Dec 12

SWC Pace Setting – Bahamas

See, this is why I put the Skinny Water Culture Blog in the Top of the Heap category. These guys are simply crushing it. They have found a core of solid guys (a couple of whom I know a little bit, which is fun) and they are giving them pretty much free reign to post up about what they are doing… and what they are doing is catching fish and living the lifestyle that SWC was born to represent.

Damn fine work.

Chris Lewis in the Bahamas

Two days ago I stood knee deep on one of the prettiest flats I have ever seen. The flat had little patches of grass, coral and the sand was pristine. The only person in sight was my wife who was laying on the beach a few hundred yards away.

Chris, rocking the Bahamas

Chris, rocking the Bahamas

Chris loves the Bahamas. That’s understandable. I do too and I can’t wait for my next Bahamian adventure.

Dec 12

Industry Blog Report Card

Following up on last week’s question about the future of fly fishing blogging, I thought I’d take a look at what is actually happening out there in a little more detail. Looks like indie bloggers (like, say, me) don’t have to worry just yet.

Many of the companies below do have social media of one stripe or another, but what I’m looking for is something that is a blog associated with the company. There are some companies who are clearly leading the pack, others who are getting underway and others who appear to have lost their way or never started. Most fit in that last category.

First… Who is doing well.

  • Deneki – Updated very, very frequently, this is one of the top fly fishing blogs, indie or industry.
  • OrvisNews – They get it. They’ve been early and loud in their support for the blog format.
  • Skinny Water Culture – Just a good read. A small, upstart company that is outplaying many established players in this space.
  • Idylwild Flies – Their blog is called “Marinated in Awesomeness” and it is.
  • Costa – The blog, but also their major push behind GEOFISH… solid.
  • Headhunter Fly Shop – A destination shop with a pretty big footprint.
  • Angling Destinations – This is Scott’s blog and it is still fairly new, but he gets it… he’s putting out fresh, original content at a decent clip.
  • The Caddis Fly – An Oregon fly shop that has been churning out goodness for a while. I’ve found many saltwater fly tying videos from them. Good stuff.

Not Bad, for a Start. These blogs have started, have some content and have potential.

  • Sage – A good start, but needs more stories to give readers a reason to check in.
  • Rio – Pretty much same as above.
  • Thomas & Thomas – Another good start. Hope they keep it going.
  • Patagonia – “What?  Why is Patagonia not an all star?  Don’t they have an established blog?” Yes, they do, but it would be a stretch to call it a fly fishing blog. It is primarily a hiking/mountain climbing/surfing/kayaking/other-outdoors-activities blog. You have to go 11 posts back to find anything about fishing. I really like Patagonia gear, but sometimes they are a little coy about their fly fishing love.
  • Yellow Dog Fly Fishing – With so many destinations, such talented resident phtogs and so much experience it is easy to see why they have a blog. It is a little hard to find on the page, but it is worth reading.
  • Flywater Travel – Some really great posts in here and some great photography.
  • Leland Fly Fishing – Another fly shop with a fair effort to start
  • Blue Halo -A company with that New Company Smell still, they are putting in a decent effort.
  • William & Joseph – Some good content, there just has to be more.
  • Echo – While they still have the “Just another WordPress.com Site” tag, they have some decent content too.
  • Simms – They have a blog, check. It feels like it should be a lot stronger.
  • TFO – I thought they didn’t have a blog… mainly because there isn’t a readily identifiable link on their home page. Turns out they DO have a blog, and it is a decent start. Odd to not make that easier to get to from the home page. TFO, like others, appears to be investing more in FB.
  • Scientific Angler – Another blog I missed on my scan. This looks like SA+Ross and there is some good content there. Another blog to watch.

The Forgotten. These are blogs that showed an intention to get off the ground and then just didn’t. All of the following get a grade of “Incomplete.”

  • Hardy – There is a “Fin and Fly” that I think is a blog, but I don’t see any content there. There is a newsletter they do, and that may be it, but this link returns a blank page for me.
  • Umpqua – One day of blog posts and then… silence.
  • Hatch – One blog post in 2012
  • Cliff Outdoors – They have a Cliff’s Notes section with one post.
  • Loon Outdoors – Pretty classic. One post, called “Coming Soon,” from Oct. 2011. That’s it.
  • The Fly Shop – Two blogs here, one last updated in 2008.

Absent. These companies have no voice in the blogosphere (or not one I could easily find).

  • Abel – Nippers they have, but no blog voice.
  • Tibor – Not much coming from the big reel company.
  • Redington – I’m guessing that FB is where the effort is being put, as they have a pretty active Facebook presence.
  • Nautilus – They may be “Tested on Animals,” but they aren’t sharing those experiences through a blog.
  • Galvan – This is a smaller company, so not surprising.
  • St. Croix – I still miss my Legend Ultra that was stolen in Mexico, but they have no blog.
  • Scott – Nope. No blog from this big rod maker.
  • Winston – They do have forums, so, there is something, but they are leaving the storytelling to their fans as opposed to telling their own stories.
  • Cheeky – I’m a bit surprised that Cheeky doesn’t have a blog, given they are so young and new. I’m thinking they may be investing in Facebook over a blog.
  • Allen – A smaller company, I think, so maybe not surprising.
  • Fishpond – Fishpond seems like a company that would have a blog, so that is a little bit surprising.
  • Dan Baily – They have a big catalog business and make some of their own gear (I’ve had several pairs of their waders over the years).
  • Lamson – Nothing from this well known reel maker.
  • G. Loomis – A bit of a surprise as they have a big conventional business too, so have a lot of customers to talk to.
  • SS Flies – A smaller company, so maybe that’s OK.
  • Cabelas – They do have some forums, so they are doing something, but they are a pretty big company to not have a blog.
  • Albright – A company which sells all on-line, but doesn’t have an on-line voice. Kind of surprising.
  • Sea Level – I’ve seen these guys at fly fishing shows for a while and they don’t seem like a high tech kind of group.
  • Bauer – Very nice reels, but a smaller company.
  • Loop – This big European player is silent in the blogosphere.
  • Frontiers – They used to be the undisputed kings of travel, but have faded in recent years, although they still do some business. It is important to note that most of the other big and growing travel companies are heavily invested in social media/blogs.

It seems some companies are focusing on Facebook over Blogs and I think there are some pretty solid reasons for doing so in many cases. There are also some companies that have forums or other ways of communicating with their customer base. There are also just a lot of companies who have not hopped on the Social Media train just yet and maybe that’s a good idea. It’s better to go out with a plan and an objective as opposed to just throwing something out there and hoping it sticks.

The top category is an interesting group and I’m not sure I can put it into words, but I’d say they are forward looking and willing to take a leap, both in the medium and in the voice they use. They inject a bit of personality into their writing, sometimes a lot of personality.

Here’s to seeing where the future takes us.