Have you ever wondered what it's like working for one of the fishing industry's most successful brands? Meet Howard Croston - Hardy Brand Manager.
How long have you been fishing?
Twenty eight years altogether. My first fishing experience was with a float and worm in the English Lake District but I quickly moved on to fly fishing with the same glass spinning rod I used to float fish - I can still remember it as it was bright yellow!
The fly fishing bug bit me the day I realised it could be more effective than using bait and I also discovered I loved to fly cast almost as much as the fishing part. Luckily I spent weekends and summers away at my parents holiday home next to a wild Trout river and that grounding fishing for spooky wild fish set me up for the rest of my angling career. I'm very proud to say I have fished around the world for everything from Hammerhead Sharks Tarpon Permit Bonefish Atlantic and Pacific Salmon Steelhead Pike and just about everything in between.
With all that taken into account any kind of sight fishing where you actually see the fish accept the fly is what drives me but I have a particular weak spot for Tarpon and Grayling.
What do you love most about angling?
The places it has taken me. I have been very lucky to stand in some of the most beautiful and awe inspiring places on earth with a fly rod in hand and quite often in the company of good friends. I also love the thrill of competition either in a major event like a World Fly Fishing Championships or simply the competition between angler and quarry. In April 2013 I caught a huge Venezuelan Permit whilst wading on the Flats of Los Rouques - it took me 13 years of chasing to land that particular fish on light fly tackle in one of the most beautiful locations of earth and luckily in the company of good friends - it's sometimes hard to quantify why we fish but for me that about sums it up.
What's the funniest thing that's happened to you while angling?
There have been a few incidents over the years. I did once fall off the front of a Panga whilst chasing a particularly hard fighting fish that was trying to empty my reel of all backing - moon walking into 25ft of water from a casting platform 5ft above water level wasn't my finest moment and I did once hook play and land an old AK47 assault rifle in a river close to the North Korean Border - it took a black gold head but didn't fight all that well...
What item of fishing tackle could you not do without and why?
My Zenith 9ft #3 - I use it for all my dry fly and sight nymph fishing when purely out on a pleasure day. I switch to my 10ft Zeniths for competition angling.
What does your role at Hardy involve?
After eleven years in charge of New Product Development for fly fishing within the company my current role is much broader and crosses all aspects of the brand from product design on fly rods working with our material expert Chris Bond and Alastair Dandie in Product Innovation to marketing brand promotion business development and just about everything in between.
What are your hopes for the future of the brand?
Hardy is one of the oldest and most respected fishing brands in the world. As an angler myself I'm privileged to be involved with one of the most iconic brands in the fly fishing world and I hope with the Team of equally passionate anglers I work with on a daily basis we will be able to successfully grow and develop the Brand to new heights whilst protecting the brands heritage and core values of the best innovation and highest quality in fishing tackle.
Howard Croston has represented England at World level and won in excess of 90 professional casting events. He has respected England fifteen times and was part of the World Championship winning Team England in 2009. Howard's individual highlight was placing fourth in the 2012 World Championships.