Lefty Kreh – More Than a Legend

The latest issue of Fly Fisherman has an article on Lefty Kreh, providing the life of the real man who has grown into a legend of fly fishing.

Bernard Victor Kreh was born in Maryland in 1927. Growing up in the Depression, he supported his widowed mother by hunting and fishing. Like most men of his age, he fought in the Second World War. That I knew. What I didn’t know until this article was that he was a forward artillery observer he was at the Battle of the Bulge.That battle in the bitter winter of 1944 left him with a lifelong disdain of cold weather. He also participated in the liberation of a concentration camp and was part of a unit that met the Russian Army at Torgau on the Elbe River.

From there, the career that made him a legend began. You can read the article here.

How Fly Shops Price Gear

MidCurrent had a short article on how gear prices are set in fly shops.

Except for a brief discussion on markup, most of the article focuses on the reasons for the lack of flexibility in retail pricing. That basically comes down to maintaining brand reputation and protecting fly shops from the big-box stores and discount online retailers.

As I noted in other posts, the fly fishing industry is tiny ($750 million revenue in 2012); compare that to Trident gum that had sales of $3.32 billion the same year. So the sales of all the rods, reels, waders, flies, and so on was less than the sales of one brand of chewing gum.

During that same year (2012), the average annual sales per shop was $314,789 – with shops in the West leading with sales of $431,294.

Out of those sales, a fly shop owner has to pay for building rent, utilities, taxes, salaries for employees, carried inventory, and finally take home enough to feed one’s family.

Now think about going into a fly shop. All those shiny rods, reels, waders, and clothing were all bought at wholesale prices, paid for by the shop’s previous sales. Until the inventory is sold, the fly shop is operating at a loss – the fixed costs (e.g., utilities, taxes, salaries) continue to accumulate.

Let’s have a little fun with numbers using the 2012 data and applying it to the present period.

The number of fly fishers was estimated at 3.83 million. Based on the total industry revenues, each angler would have spent an average of $195. For the sake of argument, we’ll assume the numbers hold true to today.

A fly shop owner has to do everything possible to get a customer into the shop because that shop needs roughly 1,600 sales transactions per year to generate the average annual sales of $314,789. Each day, every day, a shop needs over four sales transactions, averaging $195, Granted, there are peaks periods and slow periods, but the inexorable calculus is that a good deal of daily foot traffic is needed through the shop, and a percentage of that traffic must be converted to sales.

Looking out the window and hoping someone will stop in is a path to going out of business. If your local fly shop isn’t actively promoting the sport and itself (except perhaps in destination locations), it’s on at best a slow spiral on the same path.

Conversely, every time you go to a fly shop, at the end of the free information exchange about the hot fly or what’s fishing well today, buy something. That fly shop can’t do anything about the price of the Scott Radian or the Simms G4Z waders; all they can do is sell at the established price.

What they can do is share their knowledge of an activity we all love – if they can stay in business.

You can read the article here.

Chasing Salmon

Narrows

This is our second autumn on the west side of Puget Sound and after only focusing on SRC and resident Coho last year, this is the year I’d go after the migrating Coho (pinks will be next year).

First time out I went down to the Narrows on a cloudy cool morning and worked the beach casting both a Miyawaki popper (surface) and a woolly bugger (sub surface). I got no grabs and only saw a few fish jumping well off the beach – likely around 120 feet out (well beyond my casting range).

I didn’t expect much as this was a day for growing comfortable with the bigger ten-foot eight-weight rod, and I wasn’t disappointed. The view of the bridge and spending time on the water was enough – for that day.

Gig Harbor Beer Festival

Since we moved to Gig Harbor last year, we’ve tried to become part of the community by participating in the annual events that are part of life here. Yesterday was one such event – the Gig Harbor Beer Festival. The festival was held at the Pavilion in Uptown (next door to Panera Breads) and was sponsored by the Kiwanis Club. For the admission price of $20, one was given a four-ounce sampling glass and 7 tokens (one beer equals one token). But always in the spirit of community, additional tokens were on sale.

This year’s festival had 21 brewers, offering a total of 48 different brews. With only seven tokens, choices had to be made. My favorites were Dick’s Brewing Company (Centralia, WA), with both their Imperial IPA and 12-Man Pale Ale being great beers. Almost as much as those, I liked the Interurban IPA from Fremont Brewing (Seattle, WA). Others I liked were the Dabob Bay IPA (Hood Canal Brewery from Kingston WA); Whoop Pass Double IPA (Silver City Brewery from Bremerton WA); and the Narrows IPA (from Narrows Brewing from Tacoma WA).

Several other beers were…interesting. The following had unusual (at least for me) ingredients, producing beers that were definitely not from the King of Beers. Narrows Brewing had beer called Hibiscus Salson. It was pink and tasted somewhat like flat champagne. Slippery Pig Brewing (Poulsbo WA) had a beer called Stinging Nettle Extra Mild. Made from stinging nettles, it had a very earthy taste, which reminded me of something that the Ents of might have served Merry and Pippiin in Lord of the Rings. It was a bit too earthy for me.

After our time at the Beer Festival, we determined we’ll be back next year. Tough duty, but someone has to do it.

Buy American Makes Sense for Fly Fishing Gear

There are a number of reasons to buy from American companies, and by American companies I mean smaller companies that employ American workers. I like to support businesses that contribute to their local economies by providing good wages (as relative as that term is) to both skilled and unskilled workers. Good wages build strong communities. I truly believe without a blue-collar middle class this country is doomed. We may already be past that point, but that’s a comment for another day.

Today I want to offer another reason to buy American – it supports fish and wildlife management.

Gink and Gasoline in today’s email noted there’s a 10% excise tax on all fishing and hunting gear. The excise tax was mandated by the Pittman-Robertson Act of 1937 and the Dingell-Johnson Act of 1950. The monies collected go into a trust fund used for fish and wildlife management.

You can read their article here.