Fishing tackle is a global business, but that doesn’t mean we all go about it in the same way. For this article, I decided it was time to focus on one of Europe’s most exciting fishing locations. A proud nation with a rich history, a country that is the birthplace of two brands many Americans will recognize (Westin and Savage Gear), and also the place in which I happened to catch my personal best pike. Have you guessed it yet? We’re heading to the land of Vikings – Denmark.
The Danish fishing tackle retail market is largely dominated by independent retailers, some of the biggest of which lie in the capital city Copenhagen in the east of the country. Jagt & Fiskerimagasinet is one such store and occupies a relatively plain-looking, and quite small concrete shop next to Ørstends Park. It occupies a very central location in this city of some 600,000 people, and has roots dating back to 1921. Inside, you will find wood and glass cabinets packed with reels, fishing rods stacked in their hundreds in every spare bit of floor space available, and a wall of lures, spinners and just about everything else stretching as far as the eye can see. It has an old-fashioned feel that showcases the long tradition that angling has in the country.
A little bit further out of the city centre you will find larger stores, with a more modern feel including Sport Dres and Hvidovre Sport. These are more like the types of shops you might find in the United States, with larger floor space, cleaner layouts and products displayed in a more orderly format. They also have large online retail operations that expand their reach far beyond the city boundaries of Copenhagen itself. Online retail is relatively modest in Denmark, but these are two of the front-runners in the country. Many Danish anglers do prefer visiting a local store to browse and also get advice, and the fact that Denmark is quite a small country means there is usually at least one within driving distance. This may be a reason why online retail has not exploded here, like some other European markets. One thing all of these retailers have in common is their longevity. They have all been around for at least a generation or two and have loyal customer bases as a result.
Outside of Copenhagen, two other notable retailers are Go Fishing in the city of Odense and Korsholm on the western coast, near Jylland. Because these stores are not within large urban areas, they have more modern, out-of-town style buildings that offer them the luxury to display products in a more dynamic way, with areas for customers to have hands-on demos. See what I mean with this swish promo video from Korsholm.
Go-Fishing actually has two other stores located further north near the city of Aarhus, one of which is an outlet store – a concept that will be more familiar to American retailers. Another similarity with the American market is that fishing tackle is commonly sold in regular supermarkets around the country, and often at a slightly cheaper price. Fishing equipment is generally quite expensive in Denmark, but supermarkets offer more entry-level equipment. Of course, this comes with a lack of expert advice that is commonly found in proper, independent tackle shops here. If you ever make it to Denmark, you will notice nearly all of its retailers seem to be in good health. They are well stocked, have eye-catching point of sale displays and high levels of knowledgeable and passionate staff.
Nearly all fishing tackle stores in Denmark deal directly with fishing brands themselves, so there are very few remaining wholesalers or middlemen in the chain. This is a pattern that is occurring more commonly throughout Europe. Even overseas brands tend to be handled by Danish brand owners and then sold to shops directly. For example Westin distributes American fly fishing brands RIO, Redington and Sage exclusively in Denmark, rather than a specialist wholesaler or distributor doing that job.
One of the most popular styles of fishing in Denmark is coastal spinning (and fly fishing) for sea trout. Denmark is probably the only country in Europe where this is one of the front-running styles, helped by the country’s miles and miles of coastline throughout the various islands that make it up. Heavy rods for casting metal spinners long distances are a big part of this, as is wading gear, portable nets and saltwater-proof reels. Besides coastal spinning, freshwater predator fishing for pike, perch and zander is common, with methods such as jigging and trolling commonly used. Fly fishing is also strong here. There is not the same strength of general bait coarse fishing in Denmark as many of its European neighbors to the south, which makes its tackle shops a little bit more specialized.
Vital statistics on the Danish tackle market
- Estimated number of anglers: 350,000
- Estimated number of tackle shops: 160
- Estimated number of wholesalers: 10
- Estimated number of manufacturers/brands: 15
- Estimated value of fishing to Denmark’s economy: $5 billion