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Market Research Paints Clear Picture of Fly Fishing Industry

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August 30, 2012

Market Research Paints Clear Picture of Fly Fishing Industry

By Kirk Deeter

The American Fly Fishing Trade Association (AFFTA) recently commissioned the market research firm Southwick Associates, Inc., to do a study on retailers in the fly fishing industry. The results provide a clearer picture on the sport than we've had in a long time. Here are some tidbits you might find interesting:

- Total sales of all fly fishing products amount to just under $750 million, marking fly fishing as a niche endeavor. (For example, some brands of candy bars sell more than the whole fly fishing market combined.)

- Over half of fly fishing sales happen west of the Mississippi River, with the Rocky Mountain region leading with 31.5 percent. The far West is 25.8 percent; the South is 23.7 percent; Northeast is 10.9 percent and North Central is 8.1 percent.

- The product that sells the most? Flies. But other things like fly tying materials, rods, reels, and clothing are all pretty close. We're noting that there are two types of fly shop — those that actually make most of their money selling flies (usually adjacent to a major river), and "lifestyle" shops that sell the fly fishing "culture." What type is your shop?

- There are approximately 3.8 million fly anglers in the United States, according to license data from the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service. Personally, I think if you looked at the number of "serious" anglers that fish more than once or twice a year, that number would be about half that. So if you're a dedicated fly rodder, you're one in 10 of the U.S. population.

- Women account for 15 percent of fly product sales, which underscores what I said several months ago about the sport being too "manly."

- Freshwater fishing accounts for 64 percent of the fly market versus 36 percent for saltwater. Interestingly, "warmwater fishing," (which includes bass and carp) equaled 17.2 percent of sales last year. The fly fishing world still clearly spins around trout.

- Over 80 percent of products are still sold through actual fly shops, though Internet sales are indeed growing.

Just a little food for thought.

 

Comments (10)

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from Gtbigsky wrote 1 year 33 weeks ago

Thanks for the information

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from TheRiverYeti wrote 1 year 33 weeks ago

Just to nitpick, on your fourth point: 3.8 million fly fishers out of a US population of about 311 million means you are closer to 1 in 82. If only half of that 3.8 million are serious and you are one of them, you are 1 in 164, not 1 in 10.

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from buckhunter wrote 1 year 33 weeks ago

Have never heard the phrase "lifestyle shop" before. Is that the shop where every buys cool fishing hats and shirts but nobody fishes?

Looks like the greatest potential for growth are the warm water fisheries in the east. Which may explain the recent surge in popularity of that dirty little four letter word... carp.

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from themadflyfisher wrote 1 year 33 weeks ago

I don't know how they came up the 3.8mil figure. Nothing about any license I've ever had had anything to do with what style of fishing I'd be doing. Not saying they're wrong, just don't understand how they would get that number.

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from Koldkut wrote 1 year 33 weeks ago

Buck, I'm getting tired of "warmwater" or "Rough" fish all being called Carp....Carp are for sure fun, but there are others. Is it maybe because Carp have no home that the fly group wants to get in on them before the spin and bait chuckers get a chance to claim them?

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from Rhythm Rider wrote 1 year 33 weeks ago

Selling more 'new' gear is great, but the soul of fly fishing isn't about numbers or being quick and easy to do. There's not much more room for anglers with poor etiquette out there on streams, so to attempt to boost numbers just to sell gear is a bad idea.

The growth potential is in average game fish (bass, walleye, panfish, carp....debatable to many) as cited by the research. The problem to overcome is the average game fish angler's attitude. Most aren't looking to make fishing tougher or gain an experience. It's just harder to catch many large fish on a fly in a lake compared to conventional gear. With that in mind, you have to target a niche within those anglers looking for more. Barry Reynolds could be the greatest ambassador for this task. It's an uphill battle, but worth pursuing.

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from Bellringer wrote 1 year 33 weeks ago

I don't suppose any of you experts ever got in a bluegill bed with a fly road and popping bug.

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from themadflyfisher wrote 1 year 33 weeks ago

Bellringer- I started flyfishing casting an elk hair to bluegills and pumpkin seeds and still do it today! It is good fun! It also taught me how to cast when I was learning the basics.

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from buckhunter wrote 1 year 32 weeks ago

It does not get any better than bluegill on a fly rod.

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from abbner wrote 1 year 32 weeks ago

Based off of the numbers provided, every fly chucker would spend an average of $200 annually within the fly shops. I don't know about the rest of you guys but I can't remember the last time I only spent that little in a years time.
That would be my tippet bill maybe. I'm glad I'm doing my part to help grease the average.

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from TheRiverYeti wrote 1 year 33 weeks ago

Just to nitpick, on your fourth point: 3.8 million fly fishers out of a US population of about 311 million means you are closer to 1 in 82. If only half of that 3.8 million are serious and you are one of them, you are 1 in 164, not 1 in 10.

+1 Good Comment? | | Report
from Gtbigsky wrote 1 year 33 weeks ago

Thanks for the information

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from buckhunter wrote 1 year 33 weeks ago

Have never heard the phrase "lifestyle shop" before. Is that the shop where every buys cool fishing hats and shirts but nobody fishes?

Looks like the greatest potential for growth are the warm water fisheries in the east. Which may explain the recent surge in popularity of that dirty little four letter word... carp.

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from themadflyfisher wrote 1 year 33 weeks ago

I don't know how they came up the 3.8mil figure. Nothing about any license I've ever had had anything to do with what style of fishing I'd be doing. Not saying they're wrong, just don't understand how they would get that number.

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from Koldkut wrote 1 year 33 weeks ago

Buck, I'm getting tired of "warmwater" or "Rough" fish all being called Carp....Carp are for sure fun, but there are others. Is it maybe because Carp have no home that the fly group wants to get in on them before the spin and bait chuckers get a chance to claim them?

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from Rhythm Rider wrote 1 year 33 weeks ago

Selling more 'new' gear is great, but the soul of fly fishing isn't about numbers or being quick and easy to do. There's not much more room for anglers with poor etiquette out there on streams, so to attempt to boost numbers just to sell gear is a bad idea.

The growth potential is in average game fish (bass, walleye, panfish, carp....debatable to many) as cited by the research. The problem to overcome is the average game fish angler's attitude. Most aren't looking to make fishing tougher or gain an experience. It's just harder to catch many large fish on a fly in a lake compared to conventional gear. With that in mind, you have to target a niche within those anglers looking for more. Barry Reynolds could be the greatest ambassador for this task. It's an uphill battle, but worth pursuing.

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from Bellringer wrote 1 year 33 weeks ago

I don't suppose any of you experts ever got in a bluegill bed with a fly road and popping bug.

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from themadflyfisher wrote 1 year 33 weeks ago

Bellringer- I started flyfishing casting an elk hair to bluegills and pumpkin seeds and still do it today! It is good fun! It also taught me how to cast when I was learning the basics.

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from buckhunter wrote 1 year 32 weeks ago

It does not get any better than bluegill on a fly rod.

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from abbner wrote 1 year 32 weeks ago

Based off of the numbers provided, every fly chucker would spend an average of $200 annually within the fly shops. I don't know about the rest of you guys but I can't remember the last time I only spent that little in a years time.
That would be my tippet bill maybe. I'm glad I'm doing my part to help grease the average.

0 Good Comment? | | Report

Post a Comment

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