Tag Archives: barbless hooks

A Barbless Entrepreneur

Guest Blogger: Mike Cline, Bozeman, Montana

Fish hooks have been around for a long, long time. The basic form, function and design of the fish hook was settled centuries ago. Like knives, forks and spoons, there’s not a lot of room for revolutionary change. Probably the single most notable innovation was the addition of a looped “eye” to what were then call “irons” in the mid-19th century. Today, the fish hook is a global commodity with at least a dozen major manufacturers in Asia and Europe. Many of those brands, especially in Asia don’t even compete in the U.S. market where the likes of Eagle Claw, Mustad, Tiemco, Daiichi, Gamakatsu and others hold most of the market share. One would think that an entrepreneur investing in a new business wouldn’t chose fish hooks as their first product. However, recently I had the pleasure to meet one such entrepreneur—Joe Mathis of Firehole Outdoors in Bozeman, Montana.

Though the thoughtful consideration of Kate Vick, part of the J. Stockard brain trust, I was introduced to Joe Mathis over the holidays. J. Stockard had just become a Firehole Outdoors dealer and Kate thought Joe and I might like to meet. Unbeknownst to me, Joe and his wife Deb had lived just a few miles away in Bozeman for about as long I had. Although I’d seen Joe’s product in a few fly shops, I really knew nothing about this company called Firehole Outdoors. Joe and I agreed to meet and talk about fish hooks. I’ve talked with Joe many times since, but our first meeting was a real education for me and the story of Firehole Outdoors is an interesting one. more…