…On trends in the fly-fishing industry
- By: Kirk Deeter
Looking ahead to the 2011 fly-fishing season, the average angler/consumer is going to see certain trends come to the fore. For starters, 2011 will be a make-or-break year for many manufacturers, and in the context of fly rods, I mean that literally. As we reported in Angling Trade and Fly Rod & Reel this summer, a new nano silica manufacturing process (now used by St. Croix, G.Loomis, Hardy and others) is yielding rods that are lighter and reportedly more durable. We’re going to find out just how resilient (and in many cases, how well some models justify a $700-plus price) as everyday anglers start pulling on fish with them.
The hot issue will be, simply, will the industry redefine its price-to-performance ratio? The world’s largest outdoor retail chain, Cabela’s, is poised to make a strong case for squeezing the price-performance gap in a way many marketers of imported gear cannot; 2011 is seeing Cabela’s roll forth with its most aggressive fly product lineup in years, much of which is priced considerably less than the specialty fly-tackle companies can offer. Icon brand Orvis is poised to have it both ways, as it rides the momentum of its highly popular, high-end Helios rod series; but also delves into the lower-pricepoint realm by way of an aptly-named Access lineup of rods and reels (a 4-weight Access rod retails at $350).
Another interesting question for 2011 revolves around the bundling of product, and whether or not that translates to added-value for consumers. For example, Far Bank, the parent company of Sage, Redington and Rio, is positioned to combine Rio-manufactured lines with Sage reels, which could help boost Sage’s reel presence to a more equal standing with its strong rod sales. And now that 3M (which owns the Scientific Anglers brand) acquired Ross Reels USA, there’s no telling what types of product/package development that marriage may yield.
We’re now seeing the major industry players leverage their strengths to create value more aggressively than in recent years. This will be good news for average consumers’ wallets. It may also be the death knell for many manufacturers that lack the marketing moxie or product ingenuity to keep pace.
Angling Trade covers the business of fly-fishing; go to www.anglingtrade.com.