Crafting Fly Rods With a Soul
by Gus Jarvis
Sep 04, 2012 | 4849 views | 0 0 comments | 9 9 recommendations | email to a friend | print
ATTENTION TO DETAIL – Every fly rod manufactured in the Montrose-based Scott Fly Rod Company is handmade and semi-custom-built. The company’s manufacturing techniques, along with the dedication to partnering with independent fly shops, has been successful – even in a sluggish economy. Here, Fred Valencia checked guides for straightness at the Scott facility earlier this month. (Photo by Brett Schreckengost)
ATTENTION TO DETAIL – Every fly rod manufactured in the Montrose-based Scott Fly Rod Company is handmade and semi-custom-built. The company’s manufacturing techniques, along with the dedication to partnering with independent fly shops, has been successful – even in a sluggish economy. Here, Fred Valencia checked guides for straightness at the Scott facility earlier this month. (Photo by Brett Schreckengost)
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Dedicated Employees and a Passion for Fly Fishing Keeps Scott Fly Rods on the Leading Edge



MONTROSE – During this period of prolonged economic stagnation nationwide, you might say the odds are stacked against small companies, and that growth in profit margins (and payroll) is unlikely, if not impossible

This is not the case at Montrose-based Scott Fly Rod Company, where dedication to detail in every single fly rod manufactured by hand is not only taken seriously, but with a great amount of pride – and a passion for fly fishing.

“We’ve been able to add staff over the past year, which puts us at 36 employees,” Scott Fly Rods President (and rod designer) Jim Bartschi said early this month. “It’s not huge, but for us, in this environment, it’s awesome.”

He added that at the end of its fiscal year, in late August, Scott Fly Rods, which is privately owned by the Ford Motor Co., will see an increase in profits of nearly 34 percent.

“For us to increase like that in an industry that isn’t growing right now is a testimonial to the company and the brand,” he said. “Things are going really well for us right now.”

Scott Fly Rods got its start in 1974 in the Berkeley, Calif.-basement workshop of a man named Harry Wilson. He initially set out to build reels, but soon discovered his true talent lay in assembling fine fiberglass fly rods. From there, he began to experiment with graphite, and went on to introduce innovative designs for graphite rods.

Now, having moved the operation to western Colorado in the early 1990s, after a short manufacturing stint in Telluride, Scott Fly Rods calls Montrose home. At its manufacturing facility on the north side of Montrose, between 12,000-14,000 fly rods of all makes and sizes are built by hand every year.

The 40-year-old company is known for innovative fly-fishing designs and concepts that speak to a spectrum of anglers worldwide. From its fast-action S4 Series (weights 4-8) to its Saltwater Series (weights 8-12) to two-handed spay rods, the staff at Scott Fly Rods makes them all.

To say that Scott Fly Rods’ reach is worldwide is not an exaggeration. Bartschi said Scott Fly Rods is dominating the fly rod market in Japan, where they are “really discriminating consumers” of fly rods. The company is opening a fly-rod repair shop in Europe that will specialize in the faster turnaround times anglers desire, so they can get back on the water.

What makes Scott Fly Rods so special?

Bartschi – and Jake McKittrick, who leads sales and marketing at the company – agree that it starts with the Montrose-based employees, who remain passionate about details, quality and creating damn good fishing rods. Judging from the appearance of the facility on a recent visit, its fly-rod building operation is a well oiled machine.

“The backbone of this company is our workers,” said Jake McKittrick. “Their attention to detail is exceptional. The quality control is exceptional. And for many of them, it’s a labor of love, a love of fly fishing. We have a great, great staff here.

“Everyone is passionate about what they do here,” he continued.

Along with its dedicated employees who build the sophisticated rods, Bartschi said, a lot of Scotts’ success is due to the way the company markets and sells its product. First, he said, Scott does not put its name on anything it hasn’t built. Second, he said, the company is dedicated to selling to small independent fly shops, because that’s where Scott Fly Rods products sell the best.

“We make the rods we sell, and sell the rods we make to independent fly shops,” Bartschi said. “We have stayed out of the Cabela’s and the Bass Pros Shops. They are great companies, but the place we want to be is not everywhere. We are a specialty brand niche, and it’s been great for us and the independent fly shops we work with, [which] have been great partners.”

“Basically, when you buy a Scott Fly Rod, your are buying a semi-custom handmade rod built by people who love what they do,” McKittrick said. “They have a feel and a soul to them when they transmit energy from the tip to the hand.”

McKittrick said almost all leading fly-rod manufacturers are based in “fishy” parts of the country. A great source of pride at Scott Fly Rods is that it’s no different. Take a drive in any direction from Montrose and it won’t take long to find a great place to cast and wet a line.

Scott Fly Rods’ 2013 product catalog, in the form of a calendar, is coming out soon.



gjarvis@watchnewspapers.com or @gusgusj

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