Well sitting at home for now what feels like eons. I get to reflect back on the past couple years leading up too this confounding moment in world history. Being unable to guide or fish, my own mind is wondering more than ever. What does the future hold for not only the microcosm of steelhead Spey fishing but for the entire fly fishing industry as a whole. I also try to look at the industry from all angles. As a guide, a consumer, a business man, and an instructor. Some of the things I have started to really notice is the amount of amassed product in the fly fishing world and the exponential rate at which these items are being brought out onto the retail platform. I was actually taken back by what even I didn’t know. We make and sell tons of stuff. The major disconnect is who is now the customer and who are the people looking for all this stuff. So what I did was take my little nook of our industry and focus on one product and see what that turned up as far as number of options and what they were used for. It was staggering…. Spey rods became my focus. Number of available models from solely us companies and what the focus was. As far as the focus in the fishable part of North America, we can fish basically 4 fish with a doubt handed rod. If your creative you could find more but the way we market them is in 4 categories. Steelhead, Salmon, Trout, stripers that’s what we got. The part that was unreal was the number of available choices as consumers we have. In only 10 US based fly rod companies there were 433 models of two handed rods!!! I was almost speechless. At this point I realized we have reached to point of market saturation. In my opinion anyway. This number only included current models straight of the manufacturers website… which by the way All sold direct to the public. Another huge strike against our industry. Seems the focus now is selling rods but now not only is the consumer the customer but the fly shops as well. From a business point of view anytime you have to compete with the manufacturers for sale you have lot massive market share. At what point will the shops bow out and give that job solely to the manufacturers I am not sure. But in the current world I have lives in the last 25 straight days. That will happen in the near future. Even worse was when this happens where will we get to try a rod before we purchase?? I used to say Spey claves and gatherings…. but those are dying as well… maybe those were a saturated market as well?? To add the matter of disconnection the market growth has slowed. Simply meaning the number of new anglers is slowing making the number of customer growth rate lower, but at the same time number of models more???? There is no sense to what is happening here. Lastly I contacted a few good industry people that I respect and listen to very closely. If the 15 I asked “What is your favorite Spey rod to fish?” 11 of them answered with a model of rod that was no longer available. That’s right we as a whole used discontinued equipment as a whole. With a quick google search and looking on eBay and a few fly fishing forums. That’s number were just made more clear. Rod models used to have a 4-5 year lifespan…. now 6 months to 2 years is lucky. This is just one style of product. I would only imagine the amount of competition that other products face is similar. What should we do? I don’t know…I can’t make those calls. What’s going to happen? I wish I knew…. Just take time and reflect to yourself about your favorite fishing experience. What did you remember most. Thanks for listing to my rant. More stuff to come!! Stay home and be safe. Travis
We are not made of the same stuff anymore. Life has made us all a bit daft and weak. Spey fishermen have always been the kings of social distancing. Only these day with technology are we seeing that shift. The old steelhead hermit of the olden days wearing mainly wool and only friend in the world maybe a dog. Spending more time tying flies then on the phone. Spending more days fishing alone then sharing their water with anyone. Living off homemade stews living in a wooden cabin any logger would have been proud of. Keeping a journal to help keep the mind clear, and track of the days on the water successfully or unsuccessfully. Finding more meaning in the natural order of a single eco system than the persistent push of society. Driven by a zeal of the unknown and left to understand these truths on their own with no media or agenda to push. These off the beaten path river warriors, not only push the line of social distancing but may have defined it. I say that as they chose too, they were never ask. They were not ill, and if they were you wouldn’t have known. As sly as any fox, be tough to get them on a trail cam.
As a group I am not saying that these actions need be repeated again because they can’t, but we can all start showing more respect to other anglers. We can all worry less about posting a photo of every fish we have ever caught. We can take some page out of the book of Steelhead Angling pioneers by finding out for ourselves what these place and fish have to offer us by payment of what we are willing to give to them. The time and energy will always add up in your favor. We should all keep journals not stories. We should follow the model of knowing everything we can about the resources we fish, the animals and plants, flow and reactions, not just what sink top wallet I might need or what stone to cast from. There is a satisfaction in teaching and experiencing these thing on a personal level. That I believe most now will never know and other have somehow forgot. We all dream of that amazing steelhead experience. The ones who have lives it for themselves are the ones who understand. I am not calling anyone out, we can all become more patient and responsible for our on river actions. There are more of us coming and how we set the standard is what will define our future as anglers. Step back and review the past…there are days it helps. Hope everyone is gearing up. See you all soon.
***Now available to purchase online! Order your copy here ⇒
Well today is the day!! But unfortunately the tangible book won’t be here until tomorrow. I am ready to take orders via email. If you’re a fly shop interested in carrying the book email me as well.
The book focuses on good fundamentals and how when done correctly Spey casting can be easy and fun. When simple problems occur they can compound. I am sure we can all relate. I hope you all enjoy the book and learn something from it! Can’t wait to hear your feed back. Thanks