Are you recommending mix-and-match setups, or following the company line?
“Off label” in the pharmaceutical context means taking a drug that’s approved for one effect, because it yields a different one for which it isn’t necessarily approved. For example, the circulation drug might improve your libido and the hypertension drug might make you less fat.
In fly fishing, off-label is mixing and matching brands for optimal effect. Sure, Orvis is going to say that the best reel to match with a Helios 3 rod is an Orvis reel… and the best line is going to come from Scientific Anglers. Far Bank will want you to match a Sage rod and reel with a RIO line, and so forth. And, the reality for the retailer is that the manufacturers want you to carry one thing if you wish to carry the other.
But when it comes to dealing with the customer, how much do you go off-label and mix brands?
An example I recently landed on: I wear my fondness for the Winston Pure rod on my sleeve. The ideal setup, for the 7’-6” 3-weight is to pair it with a thin-profile, old-school Hardy UltraLite Disc reel (2/3/4), and on that, put one of RIO’s new “Creek” lines. For small-stream environs where medium-sized trout eat dry flies, the best combination I have found, and I’ve been noodling with different options for the last several months.
You don’t often read “mix-and-match” because they’re too subjective, and too hard to pull off. But the fly shops are the last bastions where independent thinking and product crossover still happens. Are you leveraging that ability for full effect?