If you follow me on social media you may have seen a post I put up this week calling out Umpqua Feather Merchants for tying a dozen of my patterns now for nearly 4-5 years without my permission or paying me royalties on my patterns aka my “intellectual property”. In the end this is not new news…it has been going on like I said for nearly 4 to 5 years sense the take over of Idylwilde (my former fly company) by Umpqua. At the time I turned down a contract offered to me by Umpqua, I personally asked Umpqua to not tie my flies as the did not have my permission nor did I accept their contract offer. In the end I helped my good friend and the owner of Idylwilde, Zach Mertens, in a law suit against Umpqua, that was settled in Zachs favor out of court and Umpqua has continued for nearly 5 years to tie my flies without my permission. Calling them the same thing as I do/did and only removing my name.
In the mean time I signed a contract with Montana Fly Company (www.montanaflyco.com) vowed to continue to innovate, ties flies that catch fish, and support the sport and industry that I love. Not being jaded or scarred by the actions of a few or the fall out of corporate dealings which I am sure I do not have all the information about or am privy to. I vowed to not let the fact that another company was tying my flies bother me and just use it to fuel my innovation. All the flies they tie are over 10-15 years old, and I have come up with, I think, much more successful patterns sense that are now tied by Montana Fly Co. I even a year ago emailed and talked with, then fly manager at Umpqua, Brian Schmidt trying to mend fences and apologize for maybe things I said or did that were un-professional or just plain mean in the heat of dealings during the fall out. I hoped that by my extension of an Olive branch that maybe Umpqua would do the right thing….they didn’t.
That said to continue to stand by why a company continues to tie my flies and people profit off my ideas without my permission or blessing is not OK. I guess I feel like I have to at least speak up and speak out. I have a quote in my classroom that says “He Who Does Not Have the Courage to Speak Up for his Rights Can Not Earn the Respect of Others.” I read it earlier this week and thought about my kids, Oliver 8 and Beckett 6, and the values I am trying to teach them on a daily basis and that it is time to live what I have been trying to teach them.
I understand that in the fly business companies rip off or tie other companies tiers patterns, but only if the customer demand is great enough and even then it is usually only a pattern or two. There has always been somewhat of an honor among thieves. For example everyone ties the copper john, the stimulator, or the Clouser Minnow…but not all of John Barrs Flies or Bob Clousers flies.
I believe in giving people the benefit of the doubt and that people will eventually do the right thing. Call me naïve, but I have to believe this or my whole belief structure would crumble. I have spent most of my adult life in an effort to give back, or in some way pay for the blessing I have received myself. I quite guiding full time to teach high school as it has so much potential for making positive impacts on lives of young people, I coached high school baseball for 8 years because I saw that I could further my impact on youth through athletics, I helped my friend Ryan Johnston grow our non profit Cast Hope (www.casthope.org) from a budget of $20,000 to over a quarter million allowing us to share the outdoors through the sport of fly fishing with kids and their mentors throughout Northern California and Western Nevada and soon, very soon, even further. I have continued to guide because I love fly fishing and I love guiding. I take new guides under my wing every year, share what I have learned without hesitation with anyone that asks, and work hard to grow and preserve the sport and the places I love. I operate on the principal that what I do for myself will die with me and what I do for the world and others will live on long after I am gone.
In the end I am asking Umpqua to stop tying my flies. I am not concerned about the money, while it would be nice if they paid me back royalties on all the money they have made off my flies I think that may be asking to much from corporate America. What I am asking is that they stop selling and tying my flies. I have no “do this” or else in my back pocket, I just think that it is the right thing to do and I am entitled to ask. I am sure that pulling 12 patterns from their catalog of thousands will not hurt their bottom line and in the end it is the right thing to do.
If you would like to help me in this crusade you can
- share my post on facebook (https://www.facebook.com/hgbflyfishing) , Instagram (@htothegtotheb), or twitter (@htothegtotheb) with #dotherighthingumpqua
- message @umpquafeathermerchants on Facebook, Instagram, or twitter using the hash tag #dotherightthingumpqua
- email Umpqua@umpqua.com asking them to stop tying my flies for the 2018 season as it is the right thing to do.
- When buying my flies ask your local fly shop if they purchased them from Umpqua or Montana Fly Co. If they are purchased from Umpqua don’t buy them…call or email me and I will tell you where to find Montana Fly Co. “Hogan” Flies or send you what you need.
- DO NOT boycott all Umpqua flies. As that may hurt Umpqua, but it also hurts the tiers and there are a lot of great tiers and people that tie for Umpqua. Mike Mercer, Morgan Thalken, and many others I don’t know personally but have no desire to hurt as I know what it is like to rely on royalty checks to pay the bills.
- Share with others this blog post and story.
You may say lawyer up and go after Umpqua…Ya I guess I could, but I don’t think there is any win there. I am a high school teacher, fly fishing guide, fly tier, author…I don’t have the money to take on a corporate giant. I also believe people will eventually do the right thing. I believe in the power of people and putting pressure on a company like Umpqua in such a small industry and world like our own who does wrong I hope will not be tolerated. So, even if you don’t feel obliged to do anything – I understand completely and don’t think any less of you my friendly reader if you don’t – We are all inundated with ills and wrongs in our world daily and asked to act, help, or support financially, I hope that you all help in your own way the causes that are important to you. In the end though now you know what Umpqua is doing and you can share this with others…oh and Knowing is Half the Battle!