Sunday, December 16, 2012

Industry Interview #1: Orvis Rod & Tackle

This is the first in five part series of interviews exploring the relationship between fly fishing for carp and the industry.  This interview features Tom Rosenbauer, Marketing Director for Orvis Rod & Tackle and was performed in question / answer format via email.   A summary of all the interviews with commentary is also available in the recent CarpPro Fly Fishing For Carp Special.

Tom Rosenbauer with a Lake Champlain Carp
Fly-Carpin:  Please tell us about any current participation in the fly fishing for carp sub-culture that you are excited about as an organization. Does Orvis have any products specifically designed for carp? Do you participate in or support any carp events or activities?  Have you had any interesting interactions with the community?
Tom Rosenbauer:  We are actually going to begin advertising in Carp Pro magazine in January.  We feel that although carp fishing will never become huge (they aren’t as pretty as trout and they are tough to catch), carp fishing will become more popular.

We sponsor the Carp tournament in Denver, we sponsor Conway Bowman’s Carp Throwdown in San Diego, and our company store in Portland, Oregon runs a Carp Tournament every year called Carpocalypse
Of course standard rods, reels, and leaders (9 foot fluorocarbon and most people add some length to them), sunglasses, etc work great for carp.  We also have a really good selection of carp-specific flies.
Fly-Carpin:  Does Orvis have any near-term plans to expand your reach in the carpin’ community that you would like to share?  New product releases, events, activities, etc.
Tom Rosenbauer:  We are still in the planning process on more carp-related events and marketing but I do know that the Portland store will run another Carpocalypse tournament next year and we plan to continue sponsoring the other two.
Fly-Carpin:  In a more general sense how does Orvis view the long-term future of fly fishing for carp and how does that future relate to you? Examples would include: Do you anticipate a growing market with changing demand for product and marketing strategies? Do you have any thoughts on what the relationship between the general industry and the community might change and grow?
Tom Rosenbauer:  There will be a changing market but I am not sure how much we need to change our product line to meet it.  But the fact that we are advertising in Carp Pro should let you know we’re serious about the market.  Will the conventional carp fishers cross over into fly fishing?  I am not sure of that.  For 30 years people have said fly fishing for bass will “explode” with all the conventional guys getting into it, but most bass fly rodders are people who fished in salt water or for trout with a fly rod and fish for bass in the warmer months of the year.  So I would not hold my breath for thousands of spin fishermen to grab a fly rod.
However I do think fly fishers who target steelhead, bonefish, and spring creek trout will treat carp fishing as a new challenge that they can do in the off season.  Carp are not a beginner’s fish.
Fly-Carpin:: I am also personally curious if any of your executive, marketing or product development staff has any experience with targeting carp on the fly.  If so can you tell us about it? 
Tom Rosenbauer:  Your last question is easy.  It would be tougher to figure out who in our product development and marketing staff does NOT love carp fishing.  Most of us prefer carp fishing over trout fishing—unfortunately we live surrounded by trout streams and we have to drive an hour for good carp fishing.  But we do it—before and after work and on days off.  We have a group of carp fishers that includes people from marketing, product development, finance, and inventory control.  Plus the owners of the company, the Perkins family.
Fly-Carpin (Follow Up Question): That you have some carp flies in your catalog was a surprise to me, and I try and stay abreast of that.  Good ones too, not just bonefish flies re-categorized for carp.  I find that exciting. How long have you had them and do you fore-see adding more? 
Tom Rosenbauer:  We added them because we love carp fishing and we feel it’s a growing area.  Simple as that. So we went to a couple of our fly designers who had some great carp patterns.


  1. McTage,

    That was good as was your article. I want carp to have more recognition, and don't, you may know what I mean. I think Orvis is helping The Revolution; Still, at my local Orvis shop, despite pictures of carp here and there, it seems they still an after thought, something to pursue when they are 1.) easiest, and 2.) trouting is in springtime blowout. Would like to see specific rods/lines from orvis.


    1. Thanks Gregg. I don't doubt that more rods/lines might happen eventually but dang if I could tell them what they would need to be like. Now on the flies, tell your Orvis shop you want them to carry the Orvis carp flies. They may comply.

  2. Excellent. Very interesting to hear these insights from Rosenbauer and the others in your article.

    1. It was very interesting Ty. As I mention in the article I was particularly surprised how deep the carp infestation is at the highest levels of the industry.

  3. "they aren't as pretty as trout"
    I dunno, to me a wild carp is prettier than either a pale grey stocked trout with clipped fins, or a battered much-released tailwater fish with a scarred jaw; which comprises most trout caught in CO these days.
    However trout and smallmouth bass are much easier to catch than carp, so mostly I just admire the carp swimming by..

    1. Doug, Not sure we can fault him for the pretty as trout comment. It is after all the role of a company like Orvis to understand the cultural norms and that would certainly be the cultural norm opinion. I am just pleased they themselves are fishing for carp because I notice the more carp you catch the more you begin to appreciate there beauty to the point where that opinion shifts.

  4. Carp's the most fightingest fish here in MY river, more than catfish, more than shad, even more than striped bass...pound for pound.

    1. Wow, that sounds like a really kick-ass river Steve! Surprised about the striped bass though. Even as a carp slappy I would have thought that would go the other way. Cool to hear an opinion to the contrary.


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