Thursday, August 31, 2006

A view from the river bank

Here is one writer's take on the recent FFR Show in Denver Colorado. He has a limited experience with fly fishing and makes some points about the industry that some of the manufacturers and retailers out there might do well to take note of.

First he describes why he is not more into fly fishing even though he had a taste of it:

I haven't fished with a fly rod since because I found fly-fishing to be expensive and difficult.

Then he describes a seminar at the show that spoke about the challenges facing the fly fishing industry:

The very first seminar I attended at the FFR convention was about the challenges fly-fishing enthusiasts have in getting people to take up their sport. The speaker repeatedly drove home the point that the primary hurdles fly-fishing has to overcome are the perceptions that it is an expensive and difficult sport. He didn't do his sport any favors by repeatedly referring to those of us skilled in the use of spinning rods as "Bubba fishermen."

Something seems out of sorts here, but our author manages to come through the day with a positive outlook on our sport...sort of....

Still there is the problem of affordability, but Sage and Redington will be doing their part by offering complete introductory packages for beginners. Most of these kits include a decent rod, reel, line, leader and a few accessories, and are relatively inexpensive when compared to some other products we saw. I really did learn you don't have to spend $1,000 to get into fly- fishing. A decent set of gear for beginners can be had for well under $500.

He then decides what you spend on your sport is all relative, comparing an expensive fly rod to a new rifle or set of golf clubs. Did we manage to recruit him into the ranks of the fur and feather crowd? You be the judge.

Will I join the ranks of fly-fishermen anytime soon? I don't know, but my mind is more open to it now than it's ever been before.

As an avid fly fisherman I love the sport and probably see it through rose colored Costa del Mar sunglasses. Sometimes it pays to have a look at what you love through someone else's eyes.

I have my own thoughts, but for the moment what do you think non-flyfishers really see when they look at our sport from the outside?


Trout Underground said...

I've been reading this a lot lately - fly fishing's "too expensive."

I can only shake my head.

There are some exceptional rod & reel outfits available for less than $100. The same for waders and boots, which you can also rent.

Best of all, there are a lot public rivers and lakes to fish.

Someone who thinks that's too expensive might want to buy the two dozen rods & reels (and oh yeah - the $30,000 bass boat) you need to go bass fishing.

As for difficult, yeah it is. That's sorta the point.

Honestly, complaints about the difficult of the sport sound a little like someone complaining that chess is hard to master.

The only proper response is: "correct."

And there's certainly no shortage of ways to learn - classes, tapes, books, guides, seminars.

I wonder if all this soul-searching about the sport isn't really being driven by manufacturers and retailers who are suddenly feeling the effects of a competitive, shrinking industry after years and years of growth and easy sales.

It really isn't that expensive. And it's hard because it's supposed to be...

Murdock said...


As always, well said. I was hoping to get your response on this one.

Personally I think that, adjusted for inflation, equipment prices have probably dropped over the years. I also think that the quality has increased. I couldn't have bought a name brand 6 piece travel rod for $99 a few years ago. Also the entry level set ups seem to be much better than my first eagle claw / martin combo.

This whole spin could be an attempt to market the sport like that $159 weight loss pill. "Fly fishing is far too expensive and difficult for the average person so don't even try it without a guide or the best equipment money can buy"

There were a lot of different demographics visible at the FFR show, but one thing is for sure, nobody that I saw seemed too worried about price point.