Market Saturation…. Yep I said it.
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