If their first fly patch caught your eye on social media because of the vivid colors of the brown trout pattern, the brook trout design of the new First Mate probably had you following links to learn more about Pirate Fly Fishing.
Back in March I spoke with Justin West of Pirate Fly Fishing about the launch of their first product. Recently, I had the chance to speak with the other half of Pirate Fly Fishing, Maddie Bonthron, about the next item they will hopefully be rolling out: the First Mate Patch.
The First Mate isn’t an upgrade or replacement from the Pirate’s Fly Patch, it is just another option for anglers. The same high-density foam and near-indestructible plastic create the core product. Now, two super-strong magnets sit at either end of the patch. They allow anglers to drop flies or tools on the edges. This patch also uses Velcro to affix to surfaces – boats, car interiors, coolers, or even sling packs. And it is generating similar buzz in the fly fishing world to their initial offering.
“Since March we’ve had some great experiences with the patch,” said Bonthron. “In particular, going to trade shows was great for exposure, networking, and having people get the product in their hands. Once they did that, they saw how relevant it could be.”
The key to this relevance, and the spark of inspiration for the next project, is the simplicity that embodies the design. In a time where even the simplest fly fishing products have the tendency to be over engineered, pirate decided that there was a real benefit to the less is more approach. Bonthron explains: “Sometimes even the simplest things have a learning curve. We like the idea of people understanding what we make, but then seeing a whole range of possibilities of how they could use it.”
Of course, the design of the patches are a highlight and trademark element of all things Pirate Fly Fishing. “Even though brook trout aren’t native to our home waters here in Colorado, they’re so beautiful that it’s hard as an artist to pass up on using their colors,” says Bonthron. “Functionality is obviously the top priority, but an appealing design like this is so important for something that is going to go on someone’s drift boat or truck.”
While the first patch was designed, funded, and released independently, the First Mate is being funded through Kickstarter. Crowd funding has pros and cons, and Pirate is looking forward to seeing how the campaign runs. “Word is getting out in amazing ways,” says Bonthron, “and the company is really benefitting through contacts and other exposure.”
Obviously, Maddie and Justin want to see the kick starter succeed. Having that initial search of financial backing is such a shot in the arm, and also quite the vote of confidence. But any significant attention that is paid to the product and the company through the crowd funding process can also be beneficial. Their name, their company, and their initiative is out there and people know about it. Positive reviews about the functionality and top notch aesthetics follow a quality product. Those kind of things are a success in themselves, and will inevitably pay off in the future for a young company.