WOW. We have never seen times like this. My children can’t even begin to comprehend the worldwide impact this virus has on our future. Many people, many businesses, all of our lives will be forever changed. I have seen a lot of ugliness on the social media outlets- some directed at State level officials, others at POTUS, and I can’t speak to being on one side or another, but I would not wish to be in any political position at these incredible times. I have been on the phone calling a lot of our fly shops to check in and see how things are going. I won’t give out names, but I have heard a host of responses and want to relay what the next couple weeks might hold for us in the Fly Industry. These are merely opinions. Nobody knows for certain what will happen in the next month or two, but I wanted to reach out and connect with you, my readers and say thank you for always reading and being diligent and being trouty.
Now, perhaps more than ever, fly fishing is relevant. I see virtual fly tying groups pop up on my feed from Trout Unlimited groups and local fly shops hosting tying nights on Facebook and other outlets. This is beyond great!! We need to have this interaction, for our sanity and for our families. Fly shops are dying for your business- they need to you keep them afloat and pay the bills until this passes. We can still go out and practice social distancing while hiking back in the woods to a favorite stretch of water. Call and check what your local fly shop is doing regarding online purchasing or curb-side delivery for call ahead orders. Being from the service industry, I realize and see how more restaurants and fly shops are better situated for this, but time will certainly show who can evolve and work out the kinks. Some fly shops have long understood and utilized the social media aspect of business in this day and age. Others are starting to see that there is some relevance in having a ‘following’ on Instagram/Facebook. Having a web presence and getting clicks also translates to sales of actual products and materials that don’t sit on a shelf and expire. I can only encourage dealers to get online and connect with their clients in this global marketplace that operates 24 hour a day. This is a great time to look at a business plan that includes social media/online sales for the next 5 years.
We are also fortunate that most of us have all the things it takes to go out and get lost on a river or stream for an afternoon. Others might not be so lucky. Invite that person who is Fly Curious and show them the glorious world fly fishing can offer (from a socially acceptable distance, of course), the reward might be more than just a 12″ brown in the net. Let them borrow that steelhead rod or 5 weight for a short time, until they get the bug and purchase their own. It can turn into a lasting relationship for many adventures on the water that include river clean-ups, camping. cook-outs and travel to many other fishy destinations. We have a golden opportunity to share a treasure that can have a deep and lasting meaning.
Give a buddy a call and see what his/her plans are for the coming year. Make some rough draft for a camping/fishing trip. I made a promise to a few anglers earlier this year to fish with them because too many years have passed with flippant promises made-“We should fish this year!” often heard at the Midwest Fly Expo. Sadly, it was not this year. Called merely days prior to event, the State made the right call to prevent gatherings over 250 people. Many fly shops stock up on various Show Specials. Give your shop a call and see what they might have in store for you. Make that promise to FISH this year become a reality. Pull out your Google Calendar and lock your buddy down for a date, or two. I know I have had a couple of May/June Guide dates call and cancel. I am keeping them open to shuffle other clients who were looking for better hatches and still reserve one or two for personal time on the river.
Look at the positive side of this. This is the slow time. Really. At least this wasn’t middle of June. I know viruses tend to become extinguished in warmer climates, but that doesn’t rule out a pandemic in June because of our Global economy and travel. It gives us the opportunity to regroup, organize and clean things up. We are still tying flies, organizing boxes, mailing out ‘CoVid Care Packages’ to friends who will appreciate and keeping positive. Having a global event happen in the fall would devastate winter travel to saltwater fishing destinations as well. There are multiple silver linings in this pandemic. Many ‘would be’ summer travelling anglers are going to be likely staying close to home and keeping their dollars in state or near a favorite river with family cabin on it. Big ticket items may take a small hit, but all the small necessities of fly fishing are essential- flies, leader/tippet, fly boxes, Dry Magic and streamside accessories.
Talking to Corey H. at Schultz Outfitters said it best- “we are selling little bits of Happiness.” How true. Leader/Tippet, hooks, tying materials, riverside accessories – all small packages that offer hope. To the Angler and Fly shop. The shop that sells ‘happiness’ has return customers and exponential growth.
The rivers are still flowing. Every day, 24 hours a day, whether you voted Democrat or Republican. The river keeps moving. The trout are still thriving. Looking for their next morsel. This is here for you. To relax, enjoy and lose yourself for a day. I encourage you to practice some ‘Social Distancing’ today on a river that you can access, perhaps you forget about things for a few minutes while that fish has you tight to your reel. I am headed out to find a fish that can help me focus on June, and hatches that will blow your mind…