Where have all our senses gone? Has this
really become a world of new, bigger, better
and more? If you look at all the stuff the
sporting industry is dishing out; you would
have to say it has.
Each year at the big Fly Fishing Retailer Show,
there is a rush to see what new stuff everyone
has to offer. There is a complete section
devoted to the new stuff at the show. All
the magazines rush to print the first reviews
of all the new stuff, and most try to get sneak
previews so their articles will be in print first.
It is a mad rush; everyone trying to get the first
grab at your wallet.
When was the last time a major player in the fly
rod business didn't spawn a new fly rod for the
big show? We have new actions, new colors, new
materials and new advertising techniques to
capture your cash. St. Croix makes a name
for themselves by advertising that their rods
cast as good as anyone else's rods but cost
less, then they make a $500 rod for the big
show. Not that their rod isn't worth a lot
of cash, but does that mean that their other
rods don't really cast that good? I'm just
picking on St Croix because they are handy,
but they all do it, and they all do it each year.
We now have graphite 3 ½ XYZ modulus or some
such thing, titanium ceramic scrim, multi-linear
and lateral to your neighbor fibers, super dynamic
wraps and a lot more confusing stuff that is
supposed to make your head swirl and your wallet
open. The new actions were designed by monks in
Tibet or alien creatures using the most modern
computer programs; but nobody will tell you that
they were designed by mere mortals, unless those
mortals have a big name in the fly fishing world.
If two piece rods are good, but too long, how
about three, five, seven or twenty seven pieces?
Everyone has a new wet noodle or stiff broom with
a dozen sections for the modern man who flies to
work. Instead of asking why anyone would want
to hinder an action like that, we are expected
to open our bank accounts and dish out hard cash
for fly rods with too many sections to have a
real action. And, we better do it this year
because next year there will be new models out
that will make this year's additions obsolete.
Then there are fly reels. Yep, new reels every
year. The wise folks discontinue reels as they
add new ones. The other folks just go belly up
when their overabundance of models weighs down
their ability to make a profit. However, they
all must add new models each year. Did the old
models suddenly go bad? In a few cases, yes,
but in most cases they just got old. We must
have a new reel each year, or we are stagnant.
New fly lines for the new year? You bet! They
are slicker, clearer, have more tips, have new
tapers and have been blessed by the Pope. We
are too dumb to read, so they put pictures of
the target fish on the box for us. And, each
fish has a line made just for it, introduced
one model per year.
It isn't just the fly fishing world either.
The camera folks have to introduce at least half
a dozen new models each year. So do the rifle
scope guys, the binocular guys, the handgun guys,
the rifle guys, the baseball bat guys and the list
goes on, and on, and on... Everyone has to have
a new and improved item to grab your wallet.
New stuff isn't bad mind you, but where does it
all end? The new guy is immediately lost in a
world full of fly rods and reels and lines. Why
do the manufacturers make so many new items?
Because their sales on the old items leveled off,
and nobody grows on just level sales. If you want
to grow, you must have new and improved to convince
the consumer to open his/her wallet and spend some
cash. It is a tough world and few companies play
Just once, I'd love to see a company say that
they were not going to make any new models this
year; but instead were going to devote that
research and development cash to better service
for the dealers and customers they already have.
I'm not sure many retailers have a steady enough
heart for such news. We have become bigger and
better and less in tune with our customers. Nobody
spends the money to go to Cascade, Montana or Faith,
South Dakota to introduce new folks to fly-fishing.
Instead we just make new and improved stuff each
year and call it advancement.
And, we wonder why fly-fishing is losing ground
in the real world.