In a world where conformity and caution are the norm, Wild Bearings is all about stepping beyond the boundaries and embracing a “free range” mindset. This is embodied in everything we offer and support - from the next generation outdoor lifestyle clothes we wear, bamboo fly rods and bugs we fish, the places we go, and the like-minded people we fish, smoke, drink and hang out with. Our logo, a white oak leaf and compass rose, symbolizes that wild, yet focused passion to have the courage to be unique.
Wild Bearings – For the Free Range In You!™
Sam R. Johnson
Sam grew up in Andalusia, AL where he learned at an early age to bait cast for bass and bream in the family lake. That eventually led to fishing the litany of rivers and lakes in south Alabama and the panhandle of Florida. But it would be the family trips to the mountains of North Carolina where he would be introduced to what became a life passion - fly fishing mountain waters for trout. Since then, he has spent ridiculous amounts of time stalking trout in the streams and rivers of the Southern Appalachians, Sierras, Rockies, and most everything in between. He confesses to being a “small creek freak.”
It was during one of those early trips to North Carolina that he discovered the Blue Ridge Parkway and fly fishing, and he quickly fell in love with both. His affinity for the Parkway has grown over the years and in 2019 authored a “First in Class” book, Fly Fishing the Blue Ridge Parkway – NC Section, with a forward by Mark H. Woods, Superintendent, Blue Ridge Parkway (retired). He also co-hosts a webcast series on the Wild Bearings YouTube Channel about traveling, hiking and fly fishing the Parkway, as well as other freshwater destinations. Also in 2019, Sam and best friend Chris Sloan, launched Wild Bearings, LLC, to offer bamboo fly rods, flies, unique apparel, fishing publications, videos, etc. In his spare time, he’s a freelance writer for several national fly fishing magazines, a member of the Outdoor Writers Association of America, and the Georgia Outdoors Writers Association. He’s also a juried member of the Southern Highland Craft Guild in Asheville, where he makes bamboo fly rods. Over the years he’s made hundreds of rods for L.L.Bean, Wright & McGill and scores of collectors and fly anglers worldwide.
In his serious work life, Sam is a Partner in the Atlanta Practice of Newport, LLC – a national business advisory practice for mid-market companies who want to scale, prepare for a transaction, or raise capital. He’s a seasoned C-level executive leader and board member with deep experience in industries ranging from banking, printing, RVs, and brewing, to aerospace, packaging, software, and auto parts. But in the end, he would much rather be on a high elevation mountain stream stalking an unsuspecting trout…
“Growing up in a very small town in Texas was cool, especially since we lived just a few miles from Lake Lewisville. Total population 3,000 meant small town, small community, and great outdoor activities abound. Not only did I grow up bass fishing on Lake Lewisville, but also on my uncle’s property in east Texas. His 23-acre private lake stocked huge bass, fat crappie, and aggressive bream. I met my better half in that small town and 25 plus years later we are still Texas strong.
Not long after college I got into golf and enjoyed playing for many years. But in about 2014 a bug (pun intended) jumped up and hooked me with an even greater sport… fly fishing! I was always curious about the sport, and it wasn’t until I met Sam Johnson, who is a true fly fishing pioneer, that the dream of learning how to fly fish became a reality.
I truly enjoy the nostalgia of the sport and the history of fly tying and bamboo rods. Wild Bearings is a dream come true that allows me to leave a little something behind to the sport. Our goal of passing on what we’ve learned to newer generations is rewarding and we do so in hopes of educating people that will write their own stories someday.”