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Why Start A Fly Fishing Brand? - Skwala Fishing

Why Start A Fly Fishing Brand?

Queue Talking Heads— “and you may ask yourself...”

Why start a new fly fishing brand?
What makes Skwala different?
What do we mean when we say Skwala gear is "built for end use?”
How do we build a better wader?
What’s are fourchettes and how can they improve your fishing experience?

When we started the concept for Skwala back in 2020, many would have thought the world didn’t need another fly fishing brand. But fly fishing isn’t about needs; it’s about irrational passion. Skwala emerged from a tight group of dedicated fly anglers who’ve helped lead some of the most innovative and successful outdoor gear companies in the market today. We knew we could build more comfortable, functional, fly fishing specific, clothing and outerwear. Since no one else seemed to be building gear that met our standards, we decided to do it ourselves. 

That’s the origin of Skwala in short, and our visionary founder and CEO, Kevin Sloan, has been telling this story and working to bring this idea to life for years. Now that it’s happening, Kevin still knows the most about what we do and how we got here—he’s the engine driving everything we do. 

Kevin recently told much of the Skwala story on the Wet Fly Swing podcast. Check that out on your next drive to the river or while you’re sitting at the vice. 

Hear about what makes our gear different and what it means to design apparel around angler experiences and needs. Learn the definition of “textiles” and geek out on the  properties of Merino wool. Find out how the people who make waders care for their waders, and why Skwala gear doesn’t fit the same as other fly fishing brands. If you can’t get enough, you can also check out the Fin and Fire podcast where Kevin and Jeff Mishner dive deep into the foundation behind the Skwala products.

In the meantime, however, let’s briefly answer a few of those questions. 

Why start a new fly fishing brand?
Because we’re all serious fly anglers who knew that fly fishing apparel could be better. Our small team has roots in brands like Sitka, Patagonia, Simms and Yeti. We know what quality, performance-designed apparel and gear looks, wears, and feels like. We also knew that the existing brands in fly fishing weren’t designing or building the best possible apparel given all the cutting-edge textiles available in the current market. We’re part of this community and culture, and we wanted to start a company by people who eat, sleep, and breathe this unique obsession. 

What makes Skwala different?
In short, just about everything. We build, market, sell, and support products in a completely different way than existing brands. Take our waders, for example. We don’t make “price-point” (industry speak for cheap), mid-grade, and top-tier waders. Our waders aren’t named according to an ascending number scale, so you know which is superior. There is no best wader in our line. Every product we make is designed and built to excel in a specific intended use. The same philosophy applies to everything that bears the Skwala label.

What do we mean when we say Skwala gear is "built for end use?” 
Every piece of Skwala gear solves a specific problem for fly anglers, and every detail is designed and constructed with those needs in mind. Look at the way we build hoods. We custom tailor the hood on every piece of apparel according to its use. Our sun-hoodies come with a unique “scuba” design which provides maximum sun protection for your head and neck without obscuring your field of vision. Our Fusion 3/2 Puffy comes with a shallower hood that retains heat in the head and neck but won’t stick out from under the hood of your RS Jacket in a rainstorm and absorb water. That same RS Jacket also features passthrough pockets that line up with the fleece lined hand warmers in your RS Waders. Imagine sliding your hands into preheated pockets after releasing that 38-inch winter steelhead. We put that level of thought into every detail on every product we make. 

Skwala Fishing Gear
How do we build a better wader? 
By continually questioning and evaluating wader design and performance. We didn’t feel like we were seeing a whole lot of innovation in the years leading up to our launch. Where do most waders fail? At the seams connecting the booties to the legs. We revised that intersection to improve long-term durability. What falls apart first? Traditional neoprene gravel guards. We ditched those and built bomber gravel gaiters. What’s the most annoying part of waders (besides leaks)? Getting in and out of them. We created a different fit, so our waders are both more form-fitting and effortless to put on and take off. What makes waders uncomfortable? Lack of breathability and restricted range of motion. We built our waders with more breathable textiles and invented a completely new leg design utilizing fourchettes (see next question), so our waders move with you rather requiring you to move inside them. Every element has been questioned, evaluated, and tested. 

What’s are fourchettes and how can they improve your fishing experience? 
Fourchette is the French word for fork, specifically a desert fork. It also refers to the strips of fabric sewn between the fingers of high-quality gloves that gives them their anatomical shape. Picture cheap gloves, the ones that are just two flat palm shapes sewn together. Now picture good ski gloves. They have strips of fabric running along the sides of every finger that add shape and increase your dexterity and range-of-motion. We redesigned the legs of fishing waders in a similar way. That’s one of the reasons our waders offer superior mobility and comfort. 

Irrational passion defines the act and culture of fly fishing. We fish because we love fishing, and that’s the same reason we started Skwala. We think anglers deserve better fly fishing specific apparel built, marketed, and sold by people just as obsessed with standing in a river waving a long stick as you are.

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