Fly fishing pro and casting instructor Bob Nasby, left, of St. Paul, has long been an adviser to and tester of 3M fly lines. Here he's fishing with his grandson, Bobby McGraw, on the Upper St. Croix River.


The Orvis Company of Manchester, Vt., is buying Scientific Anglers and Ross Reels from 3M, Orvis announced today.

Orvis will  continue to operate the Midland, Mich., based business independently under the Scientific Anglers brand. Ross Reels will also continue to operate independently under its brand name from Montrose, Colo.

The transaction is expected to be completed in the second quarter. Terms of the transaction were not disclosed.

Scientific Anglers always has been a bit of an odd fit for 3M. But it endeared itself to many of the company's fly-fishing executives over the years. Many have been the tales from the old days when 3M execs directed one of the company's jets toward West Yellowstone or another far-off destination to "test'' products.

But the business had a serious side. 3M had the chemists and other scientists that allowed it to develop new fly lines that ultimately were easier to cast, floated higher in the water and dried quicker. The Scientific Anglers brand is known worldwide.

"Our goal is for Scientific Anglers to be the world leader in fly lines, leaders and tippet, and for Ross to be the leading innovator in American-made fly reels," said Jim Lepage, newly appointed President of both businesses. "We plan to maintain strong investment in R&D at both businesses and we intend to bolster their sales and distribution resources here in the U.S. and build both brands internationally."

"We think both businesses have incredible opportunities to drive fly-fishing innovation well into the future," said David Perkins, Orvis Executive Vice Chairman. "Jim Lepage will move to Midland and from there he will be dedicated to running both S.A. and Ross. He and the excellent teams already in place will build these strong brands for the future. Neither consumers nor the trade will likely notice much of a difference in the branding of these fine businesses under Orvis ownership. What they will notice is renewed marketing energy, well-supported sales and service staff and an even higher level of new product innovation."

Interestingly, Orvis will not carry Scientific Anglers-brand fly lines in its catalog, stores or website, nor are there plans to more widely distribute Orvis products through S.A.'s established wholesale accounts. "Each brand must remain focused on being the leading innovator in their respective product categories and distribution channels," Lepage said. "Maintaining that clarity will be the key to our success."

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