A collaborative project working to build the most functional, innovative, sustainable, and durable fly fishing apparel.
SY Design has worked together with the incredible people who are part of the fly fishing team at Patagonia since 2012. It took a hearty six month process of making sure that we could not only design to meet their exacting standards, but also needed to cast accurately to 40 feet and fly fish alongside Yvon Chouinard himself. We worked together with guides, retailers, and the team at Patagonia to help launch their women's fly fishing line. As part of that process we created the Women's Spring River fishing waders, and a small assortment of technical fishing gear that continues to evolve each season. The products are user driven and we constantly solicit feedback from the field. Life is work, work is life, it's a good thing.
Sometimes building product is a story in itself.
In 2012 when I met with the Patagonia team for the first time, it was on the river in Idaho during one of their Fish Dealer Camps. It was my first time to meet Yvon Chouinard, and I knew I would have to fly fish with him as well. No pressure at all. Sometimes things just magically come together and that is the best way I can describe what happened on that trip. Late in the afternoon Yvon came over to me and asked if I would come down to the river with him to try out his Tenkara rod. Tenkara was brand new to me and I was both eager and nervous to give it a try.
Wearing a skirt over jeans and some barefoot shoes, I headed with him through the brush down to the river. He immediately climbed over the large rocks in what appeared to be my first test, there was no way he was going to lose me at the rocks! When we arrived at the river it was windy, the light was flat, and the water didn't really look that great for fishing. He insisted that Tenkara was so easy I'd be sure to catch something in a matter of minutes. He has his own way of tying on the fly and dropper, that I now know many won't use because it's prone to tangling until you get the hang of it. It would have been helpful to know that up front. After only a couple of casts, nervous as hell, I get the largest birds nest known to mankind in his line. The two flies appear to have had an epic battle with each other and I am resigning myself to the fact that this is likely my first and last meeting with Patagonia. Yvon calmly walks away, sitting off in the distance acting as if nothing happened. Meanwhile I go to work trying frantically to untangle the snarly mess. It could have been two minutes or ten, I lost all track of time, I was sweating, swearing and hoping to hell that I could get them untangled without having to cut off the whole set up. Then, nearly miraculously, they were once again untangled, playing nice with each other, and ready to be casted into the river again. Whew!
Shortly afterwards, he came back over and indicated we should head upriver to another spot that he knew. We jumped a fence and then he had me cast just above where had crossed and let it drift down, suddenly the planets aligned and I felt a tug! It wasn't just a tug but it was a good sized Rainbow Trout and it took off downriver below the fence line that we had just climbed over. If you haven't tried Tenkara, there is no reel, just a fixed amount of line. In order to land a larger fish you have to move with it until it calms enough to hand-over-hand it into shore. I looked at him and the fence and asked, "what should I do?" He told me that I had better jump that fence so I didn't break off his rod! In my skirt and my barefoot shoes with the rod in hand and the fish on, I flew over that fence so fast (he said, "like a rodeo clown!") determined not to break his rod and to land that fish! The light was so flat that I couldn't see the line to grab it, so I placed the rod behind me on the ground and accidentally collapsed it one segment at a time until I could reach the line. Upon seeing that Yvon said, "Wow, that was brilliant! I've never done that before." Well, me neither, but it worked I landed that fish, and that client!