Southwick Associates, a company that compiles angler surveys into monthly reports, has released its report for the Januruary and February of this year.
Recently, Jerry Lappier of The Trout Shop in Craig, Montana raised questions about retailing practices with a lengthy blog post about some of the larger fly-fishing manufacturers’ movement toward mass distribution. Southwick’s report reveals, however, that most fly reels, flies, tying materials, leaders, and tippets are purchased from local shops. Interestingly though, fly rods—perhaps the piece of equipment where a hands-on approach is most desired— were sold mostly on websites. This could mean that anglers simply did not care about trying out the rod first or that fly shops could be victims of “showrooming,” the latter being far more troubling.
Lappier argues that by moving to big-box stores, manufactures are biting the hand that feeds them. In other words, it is the local fly shop that provides information that is integral for those starting out in the sport (thus creating a larger customer base). While the most recent information seems to be favorable to the local fly shop, it should be noted that participation in the surveys was less than 1% in strongholds like Wyoming, Montana, and Idaho. But California, arguably the largest market, participated at more than 6%.