water coating ensure more distance and a tangle-free line. The new 0.040� diameter floating shooting line in this collection comes

in yellow, and features a large, 6” welded front loop for quick shooting head attachments. This sized shooting line is ideal on heads of 650 gr (9/10) and larger. This line, along with the others in the Powerflex Core collection, is 100 feet long, and retails for $39.95. SlickShooter has a very hard, slick finish on this oval shaped nylon shooting line and once stretched has no memory. These attributes combine for an extremely low coefficient of friction for incredible distance. The new blue 25 lb. line in this collection is 115 feet long and retails for $9.95.

be retracted to become flush with the spool body when used alone, or with other tippet spools on the market. Each of the spools are color coded to correspond to the tippet material type--green for freshwater nylon, blue for saltwater hard mono, and orange for fluorocarbon. The spools are also molded with UV inhibitors to help protect the tippet from degenerating UV rays. Each spool rim has a built-in cutting razor. Each spool will include 30 meters of material which he company claims is approximately nine percent more than its competitors.

Steve Parrott Releases Czech Nymphing Master Class DVD

The new tippet will be launched in four separate waves:

Following up on his successful Czech Nymphing 101 DVD, Steve Parrott, co-owner of The Blue Quill Angler in Evergreen, Colorado, has produced a follow-up called Czech Nymphing Master Class. As the name implies, this is a more advanced look at on-stream situations where various European nymphing techniques, including French and Spanish styles, can and should be used. Cost of the DVD is $30, and it’s a good resource for anyone (guides included) who wants to bone up on the Euro styles of fishing.

• Nylon 0X-8X in May 2012

SA Redesigns Tippet Spools

• Saltwater in 10,12,16,20,25 and 30 in July 2012 • Freshwater nylon and Fluorocarbon in 14,16,20,22,25,30,35 and 40 in August 2012 Product Review: StrikeIndicator Tool Really Does Simplify Given the popularity of fishing strike indicators with nymph rigs, the importance of a reliable attachment system—one that’s easy to use, allows the angler to adjust positions to fish different depths, and maintains that position during the fishing day— cannot be underestimated. The StrikeIndicator Tool costs $16.95, and is worth every penny. We’ve tested it on the rivers in Colorado extensively, and and are duly impressed. The system involves a hook-type tool that grabs the leader, and small tubing that slides into place, then fastens yarn in place. It’s easier to refer you to a visual demonstration, so check

“This small, ingenious device makes the attachment of an indicator to your leader very simple. Not only can you attach the indicator in a few seconds, once on it stays where you placed it until you want to move it. Then it easily runs up and down the leader allowing you to fish at various depths quickly and with minimal fuss. There are no knots or kinks in your leader meaning bust offs are greatly reduced; there is no need to re-tie on leaders to fish different depths, just slide it to where you want it and when you want to remove it, it takes a few seconds and you can cast that dry fly to a rising rainbow....” “This is one tool that will become a classic and is sure to end on the majority of angler’s vests.” Doug Stevens Wellington, New Zealand “Half hitches do the job, and so I was skeptical of a fancy new tool. Now I own one, and keep a spare close at hand. The first tool in a long time that has made my job, and personal fishing experiences so much easier and enjoyable. Quick and effortless to use, less fiddling, tightening and repositioning of my indicator means more fly-time in the water. It’s a no brainer” Chris Dore Queenstown, New Zealand Note: Please refer to for regular product reviews by Angling Trade. continued on next page... 17 / June 2012

Scientific Anglers has redesigned its tippet spools and updated label graphics. The new spool features an independent, free-wheeling hub that allows the tippet spool to spin freely when joined together. The hub can

• Fluorocarbon in 0X-7X in June 2012

out to see how it works. Here are some other testimonials from New Zealand, where the product was developed:


And here is some more information on ICAST 2012:

ICAST 2012 is Ready to Roll in Orlando, July 11-13 Here’s an update from Kenneth Andres of ASA on the International Convention of Allied Sportfishing Trades, better known as ICAST: “The response to the show has been very good. We are currently 96 percent sold out on floor space for ICAST 2012. As for registration, we are up 20 percent versus this time last year. All being said, we are heading in the right direction. / June 2012

In addition to our new website this year, we have a new web and mobile application rolling out this month that will allow attendees to use their smart phones at the show. The phone app will allow attendees to view the floor plan and exhibitor list through their phones to help them navigate the show floor, find show schedule information and plan their agendas. This same technology will be used on the show floor through touch screen kiosks which are meant to replace older You Are Here boards. We will have more visuals this year including boats from flat water skiffs and bass boats to offshore boats at the show. Visitors to Orlando in July will definitely know that there is a fishing trade show in town. The best thing is that attendees are going to be able to make their plans in advance using new technology for the show.” 18

Registration for ICAST is now open to all attendees and exhibitors. ICAST is being held July 11 – 13, at the Orange County Convention Center in Orlando, Fla. and promises to be one of the best shows yet. A new, streamlined registration process allows attendees to easily register, make housing reservations and purchase State of the Industry breakfast tickets during the registration process. New Product Showcase and Preview Reception Only at the New Product Showcase can you see the latest fishing gear and accessories before they are unveiled next season. Voting for the “Best of Show” begins on Tuesday, July 10, at 5:00 p.m. during the New Product Showcase Preview Reception and ends at 3:00 p.m. on Wednesday, July 11. Exhibitors are not permitted in the Showcase during the voting period. All ICAST attendees with Buyer or Media-Editorial badges are welcome to cast a vote. When voting ends on Wednesday at 3:00 p.m., the Showcase is open to all ICAST attendees. Just for voting, buyers and media have an opportunity to win one of three $500 cash prizes. Exclusive ICAST-only Buyer Specials Special product discounts-exclusive to ICAST are a popular draw for buyers and packaged in the Reelin’ and Dealin’ Show Specials Guide. The guide helps you maximize your time on the floor so you don’t miss any of the biggest and best deals. Please see the ICAST ad in this issue of Fishing Tackle Retailer for a partial list of exhibitors offering ICAST specials. An updated list can be found at www.

Buyer Raffles Each time a buyer writes an order with an exhibitor, he or she is eligible to enter the ICAST Buyer Raffle for cash prizes and the grand prize of a trip for two to Crocodile Bay Resort in Costa Rica. The more orders placed, the better your chance of winning cash or the opportunity to fish in one the world’s best locations. ICAST 2012 Free Business Education Seminars In order to meet the business needs of our industry, we are evolving the seminar sessions into a “must attend” business education conference with sessions presented throughout trade show hours. This year’s seminars focus on a wide variety of topics for both buyers and exhibitors alike. State of the Industry Breakfast Wednesday, July 11, 7:30 a.m.–8:45 a.m. More than 500 sportfishing industry leaders and professionals come together during the State of the Industry Breakfast held just prior to the show’s opening to hear about issues that impact recreational fishing and our industry. The breakfast is considered a “must attend” event by ICAST attendees. Chairman’s Industry Awards Reception Sponsored by Frabill, Inc. Wednesday, July 11, 6:00 p.m.–7:30 p.m. Jeff Marble, CEO of Frabill, Inc. and Chairman of ASA’s Board of Directors, hosts this year’s welcome reception. During the reception, Marble and ASA President and CEO Mike Nussman will present the New Product Showcase “Best of Show” awards. All ICAST attendees are welcome to attend the awards reception.

New in 2012 - the Apparel Lounge and ICAST Tiki Bar Open during show hours Booth 1715 In past years, the Apparel Lounge has served as a showcase for the latest apparel and merchandise from our sponsoring exhibitors. This year, we are adding a new show feature to the Lounge – the ICAST Tiki Bar. Sponsored apparel will be showcased in the show floor food service area where attendees can check out the featured apparel while having a bite to eat. ASA Resource Center Open during show hours Booth 2251 Stop by the ASA Resource Center to meet the ASA staff, learn how you can take full advantage of your trade association membership; how to support KeepAmericaFishing™; and meet the IRS consultants will be in the booth to answer questions about the excise tax on fishing equipment.

OR Heats Up for August A recent informal poll of retailers and manufacturers by Angling Trade suggests that fly fishing participation in the Outdoor Retailer Summer Market trade show, to be held in Salt Lake City August 2-5, will be at higher than normal levels. OR will host a number of brands that crossover from fly fishing to other sports, like Patagonia, Smith Optics and Costa Del Mar, but the show will also see a number of fly industry stalwarts like Orvis and Redington. And retailers that may have gone to “kick tires” and check out crossover products from canteens to paddleboards and other goods, are now also finding the networking and seminar benefits to be had through OR pretty compelling. AT is going to ICAST… and OR… and IFTD, continued on next page...

Cyber Lounge Supported by the Recreational Boating & Fishing Foundation The Cyber Lounge serves as ICAST’s business center that is prominently located on the show floor. The Cyber Lounge offers complimentary Internet access. Casting Pond and Lure Tank Booth 2151 and Booth 2143 / June 2012

To get an idea of how a rod feels and reacts, you have to experience the cast. The Casting Pond provides buyers, media and other show attendees the opportunity to see and test the latest rods and reels. The Lure Tank lets attendees check out the newest lures while exhibitors demonstrate their features. From top water to jigs, the Lure Tank has it all.


so wherever you can’t be, we will with important product and issues coverage. Stay tuned to in the months ahead for more details. IFTD To Feature “Marketplace of Ideas” For its part, AFFTA is promising a revamped, more retailer-focused theme for its International Fly Tackle Dealer Show in Reno August 16-18. According to AFFTA: “New for 2012, IFTD is offering forums and discussions regarding significant issues facing the fly fishing industry.” We’re reading that, like most of you are, that AFFTA realizes the serious importance of addressing some of the elephants in the room—things like direct sales by manufacturers… big boxes… online sales… discounting… what the real value of the trade organization will be in the future, and so on. Kudos to AFFTA for tackling the issue head-on. They’ve apparently lined up a number of panel discussions and expert seminars as well. We’re eager to sit in and report on how some of those discussions go. Of course, Angling Trade is going to dedicate its entire next print issue around that trade show, so we’ll be offering more of the details of what’s planned in early August. It should be a lively show in a great spot. We’re looking forward to it. / June 2012

Water Worries in Colorado… How serious is the drought situation in Colorado? Consider that the Bureau of Reclamation says it able to release peak flows of about 900 cubic feet per second this year on the Gunnison River below Blue Mesa Reservoir, with base flows likely to hover around 300 cfs the rest of the year. By comparison, last June, after the Gunnison had swelled with a torrent of snowmelt after a particularly wet winter, the Gunnison’s flows reached 15,000 cfs. 20

Another Access Issue? From Michigan United Conservation Clubs ( “If you enjoy using the shoreline of the Great Lakes to walk, fish, swim, or any other activity, you may want to take notice. Those shores you walk may not be open to you under a bill being considered in the Senate Natural Resources committee. Senate Bill 1052 (Sen. Tom Casperson, R–Escanaba) stems from a fight between some coastal land owners and the Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) on the requirement that the owners apply for a permit from the DEQ in order to mow, groom, and remove vegetation between the ordinary high water mark (OHWM) and the water’s edge. The bill would allow Great Lakes property owners the ability to groom their beach up to the water’s edge without getting a permit, and eliminates the law’s reference to the OHWM. Past Michigan Supreme Court cases have held that any area of dry or wet land between the water’s edge and

the OHWM are subject to the Public Trust Doctrine. As part of the Public Trust Doctrine, the public has the ability to use that area for accessing our four bordering Great Lakes. It does not mean you can set up camp and stay the night there, but using the shoreline for beach walking, fishing access, and access for other recreation has always in the past been acceptable. The problem for our beach walkers now under this bill is that by removing the OHWM and inserting language that allows the shore owner to “otherwise maintain” land above the water’s edge, the public could run the risk of being kicked off the shore by fences and barricades built right up to the water’s edge, or face harassment or trespassing threats from neighbors or owner’s if walkers are not walking in the water. For a state that is branding itself as Pure Michigan and boasts access to the most freshwater coastline in the world, this is a chilling thought. For those of us who love accessing our Great Lakes to fish, hunt, walk, swim, or play, this is just bad news.” continued on next page...


the gear side and from the media and education perspectives,” said Borger. “They’re a small, tightly-knit shop with a rich history and deep experience, and you can feel their passion for all things fly fishing when you walk through the door.” Going forward, Burkheimer plans to expand the company’s advisory staff, and will be making announcements as new members come on board. Turneffe Atoll Trust Hires Lindsay Garbutt

People News C.F. Burkheimer announced that Jason Borger has joined the company’s advisory staff. Borger will be providing feedback and input on rod performance, as well as working with Burkheimer on various media and education projects. / June 2012

“Having Jason on-board adds a new element to C.F. Burkheimer. We really appreciate his strong background in fly casting, as well as the art and media skills he brings with him.” Said Kerry Burkheimer, owner of C.F. Burkheimer. “Jason also shares the Burkheimer vision for creating beautiful and highly functional fishing tools.” Burkheimer sees members of it advisory staff as collaborators in the rod creation process, as well as being sources for educational and entertainment media. Advisory Staff members also join Burkheimer’s Pro Staff guides in promoting the company’s rods, and in hosting casting and fishing clinics. “Being associated with Burkheimer is a special opportunity for me, both from 22

Lindsay Garbutt, a leader in marine conservation and tourism in Belize, has been named executive director of Turneffe Atoll Trust, according to Craig Hayes, Chairman of the Turneffe Atoll Trust Board. Garbutt has worked in commercial fishing, conservation and tourism; most recently he served as Chief Executive Officer for the Ministry of Tourism in Belize. Born in southern Belize, he worked as a commercial fisherman as a young man and remains a key advocate for commercial fishermen in Belize. Garbutt was influential in the development of two of Belize’s most successful conservation organizations – Toledo Institute for Development and Environment (T.I.D.E) and the Southern Environmental Association (S.E.A.). He has served as Chairman of the Fisheries Advisory Board and the Belize Tourism Board and has also served on the Protected Areas Conservation Trust Board of Directors. “Turneffe Atoll Trust’s mission is to lead conservation efforts at Turneffe Atoll leading to sustainable social and economic benefits for Belize and serving as a model for similar coastal marine environments throughout the world. Recent Turneffe Atoll Trust efforts have been focused on developing a Turneffe Atoll Marine Reserve

and we are very pleased to welcome Lindsay as our new Executive Director,” said Hayes. Al Ritt Joins Fly Fusion Editorial Team Bird Marketing Group Inc. announced that Al Ritt, of Al Ritt Flies and Peak Fishing, has joined the Fly Fusion Magazine editorial team as field editor. Al joins a cast of well-respected field editors, such as Jim McLennan and April Vokey, and will oversee all fly tying content. Al will report directly to the publisher with the primary objective to strengthen the quality and influence of fly tying within the pages of the magazine. “We couldn’t be more excited to have Al join our editorial family,” said publisher Jennifer Bird. “He is a gem as an individual and will be invaluable as we make the necessary moves to enhance Fly Fusion’s already solid editorial quality. We have known for a long time that our audience takes fly tying seriously and invests heavily in it. Adding Al to the editorial team, with specific direction to enhance this area, is our way of ensuring that we continue to deliver a quality product to our readership.” Fly Fusion Also Announces Partnership Between IF4 and FFF Bird Marketing Group Inc. and Fly Max Films also recently announced a partnership between the International Fly Fishing Film Festival and the International Federation of Fly Fishers. The new partnership will see the International Fly Fishing Film Festival presented as an official fundraising program from the International Federation of Fly Fisher’s national office to all clubs and councils, and will also see the Federation included as an official sponsor of the festival effective with the 2013 screening cycle. at


proximately 280. The country has one of the highest levels of bio diversity on the planet, with 80 percent of the region still covered in rain forest. Rewa’s most valuable resource is its pristine, undeveloped river system, home to one of the largest freshwater fish on the planet, the arapaima. Three expert fishermen – Oliver White, Matt Breuer and Nathan Webber – undertook a two-week voyage deep into the heart of Guyana’s rainforest. Their mission: to demonstrate the arapaima could be caught with a fly rod, a feat never before accomplished. If they succeeded, it would prove the country’s fledgling sport fishing industry is viable, signaling a brighter future for the native people, the rainforest they call home… and the endangered arapaima itself.


Costa’s “Visionary” Guyana Project

Written by Kirk Deeter / June 2012

Right around the time that an audience of fly aficionados was packing a theater in Nashville, Tennessee, for the Fly Fishing Film Tour’s stop on March 27, Al Perkinson, vice president of marketing for Costa (f3t’s presenting sponsor), was actually thousands of miles away, anxiously anticipating the world premiere of a different film. It was at the Rewa Eco-Lodge, in the heart of the Guyanese jungle in South America, where an impromptu cinema morphed from a white sheet draped below a thatch roof. Soft drinks were chilled, popcorn popped, and scores of Amerindian villagers (including dozens of children) scurried to sit cross-legged around the projector to take in the official debut of Jungle Fish. After all, many of them were the stars of the show. 24

As I watched this unfold in person, (I happened to be there as part of story expedition for Field & Stream magazine), I was struck by how surreal it all seemed. On the one hand, cold drinks among friends and movies about fly fishing are apparently a good combination, regardless of continent or culture. On the other, at a time when we’re all wondering about ways to “grow the sport,” it struck me that Perkinson was in his own league, out on a ragged edge that pushes the marketing envelope, demonstrating just how “wide open” the fly fishing world still is for those willing to explore and take risks. For the record, Jungle Fish, directed by Louisiana Kreutz, is wonderful. The film focuses on Rewa, a remote fishing village in the north Rupununi region of central Guyana, population ap-

I’m sorry, but I’ll ruin the ending. They did it. (You wouldn’t expect me to be writing here about it, or having been on a Field & Stream story if they hadn’t anyway, would you?) Thing is, I had to wonder—and ask Perkinson—what’s in all this for Costa? We can talk about catching new fish on a fly in a remote corner of South America… but how does that ultimately sell sunglasses? “Maybe the motivation for all of this is simple,” he answered. “We saw some fellow fishermen in Rewa who needed our help and so we decided to help. That’s really at the core.” Of course, there’s also the media play that’s going to happen as a result of people reading about catching arapaima on a fly, and Costa made that possible. Fly fishing needed a new “Everest.” Arapaima represents the Everest of fly fishing. They’re huge. They’re wily. They’re mean (they’ll attack the boat after you hook them, looking for a little payback). And they’re rare. Rewa is one of the only places on the planet

where you can chase arapaima in a natural environment and have a realistic chance of landing one. Even so, these fish are highly protected. We fished by special permission of the Guyanese government, and going forward, permits (even catch-and-release permits) will be meted out carefully, limited to 16 fly anglers a year. Catching arapaima in Guyana will be to fishing what hunt-

ing Marco Polo sheep in the steppes of south-central Asia is to hunting. I can tell you, having actually hooked and landed an arapaima on the fly (a juvenile, and only possible through the coaching of Oliver White) is all that. You feel the anger of the fish through the taut line. It’s a wrestling match, not sheer hook-and-line physics. It’s a life experience for any angler.

Reverting to that Everest analogy, I’d also suggest that Guyana may become to anglers what Nepal became to mountaineers over a half century ago. Like Nepal, Guyana has been a geopolitical afterthought for decades. And yet the natural resources there are astounding. Not for dabblers, mind you. But for those who want a supreme test of their abilities, there’s no place quite like it. With hope, the Guyanese government will understand this and support sport fishing throughout the country as the economic driver it could surely become. Guyana can, and should be, a one-ofa-kind destination. Perkinson, White, and I (along with Tim Romano, Rich Hohne of Simms, and Patrick Henry of Carana, who spearheaded the exploration for USAID) also took a trip to the Guyanese coast to scout tarpon. Equally astounding. You’ll read about all of it in Field & Stream. Maybe that’s where Costa will get its pound of flesh, along with the other stories in Garden&Gun (this month) and elsewhere that will surely follow. But I think it’s bigger than that. Apparently, so does Perkinson.

Above: World Premier of Jungle Fish at the Rewa Eco-Lodge, Guyana Below: Costa’s VP of marketing, Al Perkinson

“So much in fly fishing these days is about being on the ‘defensive,’ and protecting rivers and opportunity, which is important and good,” Perkinson explained. “But I think this industry can also go on the offensive, and explore and promote new opportunities, within the United States and beyond.” He’s right.

For anyone interested in learning more about Jungle Fish, and actually catching arapaima in Guyana, visit www. costadelmar/protect. -Kirk Deeter


25 / June 2012

And I say thank you, and bully for Al (and Costa). In a global context, we’re just beginning to understand what’s really out there. How we leverage the opportunity… well that’s up to us.


Bringing Home the Bacon How a punk rock icon turned rod builder is carving his name into the fly industry, one Pig at a time. / June 2012

Written by Joe Cermele

If you want to understand the deep connection Larry Damore and his band mates have with the driftless area of Wisconsin, I highly recommend watching Rob Thompson’s documentary, Reverb. If you want to learn how trout streams are a therapeutic contrast to the dirty clubs Damore knows so well, read “Reverb: Punk & Fly Fishing Collide” in the February/March issue of online magazine Thisisfly. However, while both the film and the story do a great job of capturing Damore’s love of flyfishing, they only touch briefly on 26

another of his passions. This legendary front man of Chicago-based Pegboy recently launched a fly rod company. To be as respected in the punk scene as Damore has been for 25 years, your act can’t be a gimmick, you can’t be looking to get rich quick, and you can’t just jump on the bandwagon to be cool. Damore is applying that same attitude to his new brand. In other words, Flying Pig rods are no bull*&^%. The endeavor stems from Damore’s all-or-nothing personality. First he got obsessed with fly fishing. Then

he decided he wanted to understand flies rather than just use them, so he started tying his own. Five years ago, he decided having a rod that felt good and casted well wasn’t enough; he needed to know why it felt and worked the way it did. So he sat down and built his first stick. “Building rods seemed like the natural progression for me,” says 47-year-old Damore. “I wanted to understand everything about actions and what materials went into making a blank. Then it got to a point where I was building my own rods, but I didn’t

think the available blanks were really all that good. So when I decided to start Flying Pig, I decided we would make our own blanks.” Damore began by going on a quest to find the highest quality and lightest materials for blanks that would feel exactly how he wanted during moments of inertia (MOI). According to Damore, this “swing weight” is the most important part of how a rod feels and performs. He explains it like this: greater MOI require more torque to achieve the same rate of angular acceleration. Therefore, the greater the MOI of a fly rod, the more force (torque) is needed to cast and maneuver that rod. His aim was to minimize that needed force, and the result, after a year-and-a-half of trial and error, was Flying Pig’s Liquid series. This line of fast-action, fast-tapering, ultralight rods have the ability to deliver a fly delicately, accurately, and effortlessly, but also have the reserve power to outmuscle big fish. My first thought when testing a 4-weight model on a river full of 5-pluspound trout was that it was out of place. However, the rod that seemingly belonged on a small stream full of 10-inchers pulled some monster rainbows out of tight cover with ease. I was blown away by its performance. “I didn’t really consult with any rod makers during the process,” Damore says. “I guess that’s the punk attitude in me, but I felt like I knew what a good rod was supposed to feel like. The original plan was to have all of our blanks made in the U.S., and I would build each one. But once we put all the numbers together it didn’t make sense. We couldn’t make it cost effective to compete with rod makers like Sage and Winston. We would have been a small company with rods at pretty much the same price level as theirs.”

Given the recent uproar in the fly industry over companies selling direct, the cold shoulder Damore says he’s receiving took me by surprise. Here is a guy with a genuine love for the small fly shop, yet only a few stores in the Midwest have signed on with Flying Pig so far. As Damore puts it: “It’s like they don’t trust our product “Even though they’re family, they’re enough to take it, but at the same time still my investors, and I promised them they don’t expect that we should move we would never get to a point where forward on our own and try to sell what we were so far ahead of ourselves, we’d we can on our website.” Part of the issue, never catch up,” he says. “Right now Damore thinks, is that stores are forced to we’re just pounding the pavement, trying move the product purchased from bigger to get more rods into peoples’ hands, brands by the end of the year, essentially and trying to move forward on word of making Flying Pig rods in their shops mouth and reputation.” competition for the rods they’ve already bought. He also believes shops worry Flying Pig won’t be around long enough to make good on their lifetime warranties. But that, he says, won’t be the case.

That pavement pounding led Damore to the Midwest Fly Fishing Expo in March of 2012. It was Flying Pig’s debut consumer show, and he was overwhelmed by the response. Rods sold, and his booth received a steady flow of traffic from those eager talk to the new gang on the block with the funky wild boar logo. Damore’s next goal is to build a pro staff of reputable guides from around the country. And after traveling this year to check out other fly shows, he also plans to take Flying Pig on a bigger tour in 2013. While he’s amped over the early Flying Pig buzz, much of which is being generated on the flyfishing blogosphere, one hurdle he didn’t expect is leaving Damore miffed.

“What sets us apart from some other rod companies that have popped up recently is that we’re not decorating a cake that’s already been made,” Damore explained. “These companies go to factories with cookie-cutter blanks that are ready to go. All the actions have already been figured out. For us it’s been kind of a slow road trying to get everything perfect. We took the time to get the action of just one series right before launching. We’ve actually already done a full redesign on our 8-weight Liquids because I thought the first set we got were a little too powerful.”

Flying Pig is already hyping two more series on their website—one small-stream line and one steelhead line—though Damore is in no rush to get them out. “When we feel that one or two of the rods from the next series are ready, we’ll release them,” he says. “We’re in no hurry. What’s most important to us is getting it right the first time. Over the “What’s proving to be very difficult is get- next few years my goal is not to become a ting our rods into actual brick-and-mortar million-dollar company, but to simply get stores,” he says. “It seems to me as if a foothold in the industry. If we can just distribution networks are set up not to let keep delivering a great product to people the little guys in. I couldn’t even tell you at great prices without losing money, I’m how many fly shops I’ve called. It’s been happy.” at very tough getting our stuff into stores, so Contact Flying Pig at the Midwest show we decided to sell right from our booth, and I felt like some (877) 447-8423 of the fly shops in attendance got a little upset about that.” 27 / June 2012

Damore’s Liquid series maxes out at $215 dollars for an 8-weight model. To keep his rods affordable, he did two things. First, he found an Asian manufacturer that could both build his blanks and finish the rods to his high standards. That means only top-shelf components to match the blanks he spent so much time developing. Though he prefers not to disclose which other blanks are made

there, he says a few notable U.S. rod brands are using the same factory. Second, Damore promised his small staff and backers—mostly relatives—that he wasn’t going to dump loads of cash into extensive marketing and advertising campaigns.


Eventworthy Shopping new formulas for an age-old sales standby Written by Geoff Mueller

ensued, but Leinweber had a vision and he stuck with it. This year’s show saw more than 850 customers, sales reps for major brands, and included customer deals, guest speakers, and slideshows. When the day’s totals were tallied, they more than doubled the previous year’s cash haul. So how did he get there, and how can you do the same? Step one, Leinweber says, is committing to the long run. His event went from “Demo Day” to “Spring Kick-Off ” before it morphed into its “fly fishing show” handle. “I thought no one else is doing a Colorado Springs Fly Fishing Show, so I’m going to call it that—and it was born. But it definitely takes time and history as it grows, develops, and matures,” he adds. In addition to commitment, another essential ingredient is value. If people are being asked to give up a Saturday, they should expect to receive value in return. “I try to bring in speakers that might help people with their progression in fly fishing,” Leinweber says. “I don’t involve my staff too much with the teaching aspect… but every hour or so I have experts come in like a Pat Dorsey, or people from other fly shops with regional specialties.”

Angler’s Covey Spring Fly Fishing Show / June 2012

Sales events have been part of the dealer lexicon since consumers first curbed wooden buggies in exchange for shiny new wheels at the local lot. And although we sell fly fishing, not GMCs and Suburbans, in-shop events such as book signings, casting clinics, or single-day extravaganzas featuring speakers, markdowns, and free hotdogs, can effectively drive sales. Whether customers leave with or without product, worthwhile experiences evoke positive impressions—ensuring their return. The premise of an open invite giftwrapped in attendance incentive isn’t new. But the formula to successful event delivery has evolved. Fly shops with an eye on innovation are seeing results. David Leinweber, for instance, is the owner of Angler’s Covey in Colorado Springs. He’s also been conceptualizing and tweaking the fly shop event for over a decade. This past March, the culmination of those efforts paid off— to the tune of $26,000 in one-day sales during his annual Colorado Springs Fly Fishing Show. 28

“March used to be a dead month in Colorado Springs—not anymore,” Leinweber says. “Now it’s our fifth largest month. When you have a pre-season kick-off event, you get people thinking about fishing. It gets people excited.” Provoking people to think fishing has been on Leinweber’s mind since he began blueprinting his annual spring shaker more than 15 years ago. Moving from modest to massive didn’t happen overnight. Branding, advertising, and social media helped spur regional awareness. Trial and inevitable error

These “headliners” offer information, education, and expertise on everything from tying knots and entomology to techniques and the latest on-the-water trends. Leinweber packages four or five speakers per event and mixes them up annually to keep the experience fresh. In addition, the Colorado Springs event is based on bringing bargains to the table. Price is a motivating factor and the incentive doesn’t necessarily have to be earth shattering. Two years ago, Leinweber scored 200 Simms wader mats from his rep on the cheap, and offered them as an event special for ten bucks. “I had 80 people lined up at the front door to get those wader mats,” he says. “You’ve got to shop close-outs, and you’ve got to push manufacturers to come up with something like that. A lot of people go to a fly show because they

are looking for a deal. Our consumers are hungry for deals right now.” --In Apopka, Florida, retailer Paul Faircloth is another event proponent. But in addition to finding rabid consumers lusting for deals, at this point he’s just generally hungry for customers—period. Faircloth cites the downturn and competing Internet sales for sparking a consumer pushback, hampering profitability. “We make a living selling recreational products that no one has to have. The single largest impact of the downturn has been a decrease in footsteps through the door,” Faircloth says. “Other impact issues include a fundamental shift in how customers buy and make the decision to buy. This has required a shift in inventory, selection, and merchandising.” Faircloth’s Mosquito Creek Outdoors shop has a fly fishing department with approximately 2,000 square feet of hard goods. But it concentrates on soft goods and promoting outdoor lifestyle. “In many ways we are similar to a traditional fly shop; in many we’re different,” he says. “We are not on the water. We have to cater to travelers going to western states, to Alaska, the Carolinas, international destinations, as well as our local fresh- and saltwater fisheries.”

“People want to be entertained, have fun, and to be engaged. A key component to our success with the events has been the urban nature of our demographic,” Faircloth says. “The light came on during our first Hook Kids on Fishing program. Talking to parents after the program we realized most want to get their kids off the couch… they just don’t know how. Within our mobile society, the outdoor skill-sets that were normally passed down from generation to generation are seeing a disconnect.” --While Faircloth works multiple event angles to weather the downturn and reconnect the disconnect, The Fishermen’s Spot, located in Van Nuys, California, has survived more than 40 years of ups and downs—and it’s done so, no coincidence, as a leader in the events realm. The Fishermen’s Spot started as a fullservice tackle shop in the ’70s. In 2001 it deep-sixed its conventional-tackle inventory and went fly fishing full-time. Ken Lindsay was one of the shop’s original customers and partnered with shop coowner Steve Ellis seven years ago. From the get-go, their marketing effort has been event-centric. Like Colorado’s Angler’s Covey, The Fishermen’s Spot has hosted an annual fair replete with parking lot spillover, guest speakers, vendors, reps, and manufacturers. But ultimately it became too cost prohibitive. “The fair generated decent sales, but not enough to justify the expenditure, as well as the time and effort associated,” Lindsay says. “It was just too much

going out and not enough value. By the time you paid for people to fly out and speak, the cost of set-up, feeding everyone, and putting them up, it was just too costly.” So the shop began digging for new creative avenues to create value for its customers. The fair was kyboshed; alternatives were weighed. Lindsay joined heads with Abel rep Dale Hightower, and a rep-based scheme was conceived to usher customers in-store for productin-hand experiences. In addition, Southern California guides and fly tiers were invited to lead mini-seminars, and an event was massaged out of the mayhem. Guides discussed techniques and the areas they fished, while customers soaked it in… then went fishing. “We had a really good turnout and it was cost-effective—but more than that, we weren’t trying to push a big sale, we were pushing education,” Lindsay says. Today, The Fishermen’s Spot hosts seven annual events, targeting winter and the leaner fishing months. Events are free and vary in focus from SoCal fly fishing to saltwater, steelhead, salmon, and more. But they all have an educational component in common, and place fun over blockbuster sales and drilling customers to “Buy, buy, buy.” “Our feeling is that the more people learn, the more they will go fishing,” Lindsay says. “The whole idea is to get more people fishing. Accomplish that and sales will follow.” In order to sell fly fishing product, it’s essential to sell flyfishing first. And fly shop events can be prime conduits for tapping into that consumer energy. Faircloth agrees, and perhaps sums it up best: “Fly fishing is a being and experience all its own and is different for every customer. We as shop owners and managers have to realize we are in the entertainment business first, service industry second, and then a retailer. We have to be adept at blending the three to survive and be profitable.” at 29 / June 2012

Like Leinweber, Faircloth uses an event platform to source new customers and promote the sport. Mosquito Creek Outdoors offers a free series of introductory Discover Fly Fishing days. These monthly events draw an average of 18 to 30 participants. Of those attendees, most have become regular shop patrons. It’s been a smart move considering Faircloth’s shop has a Dick’s, Bass Pro, and Gander Mountain stacked within 20 minutes of its location, as well as a specialty saltwater fly shop within 30 minutes, and a similar shop in Winter Haven. Apopka is outdoors inundated. Competing with the big boxes on price is virtually impossible. So the shop turned to providing value. Faircloth tries to reach specific market groups with events that are entertaining, educational, and engaging.

The shop’s current focus is on Conservation Days, Hook Kids on Fishing programs, ladies only fishing programs, basic and advanced conventional fishing seminars, and its Discover Fly Fishing mainstay. Faircloth says all have worked in a broad sense, but few actually pay for themselves or generate a profit the day of the event. Event funding stems from the shop’s advertising budget. Timing is critical, and things that have not worked have been lectures and formal classes.

Opinion Editorial

The Fly Fishing Industry Imperative: “Evolve, But Stay the Same” Written by Craig Langer

According to the Outdoor Industry Association ( 50 percent of all Americans ages six and older participated in outdoor recreation last year. In this same group, 16 percent (or 45.4 million people) participated in saltwater, freshwater and fly fishing. There are, according to OIA, more than 18 million people who fly fish every year. Of this number only 5 million consider themselves enthusiasts. NOTE: According to the Outdoor Foundation ( there has been a -9.8 percent decline in fly fishing participation since 2006.) There are plenty of people recreating in the outdoors, in fact the number continues to grow year to year. Why is it that the fly fishing industry continues to capture a fraction of the available market? Certainly there are access and perception issues. These are tough challenges that the entire industry needs to come together and address. On the other hand, I recognize that the goal is not to turn the fly fishing industry into a mass produced monster. / June 2012

But there is a middle ground, the fly fishing industry needs to thrive, not just survive. What if rather than having a three percent share of the market; we had five percent? Imagine the impact of an additional several million people buying flys, gear and taking trips. This kind of growth can come from individual businesses in the industry taking the opportunity to improve and grow. Too many guides, outfitters and retailers operate the same way they did 20 years ago. Paper calendars, Sticky notes. No customer database. No efficiencies. No POS systems. Static websites built by the “neighbor kid..” Inability/ unwillingness to delegate. Low employee expectations. Lack of 30

standard operating procedures. Lack of professional communication. No plan to attract new customers. That’s just naming a few issues. Don’t get me wrong. It is important to protect the charm, romance and character the sport is known for. Not just important, critical. But that can no longer be an excuse for “why not” endure change and embrace 21st Century business practices. The culture within the industry needs to develop more sophisticated and creative tools, systems, and approaches that will reach new customers, create new business and continue to drive the sport. I’ll focus on two business owners who seem to have figured out the balance between the old school outdoor lifestyle, and 21st Century business practices. Jack Mitchell, owner of the Evening Hatch Fly Shop and Guide Service,, and Craig Nielsen, owner of Shasta Trout,, are two professionals that have managed significant growth despite a struggling economy and changing landscape. When it comes to personality Jack and Craig are two very different individuals. Mitchell is a hard worker, and an industry veteran with “old school” style and charm (and never more than an arms length from a spey rod, a can of chew and a cold beer). Nielsen, also a very hard worker, is a calculating critical thinker and has a very polished approach. (Although he has been known to pull margaritas out from the captains seat on a hot summer day). These two individuals share a mantra about the importance of two things: attention to the business and attention to the customer. Adapting business to today’s times Both business owners stressed the importance of setting aside time to “work” on the business. Not once a month or once a week activity, but taking time everyday to develop and evolve their businesses.

“This is a hard job, period,” Mitchell said. “Guiding all day, pulling the oars, walking the bank serving your customers, it takes effort. When the customer leaves your workday is really half over. Now it is time to hustle back to the computer, organize gear for the next day, answer emails and phone messages, update the website, contact your guides…it never ends.” Their efforts can be summarized into three main categories: • Business Organization: Establish Disciplined Processes for Efficiency. From the customers perspective much of the charm and romance associated with the fly fishing industry is riding to the river with their guide, on a bumpy road, in a dusty truck, flies stuck to the dashboard, drift boat bouncing along behind, and the excitement of catching the fish of a lifetime. However, behind the scenes of that dusty truck office there needs to be a well organized and executed operation. “Three years ago I was growing at a 15-20 percent clip,” Nielsen said. “However, last year I nearly doubled. I credit a lot of that to systems I put in place that forced organization, and improved efficiencies.” Understanding that growth does not happen without change. Both men have embraced technology to force organization with tools and processes to stay ahead: • Technology: Both have implemented THE FLyBOOK ( to help automate their booking, payment collection and customer database. • Delegating tasks to capable staff and teammates. • Raising expectations of entire staff. • Business Basics: Budgeting, Forecasting, Reporting, Determining workflows, Project Planning, etc. • Marketing for New Business: Maintaining order in day-to-day business is continued on next page...


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Opinion Editorial

critical not only for operating smoothly but also for enabling more time spent on marketing for business growth. “When your business grows, so grows the number of items that need your immediate attention,” Mitchell said. “If you are not prepared, some of the most critical aspects, like marketing, get left behind.” Both the Evening Hatch and Shasta Trout have managed to achieve growth in a challenging economic environment; strategies include: • SEM and SEO: Your website does you no good, if nobody can find it. This can be very affordable and ridiculously effective. • Networking outside the industry: Relationships both in the industry and out of the industry are vital. Both men mentioned involvement with local fishing clubs and conservation groups as great ways to help feed new business. • Selective donations: Donating services raises exposure and in most cases the return on that investment far exceeds the cost. • Third party collaboration: leverage relationships with other businesses to work together to serve like customers (ie: local B&B’s, Hotels, Brew Pubs, etc.) • Beyond the website: Tripadvisor, Google Places, facebook, Twitter, Blog, Flickr, Youtube, reciprocal links… / June 2012

• The Beginner Factor: Cater to the “newbie” as much if not more than to the seasoned angler. Do you have a plan to attract new customers and/or new anglers? • Creating a community with NonConventional Websites: A website is where charm and business culture are displayed. For new customers, it’s exposing them to the possibility of the experience. For existing customers, it’s providing a reminder of the experience and opportunity to share it. Many websites are just billboards with ads for the latest discounts on closeout items; instead they should be windows that generate new and repeat visitors. 32

• Provide a reason for customers to come back to your website. • Post customer pictures, interesting things that are happening in the area, funny stories that happened on your last trip. • Web Analytics: understand the cause and effect of fresh content on your site, and the reaction generated or not generated from your audience. • Content for the “newbie.” Even your “know it all” anglers will learn a thing or two. Maintaining old school charm and customer service: The most passionate response from Jack and Craig came when the conversation focused on the people they serve. “Service is the most important thing. Everything else is second,” said Jack. “We are genuinely trying to provide our clients with an escape, a fly fishing experience. Most people who take a guided trip are used to great service. They get it at restaurants, they get it at the golf course…they should get it from their fishing guide.” Craig went on: “The only thing you truly have is your reputation. That’s it. Word of mouth is the biggest and best advertisement you can get.” He stressed on several occasions how important it is that every interaction a client has with his business is professional and first class. “You truly have to care about the experience you are providing for your customers. More importantly, your customers have to ‘feel’ that you care. Every time a person steps in my boat I’m trying to earn a customer for life.” Both men stressed doing the “little things” are just as important as the “big things.” “Sending a personal email to a client letting them know you just posted their picture on your blog. Providing hot soup on a cold afternoon rather than the standard deli sandwich. You have to pay attention to the details of everything you do. Avoid taking the easy or lazy way out,” Craig explained.

It’s your business. Own it. Both Jack and Craig have experienced double-digit growth through what has been dubbed the “Great Recession.” Neither man seemed phased by outside changes or obstacles. Jack provided a very interesting take on looking at the niche fly fishing market. He said: “If one out of every 100 people who recreate outdoors fly fishes… there are two ways you can think about that. One, we are all tripping over each other for the same one client …Or, there are 99 other people who recreate outdoors that might be just as interested in fly fishing. To me there is a tremendous amount of growth potential in our little industry.” It is this mindset that clearly helps Jack develop his business to attract new customers and more importantly new fly fishermen. “Rock climbing taught me a lot,” Nielson said. “You have to always be thinking ahead, planning your next move. If you make a mistake it is too late, and you can find yourself in serious trouble.” It is this forward thinking that Craig has drawn upon to develop a plan that will grow his business. Jack and Craig have both accepted the responsibility that their businesses are not going to follow the traditional standards, their businesses are going to adapt to the changing business climate, and continue to evolve and attract repeat and new customers alike. About Craig Langer and THE FLyBOOK: Craig Langer is the founder of THE FLyBOOK™. The FLyBOOK™ is a reservation and business management system designed specifically for guides, outfitters and fly shops. The FLyBOOK™ was established in 2006 and is currently working with 200+ guides and outfitters scattered across the country. /info@ / 503.706.3933 at

MORE THAN 500 hunting and angling groups across the country have signed a letter asking you to conserve Bristol Bay, Alaska for every American and future generations.

President Obama:




w. s a

v e b r i s t o l b a y.


To see the full list of 500 hunting and fishing groups and businesses please visit:







photo by Ken Morrish

Question & Answer

Written by Kirk Deeter

AFFTA’s new GM, Ben Bulis

Q&A We like Ben Bulis, the new general manager for AFFTA. / June 2012

He jumped right into the fire after being hired several weeks ago, lobbying in Washington, D.C., on behalf of Bristol Bay, and has kept that momentum going. He wrote about his “First 30 Days” on, and you can check out what he’s been up to there. But we pressed him about where he plans to go in the future. Here are our questions, and Bulis’ frank answers: AT: You’ve obviously “hit the ground running” since you came on board... not to keep the squeeze on you, but what does the rest of your summer look like? In other words, what are your priorities going forward? 34

Bulis: So far, things have been busy, to say the least. In mid-April the AFFTA board of directors held a spring meeting and retreat in Montana, which involved some pretty in-depth discussions and brainstorming new ideas for the future of the organization. It was an incredibly productive few days. I was able to leave the retreat with a pretty solid blueprint of what needs to happen in the weeks and months ahead. My immediate plans as AFFTA’s new G.M. involve a “retailer road trip” that will take me through six Rocky Mountain states to meet with and talk with dealers, shop owners and others. This trip will allow me to introduce myself to retailers, outfitters, guides and manufacturers that perhaps have never had an AFFTA staff member personally visit their places of business. I am someone who believes that a handshake and a face-to-face conversation are essential business practices. I also will be calling members that I won’t be able to visit to introduce myself and to ask for their input on what AFFTA should be focusing on for the future. 2. You no doubt realize that, for whatever reasons, there is a contingent of retailers out there that is skeptical about AFFTA and what the organization does on their behalf. What do you think you have to do to win their trust, and ultimately, earn their participation in AFFTA (and the IFTD show)? There is no doubt that AFFTA has struggled in the past to create meaningful and valuable programs that directly impact the specialty fly shops and the specialty retailers and our industry. This is a small trade organization that has always struggled with funding and resources, while at the same time being run largely by an allvolunteer board. It is important that we remember that. Recently, Randi

Swisher was asked to wear the hat of AFFTA president while also organizing, promoting and delivering an annual trade show for the industry. All of this when the show alone is a full-time job! With the recent reorganization of the full-time staff at AFFTA, we are hoping to accomplish more in the near future. I will say that even with the challenges of past years, AFFTA has done a pretty darn good job lobbying for its members and the industry on government affairs issues. There was a lot of good work done on Montana and Utah stream access bills that, if they had passed, would have been devastating to the industry and would have set a precedent for continued public access legislation in other states. The lobbying effort to save Bristol Bay from the Pebble Mine project is a top legislative issue that AFFTA has worked hard on and will continue on behalf of the entire industry. The reauthorization of the Farm Bill is also a legislative priority for AFFTA, as well as such conservation programs administered by the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) as the Wetlands Reserve Program (WRP), the Conservation Reserve Program (CRP) and the Environmental Quality Incentives Program (EQIP) (all programs that play a critical role in protecting and improving the quality of our nation’s fisheries). These are just a few of the legislative issues on which AFFTA lobbying efforts have a direct impact on retailers and the industry. They are not always the sexiest or most interesting issues, but I can promise you that AFFTA’s work and attention on these issues are crucial for our sport and our industry. 3. One of the great challenges with tackling a new position is that everybody wants everything at once... the reality is, you probably need to prioritize and go

after some “low-hanging fruit” to start. What are some “wins” you think are within reach for AFFTA right now? Improving up the channels of communication between AFFTA and all facets of the industry is a major priority. This has already begun through social media, telephone calls, visits to retailers, and personalizing our E-Newsletter, but more needs to be done. In the near future, AFFTA will be releasing a series of press releases which will highlight plans and programs for the months ahead, and introduce programs that will provide both financial and valueadded benefits to our membership and to the overall industry. AFFTA needs to address and answer such questions as, “Why should I come to IFTD? What has AFFTA done for my business? And why should I be an AFFTA member?” This is a priority for the months ahead.

what I think AFFTA can and should do is facilitate discussions and even organized forums for this and other contentious issues to be discussed openly and in detail by the industry. We plan on doing exactly that at IFTD Reno. 5. What can people in this industry do to help you do this job well? Here’s the deal. If you are a “professional” who is making a living in the fly fishing industry, then it is your responsibility to become engaged in what is going on in this industry. Get involved, become an AFFTA member, speak out, participate, and help make a positive difference. I can appreciate the fact that there are some frustrations with what AFFTA has done or has not done

in the past. What I can’t appreciate are individuals who are willing to cast stones at AFFTA and take pot-shots from the sidelines who at the same time are unwilling to step up to lend a helping hand to improve the industry and further the sport that we all care about. Fly fishing is way too small of an industry for its membership to be divided. The only way that we can grow and expand this sport is to move forward together. As the new G.M. of AFFTA, I understand the uphill battle that I face, and I’ve accepted this challenge. Now I pose the challenge to everyone in our industry who has been a critic of AFFTA or has sat on the sidelines unwilling to get involved to step up and work together to build a bigger, stronger, and unified industry. at

4. As “managing expectations” are a keystone for success in fishing (and in business) are there things that retailers in particular should simply not expect from AFFTA? Are there things you’d categorize as “we’ll get there when we can?”


Increasing the success of rod builders worldwide for over 30 years. / June 2012

AFFTA’s mission is to promote the sport of fly fishing and advance the interests of our industry as a whole. We can and should be doing more to promote our sport and the business of fly fishing, but at the same time, no trade organization is going to “fix” every situation or improve every challenging situation that fly fishing businesses are facing. A good example of this is the issue of manufacturers selling direct to consumers; something that I have been asked about a lot this past month. I don’t believe that AFFTA is in a position to tell anyone how to run his or her business – whether they are a retailer or a manufacturer. That said,


The Three G’s: Gutenberg Greets Gates / June 2012

Written by Tom Keer

Several years ago a fall hurricane dumped six inches of water in my basement. After ripping off a sequence of expletives that would rival those spoken by a stevedore, I attempted to save more than four decades worth of materials threatened by the rising indoor tide. 36

In one box I found the last catalog produced by the H.L. Leonard Rod Company (Johnson Wax owned them at the time), and there was also a receipt for a Hardy Featherweight that I bought after a summer of

bailing hay (retail price $88.00). I found an early Thomas & Thomas catalog along with a lost pack of moose mane that cost 90 cents. Included, too, were very early issues of a new magazine called Fly Fisherman as well as the first copy of a magazine called Rod and Reel that was later renamed Fly Rod & Reel. There were a number of versions of Fly Tyer magazine from when they moved the magazine from a typed newsletter format to a glossy publication. And tucked within the early Gray’s Sporting Journals were vintage tackle newsletters offering Seamasters and Fin Nor Wedding Cakes for $250. The magazines and catalogs made me smile as I remembered my early fly fishing days, and also lament the fact that

they were longer ago than I cared to remember. At the bottom of the box was a copy of The American Sportsman. Depending on one’s mood, the three-ringed red, white and blue O in the word “sportsman” may have resembled a perfectly aligned peep sight or a Patriotic Vietnamera Bull’s Eye, take your pick. I remembered watching episodes of that show on a black and white television with tubes that required several minutes to warm up so as to properly display the picture. Sometimes I would head across the street to my friend’s house to watch the show because theirs was a family of sportsmen and they had a color TV.

The American Sportsman was the most interesting to me because it was a hardback magazine. It was published by The Ridge Press, Inc. and the American Broadcasting Company Merchandising, Inc. division to accompany the Curt Gowdy-hosted television show of the same name. The American Sportsman was wonderful to hold and to read, and its production quality meant it was not disposable; like a book its quality would stand the test of time. Our generation bears witness to the newcomer that is vastly different from traditional print media. Joining fly fishing books and magazines is a brave new continued on next page...

feature / June 2012

world of digitally published blogs and ezines. In the past few years, many businesses have retooled their sales and marketing expenditures by reducing print advertising. In many circles, print is perceived as costly with no ROI while digital has gained favor because of its perception as “free.” In January, 2012, Business Insider reported that CEO Robert McDonald of powerhouse Procter & Gamble laid off 1600 marketing personnel and staff after finding out that Facebook and Google were either free or relatively free. There is a tremendous cost savings to the $10 billion annual ad budget, but are customers turning to social media for information on Old Spice or Tide laundry detergent? Mark Twain once said “common sense ain’t that common,” and with marketing budget-cuts occurring in such an expedient fashion, I beg the question: has digital replaced print in the fly fishing and sporting sectors? With the increasing crop of fly fishing and sporting ezines, blogs, and social media threads it would seem so. The similarities are that print and digital are both for-profit business models that respond to a particular customer base. Historically, and as evidenced by the print Big Three sporting magazines (Field & Stream, Outdoor Life and Sports Afield), sportsmen were sportsmen. The lion’s share of the angling demographic favored conventional tackle and then gravitated towards spin tackle. Fly fishing was perceived as an elitist sport until Shakespeare’s Wonderrod, Pfleuger’s Medalist series, and Cortland’s 333 reduced the financial entry point. Fishermen also were highly likely to be hunters, 38

and their diverse fishing methods were mirrored in their pursuit of big game, upland birds, and waterfowl. Fly fishing coverage was a small percentage of total editorial but that was destined to change. The first customer change occurred somewhere between the Summer of Love and Watergate, and it came with a quest for more and specific information. In certain sporting sectors there was a customer base that began to focus on specific sporting disciplines. The all-purpose sportsman gave way to narrowly aligned user groups who thirsted for greater coverage and more information about their favorite activities. The pattern is reflected across many sporting categories. With regards to fly fishing, Don Zahner lead the pack with the 1969 launch of the niche publication he called Fly Fisherman. A number of start-up niche publications sprouted through the mid 1970’s and established a velocity of new magazines that continued to launch throughout the next few decades. Each new magazine had a particular focus, with some keying in on sporting art and literature, others with destination and how-to’s, and still others with techniques and products. Fly Fisherman, Fly Rod & Reel, and American Angler focused on all facets of fly fishing, while Wild Salmon and Steelhead or Warmwater Fly Fishing addressed a specific species or two. Saltwater Fly Fishing and later Fly Fishing in Saltwaters addressed an environment while others, like Eastern Fly Fishing, Northwest Fly Fishing and Southwest Fly Fishing provided a regional approach. Fly fishing market retraction and the struggling domestic and world

economies have caused many magazines to lose subscribers and advertisers. A number of publications have not survived. A new hurdle for print magazines to overcome comes back around to the emergence of digital publishing and social media. When I finished bailing water in my basement and returned to my office I was likely to find one of the newest digital fly fishing publications ready for my perusal. So while the world continues to turn toward digital technology for their information, I wonder if sportsmen in general and fly fishermen in specific prefer print or digital as the way they’d like to receive their information. Digital publishing and social media have emerged as mainstays in our everyday world. But does that trend hold true for sporting activities in general and specifically fly fishing? To answer that question I turned to publishers and editors who represent more than a century of experience. It goes without saying that each began their careers in print, but every one has significant experience in print and in digital and are able to provide an unbiased opinion on the values and limitations of each. I first spoke with Ed Gray, the founder of Gray’s Sporting Journal. In recognition of the changing audience which led to ABC shuttering The American Sportsman in 1974, Gray launched a perfectbound magazine of no less than 96 pages, that was printed on 50-pound stock, and featured a 70/30 editorial-to-advertising ratio. His preliminary issue was launched on Halloween Night 1975, and nearly four decades later Gray’s Sporting

Journal (now owned by Morris Communications) is thriving. Why? Gray focused on a special interest audience. “As businesses grow and expand, niche models increase,” said Gray. “A very specific audience of sportsmen exists and they favor print. Many will read digital, but the primary customer base who spends money on products and trips read print. The last century showed us a similar pattern in live theater, film and then television. As film and television emerged as new markets, live theater suffered a slight retraction. In our time, small movies have been replaced by those with tremendously large budgets. That said, live theater is still vibrant, and in many instances, actors are

not considered “real actors” unless they have been on Broadway. It is a quality versus quantity issue, and customers buy quality magazines. Talented writers and photographers combined with quality print magazines properly address the sporting customer demographic. It might not hit the youthful sector, but it addresses the largest percentage of the total market, and that is what is important.” Jim Butler, the former editor of Fly Rod & Reel, began working on Down East Enterprise’s fly fishing magazine in 1986, seven years after it was founded. “Historically, there was a tremendous spike in the sporting customer base after World War II,” he said. “Magazines expanded to cater to the growing

niche-consumer demand, with Fly Fisherman being one of the frontrunners to offer expanded fly fishing coverage. Fly Tyer came aboard in the 1970’s and regional magazines in the 1980’s through the 1990’s. “With all of the technological enhancements, digital has become more popular. An online magazine with a staff of one or two and desktop publishing can produce a magazine that will service one niche of the niche market. To stay in business during this difficult climate, publishers need to study changes in how readers want to receive information as well as what type of information they want to receive. Fly Rod & Reel has print and sooncontinued on next page...


to-be-launched digital platforms (and our sister publication, Shooting Sportsman, already boasts a digitalonly pub called Sporting Shot). When we monitor successes and failures we find many clear examples of what works. Pure information like knot tying and the latest fishing conditions are great for the digital market. Videos explain knottying far better than print, and fishing reports reach more anglers more quickly on the web. But if a customer is looking to experience the sporting lifestyle then they are likely to find that level of quality in a magazine they can hold as opposed to view on a screen.” / June 2012

Digital publishing guru Marshall Cutchin from MidCurrent doesn’t attach any perceived magazine subscription declines to digital. “Many magazines started to decline before Google appeared on the scene,” said Cutchin. “From an expense-side, magazines have always been big-budget projects that are content, subscription and advertising models. While I’ve seen consumers moving away from magazines that supply mass-market information they continue to find room for those that provide content for specialty subjects. Still, the challenges of the future for print are well known and scary. For digital? Their successes are becoming more apparent. Digital has the chance to embrace change in a way that print never did because it doesn’t rely on expensive production and distribution models. “With digital comes an appealing low-entry cost which partly explains the dramatic increase in digital sporting publications. And with that low-entry cost comes a second issue, which is the vetting process. In the 1990s, bulletin boards were a tremendous vehicle for 40

disseminating information, though much of it was suspect. Blogging software enabled publishers to produce and distribute content very inexpensively and it changed everything. But it also didn’t guarantee quality. The Internet has proven that the loudest people are often the least knowledgeable.” Cutchin doesn’t think a shift to digital means the death of magazines, and he doesn’t think the “flipbook” concept answers an important need. “In some ways, a medium that allows anyone to assemble content works against information quality. Print gets more expensive all the time, so smart publishers are focusing on what print does best, which in my opinion is delivering a tactile experience-high-resolution photography and art on nice thick paper, for example. The look and feel of a magazine is distinct, and ‘flipbooks’ can’t replicate that electronically. On the other hand, subscriptionbased magazines can’t achieve the audience reach they once had, both because of competing channels and because consumer behavior is changing at an accelerating pace. Digital is learning to survive without print, I think, but print can’t survive without digital.”

how do your readers want their content delivered? Web is great as it was intended, and that is to provide short, quick hits. But print has more longevity and quality attached to it. Fly fishing consumers favor quality over quantity, and while the younger market enjoys the social component delivered relatively immediately in a conversational tone, print is the dominant business driver. “No one has cracked the digital code yet, so it’s wise to offer both versions to customers and to let them decide. But now that I’m involved in print magazines I’m in it to stay. And so are my readers.” Kirk Deeter has an interesting 360-view of the fly fishing industry. Like Jim Butler before him, Deeter edits both a consumer and trade magazine (TROUT and Angling Trade, respectively). Deeter also is a book author, a Field & Stream editorat-large, a blogger for Field & Stream (“FlyTalk”) and for the RBFF’s Take Me Fishing program. “The question of print versus digital reminds me of film,” he said. “I’ll watch some movies on an iPad, and others on a television. But then there are just some that I have to see on the big screen. And so it goes with digital and print applications.

John Frazier, editor of the niche of a niche Fly Fishing in Saltwaters represents an interesting twist. Before converting to digital, Frazier got his start in print. “Digital is a highly profitable endeavor, and the advertising revenues versus the cost centers are favorable to the publisher. Digital isn’t a fad, it’s here to stay.

“Simply put, good content sells. With that question answered, the real issue is what vehicle best matches the words and images? It’s a match-the-hatch of content, and the content is dictated by your audience. To simply take content that is best suited for a print publication and offer it in digital form doesn’t solve the issue.

“That said, the most important question is not what will the P&L look like or what will the accounting department say. The question is

“I think of blogs and social media like open-mic night. The quality of blogs and posts range from excellent to beyond the pale of acceptable.

To think that a customer who spends $5,000 on a 5-night/4-day fishing trip or $750 on a fly rod is posting on Facebook or reading flipbooks is not likely. He’s probably working hard to be able to afford a quality trip or quality tackle. That demographic is likely to favor print. Products that appeal to a younger audience or are price-point driven may do well with digital. But each group must know their audience. TROUT magazine, for instance, consists of a 50+ year old demographic. To shift from print to digital for a cost savings would be great for the P&L, but disastrous to all other facets. So by adding a digital application, I can disseminate information to a younger audience so as to increase their participation in Trout Unlimited while maintaining my core constituency. Again, it’s match-the-hatch for your customers.” Ross Purnell, the editor of Fly Fisherman, the largest circulation flyfishing print magazine for 40 years, actually began his publishing career in the digital world. Purnell was the first employee of the revolutionary website, The Virtual Flyshop (1996). Fly Fisherman magazine acquired The Virtual Flyshop in a strategic move designed to capitalize on the digital platform and to offer readers and advertisers a state-ofthe-art publishing arm that was additional to the industry-leading print publication. Purnell joined the editorial staff of the print magazine in 2001.

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find it. Up-to-date industry news? The Internet wins. But sometimes you want to sit in a big easy chair and read a good magazine with quality editorial you can depend on. Some people keep their stack of magazines in the bathroom. Or they pick up a magazine before they get on a plane. There will always be a place for print magazines. “We don’t expect consumers to have to choose. Fly Fisherman began publishing a web site back in 1996, we’ve got the best fly-tying app in the iTunes store, we’re developing relationships with our readers through social media, and we’re working on the iPad version of Fly Fisherman right now. We listen to consumers and plan to provide the best fly fishing information however they choose to consume it. And right now, they want it all. “Print publications have many advantages that ensure their longevity. I think the backbone of any good printed magazine is credibility. Readers trust what they read in Fly Fisherman because the information comes from a very select list of experts, the information has been vetted, and you don’t have to wade through millions of pages

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of garbage to find what you’re looking for. Trust is a big issue when you’re asking people to take out their wallet and buy something. According to a 2011 Southwick and Associates study, print advertising is still number one in terms of influencing purchasing decisions and that’s something smart advertisers are already aware of. Our readers paid money for the magazine which identifies them as not just serious fly fishers, but as serious consumers. And the way you consume a printed magazine—from front to back with no goal other than absorbing each page—assures advertisers that the ad has much great value. It’s being carefully read by the right people. It’s not just flashing by on a computer screen.” Sporting businesses in general and fly fishing businesses in specific do well to include a balanced marketing approach, loaded mostly for print and secondarily for digital. Oh, yeah, back to the basement. As I finished bailing water and set about to packing up my box I found several floppy discs from an old Mac 128, and it made me think. I sure wish I had printed the contents of those discs back in, how shall I say, 1984. at 41 / June 2012

“The reality is that nobody has to choose. Almost everybody I know takes advantage of both. You prefer digital if you need a fly recipe quick—you Google it. If you want to banter with fellow fly fishers on bulletin boards you know where to

The Trapped-Air


Turning Profit on the Guide Side Written by Will Rice

Ryan Anderson outside his guide service headquarters. Photo Courtesy Kelly Nichols / June 2012

How do you transform a good business to a great business? How do you take a great business and make it world class? Ryan Anderson answers some of these questions for Angling Trade. There is an old adage in the business world and it goes something like this: “Past performance does not guarantee future results.” It is typically a disclaimer and used as a governor to curb expectations for those looking at blistering sales, revenue, or profitability results of a corporate entity whose books are open to the public. It is a statement of truth and fact –it is not meant to be argued with. 42

The underlying message is not really subtle: Just because these guys have done great in the past does not mean there is a guarantee that they will do great in the future. In other words, well, shit happens. When thinking about this concept in the context of recent economic turmoil, this notion can have an entirely inverse meaning. What happens if sales and revenue and profits were

not up-and-to-the-right in the recent past? What if results were flat, or down? Doesn’t the same statement and business logic hold true? And in that regard, “Past performance that was flat does not guarantee that future results need to be flat. Positive change in business happens.” The logic seems to hold up. Four years ago, Ryan Anderson, born and raised in Casper, Wyo-

ming, took over the Wyoming Fly Fishing Guide Service. At the time, business was good—but the question at hand was how to take it from good to great? Ryan had been a guide for the shop for 10 years, and he saw an opportunity. “I took over the guide service four years ago. We grew the business from 500 trips a year to over 900 in the past two years,” said Anderson in a recent interview. “I feel that in the guiding business, if you are passionate about what you are selling and the services you provide, people feed off this and start to get excited for their trips. Its the same on the water. If the guide is pumped to be there, then it always transfers to the clients.” When looking to grow your business and change your results, the first thing you need is a plan. Anyone who thinks they are going to magically transform their business without documenting a business plan or a roadmap most likely will be disappointed.

Most business owners, large and small, will all agree on a few things when it comes to taking a business into a new phase of expansion. One of the first things you need to think about is avoiding a situation where business growth harms the company’s current interests. “The majority of our clients are return clients. We pride ourselves on this fact, and the guiding itself starts to feel like fishing with friends instead of work after you have fished with someone for a few years,” said Anderson. “Part of our plan was also to expand our season and create new opportunities for our clients. The guides and I knew that the off season fished great on the north Platte so we started to offer discounted trips from Nov. 1st through March 31st. I did involve the guides in this and they were happy to take a pay cut to be working during months they normally had no guiding income. After discounting the trips we started to notice that a lot of new clients were taking advantage of the discounted rate for early spring (Feb

and March ). Following their trip a lot of them would book a summer or fall trip the same year. I feel like if we can get them in one of our boats on this river they will become a return client because of the guide staff and our amazing fishery.” When putting together a plan for growth, communicating this plan with everyone who supports your business is critical. Everyone needs to be aligned and on board with your vision and the changes that are required. “I have a very solid core group of guides that I have been guiding with since the beginning,” said Anderson. “I attribute the majority of the business growth to them and the great trips they put out the door day in and day out. My guides want to work. Some will do 30-day runs and it’s my job to make sure they are just as professional on day one as they are on day 30.” “Because I was a guide for 10 years before I was a business owner it helps continued on next page...

Ryan Anderson with a very happy client

43 / June 2012

“Coming into it, I knew that the trips we were selling were top notch, the river was amazing and I wanted to find more clients. Mark Boname, my business partner (he owns the Fly Shop and I own the guide service,) was a major help in the beginning and still is. He was the previous owner of the guide service and I’ve learned a lot from him over the years. We started doing more sport shows, more talks at fly clubs, more marketing and more advertising,” said Anderson. “It wasn’t until my second season as the owner when I started to fine tune this plan and stick with just the marketing that was producing bookings. In the third season we expanded our headquarters. We built a large lodge-style room with couches and a fireplace next to the fly shop. The clients love it; it’s a great place to put your waders on by the fire on those cold mornings, then discuss the day

over a beer (BYOB) after your trip.”


me a lot in communicating with the guide staff. My guides are all professionals and like me they love what they do. Guide Meetings: We hash it all out and share information about what’s going on on the water. I feel that a guide is most satisfied when he feels that the outfitter he is working for is doing everything in their power to put people in his boat.” Anderson’s staff seems to agree. Greg Mueller, a guide who has guided on the North Platte for 11 years has had to make a few changes himself based on the increased volume of trips. “The biggest change I’ve had to make over the last few years is to go to a smaller, lighter boat due to the everyday strains of rowing,” said Mueller. “I spend around 150 days on the river yearly and I am as excited every time I hit the river as if it were the first time. You never know when that client is going to get that one big fish, any day it can be a six-pound fish of a lifetime.” In addition to expanding the seasonality of the business, Anderson also changed the types of trips he offered and his approach to marketing and sales. / June 2012

“We did make a lot of changes - not to the trips themselves - but to how we packaged and sold them,” said Anderson. “We started selling the spring special, we also started selling trips like “Three Tailwaters in Three Days”, “Get Lost in Wyoming” or our Golf and fishing package the ‘Drift and Drive’. New trips but with the same guide that they have come to trust and love to fish with.” You also need to assess your current business, identify the current challenges that are inhibiting growth and address them effectively. Recognizing and confronting your shortcomings honestly and transparently is important. 44

“Probably the biggest problem I had in the beginning was that I tried to do it all myself. I was challenged trying to manage my time between guiding and running the business. It is very hard to run a successful guide business if you are behind the oars every day. Managing time spent on and off the water was hard at first but I am getting better. I have trimmed down to about 100 days a year guiding and I spread those out over our nine-month season. It did not take long at all before I recognized what my strengths and weaknesses were. It became painfully clear that I needed help with the scheduling and the office side of the business. I got some office help and things ran a lot smoother.” Communication with customers - both existing and prospective - is a key ingredient to success. How are you communicating with your existing base of customers today in a way that ensures that they will come back? How are you communicating with new potential customers? “We definitely changed the way we communicate with customers,” continued Anderson. “However we did not change the way we book trips. We always have a phone conversation with the clients before we book the trip. We don’t do any online booking and it allows us to get a better idea of what they are looking for on their guide trip and also an Idea of the clients expectations coming in. However, everything else is online: Full service fly shop, enewsletter, website, and facebook pages for both the Fly Shop (just hit 6000 fans) and Guide Service. Facebook has become a great way to stay contact with our clients. All of my guides take a lot of pictures and when a client likes our page it allows the client to get the photos from their trip as well as see how the fishing is the rest of the year. It allows us to stay in contact with all

our clients year round through big fish pictures and fishing reports.” Also, don’t forget the basics of simple blocking and tackling. Can you clearly differentiate yourself from your competition? “The biggest thing that sets us apart from our competition is our years of experience. Wyoming Fly Fishing Guide Service and Platte River Fly Shop started running guide trips on the Grey reef sections of the North Platte in 1987, a full ten years before any other outfitters and guide services,” said Anderson. “We were the first outfitters to start targeting the big trout that these waters have become famous for. Our guides have been rowing this river longer than any other guide service. Today we are the largest and most experienced guide service on the Grey Reef, Miracle Mile and Fremont Canyon sections of the North Platte River.” Lastly, it is important to move decisively, but this doesn’t mean that one move with reckless abandon. Most importantly, be wary of making changes that are irreversible. When planning to expand your business be cognizant of planning, communication and focus. Just because things have been tough in the past, doesn’t mean they necessarily have to be tough in the future. “2012 is looking to be another great season,” said Anderson. “This year we plan to stick to our business plan and continue to put great trips out the door but also add some new trips and build on the clients we gained in 2011. We will also continue with the marketing, enewsletters and social media campaigns and add a few new sport shows. I predict that business will again increase and I’m hoping to hit the 1000 trip mark. It is the end of February and we have already been working hard for three weeks.” at


Loving thy Steelhead Rivers to Death

Leaning on the media to make a difference Written by Geoff Mueller / June 2012

There is a situation on Washington’s Olympic Peninsula I’d like to direct your attention to. If you’re not familiar with it, here’s a primer. In the early 2000’s the Washington Department of Fish and Game closed Puget Sound streams early due to dismal returns of winter steelhead. Those slim numbers and closures continue today. Subsequently, Puget Sound angler traffic, pushed off home turf, has been forced to search further afield for their steelhead fix. Much of that movement has shifted northwest to the Olympic Peninsula and to towns such as Forks, a one-time logging hub that has since been inundated with frothing Twilight fans—the tween vampire series is based there—and addled steelheaders… including myself. 46

That shift has been monumental, not just to fisheries such as the Hoh, Bogachiel, and Sol Duc, to name a few, but to the area in general. For instance, before the interloper influx, land was about $400 to $2,000 an acre, there were about 15 to 20 guides living in Forks during the winter season, and only about a half dozen guides fishing the upper portions of each river. Just over a decade later, land has rocketed to $4,000 to $20,000 an acre, 20 to 25 guides fish the upper portions of each river regularly, and there are about 60 to 80 of them holed up in Forks during prime fishing months. I mention this not to deter you from coming to the OP to fish, but to instead point out the effects of fisheries in decline… and how they can turn a small town and its stellar fisheries upside down in a short span of time. In addition to the plight of steelhead on Puget Sound streams, and a corresponding spike in OP fly fishers, there is more to the equation than closures alone. Other factors are at play and one, no doubt, can be linked to media hype—powered by websites, blogs, the Internet in general, and print. Online Slab of the Month sleuths MoldyChum recently called out several media sources in a pointed “Twilight for Forks Steelhead” post. The site said: “Any angler who has recently spent time in the Forks vicinity has seen first hand the dramatic increase in angling pressure on the Peninsula’s hallowed steelhead waters. Closures to all the major Puget Sound watersheds due to diminishing wild steelhead returns, combined with media [The Drake] and social network (including this site) pimping of 20-pound chrome, is driving OP angling pressure to heights never seen before….” But targeting the media alone perhaps misses the point. The point

is, “Closures to all the major Puget Sound watersheds due to diminishing wild steelhead returns…” has driven pressure to unforeseen levels. We as a society have botched the wild steelhead equation, in many instances, beyond repair. Brett Wedeking wrote the essay “Fishing Forks” in the spring issue of The Drake. He mentions Twilight— fiction—and fish caught over 20 pounds—fact. Wedeking also says: “Occasionally I get a big pull and a piece of chrome rockets from the water, eventually throwing the hook and leaving me to reel in my now slack line.” And, “The steelhead still return in good numbers and it still rains most days, I still catch the occasional fish on my spey rod, but now I carry garlic and a wooden stake with me, just in case.” Like Wedeking and MoldyChum, I share a love for the OP, getting my ass kicked by wild steelhead, and I also find the growing pressure unnerving… but sadly, to a large degree, inevitable. Steelhead vestiges are shrinking. Angler numbers aren’t. Fly fishers are tuned in, and the media voice is louder than it’s ever been. So, if you have a back-pocket steelhead spot, now is a good time to either shut-up or, even better, vocalize your dissent through meaningful conservation channels, such as Washington’s Wild Steelhead Coalition, the Pacific Rivers Council, and Trout Unlimited, to name a few. We, the flyfishing industry, have a part to play in this as well: To help effectively heighten awareness toward imperiled steelhead fisheries—to be part of the solution, as opposed to the problem. With coastal rivers ramping up for summer steelhead returns in upcoming months, here lies, I hope, the power of the media. at

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Angling Trade Issue #20  

The Success Issue

Angling Trade Issue #20  

The Success Issue