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May 03, 23


What brought you into fishing? And into Yellow Dog?

I grew up in the Midwest in a family of pretty dedicated conventional anglers that spent a lot of time in both fresh and saltwater. I was out fishing one day as a young kid when I noticed another angler on the river whipping a rod back and forth with a fly on the end, and immediately wanted to give it a shot. I got my first fly rod the next Christmas from my grandfather and it was all kind of downhill from there.

After attending college at the University of Montana in Missoula where I basically spent as much time out of class and on the water as I could get away with, I made the move over to Bozeman to work for Yellow Dog with Jim and Ian. At the time we were quite a bit smaller of a company and there were only four of us in the office, but those first few years really laid the ground work and understanding for me in the fly fishing industry.

You’re Yellow Dog’s Director of Sales. Walk us through a day in the life of Tom Melvin.

The best thing about it is that every day is something different. I still oversee and manage our Alaska, Kamchatka and Iceland programs here in the office, but I also get the opportunity to work alongside every member of our sales team. We have always said that our greatest asset at Yellow Dog is the team we have here, and I am really lucky to be able to work on a daily basis with every one of our team members. We get some pretty random things that come up on a daily basis, but it definitely makes it an interesting work environment and dynamic.

You’ve had the opportunity to travel the world, rod in hand. What’s your favorite location so far?

That’s a really good question, and I would have to agree with Doug McKnight that I always tell people it is the next one. I have been able to see quite a few places in our lineup over the past few years at Yellow Dog which has been incredible, but I always get excited to head somewhere new, see a different location and meet new people. It’s hard to pick just one when there are some many amazing places to experience.

We all end up eating some weird local food on the road. You’ve got to have some stories…

I have actually gotten by and been pretty lucky up to this point, but if I had to say one thing that was a little different it would have to be puffin in Iceland. They eat quite a bit of it over there and I had to give it a shot. I did a month-long road trip through Mexico with Yellow Dog’s Shaun Lawson a couple of years back when neither of us knew any Spanish, and we have some pretty funny stories that came out of that trip on things we ate each day.

The fly-fishing industry is changing rapidly. What’s one movement or trend you’ve been excited to see emerge?

Lodges or outfitters building programs that benefit local communities and focus on conservation. Oliver White and Costa Sunglasses have a new project called the Indifly Foundation that is establishing fishing programs in very remote, low income indigenous communities around the world. The entire program benefits the community and focuses on sustaining resources.  

What’s the one fly you always make sure is in your box?

Any leech pattern or simple marabou streamer for freshwater, Gotcha’s and simple baitfish patterns for the salt. Any bug that Dougy Fresh churns off the vise is always going to be a winner.  

Favorite species, and why?

That is another tough one as well. I can pretty much get excited for any species, just depends on where you are that day and what they are feeding on. If I had one final day on the water, I would probably want to chase big trout or steelhead, or laid-up tarpon in the saltwater.

You can only bring five items on a trip. What makes the cut?

- Good books
- Lots of music, waterproof speaker and an extra pair of headphones
- Quality camera
- Tape or super glue because at some point you are going to have to put something back together (rods, finger cuts, broken tripods, head gashes etc. Things happen)
- Quality rain gear or waders

If you could tell a new traveler one thing, what would it be?

Try to enjoy the little things about the trip just as much as you do the fishing aspect of your travel. We always try and convey to anglers that the fishing is only one small part of the trip, and if you enjoy the ride and where it takes you it will amount to an even better experience. 

So what’s next—what’s on the docket for 2016?

We are just heading in to the consumer show tour for 2016, so I will be attending quite a few different venues and working in the Yellow Dog booth with traveling anglers. I have a few exploratory trips lined up to places I want to check out and get a read on, so we will see where it goes from there!