03/25/09

Insects and other foods the trout may be eating:
1. Blue-winged Olives (Baetis) - sparse hatches
2. Blue Quills - hatching
3. Quill Gordons - hatching
4. Hendricksons - could start any day now - nymphs are important
5. Little Black Caddis - hatching
6. Little Brown Stoneflies - hatching
7. Midges - hatching in isolated locations
8. Streamers - matching sculpin, baitfish and small crawfish

Fly Rod Manufacturing
For the last several days I have been writing about fly rods. I mentioned a few days
ago that when manufacturers come out with new rods it is almost always a new
"series" of fly rods. You just don't see them introducing a new fly rod. You will see
some new series that include a little as four or five rods of different weights and
lengths but most new series have even more than that. Some may introduce a new
series that includes rods ranging from 3 to 12 weight rods. I have never figured out
exactly what constituted a "series". Usually the color of the fly rods in the series is
the same. If one fly rod is a different weight or just a different length from another
one in the series, it is a completely different fly rod.

The problem I have with "series" of fly rods is that I have never found over one, or
in a few cases two rods within the series that perform as well as the other rods in
the series. There always seems to be one rod in the series that outperforms the
others. I always wonder how much effort was put forth in the design and testing of
each individual rod in the series. Could it be "typical" engineering? I think it could.
Could it be shortcuts were taken on testing and refining the design of each rod in
the series? I think it could. Would the manufacturers agree with me. You can bet
they won't.

I remember seeing Lefty Kreh's picture, probably the most famous of all fly
fishermen, in numerous magazine ads for Sage fly rods for a period of several
years. The last few years, I have seen his picture with a completely different fly rod
manufacturer. The Temple Fork website claims he designed their fly rods. That
must have been one heck of a big job. There are a lot of different fly rods in several
series. I have never met him or seen him cast. I understand he can cast, stand the
rod on the ground, and pick it back up before the line straightens out, or something
like that. According to those who have seen him cast at various shows he is a great
at it. I have no idea how much that relates to his ability to catch fish. I just know he
is very popular fly caster. If the claim is true, he must have thought he could design
better, or at least at least rods that offered more for the money, than the Sage
Rods he promoted for years. I don't know about the ladies, but the website states
that the Temple Fork rods will satisfy even the most exacting fisherman. I often
wonder just how much the Chinese manufacturer that makes the rods had to do
with the fact the relatively new fly rod company has, in my opinion, some fairly nice
performing fly rods. My guess is about 99.9 percent of it but that is just a guess.

Now don't get too upset over that last statement. About 60% of every product sold
in a Walmart store (the nations largest retailer) comes from China. Much of their
other products including most of the electronics, comes from Japan. If you have a
GPS receiver, or a fishfinder, it most likely came from China or Mexico. I went into a
hiking shop in Gatlinburg recently and the shop manager informed me that about
90 percent of the product they sell is made in China. I am just touching on the
product made in China that is sold in America. Check out the shoes you are
wearing. By the way, since I am on the subject, ask your local fly shop where the
flies they sell were made. My guess is Thailand or Kenya. Ask you local fly shop
where the Patagonia product they sell was made. Actually, I think less fly fishing
product is made in China than most anything else.

Don't yell too loud about China. They may hear you and not loan us the money our
congress is planning on spending over the next few years. We owe them so much
money now that they are already telling us how to manage our economy. Do I like
anything about what I am saying? No, I don't. I am just pointing out that things are
changing fast and things that I am sure most of your already know.

Fly shops are going out of business at the rate mayfly spinners fall. Even though
Cabelas and Bass Pro have both built a lot of new, huge stores that probably hurt
local fly shops, most of their sells are coming from the web, not stores. Mom and
Pop Fly shops can also build websites but in most cases they are still forced to
obtain the product they sell the old fashion way, through distributors. Fly fishing
product manufacturers, made in America and foreign countries, are beginning to
sell direct to the consumer by-passing the distributors and dealers. Orvis has been
selling the product they manufacturer (which is probably far less than you think)
directly to the public for some time now but more and more small manufacturers
(and all fly fishing manufacturers are small) are selling direct to the customer,
bypassing the dealers or fly shops.

The main reason for
"series" of fly rods is simple. It is more economical for
manufacturers to introduce several fly rods at a time as opposed to one fly rod. It is
also more economical for them to design and manufacturer a "series" of fly rods at
a time -
"typical" engineering, so to speak. It is far more economical for them to
promote and advertise a "series" of fly rods than individual fly rods. As a matter of
fact, my guess is,
it cost more to market the fly rods than it does to
manufacturer them.
By the way, don't worry about breaking your rod, if you have
a lifetime guarantee, you have already paid for another one. In some cases, the
amount you are required to pay for shipping and handling the replaced rod pays for
a new one. Naturally, it is more economical to advertise a "series" of fly rods than it
is the individual fly rods. Full page magazine ads cost in the thousands of dollars
each even though anglers are noticing and reading them less and less.

I cannot blame manufacturers for coming out with "series" of new fly rods. It is
probably a necessary part of the business. The entire fly rod business,
manufacturing, wholesale and retail business, is comparatively small. I have only
seen two manufacturing plants, Winston and Orvis. Both of them are about the size
of a large automobile tire shop.


Copyright 2009 James Marsh