Brad Befus was born and raised in Boulder, Colorado and relocated to Midland, Michigan in 2013. He has worked in the fly fishing industry for 35 years as a fly shop employee/owner, fly fishing destination host, fly tyer, author, manufacturing sales director for nearly two decades and currently is the President of Scientific Anglers. We sat down with Brad to talk about this internationally popular fly line that originates right here in Midland.
Q: Can you please tell us a little more about Scientific Anglers?
A: Absolutely. Scientific Anglers was founded in 1945, and continues to operate right here in Midland. Throughout our 73-year history, Scientific Anglers has consistently set the standard in premier fly-fishing. From inventing the contemporary floating fly line more than 50 years ago to our specialty core construction and patented AST and texturing technologies we continue to transform and modernize the sport.
Our angling scientists and design team work in partnership with fly-fishing experts to develop cutting-edge technologies and ultimate fly line designs to boost your fly-fishing experience to the extreme. Whether you are just beginning or an experienced angler our equipment is designed to give the optimum performance with every cast!
Q: You’ve been with Scientific Anglers for eight years. Can you share with us what inspires you to create the best fly line you can?
A: For me and the team at SA, we look at product development and innovation through a lens- that the primary goal is to solve problems for anglers. Fly fishing is a recreational sport that is all about the experience, and we want our customers to have the most memorable and positive experience when they are on the water using our products.
I guess boiling it down to what inspires us most to create the best fly line is hearing the story or receiving a picture from a new fly fisher that just caught their first ever fish using a Scientific Anglers fly line. Or the adventure-travel angler that used one of our lines in some remote corner of the globe that is thousands of miles from Midland, Michigan to catch a rare or exotic “bucket-list” species.
Q: Scientific Anglers utilizes close relationships with brand ambassadors, how long have you been developing these relationships to help get the brand into the hands of consumers?
We definitely have strong relationships with a core group of brand ambassadors reaching across a broad geographic range, each one of them with a high level of expertise in various areas of the sport of fly fishing. We are highly selective when determining the right people to be an ambassador for our brand. They need to be hard core anglers and subject matter experts but must also align with our company core values. These include helping to advance the sport of fly fishing, helping to educate others, protecting the resource that makes the sport possible and having fun while doing all this!
Having worked in the fly fishing industry since the early 1980’s I have had the pleasure of knowing and spending time fishing with some of our ambassadors for more than 30 years. We have a great team (really more like an extension of the SA family) of ambassadors and it is an honor to have them affiliated with our brand. Each ambassador is approachable and their passion and genuine excitement for fly fishing is contagious. This is exactly what we want our brand to be known for.
Q: What is your farthest located ambassador? Any in Midland or Michigan?
A: Our farthest located ambassador is Josh Hutchins located in Sydney, Australia. While we do not currently have an ambassador located in Midland we do have two ambassadors in Michigan. Mike Schultz, owner of Shultz Outfitters in Ypsilanti, Michigan and Captain Jon Ray who is a full-time guide and partner in Mangled Fly Media.
Q: You have the most fascinating office building. Can you tell us a little bit about the inspiration for it, and how it has helped build creativity, design and function?
A: The Scientific Anglers building was designed by Robert E. Schwartz in 1973 and represents Midland’s strong history and heritage around Mid-Century Modern architecture. To my knowledge, it is the only building in the world that was designed and built to manufacture fly lines. The water feature that wraps around the front of our building includes a casting deck area that is used virtually every day to test cast fly lines that we are working on and developing. We can manufacture a prototype fly line and immediately take it outside and cast it.
Scientific Anglers headquarters in Midland.
The casting deck and our signage on the front of the building are widely recognized in the circles of fly fishing. That landscape has been used in our catalogs, sales materials, social media and video projects. Many of our visitors ask to be able to cast in the “SA casting pond” and capture the event with a photo. The building and the casting area are very much a part of who we are.
Q: BeAlive Studios has received quite the recent press. Can you tell us a bit about working with them? What’s next for the two companies?
A: We have had the opportunity to work with BeAlive Studios on a couple of projects recently. Both our companies share an ambassador, Jeff Currier from Victor, ID. BeAlive brought Jeff to Midland for a day to do an Instagram live takeover a few weeks ago. It was a great opportunity to have the BeAlive crew and Jeff at our headquarters talking about Jeff’s global adventures, and his pursuit to catch five hundred different fish species fly fishing!
In October we co-hosted a public lands party that the team at BeAlive organized with the Michigan Chapter of Backcountry Hunters & Anglers. These are great opportunities for Scientific Anglers to collaborate on and to be able to support outdoor recreation locally and at a state and regional level.
There will be opportunity for synergies between the two companies going forward. It is great to have them as neighbors just down the street and equally exciting to see the horsepower they are bringing to the world of all things outdoors in the digital content and storytelling arena.
Q: What is your personal favorite spot to fish?
A: That is a tough question to answer because I love it all! In general I would have to say wherever I am at that time. I absolutely love to fish the rivers in the Midland area for smallmouth bass, especially if I am doing that with my wife and kids. The Tittabawassee, Pine and Chippewa rivers are extraordinary fisheries that are right in our backyard.
If I had to choose one place it would probably be a small mountain stream in the Southern Rockies where I grew up, where I cut my teeth fly fishing, took my wife on our first date, and taught my kids to fish on our countless family adventures.
Q: Where would you suggest someone start if they want to get into fly fishing?
A: I always encourage those interested in taking up fly fishing to seek out your closest fly fishing retailer and take an introductory course to understand the gear, learn how to tie the knots and start to get a foundation for fly casting. Residents in the Midland area are fortunate to have an outstanding asset right in our backyard with Little Forks Outfitters.
Bo Brines and his staff have extensive knowledge and understanding of our local fisheries, and the gear required to start someone out. They also offer introductory classes. I would also recommend hiring a guide for a day or two once some basics are understood to help accelerate casting in a practical fishing situation and different techniques used to catch fish. If that is not in your budget, there are tremendous resources available to learn on your own.
Orvis, our parent company headquartered in Sunderland, Vermont has an amazing education section on their website at www.orvis.com related to all-things fly fishing. Learning to cast and practicing will save frustration when you do go fishing.
Q: When you’re not leading the helm of SA, what keeps you busy?
A: Family time in the outdoors, fishing, hunting, camping, kayaking and hiking every chance we get. In addition to being involved at church and the kids sports events, I also find no problem filling my time with upland bird hunting, water fowl hunting, fly tying and photography.