Exclusive Interview with Howard Croston – Global Brand Business Manager at Hardy

Howard Croston is the Global Brand Business Manager at Hardy and was previously the Assistant Shop Manager and Technical Product Manager here at John Norris. Based in Morpeth, Northumberland, Howard won a team gold medal in the 2009 World Fly Fishing Championships and was placed 4th in the individual 2012 World Championships in Slovenia.    Name: Howard Croston Age: I’d rather not think about it..... Location: Morpeth, Northumberland Likes: Fly fishing, kick boxing Dislikes: Wind and rain, turbulence when flying, Dentists   Describe a typical day for you? Arrive Office for 8 AM via Costa, catch up on emails and look at the day’s meeting schedule – normally consisting of product development meetings with the Head of Product Innovation Alastair Dandie a close friend of over 20 years and also formally an employee of John Norris of Penrith. Typically work on new product plans and financial analysis of planned projects or marketing related projects like video scripts / story boards etc. Lunch and more caffeine. Afternoons are normally video calls to the US office on various subjects and more product work – quite often casting the newest prototype blanks or reviewing early prototype reels. I normally leave the office about 5.30 and finish the day with either two hours of kick boxing or when the conditions are good an evening on the local river.   What age did you start fishing? Probably around age 8 or so..... So that’s 30 years   What is your first fishing memory? Summer trips to the Lake District with my parents fishing the river Lowther with worms for wild brown trout.   What do you love most about the Sport? So many things – The places it has taken me too, the people I’ve met and the experiences I have had, it’s a blend of all the best things in life – beautiful places, great people and the outdoors. It’s also a technical yet artistic sport that can’t ever really be fully mastered meaning it never gets boring.   Describe your casting style? Compact   What is your most memorable fishing experience? Standing on a sand flat a long way off the coast of Venezuela right at the end of the day, the sea was as flat as a pancake without a breath of wind and the sea and sky totally blended together in a mix of blue, purple and orange light and was completely silent except for tailing Bonefish. It was a very surreal experience and sums up the best of fly fishing for me, to top it all the last fish I cast to was a textbook Bonefish eat that resulted in a personal best 11lb Fish. It wasn’t going to get any better so I reeled in and headed back to the lodge.   What piece of kit could you not live without? My 9ft 3# Zenith for dry fly fishing. It’s my favourite light line dry fly rod in calm conditions. Check out our full range of Fly Rods here   What do you still want to tick off your fishing bucket list? I have to be honest I have accomplished a lot of my goals , but if I could add anything to them competitively it would be an individual medal at a world championships and from a pleasure fishing perspective, probably a Golden Dorado or Goliath Tigerfish.   Any funny fishing tales you would like to share? After chasing Permit for thirteen unsuccessful years despite military like planning and execution the day I finally caught one was far from text book. Nursing a fairly substantial Hangover from a night out on Los Roques – a night in which I managed to lose my flip flops and get locked out of the hotel, I managed to hook a huge Permit whist wet wading a flat in strong winds – we chased on foot but had to transfer onto the Panga to give chase as it wasn’t keen on hanging around. Whist crossing a deep channel I managed to “moon walk” off the front of the boat (6ft drop) into 20ft of water and had to swim to the stern to get back on board – thankfully still attached to the fish, we landed it 15 mins later probably close to ½ a mile from where we hooked it, I went on to secure my first grand slam later the same day.   What would your perfect day consist of? There are many days that could be considered “perfect” for different reasons but right at this moment it would probably be this – Waking up early in West Yellowstone Montana in mid-September, blue sky’s but the chill of autumn in the air, heading down to the cafe for coffee and corned beef hash before a day up in the park sight fishing to whatever we can find, there’s usually bull Elk starting to roar at that time of year as well. Fishing in Montana was a childhood dream for me and I’ve been lucky to do it many times with some of my closest friends. To make it an absolute perfect day I would rather not see any bears either thank you very much...     What are you most proud of/greatest achievement? Probably my 2009 Team Gold Medal from the World Fly Fishing Championships.  A close second would be my individual 4th placing in the 2012 World Championships in Slovenia, bitter sweet as I was one good draw away from being world champion – still that’s fishing!   Who or what inspires you? The next awesome fishing experience or the possibility that the next person I meet on my travels may open another door that increases my knowledge and understanding of the sport that’s been a big part of my life for 30 years.   How did you get a career start in the fishing industry? I helped at some country shows for Airflo as a teenager but my real start in the industry was at none other than the world famous John Norris of Penrith. I shopped at John Norris almost every weekend growing up and ultimately ended up working there as a shop assistant and later as assistant shop manager. I spent 6 very happy years working in Penrith and fished a minimum of 5-6 nights every week in the season. I also made many lifelong friends there and have more amusing stories than I can count from my time in retail there.   Any advice for fellow anglers that would like a career in the fishing world? Really just to be aware that working in the industry doesn’t mean you fish more – if anything it’s the opposite, in my experience though the quality of the fishing you experience is higher. If you’re planning to get rich in this industry you may also be disappointed most of us do it for the passion of the sport firstly and the pay checks second.   What is the big thing for your brand this year? Hardy has a number of huge product launches later this year including new rods and reels. Without giving too much away in the 15 years I have worked with the Hardy brand I have never been as excited about the product line we have for 2016.   Can you give us any advice or useful tips? Tips, fishing wise - if it’s not happening “Make it happen” - change techniques / presentation / fly size / tippet strength – anything, just don’t continue on with an unsuccessful approach. Advice on Permit fishing trips – don’t accept “vodka cocktails” that come in pint glasses from an Irish man...... particularly if there doesn’t appear to be anything other than vodka in it ... although I did catch a monster the day after so maybe there is something in it after all.  ;-)   Hardy Zenith 440 Sintrix Single Handed Fly Rods are now half price from only £249.50!