May 28, 2011

Orvis "Trout Bum"...Uhhh...No...

I've been sitting on this one for about a month...debating if it was worth writing and jeopardizing any future consideration from the fly fishing powerhouse that is Orvis. However, I'm currently mired in a writing funk and Orvis posted a video associated with this little internal conundrum of mine yesterday, so I figured why's as good a time as ever...

So has anyone seen this "Trout Bum" line of clothing yet? The clothes are actually pretty cool by Orvis standards. No tweed. No slacks with excessive embroidery. Heck, from a fashion perspecitve, I'd wear them in a heartbeat.  There's just one minor problem that I get hung up on.
Cool look you gotta have, right?

Now I realize everything at Orvis typically costs a bit more than in/at other retailers.  They make really good gear, so sometimes the cost is even justified.  Believe me, I'm not opposed to dishing out the cash for quality merchandise that treats the user well.  What strikes me as odd in this scenario is the whole "Trout Bum" angle.  What's up with that?

When I think of a trout bum, I think of an unshorn ruffian that sleeps in their car or truck, rarely washes their clothes, and subsists on a meager diet of beer, peanut butter, and whiskey for days on end...all in the quest of a fierce tug at the end of their line by a pig brown or dancing 'bow.  The introduction in this video put together to pimp the clothes line speaks to this ethos of fish first, everything else second.

This makes me I wonder.  Would an authentic "trout bum" - emphasis on the word "bum" - worry about - or even want to spend $49 for a t-shirt or $98 for jeans when that money could go towards a case of Natty Ice, smokes, and Doritos?  You tell me.  By wearing this stuff are you basically a fishing wigger?  Something tells me yes.  Yeah, you know what I'm saying...
Trout Bum on the left is flashing gang signs or something...

So hey us a favor.  Wanna push authentic "Trout Bum" clothing? Need to attract a younger, hipper demographic because all your customers are would rather play BINGO than go fishing?  Make the tees $15, heck even $20 and you'll have a winner, I swear.  Working in "the industry" I know it is possible to sell a nice t-shirt for less than $50 and still make a profit.   But that's just my unsolicited two cents...pennies I should probably be saving to put toward a $29 nylon belt.


  1. You beat me to it. ( Hey, I snooze I lose and all that...)
    I can't understand this line of thinking in this economy. While I realize that there is a sizable portion of our populace that hasn't felt the sting of "this economy" I'm pretty sure that market demographic is shrinking by the day. Orvis making $50 T-shirts and Cheeky making $600 and up reels? Maybe I'm wrong, but the first thing that comes to mind in my (admittedly unemployed) mind is "good luck with that."
    Of course, you realize that if they'd come out with $15 T's and $30 jeans, a large portion of the fly fishing community would have given them h-e-double-hockey-sticks about getting into "wal-mart gear territory."
    But then, I doubt they'd care if sales were there. Which is....maybe...why they're offering high end stuff (probably made somewhere nice like Bangladesh or Pakistan) and getting away with it. Someone's still buying high dollar gear.
    But calling it "trout bum" gear? Yeah, I think you could say that was a Steeeeeeeeeh-retch.

  2. Oh man that bottom picture is great. I think I will stick with my thrift shop clothing for my fly fishing adventures. A t shirt cost a dollar and pants are 5 bucks. If they get too dirty or full of burs you can just toss them in the garbage. I'd rather be fishing than working to pay for my fishing pants.

  3. It is all about marketing and target audience. While I agree the term "Bum" pushes this a bit too far, you have to respect Orvis for knowing who they sell to and how to capture their market share.

    Owl, you are being successful with your target and likewise for Troutragous. Look at your respective growth in audience over a relatively brief time frame.

    I see the "Trout Bum" line as a result of their market research. The real question is will it succeed or just fade away after a year or less.

  4. wow, I didn't realize I needed to get yet another job just so that I can have the money to become a bum. I think Orvis is trying to cash in on the mysterious aura that is associated with being a trout bum. People thinking "Do guys really do nothing more than live out of the back or a Woody and fish.....? I'd love to do that.." And now, for a couple hundred bucks they can fool themselves into thinking that they are doing it too. On one Sunday a month.

  5. I have never bought something expensive because I thought it would make me cool, I usually buy stuff that isn't exspensive or cool to down play my own over flowing awesomeness.

  6. There is a wigger picture I would love to share here, but I can not find it anywhere. GAAA

  7. People with money will always have money, even in this economy. They'll pay you lip service and complain along with you, but they don't really mean it.


    I've made a pact with my kids, if you ever walk into WalMart and see me playing bingo in their café with all the other old people, walk quietly up behind me and put a bullet in my head.

    Your conundrum on writing this is why I've avoided any kind of advertising. Kind of hard to be objective when someone is helping to pay the bills.

  8. While I agree with your assessment of the Trout Bum image, Deanwo is correct. It's about marketing and Orvis is a master at marketing. That's why they've been in business so long and through so many downturns. And, like you always say, to each his own. Everyone is allowed to have their opinion. It works for Orvis and it works for the customers who like to feel they are real trout bums because after all, that's what the label says.

  9. Great opinions so far. Everyone is spot on, in their own way.

    And to your guys stating that the folks at Orvis are keen marketers, I cannot and do not disagree one bit. I'm certain they are going to sell tons of this stuff regardless of price point. With all the Gierach worship amongst the fly fishing community, I'm surprised this hasn't come sooner.

    Oh, & Coyote Luke, I like your style.

  10. A fishing wigger... hahaha! No selfrespecting trout bum would be caught in a hundred dollar orvis shirt. I'd assume they would have the same cheap fishing shirt or vestfor the last 10 years. Odd name choice...

  11. Lots of very good comments here, Mike. Orvis has always had a "niche" in the high end fly fishing market. They can get away with calling it "Trout Bum". This would be more risky for other lesser known fly fishing retailers.

    I won't dabble in their market, but, that doesn't mean someone else won't jump all over the opportunity to have "Orvis' label anything.

  12. as you know Mike, I don't hold Orvis in very high esteem any more. I think this is nothing but a cheap marketing ploy. It is the equivalent to a bunch of white kids wearing FUBU. I am no Trout Bum (c), but I am pretty sure my t-shirts shouldn't have to identify me that specifically. Those who choose to buy these overpriced shirts should be dubbed "figgers."

  13. I'm pretty sure these are all articles of clothing they've sold before...they just crumpled each one into a ball before taking its product photo. It's like the opposite of wrinkle free.

    If they *really* wanted to market clothes to most modern fish bums, not only would they be cheaper, but they'd cater to the angler who doesn't have pristine wilderness streams.

    Maybe some wading pants that would repel the used needles floating down from the junkies that live up under the next bridge? A shirt that changed color when the amount of toxic chemicals from the factory outflow goes up to harmful levels? Boots designed to grip didymo-covered concrete? A belt with integrated cup-holder and bottle opener? Breathables that wouldnt make so much noise when you as not to attract attention from the seedier elements? Kevlar fishing vest?

    Get on it, Orvis.

  14. They make a Kevlar vest with a tuck-away, inside holster pocket for my G 27 and I'll buy two.

    Orvis simply knows who butters their bread. While most ffing companies are having to cut back and go "economy" Orvis ( and probably Winston, T&T, etc.) know where their sales come from.....

    but that's still no trout bum shirt, even if T-rage does buy one. You can't make a shirt, rod, or truck a "trout bum" entity by simply placing a trout bum inside it. A boat? Hmm...that one is up for debate...

  15. Trout Bum sounds so derogatory to real trout fishermen... Hobo or Tramp is much more appropriate =)

    Hobos are often nomadic, traveling to this location and that for a lucrative position to get by and also move on to other enterprises.

    Tramps do a great deal of wandering as well, but perhaps not for OFFICIAL jobs and sustain themselves through Couch surfing, stealth camping, dumpster-diving and so on.

    Bums however are mostly stationary and whose only interaction with the city is to adorn the streets and hope that their 'beauty' is rewarded

    But that last picture is definitely of a bum.. sure he's spending his momma's money on that garbage wear...

  16. The guy in the Orvis photo, rowing the drift boat with his lab....he is the real deal. He sleeps in his truck, swills his whiskey, pics his guitar, and loves fishing like he loves his women...deeply and authentically. At least Orvis got that part of the equation right.

  17. I am now the proud owner of a Trout Bum zipper sweatshirt. Orvis selected me as a random winner for commenting on their Trout Bum weekly post.

    Thank you Orvis, I will wear it with pride.

  18. The clothes are cool and decent quality. They are not made for fishing however nor are they for trout bums as they are much to expensive. They are attire made for wealthier professional types who flyfish. Orvis is not designed for poor people. Just like Cartier watches, arc teryx outer wear etc. Walmart attracts a certain demographic as does Orvis etc.