10 years in organising and hosting fishing holidays, running fly casting and fishing courses and being connected to what is the world's most recognisable fly fishing brand, has taken me to a place where I now need to involve a few more people to keep up with demand for our, "first rate service" (not mine, but the words of our clients).
I began “Speyonline” at the same time as I joined Hardy as their principal salmon consultant back in 2007 and two years later, after training in both fly casting tuition and my own particular way with clients, recruited the help of my trusted assistant, Tom Brown. Along with Robert Stroh and Hardy, Tom has been a huge part of the success of Speyonline and is now a well known face in his own right in the world of fly-fishing, something which gives me great pride to have been part of and a shining example of what happens when the team works in harmony. Tom is now part of the Greys Pro team where natural progression will use his knowledge of the market and casting in the development of new products. However, this does not happen without serious hard work and commitment. Whilst some simply tag along courting the limelight, Tom’s success in this business comes from hard work, a eagerness to learn and his great personality.
I mention Robert Stroh. Robert makes the best split cane rods in Europe, runs the fantastic EWF fly fishing show, and was the friend who first muted the idea of a film about fishing in Scotland. This materialised when he and his wife, Michaela, agreed to help with this project and without who’s help this film, Blue Charm, my pride and joy, would never have happened. Again, a really good example of perfect collaboration and team work making good things happen in a difficult marketplace.
Hardy too, has also been a huge influence on the success of SOL. Being associated with such a great brand and the team involved has helped me so much over the past ten years. The development of our most successful range of double-handed rods (Zenith and Zephrus), for me, has been particularly satisfying. Ten years since I cast the first prototype, more than any other, those remain the “go to” salmon rod for a generation of salmon fishers. Pride or what!
Prior to my involvement with Hardy I worked with Ole Bjerke, at Partridge. Ole is one of the best guys in the Flyfishing business and taught me the “value” of “genuine” team work, something which complemented my easy going personality. Amazingly, some people just don’t get this, finding it so hard to separate, in the case of males, ego, from their business interests. Not the same with the ladies I may add!!
We have also cemented many great relationships here on the River Spey, the most important of those being with my friend, Robert Mitchell, at Macallan and John Anderson, Lawrence De Rosa and Roddy Stronach at Tulchan. Those are all really good guys and a delight to work alongside with our clients.
Moving forward, SOL is in another period of transition, forming professional collaborations which I know will lead to future partnerships with yet more people involved. Some years ago, I was challenged by my business manager at the time, to find the "new Ian Gordon". He knew I could not move forward without the help of others who, not only think like me, but who could teach in the same, simple, easy to understand, way. Not only this, but importantly, to deal with clients in the same way.
In Tom I found this, and in Chris Backlund, I know there’s another prodigy on the way.
A native Norwegian, Chris is a Hardy Pro Guide, great caster and teacher. His knowledge of fishing in Norway is second to no one I know or have met. Together with Tom, I will join Chris this summer for some test fishing on some rivers he has singled our as being potentially very good for our clients. All very exciting and away from well known rivers such as Gaula and Orkla. What we are hoping to achieve is to have fishing in Norway to suit "everyone". I know it’s a dream for people to fish for salmon in this wonderful country so, as its been here in Scotland, I see my roll as providing people with the best "No Bullshit" information I can.
This will provide our guests with the best teachers, hosts and venues, something which, 21century customers not only like, but demand. I see those collaborations, as the future of both Speyonline and providing a blueprint for those looking to do something similar.
Although we have ladies in salmon fishing, for too long now, salmon fishing, and fly fishing in general, has been dominated by males. However, 2018 has seen things beginning to change. A recent event and discussions with a few female friends reinforced my belief that we need to do all we can to encourage ladies into Flyfishing. To this end, I will be looking to form collaborations with ladies to both teach and to host female only groups in some of our great locations. That’s not to say all groups will be female only, however, in the future, this should, “and will” be an option.
No matter what industry, change is inevitable. Leaders are generally innovative, whilst followers play catch up and have a canny knack of missing the boat. It’s my belief that we will see much more ladies with fly rods in their hand over the next few years and we will be there providing both a great service as well as using my influence to provide them with properly fitting waders and jackets…..
I’d just like to thank all my customers for their valued custom over the past 10 years and look forward to seeing you all on the riverbank, be it on a casting/fishing course or hosted trip in the future.
All those people close to me know how much I appreciate them and their help in making ours a first class service. Here's to the next 10 years.