Wild Ride for Fly Fishing Indsutry – Far From Over


Wild Ride is Just About to Start!

The fall issue of The Drake Magazine was released yesterday.  The issue includes an article titled “The Fly Company That Lost – and Blogged It All” written by Geoff Mueller.

Mr. Mueller does his best to bring clarity to a story that continues to unfold.  A story where many have declared Idylwilde the “loser” based on nothing but rumor.

I would recommend making the following corrections for accuracy as you read the story:

  1. The article misstates that the joint venture promised Mr. Tan a 40 percent stake in Idylwilde.  I solely own Idylwilde.
  2. Mr. Tan does not have and never has had a 40 percent stake in Idylwilde.
  3. Dating back to April 24, 1998, Idylwilde and Mirabel have been partners in a joint venture.  Idylwilde has been the exclusive marketing agent for that joint venture ad Mirabel has been the exclusive manufacturer of Idyllwilde’s products.  I own 60% of that joint venture.
  4. I directed the design process for the Chubby Chernobyl to compete with Montana Fly Company’s Amy’s Ant.  Mr. Conaty fulfilled his job responsibilities and tied the samples aiding in developing Idylwilde version of Amy’s Ant.  Idylwilde’s distribution and onling marketing and branding efforts made the chubby popular.
  5. Idylwilde attempted to get a temporary restraining order against Mr. Conaty in part to prevent him from competing against Idylwilde while he still owned shares in Idylwilde.  Subsequently, the parties reached a mutually acceptable agreement.

Wild rides have some downs and well as ups

I would like to thank all of you out there who have and continue to support Idylwilde, our current staff and me.   Idylwilde is certainly in its darkest hour, but I remain confident that in due time, the truth will trump the slings and arrows carelessly and maliciously launched against Idylwilde.  In the meantime, I am buoyed by your loyalty to Idylwilde’s brand and the people behind the brand.

A deeply heartfelt thank you to all of you.


26 Responses to “Wild Ride for Fly Fishing Indsutry – Far From Over”

  1. Gari Stroh-Stroh Farms LL. says:

    I stand by my friend and shooting pal, Zach Mertins of 20+ years. There is no question of his honesty, passion and work ethic in improving his business, friendships and his family. He is a man everyone should have on his or her team!

  2. Ian Yurdin says:

    I also stand by Zach.

    I challenge anyone to go out and find a more loyal partner for any business endeavor.

  3. Juan Ramirez says:

    The Amy’s Ant is a product of Umpqua, not MFC. It’s a Jack Dennis pattern developed around 2000.
    Just an FYI. 🙂

  4. Zach says:

    MFC also had an Amy’s Ant FYI – Single foam deck chernobyl with 2 wings. Sound familiar?

  5. Mike from Florida says:

    This wouldn’t be the first time Mr. Mueller got the facts wrong. “The Drake-for people who don’t mind not having the facts.”

    Hey Juan- Jack Talks a lot! It’s hard to get a word in edgewise. FYI

  6. Bob G says:


    Hang in there, and remember:

    The truth is not afraid of questions.

  7. Zach says:

    @Bob G – You are absolutely right! I am not afraid to print the truth regardless of how it reflects on me, good or bad. That is what defines and separates the Idylwilde brand from some of our competitors.

  8. Bubba says:

    I’ve long held that I enjoy the competition aspect of capitalism and how the strong abolish the weak. This story is a prime example of this right down to the moral crying of Idylwilde’s owner. I mean, give me a break here. Mixing up your personal life with your business failures is no way to go into the future. Umpqua ain’t nothing to mess with and they probably have their sites set on MFC.

  9. Zach says:

    10-4 We all get it. You don’t like me, my company, my style, my brand etc… Your cheering for the other team. I am not trying to change your mind. Actions my friend not words. Stay tuned.

  10. Shite vs. Fan says:

    Somebody forgot to mention to Umpqua- Mr. Conaty and Idylwilde settled their case, but Conaty remains bound by the confidentiality and nondisclosure clause of his Buy-Sell Agreement with Idylwilde. All photos courtesy of Idylwilde Flies. —Ed]

  11. Mike Lum says:

    @Bubba …and so by extension you also enjoy unethical behavior and potential criminal activity? Capitalism at any cost huh? “Abolish the weak” by any means at your disposal…. nice.


  12. The Mole says:

    Love you Zach!

  13. Bruce Olsens mouth! says:

    OK Reg, here is what I know to be true of this whole ordeal… First let me say that I am an Umpqua Royalty Fly Designer and have been for over 12 years. So where my opinion might be viewed as biased some I can tell you that this is what I know of this incident. Keep in mind there are always 2 and sometimes 3 sides to every story. The 3rd side usually resides inbetween what the 2 parties are saying.

    Bruce Olson (VP of Umpqua) called me and told of their possibility of doing business with a large fly tying factory in the Philippines that had been tying flies for Idylwilde. Idylwilde was a distributer for tied flies that they sold to companies/fly shops throughout the US. I know of many fly shops across the US that happened to buy flies from Idylwylde last year and said their deliveries killed their fly business. We all know there is a shortage of good quality tied flies in the US and this Philippine factory tied quality flies. What happened between the factory and Idylwlde was not Umpqua’s business. The factory contacted Umpqua asking if they would be interested in having flies tied by them. Umpqua jumped on the opportunity as they too realize there is a shortage of quality tied flies. While in the process of negotiating pricing and deliveries, the factory mentioned that they had sixty thousand dozen of already tied inventory that needed to be moved and would Umpqua be interested in them. I am told that Umpqua knew of the soured relationship between the factory and Idylwylde and had gotten their attorneys involved to make sure they were doing nothing unethical. Umpqua is no saint in this industry but neither is Orvis, Abel, Loomis and many others that have opportunities landing in their lap.

    So the way I see this is a he said, she said. Boycott Umpqua? Certainly a persons right to do so but I think that is a bit far fetched. If you feel like Umpqua took advantage in some way of a smaller competitor then you should think of boycotting Lowes. Home Depot, Wal-Mart and many other of the big players in an industry. This factory was looking to keep their people employed and Umpqua happens to be one of the biggest players in this market to allow them to help keep their factory alive.

    That is what I know of this situation….

  14. Ref. says:

    Well looks like Zach is down for the count.

  15. Zach says:

    @Ref – Sure looks that way! You a betting man Ref?

  16. Jeff says:

    Cronyism is alive and well in the U.S. Buy locally and support your local fly shop. Why aren’t we tying them in the U.S. in the first place? The article in the Drake exposed major issues with the manufacture of Fly Fishing related products marketed to U.S. customers that are dependent on the exploitation of peoples in third world countries. This is a larger issue with globalization and so-called “free trade” agreements facilitated by our “elected representatives”. I hear a lot of whining on both sides of the aisle but no one addressing the real issue regardless of Idylwilde or Umpqua, etc.; that being that they are producing their products outside of this country. I will do my part to hold all multi-national corporations in check I will continue to tie my own flies and advocate against any company that sends jobs overseas to simply procure greater profit margins. Live Free or Die!

  17. Scott T says:

    I do not buy flies all to often and try to tie my own as much as possible. When I do buy it is Idylwilde only!
    They have the best designs and highest quality. When I look to poach ideas for my own stuff it is Idylwilde that I end up looking at. Simply the best! I have always thought of Umpqua as the Walmart of flies.

    Hang in there Zach.

  18. Ref. says:

    I am. We betting a dozen Chubbies? Gotta pay your bills man. All of this could have been avoided.

  19. Zach says:

    @Ref pay up on the dozen Chubbies! Need an address? Check out what I call “evidence”: https://www.dropbox.com/sh/eyx8ta33es5p6lu/JnG8EBczcG Different from opinion and conjecture

  20. Dave says:

    Bruce, can you confirm that Umpqua consulted attorneys to ensure they were operating ethically or simply to cover their butts so they couldn’t be sued after the fact? There is a huge difference.

  21. Mike Lum says:

    In a conversation with Jeff Fryhover on 9/11…one day after the Thrilla from Manila communication from Umpqua…Jeff himself told me that he and Umpqua had not involved lawyers in the due diligence process. He told me the only thing they had done was send a representative (Umpquas production manager) over to the Philippines. He told me neither he nor Umpqua had ever contacted Zach or Idylwilde to ask about proof of payment for the existing stock of flies.

    When I repeatedly asking him why he said he “didn’t think they needed to.” and, in fact, could never give me any kind of answer to this question other than that.

    He actually said to me towards the end of the conversation…”you bring up some very good questions.”

    Completely and utterly dumbfounding.


  22. Mike Lum says:

    …just to qualify… Jeff told me on 9/11 that they had not involved lawyers UP TO THAT POINT. I don’t know if or when they involved lawyers after that. Obviously they will now.


  23. Zach says:

    Ref – You a man of your word? You promised me a dozen chubbies and I have yet to receive them. Are you that guy that hold other people to their word while you can’t keep yours? Rest assured I have learned that you have lots of company.

  24. Marks says:

    Ehthics? Before Idylwilde released its first fly, its business plan revolved entirely around the fact that royalty tiers were getting paid . . . (pregnant pause). . . royalties! All Idylwilde had to do was rip off those exact same patterns and instantly save the 10-12% Umpqua and others were paying its pattern developers. This is precisely what transpired and Idylwild was able to push an entire fleet of previously royalty paid patterns to dealers and undercut the originals.

    Maybe this was a good business strategy, but that Idylwilde would ground its appearance in the fly tying market by stealing the work of others is nothing to be proud of. Despite the offer from Zach to give strong discounts on counterfeit Umpqua royalty patterns, our shop has never purchased an Idylwilde fly, and it seems that in the foreseeable future no one else will either.

  25. Zach says:

    Mark thanks for your comments point taken. That said. Is Dave Whitlock getting paid a royalty by Umpqua for his flies that they currently sell? That saves 10 or 12% right there doesn’t it? What about Bob Clouser he getting paid for his flies that are still being tied. Parachute Madam X is Doug Swhisher getting paid for his Parachute Madam X. What about Al Troth is he getting paid for the Elk Hair Caddis?

    I have never complained (And all the competitors have and still are copying Idylwilde Sig or Unique Patterns lets make no mistake about that) about other companies reverse engineering Idylwilde Unique or Signature Patterns and compete for bin space in the open market. Meaning the competing companies figure out how to reverse engineer the Idylwilde patterns using “their” resources, creating “their” own recipes, tying “their” own samples, executing production in “their” tying facility and then competing with Idylwilde in the marketplace. Idylwilde charged a premium for its products and competed by tying the highest quality flies and executing the most dependable delivery of pre-season orders.

    Please feel free to go to the drop box containing the evidence in the case. The difference here is that those are actually my flies, paid for (see drop box for evidence) out of my JV factory that I founded where I still am 60% owner in the JV.

    Idylwilde is currently selling flies and plans to continue doing so as this case winds its way through the court system to a jury trial. The wheels of justice turn slowly. Appreciate your point of view.

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