Angling Trade

Angling Trade

Who Do You Buy From?

  • By: Kirk Deeter
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Used to be that a fly-rod company built the rod and sold it to a fly-shop guy. The fly-shop guy then wrapped some casting tips around that product, and sold it to you (with a markup, of course).

That’s all changing now. Pressured to bring product prices lower, some manufacturers are cutting out the middle man (meaning the retailer), and selling product directly to consumers via the Internet. In turn, some fly shops have set up their own “private label” overseas manufacturing operations and are cutting out the manufacturer in return.

What does that mean to you? Lower prices, at least in some cases. Here are some examples.

Recently launched Rise Fishing designs rods (with input from a team of guides around the country) and sells them direct to consumers over the company’s Web site. The hook is quite simple: Rise Fishing uses IM-8 and IM-10 graphite and high-end components, manufactures their rods overseas, and sells you a performance rod for $250 or less (with a spare tip and a warranty). They’re banking that you will trust the design without the “wiggle and shake” test, and for that leap of faith you get more rod for your dollar.

Conversely, The Fly Shop, in Redding, California, one of the most successful retail and catalog operations in the business, is offering its own brand of “The Fly Shop” rods, reels and waders, through retail sales at its store and through its catalog, and also online (you can buy “guide quality” waders from The Fly Shop for less than $200). The Fly Shop is hoping that you’ll trust the fly-shop guy to develop product.

Net-net…there’s going to be bloodshed in 2011. Some companies—Orvis and Patagonia, for example—that already ride the line of direct sales versus retailer sales should plug along as usual. But in many other cases, the “what” factor may be trumped by the “where” and “how” consumers buy. And you, the consumer, will ultimately dictate who wins this battle. —Kirk Deeter

Angling Trade covers the business of fly-fishing; go to