Orvis to buy Ross Reels and Scientific Anglers...


Active Member
Actually, 3M is a $72 billion company


Big enough to put their best and brightest on ensuring a continuing revenue stream from fly lines, no doubt!

I remember fishing Mantrap Lake, one of the best original Minnesota Muskie lakes, back in the day. 3M had an incredible place up there called Wonewok. I was a 3M employee when I was younger but never climbed high enough to make the guest list. Here's an old story.

And the local newspaper's take:


Active Member
This may or may not be true, but years ago I heard that 3M went into the fly fishing business because the CEO at the time was a flyfisher. It was a money loser, or at best, break even but it was his hobby. Also, one thing for sure, they produced one of the costliest videos ever made - the Lani Waller steelhead series. They were shot on film and it WAS, after all, steelhead!


And yes, Orvis will have a CFO click and pawl reel, fiberglass rods, H2 switch rod, Clearwater spey rod, zippered Silver Sonic waders and more.

And no cigars.


Active Member
The Fly Fishing for Trophy Steelhead series was awesome. Lani Waller seems like the definition of "Good Guy," and the way the video was produced, it seems like he hooks a big steelhead in every lie he fishes. Those of us who've been at the steelhead thing for a while should be able to appreciate how much footage came between those monsters, even with a guy like Lani doing the angling. Factor in the less than ideal accessibility of the rivers featured, and you've got yourself an expensive project, indeed.


Active Member
Interesting. I always wondered why a monster of a corporation stuck with a little market like flyfishing.

I hope sharkskin production and marketing continues....I love the line, though I have no idea whether its general popularity has declined. Personally, I think a lot of people have never tried it because of the almost never discounted price.
Leland is correct. SA was a labor of love due to 3M CEO's affinity for fly fishing.

Here's a stat I've heard several times. 3M sales of Ultrathon insect repellent annually outpace their sales of all fly fishing related products combined. There's something to wrap your mind around!

A couple of winters ago, I went on a day trip with my flyfishing club. I had placed two G-4's and my rain pants in the center console of my boat and was nearing the launch. The guy with me, for some unknown reason, pulled my rainpants out of the console and my two reels flew up into the air and in slow motion I watched them land on the pavement. It was my fault because I had not mounted them on a reel yet but that didn't help the anguish. One spool was bent beyond repair and the other had a huge ding in it. I sent the reel to Ross and asked if they could repair it at my cost. About ten days later I got the reel back with a new spool, no questions asked; no charge. Put that in your warranty KUDOs file. I was willing to pay for a repair or buy a new spool. That's why I love the Ross Reel Co. I was upset that they sold to 3M but now I am encouraged that they are being bought by Orvis.

When I bought my first Gunnison in 1991, the reel had just won the Kudo of the Year Award for the best fly reel made. Needless to say, I have gone back several times for more until they switched the design and drag in 1998. Now I look on e-bay and around for others but I think I have enough now to last my lifetime. I'll be passing them along in a few years.


Active Member
I wonder how many CEO's they have had that missed this fly fishing hobby thing since the 1970's and eighties. I was a member of the Paul Young Chapter in Michigan back then and one of the guys in the Chapter worked for the Midland Group. The Midland plant and facilities were responsible for fly fishing production - he used to come to the meetings and give (yep- GIVE) away reels and other SA stuff - I still have some of the smaller ones I used to chase Brookies back when gas was $.70 a gallon or $1.75 depending on the mood of some prince in a far-away land with aspirations of well, I don't really know what their aspirations were...
It will be interesting to see how this works out. Ross had the best customer service in the industry. Then 3M bought them and while the repair service was still great. Dealing with 3M instead of Ross personally was a real PITA. I wonder where Brad Befus, the Ross guru who went with 3M and moved from Colorado to Minnesota, will end up?
The continual musical chairs in the fly fishing industry is aways a bit of a soap opera. lol
My only experience with Scientific Anglers was that I worked for a company that used 3M adhesives on a large scale, and I had contact through the salesmen that called on us. I also purchased one of their reels and a couple of spools. Nice little reel but I have yet to figure out how to keep lube off the caliper brake. But that is another story.

I had occasion to call on them for a replacement foot when I dropped the reel and broke it off. They sent me one (Foot) gratis. I thought that was a nice touch.

Most of my reels have SA lines. Other than that, I am pretty much what ever strikes my fancy.


Well-Known Member
Leon Martuch, Clare Harris, and Paul Rotters formed Scientific Anglers in 1945. I always thought that Martuch was an officer of 3M, but I don't know that. SA introduced PVC coated fly lines in 1952, and introduced "Air Cell" lines in 1959 that used 3M technology in the form of micro balloons in the PVC mix for floatation that revolutionized the fly line industry.



drifting about
Today, SA makes lines for Orvis with the tapers and compounds defined by Orvis.

Orvis is known to discontinue reels and spare spools after two or three years. For a long time, Ross Reels was very good about making spare spools available (even if these were only in black).


Not to be confused with Freestone
Scientific Anglers being a subsidiary of 3M always seemed out of place so, in a way, this isn't too much of a surprise. The fact that Orvis would choose to purchase them when they have competing product lines certainly suggests they know the engineering, quality and following they still have.