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I was curious what members who sell their rods through fly shops feel or think is a reasonable percentage for the fly shop?  (Steve Trauthwein)

    40  percent.  (Marty DeSapio)

    I would say 30% (which is a lot I know) is fair for dealers who buy upfront. Nearly all the industry wholesale prices are somewhere around this price.

    I would not consign a rod anymore, no money - no rods. I really only deal with one guy right now, and I do not sell many rods. I know that some guys make exceptions to get rods in the right dealers hands. They look at selling through a dealer almost like buying ad space. That seems reasonable to me.  (Bob Maulucci)

    If this were a perfect marketing world, and bamboo rods could be made as easily and cheaply as are  graphite rods,  I would say 40%, which is the standard markup,  but since neither is the case, 30% does it for me. For consignment rods, where you have all the risk, 25% is normal, but again we're not talking anything normal, and I figure this at 20%.  (Martin-Darrell)

      As a rod maker and shop owner, I think M-D's numbers are right on.  (John Kenealy)

      When you talk about a markup and profit margin, they are not the same thing.  If you had an item that cost $1 and you mark it up
      20%, it would sell for $1.20.  If you want a profit margin of 20%, that same $1 cost would have to sell for $1.25.

      So when we talk about profit, are we talking about markup or profit margin?  (Scott Grady)

        Yeah, I see your point. I forget that just because I understand what I'm writing, that may not be the case for everyone. ;o) Standard wholesale is 40% deducted from the retail sale price. The standard consignment fee is 25% deducted from the retail sale price. What I wrote is misleading because we aren't taking the wholesale price and then marking it up by 40%. So, for example, a $1,000.00 fly rod at retail would wholesale for $600.00. That would be 40% off of retail. Looking at it another way, that's a 66.67% markup from the wholesale price of $600.00.  (Martin-Darrell)

        I think it is an issue of whose profit...

        If I a retailer marks up by 30% - I assume the retail price to the customer will be $130 on an item that I sell at a wholesale price of $100. If it costs me $80 to make, deliver and service the item, then my profit is 20%, (vs 25% - the point of your comment, I believe) The retailer's profit is $30 less their cost of carry (display, staffing, demonstration time, advertising, overhead etc...).

        My assumption is the retailer keeps whatever the markup is and makes a profit based on their costs vs their income which is the final sale price of the rod less the wholesale cost. The rodmaker keeps whatever he agrees the wholesale cost of the rod is to the retailer, and the rodmakers profit is based on that.

        Sorry to be so anal on a Monday morning, but its been a rough week already...  [:-)]  (Chris Spurrell)

    As you may be well aware - there are many underlying issues with dealing with shops vs end users -I know of several that have tried the consignment route - both successfully and unsuccessfully - the major rod deals are at 30% which is still a bit less than the normal markup that most fly shops strive for - I am sure you have read the threads of the past here and most point to selling the customer directly for a number of reasons.  (Wayne Cattanach)

    For those selling rods, how would most of you say that the client becomes familiar with you and thereby purchases from you?  Word of mouth, web site, networking, advertising?   Any thoughts.  (Doug Hall)

      Advertising can be a regional thing - For those in more popular fly fishing states there are plenty of shows where one can make nose to nose contact with potential clients - I would suspect that most would feel that that is the first choice - however when you are from the REAL south that has added challenges.  (Wayne Cattanach)

        We're pretty well South and I can say it's tricky depending almost 100% on spending quality time verbally or email talking with people who are interested. This is even more important when you're selling a rod to somebody 10,000 miles from you and is going to fork out the price of a rod to a stranger which is almost 100% of the time except for repeat customers of course who are the people who tell their friends.

        People find out about me via my web presence to a very small degree and also via people who know of me one way or another for the most part.

        Word of mouth mainly even out here.

        I used to advertise in magazines but I spent way too much time talking to people wanting me to make them salt water bamboo rods etc. so I don't advertise in mags any more.

        One thing I know is it takes time to build up any reputation at all and supplying the demand is what will make or break you.

        In my case I have rods back ordered for some time to come and I know I'm pissing people off with the time it takes to get rods but the fact I'm sitting writing this instead of making rods indicates the problem I'm having.

        I'm a freelance worker who has real work that pays bills on a regular basis so what do I do? This work could disappear in 2 weeks or continue for 2 years so knocking work back isn't a great idea.

        I think it's this that makes it hard to break into the scene assuming you do good work. Simply the volume of your work in circulation for people to see and talk about.

        Being a part timer costs a lot of sales in rods and components due to simply not being able to supply quickly when demand is there so it's a tricky balancing act based on the "It never rains it just pours" rule. The more you can get out the faster your rep, I'm assuming you're making good gear here.

        Do you set up so you can supply when it pours meaning you basically do it full time or do you try to supply in trickles. That depends on your circumstances.

        As to selling in shops, I've found the shops here generally want your rod there as a sort of shop fitting rather than a serious item. As long as they are selling on commission it's no skin off their nose. I never bother with them but in your area it may be worth while.  (Tony Young)

          The reference to the South is that - most bamboo fly rods are sold to the trout and in a lessor extent the salmon market - and that the interest and opportunities to do shows focused at just those species are more plentiful north of the Mason Dixon line - it would be an interesting study to demographic the bamboo fly rods sold broken down into regions and then do a comparison to the number of rodmakers in that region - a maker's share research issue - I know there has been some speculation of what those figures would show.

          Another interesting aspect of this is that of trying to find acceptance in your own backyard - that is - or at least has been in years past a tough hurdle - what I experienced was that folks from outside your normal circuit were more accepting of a newcomer than those that crossed your path - I watched this unfold one time in a parking lot in Boiling Springs - a fellow from Pennsylvania was walking to fish the Yellow Breeches and noticed an array of bamboo rods - another maker from Connecticut and I were lawn casting and comparing several of our rods - When the Pennsylvania fellow inquired if any of the rods were available - I declined with nothing really available but the Connecticut maker sold 2 rods there on the spot - Later in conversations the other maker and I came to the conclusion that it isn't always best to try to sell to the neighbors who may not respect or may even be jealous of your talents - I know it seems unusual - feeling that you might have a captive audience with a more distanced location from trout waters - but I have seen where the more rodmaker exhibiting the more draw of rod buyers - ever notice how auto dealerships seem to be across from each other - drawing the interest to one area and then the best marketing takes over - notice I didn't say best rod - yes as another ongoing thread has touched on - it isn't always the best rods that are the most popular - it is more a reflection of the best marketer - which encompasses a whole different element of rodmaking - one I have tried to focus some to for years - and one that I know several of the list members have a hard time accepting - feeling that the quality of the rods would speak for themselves - I have watched and I see those that may have been listened - see there is a certain minimum level of acceptance of workmanship - not necessarily the best - but part of the pack let's say - and then the sale becomes more the selling of the person (maker) and less of the rod -I have this 'closing' things I do - I have already gotten the person into the yes yes mode and then I show them a very simple knot - a swirl knot - supposedly derived by Doug Swisher - several of you have seen me use it - a very quick way to tie a fly on - well that is the sale closing - it is a simple way to reflect  .  . experience - assurance  - and that can only happen nose to nose.  (Wayne Cattanach)


A question for the list on the topic of selling rods.  Should a maker be working towards making and selling his own tapers?  Is it acceptable to simply use tapers that the maker and his client like (of course properly acknowledge and label the rod).  Or is it more a matter of image for the tapers to be designed by the maker?  I realize that a rodmaker should understand the making process enough to develop his own tapers but...(Doug Hall)

    I've often thought of this same question. I may be off base but I think all of us, weather hobby or full time professional rod builders are is search of the "Holy Grail" so to speak. To me that is good, we should all be trying to achieve the ultimate goal, but I have to ask myself; "How many tapers can their be?" Does a few thousands here or there make my taper unique and I can call it my own? I don't think so. There are so many variables that go into a rod, who is to say what makes two similarly built rods perform differently. To me, that is what makes this a very interesting vocation or hobby. I don't think it is a wise idea to base the total marketing on the ultimate taper, it has to be the total package and how it looks, feels and performs.  (Don Schneider)

    My feeling is there are so many tapers around that are perfect for any job you could imagine you're only reinventing the wheel unless you just enjoy tinkering with tapers which is good fun.

    I know I invariably put the taper developer's name on the rod as the taper designer on his own flat and in the same prominence as my name as maker (of the blank and all) . I have to wonder if I'm doing the right thing by the designer in doing this though because I can't ask the guy as all the tapers I use are by dead guys but I do feel they should be acknowledged.  (Tony Young)

    I think we should have a generic  dead guy taper listed on the flat.  Maybe another for guy who is ill taper.  Seriously, this is also a concern for me.  (Rob Clarke)


Every year I make 3 or 4 rods and have given some away to friends, some to conservation organizations, etc., but I would like to sell one now and then to pay for the tools and supplies.  Considering the amount of fraud that I hear about relating to fraud on eBay, I'm leery about posting a rod there.  I see that there are a couple of web pages that appear to be willing to sell rods via consignment.  Has anyone had any experience with them (good or bad) and do you have any recommendations?  (Mark Lenarz)

    Like Mark, my rods have always gone to friends or charities. I've thought that if I ever decide to sell rods on a limited basis, it would be either by word of mouth or consignment at the local fly shop. Unless I was looking for a very high price or to sell a lot of rods, I'd much rather do business with local people than dealers on the other side of the country.  (Tom Bowden)

    Find a fly shop close to you that will take them on consignment. I think it is better for all concerned  and certainly less nerve racking to have the rod in the hands of people you see regularly and where the buying public can see them first hand, so what they see is what they get.  (John Channer)

    eBay is a perfectly satisfactory sales venue.  Just make sure to announce that you will not sell to buyers lacking  some significant number of feedbacks, or having less than 99% positive. Do open a PayPal account to accept payment, and do figure out shipping costs before posting.

    I would that subscribers are permitted to offer rods for sale here as well, but I might be mistaken.  (David Zincavage)

    Try over at the Classic Fly Rod Forum.  (Pete Van Schaack)


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