The idea of making my own T shirts started about 25 years ago when I first got into fly fishing. Like many of you, I fell in love with fly fishing right from the start, and hard. Anyone who knew me, knew I was a geek about it. With it, came the cheesy birthday and Christmas gifts from loved ones. In particular, T shirts that read: “Fish tremble at the sound of my name.” Thoughtful gifts, for sure, but not my sense of humor, not something I wanted to wear. The only other alternative was wearing branded clothing from the big names in fly fishing, which I don’t necessarily mind. Many of those companies I truly support, as they’re good for the sport. But still not very fun. I thought I could make a clever design, and in 2012, my first design, a Big Wheel towing a drift boat, printed on a cheap Hanes T shirt with iron-on inkjet transfers I got from Staples, was made. I gave a few to fishing buddies. That’s where it started.

Before too long, I had a couple more designs, and a fly shop called wanting them. I quickly came up with a brand name, “Stripn Flywear”. At the time, I was in a chucking-streamers phase, and I was referring to my fly fishing simply as “strippin”. Plus, I thought it was funny that a clothing brand would refer to getting naked.

Now, 50 some odd designs later, I’m having more fun than ever. I was able to switch careers and now I do this full time. My shirts sell pretty well without having to market them very much. Which is nice, because I’m pretty shy. I prefer a strong degree of anonymity. I’m not looking to be a big name in the industry, so that takes a lot of pressure off. Between Stripn, and custom design and printing for fly shops, I do okay and enjoy my work. I make niche designs for a niche sport, and I don’t pretend to be anything more than a simple troutbum with a printing press.

I still fish as much as I can. These days I primarily focus on troutspey in the fall through spring, and summers I spend trying to find the largest carp swimming in Montana. I know that years from now I’ll be geeking about an entirely new way to catch a fish, and that’s exciting to me. I love a new challenge. I love that fly fishing continues to evolve. I think my generation, and the next one coming up, have been particularly good to the sport and the industry as a whole. We’ve rejecting the argument of what is and what isn’t fly fishing; instead, focusing on having fun, getting outside, and enjoying life.

Thanks a ton for visiting my store. I hope browsing the pages you were at least entertained, and hopefully you’ve found something that you can’t live without. If so, then I’ll be making it for you and have it in the mail to you very shortly.

Dave Hartman