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New Zealand rod builder promises new business model

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The Epic rod kits from Swift Fly Fishing gives anglers the choice to use components of their own choice.
↑ Anglers are being given three rod-building options by Swift Fly Fishing.

New Zealand manufacturer, Swift Fly Fishing, is giving its customers the opportunity to build their own rods from components they choose themselves.

Although some companies have long offered a custom-build service, Swift is expanding the concept by offering three options – ‘We Build, You Build, They Build’.

Challenging conventional wisdom around how fly rods are produced and marketed, the company has developed a manufacturing system that encourages customers to design and build their own fly rod in real time online.

The rod and its components are then shipped as a ‘ready-to-wrap’ rod kit for the home builder, or commissioned as a unique bespoke studio build by Swift.

As a third option, Swift will ship the selected parts to one of its Epic rod builders in the country of the customer’s choice.

The system encompasses most of the rods in Swift’s Epic range, currently comprising six blank profiles across six colours. Combined with component permutations, the company offers 432 variations of fly rod which, says Swift CEO Carl McNeil, is likely the largest range offered by any manufacturer.

“The conventional model is for companies to push large amounts of product to customers until supplies are exhausted or volume tails off and the sales department decides a new model is required to again boost revenue,” said McNeil.

“This is no longer the case. Our Epic rod kits totally change the way fly rods are manufactured and marketed. No longer do anglers need to consume mass produced product dictated by the big brands.

“They can purchase an extremely high quality fly rod with superior componentry at about half the price of a standard, off-the-rack brand. The core savings are in labour and distribution. You design and build it and we ship it direct to you.”

Conceding that the Epic kit is not well suited to the conventional distribution model, Swift is developing a retail programme for completed factory rods to supply direct to fly shops around the world.

The cost of the selected service will depend on the components used in construction, the specifications and complexity of the build and the shipping requirements. Swift estimates delivery time to be four to six weeks.

Swift is part of On The Fly Productions, a fly fishing media company owned and run by Carl McNeil, a film maker, writer and casting instructor, and Jeanie Ackley, an underwater cinematographer and dive instructor.

Filed In: Product News, Rods