It's probably common knowledge by now. Angling celebrity, Matt Hayes has parted company with TF Gear and signed a 5-year consultancy with Swedish tackle supplier, Fladen. The result is a fishing tackle range named Matt Hayes Adventure.
While at first this may not appear to be a major revelation, it has the potential to do the sport a great deal of good. It's clear that Fladen wants to make inroads into the high street - especially large retailers and supermarket chains - and with Matt's endorsement supporting this advance, it feels like there's every chance of success.
The Matt Hayes Adventure range of fishing tackle and accessories looks to make fishing equipment accessible once again, popularising the sport. I'm sure there are countless others that, like me got into angling with a Winfield fishing set bought from good old Woolworths, in the local town. If it hadn't have been so easy and accessible to get into fishing with the minimum of fuss, I really don't know if I would now have this delightful passion for angling. In my mind, it's that accessibility that will give Matt the reach into the non-angler audience, and Fladen the potential to drive some immense volume and margins. For us - we get a much needed injection of fresh blood into the sport, that arguably preserves our past-time for the future and offers us a realistic opportunity to be able to pass this interest onto the next generation.
Smaller retailers and tackle shops may argue that the widespread accessibility of fishing tackle in every town will see the death of the local, independent tackle shop - I disagree. For one, these new anglers will require bait - and I'm guessing live bait will feature at some point in most angling careers, even early on. I have seen it on the continent, but I don't think we'll be seeing live bait in supermarkets any time soon. Once the angler is up and fishing with their starter set and at the point they're thinking about live bait, the tackle specialist can capitalise on these frequent visits. It's plain to see that a number of these newly introduced, informal fishermen/women will go on to get bitten by the angling bug, and be life long customers of fishing tackle stores.
I have some experience in marketing principals and I can immediately see the true advertising value of a presence for fishing, on the high street. We'd be kidding ourselves if we thought we're close to replicating what you see in the U.S with prime-time angling related advertising and feature events like Bassmaster Tournaments. The size of the UK angling market - as successful as it has been - can not support that level of publicity or investment, and without such is not likely to grow an awful lot bigger. It's activity like this between Fladen and Matt Hayes that gives the sport some highly valuable airtime with the wider audience.
I for one am very excited to see how this venture goes. I wish Fladen and Matt the very best of luck.
Matt Hayes Adventure fishing tackle will be in the shops as early as June this year and will feature around 100 items of tackle across freshwater, carp and sea fishing disciplines.
As yet we're unsure which national store groups will promote Matt Hayes Adventure tackle. It has been confirmed that both Fladen and Matt Hayes have exhibited their goods to major UK retailers at this year's Spring Fair International trade event, at the NEC. I would assume it's fairly likely that Argos might feature here, either supplementing or replacing its current ranges. We'll wait and see.