Tom Melvin is the Director of Sales for Yellow Dog Flyfishing Adventures, a fly fishing based travel agency focusing on destination angling worldwide. Originally from the Midwest, Tom is a graduate of the University of Montana in Missoula. When not in the office or traveling, Tom can be found fishing one of the many backcountry streams Montana has to offer or sitting at the vise tying up some new creations. Over his years with Yellow Dog, Tom has traveled extensively throughout both fresh and saltwater destinations around the globe. Tom currently resides in Bozeman, Montana with his German shepherd Shooter and gerbil Shiloh.
How do the experiences you offer at Yellow Dog Flyfishing Adventures give guests a unique perspective on the history, people or culture of the places you travel?
While we are a travel based fly fishing company, we always try to tell our anglers that the fishing is only one small part of the overall adventure. All of the lodges and outfitters we work with all over the globe always try to employ local individuals, which really makes for a great cultural experience. I’ve made some of my best friends, learned some of the most valuable lessons and heard some of the best stories on the front of a flats boat or raft from local guides and their experiences.
How have the experiences that you offer evolved since their inception?
We are always trying to get better and our entire team takes customer service very seriously, so I think our overall wealth of knowledge to provide a quality experience has continued to evolve. We are also constantly learning about fisheries based on our current experiences, fishing reports and client feedback, which helps us plan better for the future.
What is one detail of an experience you provide that may go unnoticed by guests, but which you feel is important?
The detail and care that goes into each trip to make sure everything goes as smooth as possible. While we spend a lot of time in the beginning making sure our anglers are heading to the right destination based on their preferences and what they are really looking to get out of the experience, that is only the beginning of the entire process. Making sure transfers are arranged, the right guide is selected, our anglers have the right gear and setting everything up on the back end is incredibly important, and our team takes a lot of pride in making sure all the boxes are checked.
What do you wish every guest knew as they consider a flyfishing adventure with Yellow Dog?
That everyone in our office truly wants our anglers to have the best trip they possibly can. We can usually do a pretty good job of getting that across, but every one of our team members is incredibly passionate about what we do here. There is no better feeling for us than speaking with one of our anglers after a trip that exceeded their expectations.
What is one travel trend that really excites you?
Lodges or outfitters building programs that benefit local communities and focus on conservation. My good buddy Oliver White and Costa Sunglasses have a new project called the Indifly Foundation that is establishing fishing programs in very remote, low income indigenous communities around the world. The entire program benefits the community and focuses on sustaining resources.
What sets Yellow Dog Flyfishing Adventures apart from other, similar, travel companies?
Our team and the wealth of knowledge available to our clients when planning their next trip. I am lucky enough to work with some of the best anglers and fishing travel experts on the planet who have really devoted their lives to this industry, and I think you can really tell the difference when speaking with them.
What is one insiders tip to getting the most out of an experiential travel vacation?
As cliché as it sounds, we always try to convey to our anglers to enjoy the ride and where it takes you. Instances occur when traveling that are out of your control, but if you enjoy the ride and look at it in a positive light you can usually at least get a pretty good story out of it. I sometimes forget a certain fish or the fly I was using on a certain trip, but I will definitely remember how I felt or a certain emotion if something out of the ordinary happens.
What is one strategy that has helped your business to grow?
Continuing to hire the best people we can and invest in them. We have always considered ourselves a “boots to the ground” company and invest a lot in traveling to new locations and fishing destinations, but that knowledge gained by our team is invaluable in providing a quality experience to our anglers.
What is one personal habit that has helped you to be successful?
Being open to other perspectives and listening. You can learn a lot when you actually shut your mouth and get past thinking that your idea is the only or best one.
Please share one instance where a guest had a moving or emotional reaction to the experience you provided to them.
I was able to set up a trip this summer for a client who wanted to take his son to Alaska for his graduation present from high school. The father surprised his son who is a die hard angler with the trip as a gift, and wrote him a long letter which I was copied in on. The trip was a great way for them to connect as adults, and it was pretty special that I got to share in a little part of it. I still have the letter hanging above my desk.