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Orvis – How to reinvent a 160 year old fly fishing company

If you don’t think that Orvis – long known for fly rods, Nantucket Red pants and patterned dog beds for your trusty black Labrador — has changed, just ask a seasoned Montana fly fishing guide.

“Twenty years ago, a guy might show up all excited and say,’ I’ve got the new Orvis rod,” recalls John Way of The Tackle Shop in Ennis, Montana, as we fished a stretch of the Clark Fork River. “I’d say, ‘That’s great, now leave it in the truck.’”

Orvis store, Avon, CT

Way doesn’t say that anymore, and it’s not only because he was singled out as 2017 Endorsed Outfitter of the Year by Orvis.

Nor do his colleagues in fly fishing diss the company, many of whom showed up in Missoula, Montana recently for a three-day gathering called the Orvis Guide Rendezvous. The 600-plus attendees were a sea of ball caps, beards and plaid shirts mixed with fresh-faced 30-somethings of both sexes wearing sharp new Orvis Trout Bum vests and fleeces. Many of the attendees were Orvis Endorsed, meaning they represented some of the best guides, outfitters and lodges in the sport.

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