Aloof aims to shine a light on the best brands and companies operating in the independent market right now, from all over the world. Those under the radar of the wider consciousness but with great stories to tell and a unique perspective on the nuts and bolts of building a brand.
We stumbled upon Yodel Fishing Club through Outdoor Wear Magazine and the cartoon fish logo got us hooked (pardon the pun) on the idea of finding out more. Over the course of the interview we talk about the influence of being an Oregonian, modernising fishing for the next generation and landing a tiddler.
Aloof Studio (AS): Could you introduce yourself and tell us a little bit about what you do?
David Fitz (DF): My name is David Fitz and I run Yodel Fishing Club, which is essentially a culmination of my shared experiences fishing, camping and exploring the outdoors from my childhood until now. The concept is to tell these stories, hence the name “Yodel”, and reinterpret the memories through a playful approach in our products. I believe the outdoors and the stories you accumulate are worth sharing. Our slogan Tales from the outdoors. ™️ is centred on the storytelling commonly associated amongst anglers and stands as an open invite to anyone who has a story to tell from their time spent outside.
AS: Your Instagram bio says you’ve been around since 1985, can you give us a run down of what you’ve been up to in the last 35 years?
DF: As the project is centred around my experiences fishing, I used my birth year (1985) as the starting point. Maybe the founding date is slightly exaggerated, but fishermen do have a tendency to stretch the truth!
The reality is, I set this project in motion earlier in 2020 after considering the idea over the last few years. With the recent lockdown, it forced many of us to slow down, I took the opportunity to reset and make use of the outdoors as it was the only means available for recreation. I think this was the case for many others too, as they got back to enjoying the outdoors, removed from the usual daily distractions. This quieter time mirrored the feeling I have when fishing on the river and I wanted to share this- I hope others will want to experience it on their own as a result.
AS: You grew up in Oregon, which has an incredibly proud outdoor sports heritage. Do you feel like Oregon informed your view on clothing being purpose built for its use?
DF: I grew up in Oregon and fortunately had endless opportunities to travel throughout the state. When you have spent time there and experienced the diverse climate Oregon has to offer, you quickly understand how nature directly informs the requirements of your products. I don’t think I gave it much thought early on though, what I wore would function and was simply part of my daily wear. Why would you pick something that doesn’t work? Anything superfluous was quite odd to me. My base for creating any product is very much engrained in these experiences.
That’s not to say that you can’t have fun with creating new products and deliver something different. But the starting point should be to address a problem or offer a solution to the user. My goal with Yodel is to reimagine the classic pieces I used in my early years fishing and offer a different take on them without compromising the original intent.
AS: Every fisherman has a story about their biggest battle landing a fish. What’s yours?
One story I'm fond of was the first fish I caught with a fly that I'd tied. When I started fly fishing I must have been around 8 or 9, and I immediately took up tying my own flies as well. Learning from my dad but with a “little” less patience and a lot more “creativity”, I would tie my own version of the flies he was making. We had planned a weekend trip at Hosmer Lake in Eastern Oregon. When you can tolerate the mosquitoes that take flight every evening on the water, the Brook Trout and landlocked Atlantic Salmon start rising like popcorn and make for some really fun dry fly fishing. Using the flies tied the day before, my dad was catching on seemingly every cast. Whilst I, stuck in my stubborn ways- my makeshift Blue Dunn fly better resembled the remnants of a bird’s nest than a bug- continued to cast with no luck. It wasn’t until nearly dark, and what I could only imagine was a trout going for an actual fly near mine, managed to ingest my hook in the process and the fish was on! It was tiny and frankly a disappointing catch, but I found it fascinating that the fish had taken to a fly I'd created. I think this is where fly fishing went from a trial to a lifelong interest that I would continuously participate in.
AS: The only place to find your gear online in the EU is FifteenSixteen (MDXVI). Can you speak on that relationship and why Yodel doesn’t have its own website?
DF: I’m just taking it one step at a time. Our audience is small at the moment, so to make the brand more visible the collection is offered through FifteenSixteen (MDXVI), where it can sit alongside brands sharing a similar ethos to ourselves, as well as reaching their followers who may be interested in what we offer. We will eventually have a website and are currently working on getting some items accessible in the US. In the meantime, we want to continue collecting inspiration, sharing stories and engaging with those who are interested in what we do.
AS: There are some brands coming out of Japan like Nanamica and South2West8 that are run by keen fishermen, or the clothes themselves are inspired by fishing. Do you see fishing clothing as a trend that’ll develop over the next few years into the mainstream?
DF: I think the interest in this sector will definitely grow. As a whole, the outdoor wear market continues to flourish, with people keen to focus on specific activities that they can participate in. Whether it's fishing, hiking or bird watching, the more involved you become, the closer you are drawn to the unique apparel and gear that’s created around these activities. Hopefully, the influence of fishing on fashion develops beyond a trend. Fishing apparel is very utilitarian, there's real value to the product when this approach is taken into the creation process- it focuses on sustainability, longevity and functionality. These traits are reasons to buy, shifting consumers’ buying behaviour towards better products.
AS: Fishing has a unique community in the way that people can instantly bond over their hobby. When you set out with Yodel, did you run ideas past other anglers for feedback in product development?
DF: Honestly, not too much at this stage. If anything, I’ve involved a few friends who don’t fish but come from creative backgrounds, to get their understanding on how it’s perceived from the outside and what intrigues them about the sport. I want to surprise the fishing community, present something that has not been previously considered and have them question what’s going on. That’s not to say we won’t get products on fishermen for testing, it needs to be done to help sharpen our offer, refine the end result and keep the focus on functional fishing wear. I just want to change the stage where we involve the avid anglers to open up more possibilities.
AS: A rewarding part of fishing is the preparation and cooking of the catch. Have you got any favourite recipes you frequently dig out after a day on the water?
DF: It’s hard to beat a pan-fried trout with a little butter, lemon, salt & pepper. Add a little flour to the skin to get it nice and crispy. It’s so simple and yet so good.
AS: What’s next for Yodel?
DF: I want to continue pushing the perspective on how people view angling, by taking classic styles from apparel or accessories and updating them to be more in line with modern needs. We are currently working on an outerwear piece that reimagines a classic silhouette, as well as exploring some accessories. But, like my favourite fishing spot, I'm keeping the details quiet...