Company uses local employees, rivers to make their reels.
They built the first mass-marketable fly reels back in 1973, and many of those first reels can still be found on America’s best rivers. Ross Reels is highly respected in the fly fishing industry for both its longevity and legendary quality, and the reels just so happen to be manufactured, tested and shipped from southwestern Colorado.
“Ross is a hyper-local company,” Chief Operating Officer Tony Lugard said. “The passion has been to keep everything in Colorado, not only the U.S.A.”
Based in Montrose for the last 30 years, Ross Reels has shipped some 600,000 fly reels over the course of its 41 years of existence. After recent stints under the ownership of 3M and Orvis scattered some of their operations away from Montrose, Mayfly Group bought Ross at the beginning of 2014 and brought everything back to the region.
Lugard said making sure their product is up to their standards necessitates having manufacturing close to home.
“We want to manufacture a high-quality product and keep it at an economical price for consumers,” he said. “Manufacturing in Montrose allows us to control specifications and ensure our U.S.A. team is employed.”
Ross Reels employs around 24 staffers, and most stay at the company for many years, according to Lugard.
Their regional flair can be found in the names of their reels, like the Gunnison and the Animas, named for nearby rivers that shaped the development of the particular products.
In fact, the first Animas reels were shipped this winter, with the first reel in that model sold at outfitter Telluride Outside during Telluride’s Noel Night in early December.
“Basically my entire team lives in Montrose or within this region,” Lugard said. “It makes sense to test our products on these waters, our local haunts.”
The company uses local fishing guides and an internal testing team to make sure each new design is up to their level of quality. A lifetime warranty on their products is valued by customers, although Lugard said it is typically never needed.
“We have highly skilled technicians here, but also a low rate of return on our products,” Lugard said.
Ross Reels uses its place as an industry leader to advocate for conservation and the environment. Ross Reels contributes 10 percent of each sale to the Sport Fish and Wildlife Restoration Program and also partners with Trout Unlimited and the International Game Fish Association, among other organizations.
“We value the health of the water and the health of the environment,” Lugard said. “It’s what we make our living from.”
“As agricultural stewards our intention is to leave the land better when we finish with it than when we came into it,” he added.
Ross Reels’ range of products, not just reels, fulfills the needs of most every type of fly fisherman, whether it’s accessibility and affordability for a beginner, durability and ease of use for a working guide, or precision and extreme quality for experts.
Ross Reels has all of their operations, including manufacturing, sales and customer service at their Montrose facility, and their products are available at most regional outfitters.