The History Of Orvis Fishing Tackle

The History Of Orvis Fishing Tackle

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History Of Orvis

Orvis is a family-owned retail and mail-order business specialising in high-end fishing, hunting and sporting goods. Founded in Manchester, Vermont in 1856 by Charles F. Orvis to sell fishing tackle, the company has changed hands only twice and has had only five CEOs in its 150-year history.

Orvis Fly Fishing Tackle

Charles F. Orvis opened a tackle shop in Manchester, Vermont, in 1856. His 1874 fly reel was described by reel historian Jim Brown as the “benchmark of American reel design,” the first fully modern fly reel.  His elegantly printed tackle catalogue distributed to a small but devoted customer list in the late 19th century, were the early forerunners of today’s enormous direct-mail outdoor products industry.  Charles’s daughter, Mary Orvis Marbury, took charge of the Orvis fly department in the 1870s. By 1892, when she published a milestone encyclopedic reference book on fly patterns–Favorite Flies and Their Histories, Orvis had emerged as the country’s foremost arbiter of fly-pattern authenticity and style.

Following Charles’s death in 1915, sons Albert and Robert managed the company until the 1930s, when it essentially collapsed during the Depression. .Under Perkins and Jordan’s successor as chief rod builder, Howard Steere, Orvis became the world’s largest and most versatile manufacturer of high-quality fly rods and reels.  In 1989, Tom Peters, author of In Search of Excellence, named the Orvis fly rod one of the five best products made in the United States in the 1980s.

Through its fishing and shooting schools and growing network of retailers, Orvis became a leading force in marketing the traditions and activities associated with the broader country lifestyle of which fly fishing was just one part. Historian Kenneth Cameron has written that Perkins’ accomplishment was to “define the look of contemporary fly fishing and the entire social universe in which it fits, no small achievement.”

Charles Orvis and Mary Orvis Marbury have been inducted into the Fly Fishing Hall of Fame. Among their successors at Orvis, Dudley Corkran, Wes Jordan, Leigh Perkins, and Howard Steere could all be regarded as legitimate candidates for eventual induction.

Today, Orvis has published a multitude of instructional books and Podcasts, most often published or written by fly fishing mentor Tom Rosenbauer who has been with the company for over 30 years.


Orvis Clearwater Fly Rods – Each size is tailored to have the best action suitable for that line weight.  Built with a significant upgarde in reel seat and cosmetics, these rods will revolutionise performance for price.

Orvis Encounter Fly Rods are the best starter rod, reel and line outfits. They are also fantastic value and are perfect for anglers of all ages who are just starting out in fly fishing. These perfectly balanced outfits are built to Orvis’ exacting specifications and are designed to make fly fishing as easy as possible.

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Orvis Fly Reels have been on the market for a long time and are made to a high standard to enhance your casting ability.

Orvis Hydros Trout Fly Reels are designed for superb performance and stopping power. A true large arbor game reel on the market that carries this disc drag performance at a great price.

Other fishing reels include the Orvis Battenkill Disc Reel and the Orvis Battenkill S&P Reel

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Whether you’re after Bluefin tuna or brook trout, Orvis Dacron backing or low diameter Orvis Gel Spun will help you succeed. Choose the lengths and colours to make sure you’re always in the game.

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Orvis Super Strong Leaders are preferred for standard dry fly fishing, for smaller nymph fishing in broken water, and for fly fishing with small streamer patterns.


Orvis Tools & Gadgets – Orvis have assembled a collection of must-have tools and gadgets, all designed to make your day on the water more productive – and more fun. These include the Orvis Durable Stripping Basket to the Orvis Saltwater Pliers.

Orvis Nipper & Zingers – Keep your essentials close by with quality zingers and never worry about losing another tool when on the water. These include the Orvis Wire Cord Zinger to the Orvis Ergonomic Snips.

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Discover our entire Orvis Fly Fishing Tackle range »


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