Swift Fly Rods offers program for anglers to build their own, or have the factory (or a master rod builder) do it for them
By Kirk Deeter
Consider it the fly-fishing equivalent of the “take-and-bake” pizza. And, considering how the Papa Murphy’s down the road from me is raking in the cash, it’s probably worth watching.
Swift Performance Fly Fishing, a New Zealand-based manufacturer of some of performance fiberglass rods has launched a program that lets anglers pick out what ingredients they want, and then go cook it up for themselves. Sure, rod builders have always been able to order custom components and make their own creations. And some companies, like Scott, offer a custom shop where you can pick your own parts and the factory will build the rod for you.
But Swift is kicking that up a level by offering three options for its customers: You can pick your pieces and they’ll build it and ship it to you; you can pick your blanks and components and they’ll ship them in a kit that you can use to build the rod yourself; or you can pick the parts, and they’ll ship them to a master rod builder in your country to have them build it for you.
Question is, how do you feel about that as a retailer? Is this an option that interests you? A threat? Are you going to offer this to your hungry rod-builder clients?
Swift blanks are aesthetically pleasing, and remarkably smooth to cast, at least according to the most serious fiberglass aficionados I know. Pricing varies, of course, depending on the parts you choose and how you plan to have it built. A kit I priced out costs 495 NZD (about $421 US) for the build-yourself option, and about $750 US for a built-to-spec rod, including a titanium finish reel seat, from the factory (delivery time is four to six weeks).
In either regard, I see this as a possible trend in fly fishing, where we might expect to see more flexibility in picking different options and finishes—more “just-in-time” spec manufacturing of high-end models—and a departure from the “stock” options that change as new models are introduced every year or so.
How does the retailer fit in that mix? TBD. But it’s worth watching.