After I wrote and posted the Trout Underground’s article about Simms’ decision to sell direct (the piece was not well received at Simms), I pointed the Undergrounders towards an interesting blog post by Craig, MT fly shop owner Jerry Lappier, which didn’t cut Simms any slack.

Today, I read this very perceptive Chi Wulff blog piece about Lappier’s latest article, where the fly shop owner reveals Simms pulled his dealership four days after he posted the above-mentioned article.


Here’s an excerpt from The Trout Shop owner Lappier’s most-recent (and lengthy) piece:

Instead of a supportive relationship, Simms “believes I am intent upon damaging their brand that they have worked so hard to develop”. With a hefty existing Simms inventory on hand at The Trout Shop, damaging the Simms brand seems foolish. Any damage to the Simms brand, I believe, starts within Simms’ own hierarchy. I disagree with their assertion and am only critical of Simms’ distribution polices. As I told Simms, I do not support their previous distribution policy changes, their present distribution policy or their future distribution policies. They are correct in their belief that our relationship was going nowhere and needed to end.

Simms was disappointed that I didn’t call or e-mail anyone at Simms before posting a 4,000 word blog that was largely critical of their company. They took things personally rather than accepting a challenge and changing. Simms did not feel obligated to consult with any fly shops before they radically changed their distribution policy by agreeing to sell to Cabela’s and other national accounts. Nor did they consult with The Trout Shop before they opened a competing fly shop two doors away. In fact, I was told that opening a dealer a stone’s throw away from us was Simms’ business and not The Trout Shop’s. Opening a new dealer in Craig would prove to be good for the brand. Nor did Simms consult with any fly shops before they decided to sell direct to the public via their web site. Nor did The Trout Shop consult with Simms before publishing a 4,000 word blog that was largely critical of their company and was aimed directly at their distribution policies. Communication is a two-way street. It’s frustrating when the street only goes one-way.

First, these things are always messy. Rarely are they clear cut. And as Lappier notes, the relationship was souring on both ends, so it’s not as if anyone is being put out on the street.

Still, it’s a behind-the-scenes glimpse at a fly fishing industry that is far different from the happy, arms-linked-as-we-march-together-into-the-future picture commonly painted for the angling public.

A guy who wrote his first commercial writing assignments on a typewriter probably doesn’t have to remind you the world is changing, and that the fly fishing industry — which suffers a more tortured sales/distribution model than most — is being forced to change with it.

That change is rarely without some bloodletting, though it’s also clear it’s an industry largely unfamiliar with a lot of independent voices (it’s good that Chi Wulff is one of those voices).

See you happily doing anything but reporting on the industry, Tom Chandler.