Idylwilde Dealers, Reps, Sig Tyers and Consumers Held Hostage


Dear Idylwilde Dealers, Reps, Sig. Tyers and Valued Consumers,

First day of class at Idylwilde!

First day of class at Idylwilde!


Today I bring unfortunate news. The factory that I founded with a mountain bike and a dream, along with Sister Christine and her group of underprivileged people has unilaterally cut Idylwilde off mid season with no explanation. The POs Idylwilde made were accepted, but now we are being told that the deal has changed.

This decision appears to be directed at me personally. In 2012 I fell extremely ill to debilitating depression. This was brought on by stress, and the amount of work I was doing to insure that Idylwilde was successful and to build a brand that you the consumer of our flies could relate to. That stress, combined with emotional trauma from my past, sent my brain into shut-down.

First palmered hackle at Idylwilde.

First palmered hackle at Idylwilde.

I had carried the weight of a horrible secret for my entire life: the fact that I was molested by a stranger. This weight along with the stress of running Idylwilde became too much to bear. It took me a year to recover.

I assumed my trusted senior staff would rally and help me in my time of need. In fact my illness was used against me. My inability to function at full capacity was used to turn the factory I built against me. This was done by my employees, on my dime, at my office at my company.

I finally became healthy again in November of 2012 and returned to the office full time. But I soon discovered that my relationship and trust with the person who ran my manufacturing had been destroyed. Since then I have rebuilt the US staff to the best we have ever had.

My reputation within the greater fly fishing community stands on its own. I gave my word to the shops, reps, signature tiers, and you the consumer that I would deliver on the POs I accepted this fall. By my own (previous) staff undermining my credibility a string of real people and real businesses are in jeopardy of taking major financial hits.

My customers will lose sales. My reps will lose commissions that are needed to cover costs already spent this past fall visiting dealers to write PO’s, Sig. tiers will miss out on commissions they counted on and need.  Guides and outfitters that depend on certain patterns to make their living will be hurt.

Baby, still tying flies for us on one of here first days.

Baby, still tying flies for us on one of here first days.

This isn’t just about me or Idylwilde. If those people want to hurt me personally, I can take it. But for my employees to use their position of trust and the opportunities and relationships I gave them to attempt to destroy me by turning the very manufacturing facility I built against me is sickening.

I paid my previous employees salary for the last 15 years.  Not a pay period missed our a check bounced.  When I needed them they used my mental illness to portray me as lazy, stealing from the company and incompetent in the eyes of my manufacturing management.  That is the unfortunate stigma that goes with mental disease.  The is no physical wound making it easy for others to portray me as “faking it.”

Hopefully people will come to their senses and ship the flies that they promised and we can put this behind us. The decision really lies the greater flyfishing community.  As an industry it is important to send a message that we look after our own.


Zach Mertens

Idylwilde President and Founder


This is not about feeling bad for me.  If people want to take me down I can handle it.  The issue here is that my sales reps, my dealers, and my sig. tiers are being punished for doing their job. 


22 Responses to “Idylwilde Dealers, Reps, Sig Tyers and Consumers Held Hostage”

  1. That is how you build a company. One person at a time.

    I have always been proud of what you have done Zach and to be part of Idylwilde. As the KP said 100% backed.

  2. William Lenehan says:


    Always been a fan of Idylwilde, sucks to hear that your production partner is bad news. Stick in there and power through the restructuring.

    Lots of folks behind you on this.


  3. Steve Pate says:

    Zach, Keep your head up! You are doing awesome my friend! Sometimes on the path of success you come across blowdowns and uneven terrain. Attack them one at a time and dont let them stop you from getting to your destination. I’ll say it again, you are doing awesome!


  4. Michael in Seattle says:

    Personally, when running a business, you sometimes find those you trust most betray you the worst. My opinion – fire them all. Rehire none. They’re all part of the problem, part of the cancer that’s killing the business, and any that you keep will be infected by that. Retrain a whole new crew from an organization not affiliated with the one you originally tried to help. They’ve all show that when you’re down, they’ll stick it to you. Start with a whole new clean slate. You’ve proven to have integrity by starting the business and making every payroll for 15 years, no matter what else was going on. Shaking down your business means they’re trying to steal from you. Move on with a fresh crew.

  5. The GRAB says:

    It takes a lot of courage to face these obstacles, Zach. We’re behind you and Idylwilde.

  6. Zach says:

    Hi All – Been kind of slammed on the phone today. Caught me off guard.

  7. Montana Fly Company would like to offer support for Idylwilde through these difficult times. From its inception, Idylwilde has proved that honesty and integrity are what this industry revolves around. Our sympathy and thoughts are with Zach Mertens, Idylwilde’s founder and inspiration, as he works through the tough issues at hand. We hope this matter resolves itself quickly and resolutely in the best interest of all parties.

  8. Off the Shelf Outfitters says:

    As a middle aged curmudgeon Outfitter here in Montana I tend to buy what I find works the best for me and my clients. I noticed a couple of years ago after browsing you web site, most, probably 90% of my go to flies are Idylwilde bugs so in my humble opinion you are doing it right. Keep up the good work Zach I’m with you 100%!

  9. On behalf of all of us at Korkers, I would like to publicly support Idylewilde and its founder Zach Mertens during this difficult time. Over the years, we have developed a great relationship with Idylwilde and have become HUGE supporters of their creative products and approach to the market. This industry needs more company’s like Idylwilde and more leaders like Zach Mertens. I am confident it is with the same ingenuity and creativity that made the company what it is today, that you will resolve these issues and continue to build Idylwilde into one of the industry’s premier brands.

    Brian Chaney
    Korkers Products

  10. Zach says:

    Hi Folks, Thank you for putting yourselves and your companies reputations on the line to voice your support. That takes a lot of guts!

  11. Jim B says:


    With an aching heart, I just read your recent blogs. You are a brave man….give yourself credit for that. This courage that you possess, down in your heart and your bones, is what lit, kindled and flamed that fire to go out on your own, do what others hadn’t done before, and help make this planet a better place… still have that courage, and though the flame may be lower now, it’ll roar again.

    I wish you love, joy and peace……

    Jim B.

  12. Justin Karnopp says:

    It takes a lot of balls to start a company, especially in an industry such as flyfishing where the financial rewards will be marginal, at best. It’s truly a labor of love and kudos to anyone who has the guts to go the distance, launch a start-up, and see it through to become a successful company with a solid reputation and an enviable brand. I know, I tried once myself and ultimately failed, and learned a hard lesson that whether on a steelhead run or in business, low-holers are low-holers.

    I can’t tell you how many fly tiers and guides have asked me how I got involved with Idylwilde and how they can get on-board. It’s a cool company with a unique philosophy and dedication to the fishing lifestyle, fly tying and fly tiers (even us misfits) and I’m proud to be a little part of it and look forward to a bright future!

  13. Montana Guide says:

    Fuck that…figure it out…do your job and get flies to those who paid…nobody gives a shit about your personal woes…the struggling fly shop industry needs to get what they paid for…fuck you idylwilde…

  14. Zach says:

    Feel free to swing by the office Montana Guide and I’ll give you a shot at helping me figure it out. I could use the help getting some answers to why my prepaid flies didn’t show up. You are welcome to express your opinion about me or the company on this blog. Your opinion doesn’t count for shit if you can’t man up with your real name!
    I’d say Idylwilde has it figured out. That is why so many shops put their trust in the brand for the last 15 years. I’m not asking for your pity just giving my loyal dealers who did put their trust in me the facts. Otherwise people like you will create their own story and spread it as the truth. Idylwilde got screwed meaning my dealers, reps, sig tyers and staff got screwed too. Production is being transferred and flies will begin flowing again soon. I’d say figuring it out is exactly what Idylwilde had done and is doing again.

  15. I DA HO guide says:

    @Montana Guide. Pre seasons are ordered, then flies get delivered, then shops pay for them. Now that we established why you row a boat for a living….

  16. Steve Pate says:

    Hey Montana Guide, Really? You are one classy guy…… Come on out to Maine and offer up some of your classiness to us saltwater boys. Love to stuff you in lobster trap. My name is listed, no need to hide behind a computer……

  17. doug Brady says:

    I second Steve Pate !! What a classless guy to post crap like that, and then hide behind the computer !!
    To Zach, having been low holed by my former partner i feel for you !!
    It will get better i promise, and you will come out it better because of it!!

  18. Zach says:

    Hey Doug & Steve, Thanks for the nice words of support! My tyers in the Philippines are also loyal to me but they can’t do anything for fear of losing their paychecks. My reps, my dealers, Idylwilde consumers and sig tyers are all loyal to Idylwilde and moving forward. Idylwilde will begin to fill the pipeline with flies into fly shops beginning mid to late August. Looking forward to looking back!

  19. MtMarsh says:

    (Idylwilde got screwed meaning my dealers, reps, sig tyers and staff got screwed too.) Sounds like you are just getting even 🙂 Man I crack myself up

  20. MtMarsh says:

    He sure likes him some chubbies hahahahaa

  21. Bubba says:

    I read with false tears the woes of Idylwilde but man do I love capitalism. Capitalism to me is competition. I have taken people out of the market and made my business a major player in the world of retail.

    What I see here is completion and it just goes to show that Idlywilde can be taken out.

  22. CurtisHype says:


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