Interview with Ben Kurtz
As a Colorado Native, Ben gained an appreciation for fly fishing at an early age. After graduating college, Ben first stepped in the industry as a fly fishing guide in the Vail Valley. Shortly thereafter, Ben began his career at Fishpond (@fishpondusa). Initially, he started out assisting his current business partner, John Le Coq, with design and business development. In 2012, the Kurtz family joined Fishpond with Ben as the President. He has been an integral part of the company. Ben spearheaded Fishpond’s BCorp certification as well as the brand’s commitment to utilizing recycled materials in the products, packing, and shipping. Ben previously served on the board of AFFTA and currently serves on the American Rivers Colorado River Council. Fishpond has a passion for creating products that stretch the boundaries of traditional product design and set new standards for functionality. With their roots firmly planted in their core fishing market, they have expanded their portfolio of products to include the outdoor adventure travel and lifestyle segments.
Rapid Fire Questions
What types of fly fishing experiences do you enjoy?
“Really, all of the above. Even the punishing ones. The trips that I enjoy the most have a rich cultural element. I love to be spoiled on trips, but I also like going off on my own and roughing it. The trips where you immerse yourself in the local culture and figure it out on your own I tend to gravitate to.”
If you had a post-fishing cocktail named after you, what would it be?
“It would definitely have mescal with lime, soda, and some sort of bitters. I think a good name for it would be ‘Licking Your Wounds.'”
What are a few pieces of gear that you never leave home without?
“Our Thunderhead Submersible Backpack- that’s my go-to bag for anything. I bring that on the boat every day anywhere I am in the world. The Dakota Carry-On Case is another piece of luggage I don’t leave home without. When I recently went down to Belize I had seven rods, reels, board shorts, and more stuffed in there. It was perfect for carrying my “must-have” items.”
Why Fishpond for fly fishing destination travel?
“Fishpond was born out of the necessity to figure out how to better and more efficiently utilize gear. We can find the niches out there to really discover the specifics that are necessary for the traveling angler. We know that we may not sell a ton of each individual product, but it’s going to be the best.
It also comes down to the real-world experiences of our team traveling. I honestly never check a bag and I’ll be gone for a week! So, we work on finding the systems and setups to get your gear to the destination safely in the best way possible. This is what Fishpond does – we just focus on what we know and what our core is and we like to think we do it better than others. Fly fishing travel for Fishpond is in our DNA. We are trying to reinvent the equation of how the traveling angler should be and how they travel.”
What is one of your greatest fly fishing travel memories?
“I went to Turneffe Island Resort for our honeymoon with my wife last year. On the first day and on the first cast I landed a permit around 8:00 AM. It was the first time I ever cast to a permit – it was just a dumb happy one! I thought we were going to bang the shit out of them, but we had somewhat of a challenging trip after that with the weather.”
What are Your Favorite Fly Fishing Destinations?
“For a freshwater destination, I think Argentina is the coolest country with a ton of culture and unique fisheries. I love the guacho lifestyle! As far as saltwater Cuba was the best experience that I had. The diversity of the fishery and what you can get into on a given day is spectacular. You can pop back into mangroves where you’re catching tarpon and not see anyone else out there. It’s total isolation. To be actually off the grid for six nights and to be in a spot in this day in age where you don’t have internet access or cell service is special. I enjoyed shutting down and having dinner together with people that were 100% present and not on their phones – not checking on anything else.”
What are trips that are on your bucket list?
“The French Polynesia is somewhere I’d love to go. I recently had a friend who went on the trip and said it was a wonderful cultural experience. That’s super high up. I’d also like to check out the Pyrenees Mountains in Europe. I believe the fishing can be pretty lights out – in addition to the culture, the food, and landscape.”
Why Fly Fishing Destination Travel?
“I think for me I’m fortunate my wife fishes too so it’s not as hard for me to pull away. It’s the places that take you to different environments that you would otherwise not visit. For example, would I otherwise go to Venice, Louisiana to hang out? It’s a way to explore the world and learn. Every destination is different. You’re learning about different fisheries and how they interact in different environments. I love the culture and learning about their way of life, and food. It really broadens your horizon on the way you conceptualize the world while still having a fun time fishing.”
What's New with Fishpond?
“We just released our new Thunderhead line which is all waterproof packs and luggage. We have revised that line for this season and we’re using recycled polyester/recycled water bottles. We’re also using a U.S.-made zipper manufacturer that is very superior so we can keep our packs watertight, which is super relevant for the traveling angler!”