Leather suspenders, a wool button-down shirt, khakis, a beige bucket hat and a wicker fish basket. With the addition of a rod and reel, this is the stereotypical uniform of a fly fisherman channeling “A River Runs Through It.” Unless you’re Taylor Barlow or Levi Gephart, owners of Mondo Fly Fishing.
“I was tired of being spoon-fed a narrative about what fly fishing is, what fly fishing isn’t and what fly fishing must never become,” said Taylor. “I’ve watched a lot of people get turned off by the stuffy exclusive vibe that flows through this industry. I wanted to craft a more inclusive narrative while bringing sick gear to the people on the periphery of the sport.”
And sick gear he delivered.
Mondo Fly Fishing fuses art and color into high performance rods and reels, without the premium price. Taylor and Levi regularly collaborate with artists, designers and photographers to keep their gear unique and expressive, but their product offerings don’t stop at casting equipment. In addition to their “dead sexy” purple flow cannon, Levi’s current favorite product is a shirt featuring a guy in a drift boat, relaxed and enjoying a sunset, at one with the environment around him.
“We didn’t try to reinvent the wheel,” said Levi. “What we did instead was create vivid colors and a line that’s more welcoming to somebody who wants a custom feel for the equipment they’re using.”
Engaging customers through vibrant product is only a fraction of what the Mondo team does. Last spring, Taylor and Levi held the first Mondo campout with friends and even strangers who wanted to experience fly fishing. In a similarly laid-back environment, Mondo hosts an “Iron Fly” event where people are invited to learn how to tie flies in a bar-like atmosphere.
“We’re less focused on the sport and more focused on the good time,” said Taylor. “Our mantra is ‘less egos, more amigos.’”
Levi, Taylor and dedicated Mondo customers agree: fly fishing is more than stodgy stereotypes.
“Getting out and doing things, being engaged in your surroundings, it makes people come alive,” said Levi. “There’s more to life than just sitting around and doing mundane day-to-day work, and fly fishing is part of that. Fly fishing saves lives.”