It was Cousin Eddie that so succinctly summed up the value of the jelly of the month club: “Clark, that is the gift that keeps giving throughout the entire year.” And while he was the only character in National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation that was optimistic about the prospect of twelve months of jams delivered straight to the door, any true fan of jelly would be equally excited.
These days, monthly services for everything from jellies to cigars to dress shirts offer subscriptions. These subscriptions cater to a few different kind of consumers. There is the customer who wants the convenience of merchandise showing up on their doorstep that they’d otherwise have to go out and purchase. Or, there are people that want to be exposed to new and different items within a product category.
Quite often fly fishers fit into both of these classifications. And within fly fishing, flies are definitely the product that is most conducive to this model. Small, light, and inexhaustibly diverse in so many ways, flies are perfect for subscriptions that provide monthly delivery.
In the past few years, a number of companies have started up within the industry that focus on the subscription model. While the concept isn’t new within angling, or even fly fishing, what is out there today provides the consumer with some legitimately worthwhile options.
On the most basic level, these monthly deliveries put flies in the hands of fly fishers to go out and use. Certainly there are a percentage of the clientele that fish through their dozen or so flies every month, and then move on to the next box they receive.
More likely, the flies that subscribers of these services receive complement what is already in their boxes. Additional patterns that will match a month’s hatches supplement what the angler may already be using. Yet they may also be exposed to a new pattern or a variation on a common one. They could receive a fly that might not be common to their region. It might even be a new favorite fly.
For most subscription-based companies, a box of flies is just one part of the equation. A few of the brands deliver more than just flies. Tying kits provide anglers with a set of materials, instructions, and, as Cory Merrill, owner of The Fly Pack likes to think, an experience. “You get an afternoon of tying, and then a day on the water,” he says.
It doesn’t stop there. Many offer other items in the normal deliveries or as add-on shipments as well. Gear, tools, and the community favorite stickers are often featured. If you’re on Instagram, you’ve probably seen Postfly’s “wade for it” sticker more than a couple times in the last few months. For the majority of fly fishers that like their gadgets and swag, a monthly package with a surprise can be quite the treat.
But ultimately, the core of these businesses is a service that provides flies to fly fishers. A newcomer to the field is Fly Crate. Launching this spring, their model involves region-specific flies picked by local guides and outfitters. Nathaniel Treichler, the man behind Fly Crate, understands that the flies have to be the selling point: “What truly matters are the flies, on their own.”
For this article I received samples of monthly fly deliveries from four companies that focus on this business model. Certainly there are others out there, but these five have an online presence that promotes this subscription service. My intention is not to promote one company over another, or even to necessarily review the contents of the box. Truthfully, there are multiple niches within this segment of the industry.
My goal is to present an unboxed look at what one month’s standard “trout” delivery looks like. What kind of flies might one receive? Is there anything else in the package? Additionally, I’ve provided some other details: How much does it cost? What are the subscription terms? Are there other types of boxes available?
I did want to mention some caveats. Due to the shipment schedules of the different companies, the fly selections could reflect their February or March deliveries. If you fish, you know that these can be two very different months for trout! Consequently, one box might have winter flies and another may have some for spring. Also, packages that have add-on items will vary from month to month. The brands’ websites often provide a peek at what each month does offer, if you want more information.
- What’s in this package: 13 flies, fly box, info card, leader, sticker
- Starting at $16/month
- Other subscriptions available: saltwater, bass/pike, “big bug,” fly tying
- Fly assortments can be doubled, gear can be added to subscriptions
- What’s in this package: 10 flies
- $15/month (converted from Euros to US Dollars)
- Other subscriptions available: salmon
- Gear available online (5% discount for subscribers)
- What’s in this package: 15 flies, info letter
- $9/month, no commitment or minimum subsciption
- Other subscriptions available: saltwater
- Fly assortments are regional, gift packages available that include gear
- What’s in this package: 12 flies, info booklet, strike indicators, sticker
- Starting at $19/month, with discounts for 3, 6, or 12 month periods available
- Other subscriptions available: warmwater, saltwater, steelhead, fly tying
- Fly assortments can be doubled, gear items available online
Fly Crate – subscription service will be launching this Spring, information below is projected
- What’s going to be in the package: 12-15 flies, a premium fly box, misc. gear, written tips
- Starting at $29/month, with discounts for 3, 6, or 12 month periods avaiable
- Other subscriptions available: warmwater
- Fly assortments are regional, can be doubled or tripled
I’ve only provided a very brief and cursory look at these companies, as well as a limited perspective of many of their products and subscriptions. Check out their websites (links are in the company logo/name), and see what they are doing on social media.
Whether you buy your flies or tie your own, having a monthly delivery of something new can be a fun experience. These companies are providing a product and a service, and are worth considering for yourself. I’ve also suggested fly subscriptions as good gifts for non-anglers to give their fly fishing friends and family.
And let’s be honest: It is fun to get mail. Anything is better than a bill, and a package with a dozen flies will at the very least let you sort through your boxes. Or it could be the reason (excuse, even) to get out on the water.