Press Releases

New RBFF “Mystery Shopper” Study Provides Insights for Fly Fishing Retailers
Study Identifies Opportunities for Improvement in Customer Service and Fishing License Sales at Fly Fishing Retail Stores
RBFF and AFFTA Partner for Study
RBFF and AFFTA Partner for Fly Fishing Retail Customer Experience Assessment

ALEXANDRIA, VA (August 12, 2014) – The Recreational Boating & Fishing Foundation (RBFF) and the American Fly Fishing Trade Association (AFFTA) today announced the release of a new mystery shopper study that provides insights for fly fishing retailers. The study shows fly fishing retailers excel over general fishing retailers in certain areas and also identifies opportunities for improvement. The Retail Customer Experience Assessment: Fly Fishing, also known as the “Fly Fishing Mystery Shopper” Study, reveals fly fishing retail stores score an average 73 percent satisfaction rate for overall customer experience, a more than 10% increase over general fishing retail stores. The Fly Fishing Mystery Shopper Study was conducted to assess the current retail environment for beginning and experienced fly anglers, and to identify opportunities for improvement in customer service and fishing license sales.

“Our original Mystery Shopper study delivered great insights into the retail environment, and this niche report shows more specific and actionable results for an important segment of the fishing industry,” said RBFF President and CEO Frank Peterson. “This study should help fly fishing retailers see the incredible potential to improve the retail experience, leading to a more active and engaged customer base that will stay involved in the sport for years to come.”


  • In an effort to better prepare their customers, store associates asked shoppers to strongly consider taking an introductory fly fishing course before or in addition to the purchase of gear more frequently than general fishing retail stores.
  • Fly fishing retail stores are doing well at identifying the customers’ skill level. Seventy two percent of fly fishing retail stores asked questions to determine skill level, compared to only 45% of the general fishing retail stores.
  • Customer contact information was only collected at 10% of stores included in the study; a key piece of data when retaining and reactivating customers.

RBFF’s Mystery Shopper Study targeted big box and independent fly fishing specialty stores in the Northwest (Idaho, Oregon and Washington), Rockies (Colorado, Utah and Montana), Northeast (Maine, Massachusetts, Connecticut, New York, New Hampshire and New Jersey) and Southeast (Florida, Georgia, North Carolina and South Carolina). Stores were evaluated on first impressions, greetings, shoppers’ needs assessments, the overall sales process, closing the sale, product presentation and overall impressions. Shoppers represented all experience levels and consisted of three main customer groups: single females, Hispanics and traditional ‘non-Hispanic’ families.

“As one of AFFTA’s topline goals is to provide businesses with the tools needed for success, partnering with RBFF on this report has proved to be a great asset,” said AFFTA President, Ben Bulis. “The study provides a great overall grade of 73% for fly fishing retail stores, but also highlights areas for potential improvement.”   

The Fly Fishing Mystery Shopper Study identifies general recommendations to guide RBFF and its stakeholders in improving the overall retail customer experience. The full study, as well as the original, general boating and fishing retail Mystery Shopper Study, is available online in the Take Me Fishing Resource Center.


About the Recreational Boating & Fishing Foundation (RBFF)
RBFF is a nonprofit organization whose mission is to increase participation in recreational angling and boating, thereby protecting and restoring the nation’s aquatic natural resources. RBFF developed the award-winning Take Me Fishing™ campaign to create awareness around boating, fishing and conservation, and educate people about the benefits of participation. Take Me Fishing helps boaters and anglers of all ages and experience levels learn, plan and equip for a day on the water. The campaign website,, and its new Spanish-language counterpart,, feature how-to videos, information on how to get a fishing license and boat registration, and an interactive state-by-state map that allows visitors to find local boating and fishing spots.

About the Association of Fly Fishing Tackle Retailers (AFFTA)
AFFTA is the sole trade association which advocates for and promotes the sustained growth of the fly fishing industry. By igniting consumer demand for products and services, providing businesses the tools to be successful, and advocating for access, protection and restoration of fishing waters, we will continue to enhance the passion and profitability of the sport of fly fishing.

For further information: Stephanie Vatalaro, 703-778-5156,