The American Fly Fishing Trade Association (AFFTA) Board elections are now open! We are excited to have thirteen candidates who are running for the eight open seats. Below, please read the bios that each candidate has submitted. Your vote can be cast through the email ballot received.
Voting is open to all AFFTA members, and will be closed on September 10, 2013.
Bruce Chard: Captain Bruce Chard is a full-time Florida Keys fly fishing flats guide, a salt water contributor for Fly Fisherman Magazine, he hosts fly fishing schools internationally, works extensively with many different fly fishing companies, has been developed signature products in the fly fishing industry and has served as on the AFFTA Advisory Board for past 2 years.
Along with being a fly fishing guide for the past 21 years, Bruce has also been a supporter of the growth in the fly fishing industry. Bruce’s continued interest in the fly fishing industry over this time has been strong and ever increasing. Bruce has achieved the prestigious Master Certified Fly Casting Instructor license and has not missed one Fly Fishing Retailer show since 1993. He is an advisory or pro staff member with top fly fishing companies like Ross Reels USA, Ross Worldwide Outdoors, Simms, Winston, Scientific Anglers, Smith Optics, Yellow Dog Fly Fishing Adventures, Gamakatsu hooks and Whiting Farms.
Desire to serve the Fly Industry
I would like to serve as a board member of AFFTA to accomplish the following:
- Help increase participation in the sport of fly fishing
- Promote and create professional opportunities in the fly fishing industry
- Support the growth of youth involvement in fly fishing
It would be a great honor to serve the fly fishing industry at this level and contribute my experience and expertise to help grow this great sport.
Chris Hunt: Background: I’m a former newspaper journalist and now the national communications director for Trout Unlimited, the largest coldwater fisheries conservation organization in the country. Additionally, I’m a freelance journalist and an avid fly fisher—I blog regularly at eatmorebrooktrout.com, and contribute frequently to Midcurrent, Southwest Fly Fishing, Northwest Fly Fishing, American Angler and other publications.
I’ve been an avid fly fisher for two decades, and have fished around the world for both fresh and saltwater fish. I have a large network of contacts within the industry, within the media and in government circles thanks to my work at TU.
I believe these assets, in addition to my communication skills, would be an asset for the American Fly Fishing Trade Association, and I am excited about the prospect of serving AFFTA as a member of its board of directors.
Interest in serving the fly fishing trade: My work at TU is focused largely on conservation, and I believe the industry is primed to become a major player in the conservation arena—both in terms of restoring watersheds and protecting intact habitat that’s so vital to manufacturers and retailers. I believe there’s a need for industry players to embrace the connection between intact fish habitat and angling opportunity. And, of course, that opportunity translates directly into economic growth and activity. My expertise in conservation and the politics surrounding it can help AFFTA accumulate influence and work to protect the places that are vital to anglers all over America. My work in the communications arena can also improve AFFTA’s media outreach and help the association with its marketing and membership growth.
Colby Trow: I’m 34 years old and live in the heart of the Shenandoah Valley in Harrisonburg, Virginia. My twin brother Brian and I have been fly fishing since our childhood. We grew up together, went to college together, and opened a fly shop, guide service, fly fishing school and are currently working to open lodging for our clients. We truly live the fly fishing lifestyle and work daily to push the sport, conservation and education to the limits.
In the 10 years since opening, we have grown our business to support the largest freshwater guide service in Virginia, and two of the largest fly fishing schools. Years of on-the-water “homework” allow us to push the limits of freshwater fly fishing in the Mid-Atlantic, targeting all species available to us, mountain brook trout, spring creek rainbows and browns, smallmouth and largemouth bass, carp, pike and musky. Our goal is to expand the opportunities for local fly anglers and have them enjoy all the fishing that is available to them.
My brother and I run an interactive business. We maintain a quality website, online retail store, social media pages and in-house booking systems. We are committed to hiring and training our guides and employees to be the best the industry offers. Brian and I are active in the industry, attending seminars, dealer rendezvous, and IFTD in order to maintain communication with industry leaders and our vendors as well as establish new relationships to continue to understand the business as deeply as possible. I fully understand the importance of conservation in our industry. From day one our fly shop has been driven to improve the quality of our local waters and enhance the fishing potential for the public. We have helped spearhead two major spring creek restorations, one on Beaver Creek and one on Mossy Creek, both recognized as the best spring creeks in the State.
As a board member of our local TU chapter and now Fly Fisher’s of Virginia, I helped organize landowner agreements and state agencies to get these projects underway. I have also worked closely with the Fish Kill Task Force, VA Dept of Environmental Quality, VA Dept. of Game and Inland Fisheries, Shenandoah and Potomac Riverkeepers, Chesapeake Bay Foundation, CCA, and the VA General Assembly on many issues.
I have put our fly shop at the forefront of conservation efforts and stream restoration projects. Along with our fly shop staff and guides we constantly work with local landowners, politicians and agencies to promote, protect and enhance our areas waters. Conservation is the lifeblood of our industry and it needs to be fully embraced so everyone can enjoy the future.
Teaching and instructing new anglers is one of my favorite parts of the business. Education is a vital function for sustaining and growing our sport. I know this because my own business relies on it daily. Our staff instructs over a thousand new anglers annually. Instruction with passion is necessary to ensure retention of anglers, not only for our shop but for the sport.
I believe the industry as a whole needs to work harder on recruitment of new fly anglers and I am fully dedicated to education, not only to build a solid future for fly fishing but to create an impenetrable foundation for conservation of our most precious natural resources.
I would like to serve on the AFFTA board because I believe as a member of the younger fly fishing generation I can represent the new wave of young die-hard anglers well. I believe there is no greater sport, art, lifestyle, whatever you want to call it than fly fishing. I’m hoping one day, given the opportunity to sit on the AFFTA board, to give back at least some part of what fly fishing has given to me.
David Heller: I have served on the AFFTA board in a variety of capacities over the past 5 years. It has been my honor to serve the industry and it members during this time. I am now running for an extended term so I can continue my service in bringing health, stability and growth to the fly fishing industry. During my tenure, I have participated as a member of the Trade Development Committee, the Nominating Committee and the IFTD Show Committee. One of my greatest accomplishment during board service was assisting the association in creating an open election process. AFFTA continues to develop a higher level of transparency in everything that it does, and being a part of this dynamic change has been incredibly rewarding and something I would like to continue to support in the coming years. I appreciate your consideration.
David S. Heller is the Vice President of Sales and Marketing at Winston Rod Co. Prior to this, David served as President and Co-Owner of Ross Reels USA / Ross Worldwide Outdoors. Earlier industry experiences include sales representative, fly fishing guide, whitewater raft guide and business development consulting. David earned his B.A. in English literature from The Colorado College and a minor in finance and marketing while studying abroad. He believes strongly in giving back to the community, and in this spirit he has held or currently holds board of director positions with Susan G. Komen Breast Cancer Foundation, Rocky Mountain Research and Injury Prevention Institute and River Reach Youth Initiative – an organization focused on the preservation of Colorado’s South Platte River Valley though education and youth volunteer participation. David is an avid fly fisherman, bird hunter and horseback field trailer. He is also an avid triathlete who completed his first Ironman in 2012.
Dustin Carlson: Dustin Carlson is an owner and Director of Operations of Grizzly Hackle Holdings, LLC located in Sandy, Utah. Grizzly Hackle Holdings, LLC operates the following fly shops; Fishwest Fly Shop (Sandy, UT), Bob Marriott’s Fly Fishing Store (Fullerton, CA), Kiene’s Fly Shop (Sacramento, CA) and Grizzly Hackle Fly Shop (Missoula, MT).
Prior to a merger with Grizzly Hackle Holdings, Dustin founded Fishwest in 1999. Fishwest has established itself as an extremely progressive fly shop that markets fly fishing products world-wide. Dustin has been a pioneer in the industry, selling via mail order and online since 1999 and greatly expanding his business with the addition of the retail shop in the spring of 2008. Dustin holds a bachelors degree in Economics from the University of Utah.
Dustin is often distracted by catching different species on a fly rod and has found a real love of chasing pike and muskie on the fly. He can also be found lost in thoughts of his next saltwater destination or the next time he can stand in steelhead waters casting a two-hander. Dustin lives in Draper, UT with his wife Sarah, two sons (Cameron and Zachary) and a dog.
Gerarld (Jerry) Darkes: Professional Goal: To assist manufacturers in the fly fishing/outdoor industry in maximizing sales. To increase public awareness and education about fly fishing with a focus on opportunities existing across the Midwest and Great Lakes region. The growth potential for fly fishing in this area is still substantial.
- Over 30 years experience selling outdoor and fly fishing products. Worked at several retail businesses and established Angling Consulting Services in 1992 as an independent sales agency for specialty manufacturers. Work closely with many fishing guides and pros in my area to increase fly fishing awareness and support represented brands.
- Assist companies in the development of products and marketing/sales strategies.
- Coordinate with retailers on new product review, purchasing programs, product merchandising, sales strategies- including on-line retailing, and employee product education clinics.
- Participate in numerous promotional “demo” days and consumer shows for retailers and brands represented.
- Originated “Castapalooza” events in 2010 for fly casting instructional purposes and to increase general public awareness of fly fishing in the area.
- Give regular classes, seminars, and presentations to retailers, clubs, and groups.
- Utilize social media including Facebook and Google Blogger to help bring recognition fly fishing, represented brands, plus upcoming events, promotions, etc.
- Support groups and organizations with strong environmental ties. Participate in river cleanups and other activities.
- Have received sales awards from Patagonia, Scott Rods, Angler Sport Group, and Scientific Anglers/Ross.
- Actively write articles that are published in a variety of fly fishing-focused publications.
- Featured in several books as an authority on Great Lakes-area fly fishing.
- Featured on several television shows including Trout Unlimited TV and Outdoors Ohio
- Just completed a book for Stackpole Publishing for release Aug. 1, 2013, that will be the first-ever comprehensive look at fly fishing IN the Great Lakes. Am under contract to do a follow- up work focusing on fly patterns for the region
- Helped to create and produce a number of DVDs focused on Great Lakes-area fly fishing.
- Have fly fished an extensive range of fresh and saltwater destinations. Have spent a lifetime involved in various outdoor activities, including 45 years fly fishing and fly tying experience.
Ian Crabtree: I have been employed in the fly fishing industry for 13 years. I spent the first six years of my career as a guide and instructor in South Carolina, Alaska, Chile, and New Zealand.
After graduating from Furman University with a BA in political science, I joined the Scott Fly Rod Company in 2008. I currently serve as Sales Manager for Scott Fly Rods.
My position and experience provide me with a broad understanding of the challenges faced by retailers, manufacturers, guides, and sales representatives. Our industry needs a strong, effective trade organization, and I will dedicate the time and resource needed to help advance AFFTA’s mission, and continue to develop valuable benefits for its members.
Jeff Paterson: I started working as a customer service representative for Abel Automatics, Inc. in August of 1992. Over that time period here, I’ve worked hard to be promoted to a Factory Sales Representative, to Assistant Sales Manager, to Sales Manager, and have held my position as Director of Sales for Abel for the last 6 years.
I’ve enjoyed watching the industry change over the last 20 years, and I’ve been through the tumultuous times this industry has seen as an integral part of a small team working for a manufacturer in the United States. We’ve endured the challenges of this company I’ve always represented changing ownership hands numerous times, but I have always remained optomistic for both the future of Abel, and the fly fishing industry in general.
Throughout my tenure here, my #1 priority has been to remain honest to the dealers, guides, industry friends, and consumers in our fly fishing community. I believe honesty and integrity are respected, even if it is not always great news you are sharing. I’m not afraid to confront the ongoing issues with any situation, and will go to great lengths to do what I believe is best for everybody to resolve any problems the right way.
I love what I do. It gives me a great deal of pride knowing every product I send out will perform as it should. I work hard, travel a great deal, and have little fear of the unknown.
I’m fortunate to have my wonderful wife of 17 years, and 2 boys ages 14 and 8 as my backbone to face the world. I also have a passion for fly fishing and the outdoors that continually drives me to get out there and help Abel. At 44 years old, I feel I now have both a decent amount of experience, and still some youth left on my side.
I’m interested in helping AFFTA and our trade that I love so much grow in whatever way I can. I have no problems speaking in public, usually have an actual smile on my face, consider myself approachable, and have 20 years under my belt of seeing what can work, and what doesn’t work for our industry. I just lead Abel to signing a deal with Rhino Records, and Grateful Dead Productions to license a limited edition Steal Your Face reel, and feel I can help AFFTA keep making forward strides as well.
Jeff Wagner: As a long time fly fishing and outdoor industry professional I believe that all who are in the industry have an obligation to give back, to work, and to help it flourish and grow. My interest in serving on the AFFTA board is to give to that end; to utilize my skills I have gained to work with others in the industry, outside the industry, and on the board, in order to help grow the sport and create short and long term goals that will make the growth sustainable.
My background is varied. I began fly fishing at the age of 10. Growing up in Sidney, Nebraska water was not always as close as I would have liked, so I quickly began to fly cast when I was not able to fly fish. Several years of retail started my fly fishing industry career at Cabela’s, where I learned the fundamentals of merchandising, customer service and product selection. Later I moved to Fort Collins, Colorado to finish a degree in Aquatic Biology at Colorado State University. During this time I worked several years as a fly fishing buyer for a mid-sized multi-store retailer. I was also able to work and teach in several independent fly shops and guide part time. I then had the fortune of working for the National Park Service for four years, managing a program for native fisheries restoration in smaller national parks across the U.S. For the last five years I have been at the Cabela’s corporate offices working as a Merchandise Financial Planner in fly fishing and other areas. Spending some time working with an internal team focusing on strategic project management, process improvement, and gaining a Black Belt in Lean Six Sigma. Most recently I am serving as a Planning and Inventory Manager, my team being responsible for planning and inventory for all channels and stores.
From the time I began working at Cabelas, I had the great fortune of spending time developing my love of fly fishing in other ways. At this time, I began my pursuit of the Federation of Fly Fishers Certified Instructor certification, and then later achieved the Master Certified Fly Casting Instructor certification. I am currently serving on the Federation of Fly Fishers Casting Board of Governors, overseeing the certified instructor program. During this time I was able to meet and work with a number of the most knowledgeable experts in the industry and have had the opportunity to help with design and development for several different product categories and companies.
Finally, I have written for Fly Fishing Trade and Angling Trade magazines, and now serve as Fly Casting Field Editor for Fly Fusion magazine. In addition I have competed in a number of fly casting and fly fishing competitions. I regularly offer educational programs and presentations for International Sportsmens Exposition and others.
Of course, I also love to fly fish and spend much of my time on small streams for trout, and warm water, especially carp. But I do not discriminate. Anything that will take a fly, whether in warm or cold, lake or stream, salt or fresh, are a worthy pursuit.
I look forward to the opportunity of serving on the board to develop a solid plan for the future and to learn from the other board members.
Jennifer Lavigne: Jennifer Lavigne is the sales and marketing manager for The Waterworks-Lamson. In the fly fishing industry since 2005 she has worn many hats over the years from customer service, account management and administration to her current position in sales and marketing. A strong belief in giving back to her community has driven her to hold numerous positions in a local volunteer organization over the past 15 years. She is excited to offer a different perspective to AFFTA and looks forward to shaping new strategies to forward industry growth and conservation. She earned her B.A. in Humanities from Seattle University.
Jen is an avid climber, when off the rock she enjoys fishing, camping, hiking, nordic and backcountry skiing. She lives in Hailey, Idaho with her husband Joe and daughter Ava, who recently caught her first fish!
Larry Barrett: Larry is the Vice President of Operations and Technology for Far Bank Enterprises, the holding company for Sage Manufacturing, Redington Tackle & Apparel, and RIO Products Intl. In this role, Larry is responsible for the Sage rod manufacturing, RIO manufacturing, and the distribution of all Far Bank goods. As an operator, he is passionate about running a cost effective business while providing an outstanding customer experience and protecting the environment. Having completed his first term on the AFFTA Board, he realizes that there are still some areas he’d like to contribute. As the AFFTA Treasurer, he has helped guide AFFTA to a healthy financial position where the organization can now support some of the many programs that will increase participation and educate the industry to be stronger business entities. We also need to continue to finance our advocacy of healthy fisheries because that equates to more jobs for the fly fishing industry for years to come. If reelected to the AFFTA Board, Larry will work hard to grow the fly fishing industry, to increase fly fishing participation, and to ensure that our precious fisheries are thriving not just surviving.
Larry joined Far Bank in 2005 and has been fly fishing for many years. Larry grew up on the east coast fishing the mill ponds in eastern Connecticut down to the Chesapeake Bay. Since moving to the west coast in 1997, he has fished primarily in the Rockies but has made some excursions to the east coast and down to Mexico, Belize and Christmas Island. One of his favorite fishing activities is participating in the Jackson Hole One Fly which he has fished for the past five years. However he most treasures fishing the Puget Sound with his family. Prior to Far Bank, Larry worked at Amazon.com for over eight years. Most of his time there was spent on the operations side of the company delivering efficiencies and growth projects around logistics, distribution and supply chain flow. He has a B.S. in Mechanical Engineering from Penn State University and a M.S. in Mechanical Engineering from M.I.T.
Liz Ogilvie: I am honored to present myself for your consideration as a candidate for an open Board position. I share AFFTA’s commitment to the promotion of fly fishing and, if elected, will contribute my time and experience to advance AFFTA and our shared sport.
As the Partnership Marketing Director for WFN: World Fishing Network, I use broadcast and digital media to promote fly fishing within the context of the entire sportfishing industry. Developing and promoting fly fishing content, including television programs that educate anglers about our sport, is a priority for my work at the network. This type of crossover support attracts new participants and promotes the fly fishing trade. I believe that my background and connection to both media and this industry can be an excellent resource for AFFTA.
Before joining WFN, I held a wide range of positions across the industry, including four years at the national office of Trout Unlimited, where I coordinated programs for TU volunteer operations, developed partnerships and sponsorships with corporate entities, and wrote articles for Trout Magazine. I’ve also worked on the retail side, including managing fly fishing inventory for L.L. Bean’s store in Tysons Corner, Virginia and serving as the lead fly fishing instructor for L.L. Bean’s Mid-Atlantic Outdoor Discovery Schools.
In 2011 I received the Maryland Governor’s Citation for Professional Commitment in Supporting the Sportfishing Industry for my work to promote the Maryland DNR’s annual Maryland Fishing Challenge. I currently serve of the communications committee for the American Sportfishing Association. In my spare time, I’m working on a Master’s in Nonprofit Management with a concentration in Social Media and Digital Communication from Northeastern University.
Please know that I share your passion for fly fishing and that, if elected, I will do my best to promote AFFTA and our sport. I’m excited at the prospect of serving on the AFFTA Board and ask for your support.
Riley Cotter: Except for a short stint (4 months) in Texas after college, I have lived in Colorado all of my life. In 1998 – 2002 I attended the University of Northern Colorado earning a degree in Journalism. I would count the days before school was out to get back into the mountains to fish, sometimes leaving classes early to head up to the Big Thompson to wet a line. I have been involved in many facets of the fly fishing industry for the past 15 years. I was a shop employee and guide from 1999 – 2006 for Gore Creek Flyfisherman in my home town of Vail, Colorado. In the winter of 2005 – 2006 I helped open the Denver Bass Pro Shop’s, White River Fly Shop. Starting in the fall of 2006 to present day I have been enjoying my career with Umpqua Feather Merchants. While with Umpqua I have held the titles of Dealer Service Rep, Sales Coordinator, Key Account Manager and International Sales Manager. In June of 2012 I accepted my new role as Sales Manager.
Additionally in 2004 I got my first taste of competitive fly fishing during the ESPN fly fishing challenge, and in the spring of 2006 I humbly earned a spot as a member of Fly Fishing Team USA. I have enjoyed great success competing in the U.S. and abroad and continue to remain involved with the Team.
Why I am interested in continuing to serve on the AFFTA Board:
Umpqua has been a long time member and supporter of AFFTA. We believe that it is important to involve ourselves in helping to move our industry forward. We are committed to continuing our support of AFFTA and its mission of maintaining a strong, balanced, strategic thinking organization that represents the interests of the fly fishing industry and all of its members.
I have had the pleasure of serving this industry as a current AFFTA board member for the past three years and would like to continue to offer my service to the industry further, helping the only organization that is representative of the sport that has given so much to me; I would be honored if re-elected to once again help the organization in pursuit of its missions. As our industry continually evolves to adapt to present day challenges and changes I think there are still opportunities for growth of our industry and I would like to be able to play a part in bringing some of those things to light.