I am always amazed by the amount of thought and discussion that the rifle, shotgun, and archery community pours into ammo/arrows. Seriously. Google “165 grain or 180 grain ammo for 30.06” for example, and see what kind of results you get. Or search “cedar shafts for recurve bow” and behold just how much thought and banter people are willing to pour into that.
So why is it that the average fly angler consumer doesn’t really, truly know the difference among most fly lines, while there are many, many highly specific, diligently designed options out there (many of which are sitting in your shops right now). We did an informal mini-poll, dialing up 10 angler consumers (my fishing friends) and asked a simple question: What is the fly line you use most? And nine out of 10 said, simply, “Weight-forward, 5F.”
The minute anglers, as a group, start looking at fly lines as “ammo” rather than accessory, I cannot help but believe that a world of possibilities will open for retailers. And the retailers are the key gatekeepers to making that happen.
Admittedly, this notion hit me (forehead slap) at a RIO Products dealer event two weeks ago on the Missouri River in Montana. I was really impressed to hear Simon Gawesworth explain many fly line nuances, and then take several different lines to the water and compare them to each other. Different lines clearly do different things in on different rods… in different fishing situations… in the hands of anglers with different skill levels. I’ve been fishing for over 30 years, and writing about it for more than half of that time, and I realized how woefully inadequate my understanding of fly line technology really is. (But I’m fixing that.)
Unlock this riddle for your customers, and you’re not only going to sell more product, you’re going to be an information resource, the likes of which the customer cannot easily find online, or at a big box store.
Two other points Simon makes: Anglers should be encouraged to switch leaders, and clean their fly lines every day they fish. Tell the truth… do you do that?