Fly fishing gear is expensive. That’s not news to anyone. What’s also not news is that good gear can make all the difference on a trip. If you get that one shot at a permit or engage a tarpon in the battle of a lifetime, you want to trust that your gear won’t get in the way of the opportunity that you may have traveled great distances for. On a local level, an angler might not want to buy an expensive rod for a three day trip that might happen once every five years. And why should the cost of gear keep an angler from wanting to try fly fishing? When such problems arise, great business ideas also emerge, and Brian Guengeric and David Moore identified a need and a solution when they created Rent This Rod. They recently sat down to interview with The Venturing Angler:
Gear rentals — A company that exclusively rents fly rods, reels, and lines is a completely new concept. How did Rent This Rod come to be?
Everything started when Brian and Dave created the most sacred of friendships – fishing buddies … awe!
One day a couple years ago, after fishing, we found ourselves river-side just catching up. In conversation, we discovered an organic desire to want to try saltwater fly fishing but a hesitancy to invest a small fortune on a worthy setup. What if we didn’t like it? Being landlocked in North Carolina, the reality is that we, like a vast amount of anglers, only make it to coastal saltwater a couple times each year. The realization was that there was no practical way to try something like this by renting premium quality equipment.
In that instant, we both had a “lightbulb moment” and realized we were on to something. We parted ways and within the course of the next week we had purchased the domain, built a simple website, and formed an LLC and thus our business was born.
What needs in the angling community did you identify that led to the start of Rent This Rod?
As we were doing our initial research, we found that this model gives many opportunities to the angling community: try before you buy, renting gear that you are only going to use once a year, sustainability, a rental platform for those that don’t want the upfront cost and management of their own rental program.
Our business allows anglers to experience freshwater or saltwater fly fishing without the expense of having to purchase the specific rod, reel and fly line that is necessary for the respective environments. Many of our clients are traveling to fishing destinations outside their norm. Rather than purchase a costly setup that will only be used once a year, if not much less, customers can instead rent high-end equipment from us for a fraction of the cost. We also found it gives anglers a chance to practice casting with different weights of rods before they go on trips. The transition from freshwater to saltwater, for example, has taken time for both Dave and I and I feel like Rent This Rod can remove many of these types of barriers to entry for others.
Another area we identified that separates us from others is quality. We only rent premium rods, reels, and fly line. This gives us and our partner brands an opportunity to truly showcase their gear and allows our customers to fish with the best gear on the market. It also enables us to customize and cater to someone’s specific needs based on where they are going and what they are fishing for. We are able to do this because we are partnered with many of the top brands in fly fishing: Thomas & Thomas, Sage, Tom Morgan Rodsmiths, Mauser Fly Rods, Hatch Outdoors, Ross Reels, Abel, Scientific Anglers, and Fishpond.
How do you think such a new and potentially very impactful business could change the fly fishing industry itself for the better?
We are big proponents of creating win-win situations. We feel we are building a business that allows 3 things to happen that can help grow the industry as a whole:
- Partnerships with travel agencies and lodges– this allows them to step back and focus on their strengths. Our partnership with Yellow Dog Flyfishing Adventures has been a great example of this. We try and listen to our partners’ needs and what they are looking for. The travel industry is just a natural fit for us. It gives agencies a service to provide to their clients, it gives our brand partners a chance to put their gear to the test time and again, it gives clients a chance to fish the best gear on the market and we believe it creates a model of sustainability.
- Rent this Rod can be a rental platform for fly shops across the country. Lets face it, fly shops are the backbone of the industry. Because we are not a retail business, we are not a direct threat. Instead, if someone likes a rod they rent and wants to purchase it, we encourage that customer to go back to their local fly shop, refer them to their nearest dealer by zip code, or refer them directly to the company’s website if they do not have dealers (ie, Tom Morgan Rodsmiths). As we move forward, we believe our platform can help generate revenue for fly-shops through utilizing Rent This Rod. This helps fly shops provide additional client rental services, through Rent This Rod, and lets them focus on the numerous other things they are trying to manage on a day to day basis.
- Sustainability. Renting gear, clothing, skis, boats etc. is a growing industry. Rent this Rod aims to help reduce, recycle and reuse. We can use the footprint that has already been created and ship directly to shops and stores across the country.
Our mission is really to grow the outdoor industry (specifically the fly-fishing community), add to the number of people getting outdoors and on the water while creating an enhanced experience for them, and create stronger conservation awareness in the process.
Are traveling anglers able to have rods sent to the destinations they are traveling to in order to cut back on the hassle of flying with gear?
We currently only ship rods/reels to clients who reside within the US (Alaska and Hawaii included). These clients then carry their rented gear to their destinations worldwide. Shipping gear internationally has drawbacks and added expenses – both monetarily and in time expense. Flying with gear is actually fairly routine and simple. With 4-piece rods packing down into 31” or shorter aluminum tubes, many carry-on sized pieces of luggage can accommodate them. We also recently started to offer Fishpond Dakota rod/reel travel cases for our customers who rent multiple rod and reel combos from us and who want a simple way to carry-on everything in one case!
What’s ahead for Rent This Rod?
We have many exciting things on the horizon. We are constantly exploring new ideas and figuring out how they can work. Ultimately, our vision is to be the leader in fly rod rentals worldwide. Anyone who fly-fishes knows that it is an addiction and a passion. We started this business because we love this and we love the natural world we live in. If we can get even one more person on the water and interested in fly fishing, we believe this venture was worth it.
Let’s face it, all businesses are competitive, we are too. However, we think Rent this Rod can be used by the industry to help grow it worldwide. We plan to expand into other areas where it makes sense and plan to bring on additional partners as we grow. We encourage anyone who might be interested in our services to reach out to us. Whether you are fly shop, travel agency or lodge, we can help enhance your services to your clients and create a win-win situation for everyone.
To learn more about Rent This Rod, please click here.