The New Fly Fisher

Tom Rosenbauer: Profiling the Face of Orvis

Take a closer look at the man who remains the face of the vaunted Orvis brand: Tom Rosenbauer.

If you've ever been a part of the fly fishing crowd then you've heard of the esteemed Orvis brand. At some point the name of one Tom Rosenbauer has come up, and for good reason. Like many of us, Tom grew up near a creek that had at least one or two fish swimming in it, and decided, like we all did, that he had to catch one of those.

We're not trying to put words into anyone's mouth, it's just that anglers like Tom Rosenbauer are born as much as they are bred and we're no different. For every one of us who lived near a creek, river, or lake, (or in my case, the Erie Canal), growing up to be a flyfisherman like Tom was all we ever wanted.

If you read his story as penned by his friend Paul Ferson, you will immediately think that this esteemed, lifelong member of the Orvis fly fishing community is a rather regular guy. A devoted father and dog owner, the avid fly fishing guru and author has long since become the face of a company that just seems to want everyone to be a better fisherman or woman.

That's how Tom Rosenbauer seems to like it.

The Fly Fishing Guru

As he told Multi Channel Merchant way back in 2001, the Rochester, New York native was selling his own hand-tied flies when he was 14. He got his first post-college job at a tackle shop in Syracuse and then went on from there to a start at Orvis by moving "from the retail store, to fishing and shooting instructor, to PR director, to catalog manager."

He has been with Orvis for over 30 years and is the current host of the Orvis Fly Fishing Podcasts. Rosenbauer has served as a fishing school instructor, copywriter, public relations director, merchandise manager, and was editor of The Orvis News for 10 years.

Over these many years he has had the privilege of fly fishing extensively across North America, the fabled Christmas Island, the Bahamas, Kamchatka, and the famous English chalk streams. His amazing credits include bringing Bead-Head flies to North America and being the inventor of the Big Eye hook, the Magnetic Net Retriever, and establishing the use of tungsten beads for fly tying.

Rosenbauer has written extensively on the subject, too. These are his 10 published fly fishing books to date:

  • The Orvis Fly-Fishing Guide
  • Reading Trout Streams
  • Prospecting for Trout
  • Casting Illusions
  • Fly-Fishing in America
  • Approach and Presentation
  • Trout Foods and Their Imitations
  • The Orvis Pocket Guide to Nymphing Techniques: Flies, Indicators, and Strategies
  • The Orvis Guide to Dry-Fly Techniques
  • The Orvis Fly-Tying Guide

When Rosenbauer was listed by Orvis as Fly Rod & Reel magazine's 2011 Angler of the Year, they said, "People who meet him know this: Rosenbauer is as valid a fly fisherman as they come - honest, approachable, generous, dedicated, and enthusiastic. It's that kind of enthusiasm and the written and verbal legacy he is providing that make Tom Rosenbauer Fly Rod & Reel's 2011 Angler of the Year."

The Orvis Company

By all accounts, Tom Rosenbauer embraces being "the face of Orvis" with all his heart. With his presence, the company has become a major brand for anyone at any point on their fly fishing journey.

Orvis, of course, has a long history. It was Charles F. Orvis who founded the company in Manchester, Vermont in 1856, where it still resides today. Although privately owned by the Perkins family since 1965, Orvis remains headquartered in Vermont with other qualified operations in Roanoke, Virginia and the United Kingdom.

Even though high-level fly fishing is at the core of what they do, they are still quite adept at reaching the common angler of every skill level. That's largely thanks to men like Tom Rosenbauer.

Instructor Extraordinaire

Rosenbauer also hosts video content on the YouTube channel "The New Fly Fisher" doing, you guessed it, introductory fly instruction.

For fly fishers that target steelhead, bonefish, or even carp for that matter, angling has never been as easy to learn from such a likeable teacher as it is since Orvis introduced us to Tom Rosenbauer.

He's guiding people to learn the importance of the world's clear water fishery, showing how appealing small stream fishing can be, and filling every fly box with wooly buggers, nymphs, and dry flies to help them catch more fish. Tom is instrumental in advancing the conversation and made fly fishing the household name that it is today. And for freshwater and saltwater anglers looking to advance themselves, it made all of the difference.

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