Inside The Fly Fishing Industry

So You Want to Start a Revolution

I’m not a big believer in premonitions, omens, fortune telling – that sort of thing. It’s just too scary. I’d be reading my coffee grounds every morning, and I’d never get on an airplane. But I have to admit the signs were everywhere. First, I bump into Simon Gawesworth from RIO at a crappy hotel restaurant in Pleasanton, California where we’re both working… Read More


The Thing About Mike

Strolling with The Fly Shop owner Mike Michalak through the annual Fly Tackle Dealer trade show, an event he personally attends about every three years, is like going to someone else’s high school reunion, namely his. Manufactures reach out from within their booths to shake his hand, guides and lodge owners stop him in the isle, and even competing fly shop proprietors… Read More


Patagonia Gets Serious About Fly Fishing

“It’s never going to snow again,” laments Yvon Chouinard in a resigned yet pragmatic tone. “Everything is melting and we’re headed towards becoming a water planet.” Provocative statements like this zinger on climate change are a reportedly common response from this quiet (introverted), reluctant (hands-off boss who hates confrontation) anti-businessman… Read More


Rod Return Redux

Bring up the well-worn subject of unconditional lifetime rod warranties to a group of industry insiders and the oft-repeated refrains (from manufacturers) that “it’s the worst thing that could have ever happened to the fly fishing business,” and (from retailers) that “every time a customer sends back a broken rod for replacement, I lose a sale,” are, well… still oft-repeated… Read More

Birds of a Feather Beware: The Risk of Avian Flu and Fly Fishing

During a recent online search for a hard-to-find hackle I came across a couple of references to avian flu and the dearth of certain fly tying materials. Having just watched the ABC docudrama “Fatal Contact: Bird Flu in America” a few nights before, I was, admittedly, still a little freaked out over the possibility of a deadly influenza epidemic sweeping the world… Read More

Orvis: An American Fly Fishing Institution

Webster’s defines institution as “a significant organization in a society or culture; something firmly associated with a place or thing.” There are few institutions in American fly fishing, if only because the definition seems a contradiction-in-terms when describing myriad companies and organizations that have come and gone in the relatively short history of angling… Read More


Crossing the Line

Boring things fly lines. Hiding behind the cash register in stacks of “whatever you got” apathy, they lack the tactile sexiness of a new rod or the racecar aesthetics of the latest reel design. Most customers will buy whatever their fly shop offers them. And usually what is offered them is all pretty much the same. Every once in awhile… Read More


Farlows: Serving the Angling Brotherhood

On my first attempt to find Farlows in London’s bustling upscale Pall Mall district I walked right past the shop. Scanning the deep-city blocks of historic stone buildings… my eyes could find no traditional “fly shop” sign, or giant hanging trout placard or even a fly fishing decal-plastered window or door… Read More


Messing with Midas

The watershed of Bristol Bay, Alaska – arguably the world’s greatest wild salmon and trout fishery – is considered by anglers and industry types alike to be the crown jewel of the sport due to its sheer opulence of game fish and the spectacular wildness of its environment. Sadly, inconceivably, all of this is now threatened by a gold mining scheme of unprecedented size… Read More


St Croix – A Midwest Rod with Worldwide Appeal

Park Falls, Wisconsin, self-proclaimed Ruffed Grouse Capital of the World. It’s really one of those “you can’t get there from here” kinds of places – at least not easily. The nearest airport of any significance is in the Twin Cities, one state over. And from there it’s a three-hour drive east, then due north up the belly of Wisconsin… Read More


Abel Reels – Grinding it Out

Like a giant piece of shiny, mechanical pencil lead, the massive length of bar stock aluminum 12-feet long, 5-inches round, 277-pounds heavy, and $1,000 in raw value is slowly reduced into 2-inch thick disks of metallic dreams. Dreams of giant fish on the fly, of hard-bent rods and screaming reels. Dreams of owning a piece of sporting gear bearing a name with so much cachet… Read More


Coops Bait & Tackle

Driving by Coop’s Bait & Tackle… I do just that, I drive right by. Not that the name of this legendary Northeastern fly shop on the island of Martha’s Vineyard isn’t already the antithesis of expected nomenclature for a conventional fly fishing retailer, but from the outside the place looks more like someone’s house. It actually is someone’s house, one Cooper Gilkes III, to be exact… Read More

Adams and Sons

When Jim Adams began importing flies from Kenya to the U.S. in the mid ‘70s it was to help fund his travels around America and eventually his college education at Southwest Texas State. Little did he know at the time that this was the start of a lifelong professional involvement in the fly fishing industry which would span the continuum… Read More