By Kirk Deeter
In addition to my work with Field & Stream, I’m also the editor of Angling Trade magazine (www.anglingtrade.com), which keeps me on top of the business trends in the fly fishing world. What do I see happening in 2011? For one, the use of a new resin has led to numerous rod designs… the rod wars are back on, and that’s going to lead to more options for the average consumer. (I alluded to this [in a post last summer](/blogs/fishing/2010/06/deeter-unveiling-latest- fly-rod-technology) but I now think the new product wheels are spinning faster than I anticipated, and I think low pricepoint is the real battleground.)
I think we’re also going to see a lot more “bundling” of product, as manufacturers move away from niche identities (the specialty rod maker, or reel maker) and become “total fly fishing” companies (Far Bank is Sage, Redington, and Rio… 3M/Scientific Anglers bought Ross Worldwide, etc.). Don’t be surprised if you see more consolidation of brands, and expect to see more bundled deals at the fly shops, e.g. buy a reel, get a free line…whether or not that’s happy news for the fly shop guy is very much open to debate now.
The race is definitely on to see which shops blow out their online sales. Traditional “territories” are all but gone…online poaching is the norm… and we’re still waiting for the big shoe to drop when a few more established manufacturers start selling product direct over the Internet. I already know of a new rod company (just about to launch…more to come soon) that’s going to build its business around selling online, creating high-design products (manufactured overseas) without the middle man, to take as much cost out of the rods as possible. If it works, the big boys are going to pay attention, trust me.
Lastly, every year it seems there’s a push to “new” water in an attempt to keep people interested, sell more products, or recruit new fly fishers. Saltwater was all the rage…then it was warmwater…carp became the poor man’s bonefish…and so on. 2011 will be the year of the small stream. Companies and shops are going to press the virtues of those small waters… the value of catching wild fish, though they might be modest in size, over the stocked mutants in crowded tailwaters. I actually like the logic, having long favored “Best Wild Places” like the [Alpine Triangle in Colorado](/blogs/where-fish-trout/2010/08/best-wild-place s-exploring-alpine-triangle) over the zoo-like atmosphere in places like the Texas Hole on the San Juan River.
Frankly, it’s also smart to focus on small streams, because there are more of them, in more parts of the country than there are big brawling trout rivers. So get out the 2-weight, the fiberglass wand, or the Tenkara rod, pull up the hip waders, and get ready for a small stream rededication.
Look for The Orvis Guide to Small Stream Fly Fishing by Tom Rosenbauer (Rizzoli, April 2011) to lead the print parade on the topic later this spring. As with all the instructional books Tom writes, I’m sure it will be good.