Industry Update

Angling Trade Report…On trends in the fly-fishing industry... Time for a brief preview of the new-products front for 2009. Many of the key

  • By: Kirk Deeter
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Angling Trade Report…On trends in the fly-fishing industry…

Time for a brief preview of the new-products front for 2009. Many of the key fly-fishing market players who led with trump in 2008 are now leveraging/expanding product lines into which they’ve poured significant R-and-D investments. Some cases in point: Orvis, which sold nearly three times its forecast for the ZG Helios rod series last year, is expanding to include an astoundingly light 1-weight model (among other designs); and Scientific Anglers, which is following the blockbuster success of its Sharkskin series by producing more of these fly lines for saltwater applications. On the reel side, Waterworks/Lamson is set to parlay its conical drag system in the lower-priced (starting at $119) Konic reel.

However, the real action, from Angling Trade’s perspective, will happen in the waders, boots and soft-goods facets of the industry. Simms Fishing Products is exploring the collective environmental conscience of the angling community with the introduction of the first line of wading boots and sandals with Vibram hard-rubber soles. They’re designed to curtail the spread of threats like whirling disease and didymo, and perform better than felt-soled boots and sandals in grip and durability.Orvis has countered with a new wader line.

In the current stale American economy, a number of manufacturers have amped up efforts to create products at lower prices. St. Croix recently re-introduced its Imperial fly-rod line after a three-year market hiatus. Imperial fly rods sell for $150 to $200. The company also started a manufacturing facility in Frensilla, Mexico, that will help it compete against the likes of Temple Fork, Albright and Redington, which currently manufacture low-pricepoint rods in Asia.

Cortland has responded by launching three rod lines—the faster-action Big Sky series is already turning heads—along with a fly-line series called Precision Platinum, no doubt intended to match recent moves by line-makers Scientific Anglers and Rio. It would be naïve to expect rod-building powerhouses like Sage, G. Loomis, Winston and Scott to sit idly by as some of the other players make noise. Sage is replacing its popular TCR model with another“gun,” the TCX. Sage is also launching six new reels. Winston has broadened its line involving Boron II technology. As for Scott, president and rod-designer Jim Bartschi recently left the company, though he still consults on designs.

What does all this mean to you, the consumer? Simple. Competition. The bar is rising on the performance side, and price thresholds are being pushed lower on the cost side. No matter how you figure that equation, anglers will benefit.—Kirk Deeter

Angling Trade covers the fly-fishing industry; go to anglingtrade.com.