Angling for the big one

A young design graduate has landed a big win with a super-silent fly fishing craft invention.

the pursuit fly fishing craft nz gordon robinsonA young design graduate has landed a big win with a super-silent fly fishing craft invention.

Gordon Robinson doesn’t have a favourite fishing spot on the Tongariro or Rakaia rivers – in fact the recent Massey University graduate couldn’t even tell you which size waders he takes. But that didn’t stop Robinson from jumping in the deep end and choosing the leisurely pursuit of fly fishing as the basis of his final year industrial design project.

The result – a lightweight, portable and environmentally inspired concept design named ‘the Pursuit’ – cuts usual assembly time in half, so the wily angler can enjoy their surroundings faster yet be smooth enough on the water’s surface that the gilled ones below are none the wiser of their hunter’s presence.

Robinson says research was key and stakeholders were quick to share their trials with equipment, but also why they loved their chosen sport.

“I researched why they enjoyed it and found there could be a craft that embodied their rituals that would stay true to the sport,” he says. “Keywords and phrases such as ‘escapism’ and ‘getting away from it all’ kept coming up, so I looked to appeal to those sorts of experiences.”

The Pursuit is unique in its emphasis on soft and organic materials, particularly the flax fibre composite framing and a sole U-shaped inflatable tube, which gives it an almost completely silent operation. Robinson’s craft has the ability to be packed down easily, thanks to the collapsible flax fibre frame. This all means that potential fishermen in the Pursuit are less restricted in where they can go.

All in all, the Pursuit is the happy compromise that is currently unavailable on the market. It is more user-friendly than the 2.7-metre long pontoon crafts featuring what Robinson calls “a two-sausage design with a steel frame” that are currently on offer, but can still get to places that fishermen in waders and float tubes can only dream of, as they stick to the shallows of the riverbanks.

Robinson’s dinghy design managed to impress on a worldwide stage recently, scooping the prestigious Red Dot Design Concept Award at a gala awards night held in Singapore. Twenty-one jury members mulling over 3,672 entries from 57 countries chose the Pursuit across as the ‘Best of the Best’, along with 46 others. He was the only New Zealand winner. The Christchurch based designer (he has since been snapped up by design studio 4ormfunction) says it was an awe-inspiring trip.

“It was great talking to emerging talent and recognised designers about the state of design in China and the Middle East, because there, like New Zealand, it’s coming out of its shell and being recognised.”

However, despite all the accolades, keen trout fishermen cannot pursue the Pursuit in stores just yet. For now, it remains largely a concept design without a fully functional prototype – to Robinson’s disappointment.

He does see it treading the path to commercialisation in the coming years, because despite its worldwide win Robinson thinks there are “a few wrinkles” to iron out.

For the moment, this emerging talent is relishing the warm reception his first major industrial design piece received.

“For a graduate winning the award it’s definitely a bit of a confidence boost, being able to back your own ability.”