If you’ve ever seen a Finn product, then you’ve probably also felt the desire to own one. A mere glance at one of these handmade works of art and you will instantly be channeling the legacy and grace of fly fishing. These American made products are practical and built to last. As one review put it, the purchase of a Finn product is equivalent to the purchase of a family heirloom. Finn’s products are equally comfortable bouncing around in the back of a truck as they are on the subway.
We sat down with owner and manufacturer Ryan McDonald to better understand how he began Finn Utility and find out what’s next for the company.
What is Finn Utility and how did it start?
I worked for a variety of action sport and outdoor brands and was learning a ton. At the same time I was getting discouraged designing products where the focus wasn’t necessarily on quality or longevity. At my first design job right out of college, a colleague that worked down the hall gave me a beautiful old Phaff sewing machine. It gathered dust until about three years ago when I started experimenting with it to make bags for fly fishing. After I got home from my day job, I would go to this old barn on the river, drink a beer and sew.
Where does the fly fishing influence come from?
The influence comes from my grandfather who was a guide that instilled in me a deep appreciation and love of fly fishing from a very young age. It also comes from a place thats hard to describe; like doing Tai Chi, or just casting a bamboo rod. When you start, the first couple of moves are thought out, but then instinct takes over and you move without thought. This is where I feel true design and creativity happen. The next morning you sit back down with what you developed and look at it again with more thought.
What is one of your favorite products that you make?
I love the Four Reel case .
Where does Finn Utility source it’s materials from?
We carefully source our material from all over the US.
Where did Finn Utility’s slogan “Not without adventure” come from?
A couple of years before I started Finn, I had a mental “realignment” of sorts where I did a lot of road biking and touring. Jude, the owner or Sugar Wheel works and I did a few rides around the hills and streets of beautiful Portland, OR. One time she said “not without adventure” which really struck a chord with me as it’s a rally cry to get busy living. I thought to myself, it’s perfect for Finn and starting a business of any kind.
Do you find time to get out on the water? Product testing maybe?
Yes, I do. I’m looking forward to getting up to Maine in a few weeks for a photo shoot.
What’s next for Finn Utility?
We have a few exciting product collaborations in the works with select fly shops and other fly brands.
Check out FinnUtility.com and use code “amber” at checkout for 10% off.