John Land Le Coq Interview

 
 
 

EXPERT Q&A: John Land Le Coq

 

The co-founder and creative mastermind of Fishpond on what it takes to build a lifestyle fishing brand, must-have gear, and the one that got away

By: WHITNEY JAMES

 

Photo Credits: John Land Le Coq | John Land Le Coq at Otter Creek Ranch

 
 

Q:

 

Your background in big-brand photography doesn’t scream fishing. Tell us about the inspiration behind Fishpond.

 
 

A:

Photography has always defined who I am, and it’s been an instigator in my involvement with product-based brands. I’ve shot on location in 72 different countries and connected with amazing people along the way, and its always been a ticket to go someplace interesting and filled with opportunities. Through my photography, I have learned to appreciate design and light as the focus of my career, thus the birth of my passion and interest in product design. After the sale of my first product-based business, Case Logic, Inc, I knew I wanted to get back to designing innovative products.  I bought a ranch on the western slope of Colorado and decided to focus my next endeavor on fly-fishing. Fishpond was born out of that.

 

"Photography has always defined the Fishpond brand."

 

 

For 17 years since we launched Fishpond,  its always been about a sense of place – not the fish, but where the fishing takes you. That’s why we don’t show photos of people holding or catching fish, but the beautiful places you go while enjoying the sport. What the angler experiences along the way is much more interesting than the fishing itself.

 
 
 
 

Q:

 

What makes Fishpond stand out?

 
 

A:

More than anything, it's all about innovation. The use of different materials, such as an industry first using 100% recycled nylon commercial fishing net for all of our new fabrics, which only enhances our creative product design, and our focus on functionality, quality, and style. We’ve always tried to lead the charge to differentiate within the industry and to really turn things upside down. An example of this is getting away from traditional khaki-colored gear. Instead, the heartbeat of our brand is defined by the use of great color and design, and photography that elevates the spirit. By doing this, Fishpond has reinvented the entire category.

 
 
 

Q:

 

Tell us about your ranch in the Colorado Rocky Mountains.

 
 

A:

I found this special place right beneath the Gore Range in the Colorado Rockies – Otter Creek Ranch. It’s an amazing little jewel and it serves as the headquarters of Fishpond. To me, it’s the inspiration behind everything at Fishpond as far as product development and design. There’s no hint of civilization at the ranch, and I find a certain harmony with that kind of spatial quality.

 
 
 

Q:

 

What is your favorite piece of Fishpond gear?

 
 

A:

We have over 165 products in our line, and each have a different purpose. But I’ve found in my life in general, I love simplicity – especially from a resource and consumerism standpoint. One of the best products in our line is the San Juan Vertical Chest Pack. It’s a simple pack that keeps you from bringing too much gear. I could fish anywhere in the world with that.

 
 
 
 

Q:

 

What’s the connection between fly-fishing and conservation?

 
 

A:

Conservation has become a primary focus at Fishpond. From the very beginning, I’ve designed all of our products and handled manufacturing with this in mind. As a water-based company, Fishpond sells to a demographic that really understands that habitat is critical for the health of our nation.  This has opened doors to political opportunities, like last year when I participated in a round table panel at the White House on the recreation economy. Take a state like Colorado where the population is focused on recreation. It’s one of the healthiest states in the country, and is attracting great business and talent because of the focus on the diverse playground in our backyard. It is our responsibility, as a company, to promote the values and importance of sustainability, and to do what we can to embrace the values of a clean and abundant water supply.

 
 

"Fish are simply an indicator species of a healthy habitat. They’ve become a metaphor for conservation. We talk about fish, but it’s way more than that."

 
 
 

Q:

 

If you could drop everything right now and hop on the next plane to fish uncharted waters, where would you go?

 
 

A:

I’m currently planning to take a trip to Bolivia with the editor of Trout Unlimited magazine, where we’ll work with the native indigenous people to focus on the environmental and humanistic aspects of fishing tourism. The idea is to save the rainforest by using the sport as a conduit to prevent the urbanization and destruction of the area. I’m becoming much more conscious of why we fish in certain places and what the experience is when we arrive. Fishing can change the world based on the people who take trips like this one – it’s beyond the fish you catch.

 
 
 

Q:

 

Why do you think Fishpond and Outside GO would make a good partnership?

 
 

A:

To me it’s all about people. Travel and fishing go hand in hand, and it’s about the individuals you meet along the way. I’m interested in being on trips where there are environmental and conservation aspects, but also simply to learn about other people. These special environments spark great thought and change in personal, social, and political ways. Travel is a conduit for introduction to so many things, and fishing is really just an opportunity to share ideas and attract the types of individuals who are searching for this. There are so many ways why people travel, but from a fly-fishing perspective, it’s about experiencing places that have beauty and value way beyond the fish.

 
 
 
 

Q:

 

Everyone has got a “one that got away” story. What's yours?

 
 

A:

I was on Henry's Fork in Idaho fishing late one evening several years ago on July 4. My two daughters, who were 12 and 14 years old at the time, stayed in the truck because of all the mosquitoes. They were upset I was out fishing at dusk because they might miss the fireworks. It was some of the best fishing of my life, and I caught this trout – the largest one I’ve ever caught, during a Brown Drake hatch– and I look up to the butte to see my truck start up and disappear over the horizon. Out of apparent boredom, my girls decided to take a joy ride. I knew I had to get across the river with this fish and try to stop them from getting away.

In the process, the fish came off. But at least I caught the girls.

 
 
 

 

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John Land Le Coq Interview

 
 

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