While pitching my new SmithFly fly fishing gear to shops I’ve thought a lot about fly shops and their place in the world. I’ve talked to TONS of different shops over the past few months from big to little, corporate to mom and pop, from back laid back retired Texans to in your face hard core big city go getters.
There’s a lot of speculation about the role of fly shops in the fly fishing industry. There has been a lot written about the number that have closed over the last few years. There is a lot of speculation about the role of the internet, and direct sales, etc etc. I’m not going to go into any of that here, because one thing remains clear to me – destination fly shops are here to stay! By destination I mean those fly shops out there next to the good fishing and not in some population center, like a big city.
I know, I know, get out the news trucks, stop the presses, you heard it here first, breaking news, destination fly shops are here to stay, so what? Well sometimes I think we need to remind ourselves why things are the way they are and why they probably won’t change, for the most, maybe, sometimes, if we’re lucky.
5. Locals – Despite the lack of proximity to large population centers destination fly shops still have a good base of crazy locals who patronize them and will continue to do so. Like so many shark’s teeth a constant influx of fly fishing crazed junkies will always be there pay by the square inch for property in close proximity to the good stuff. That ain’t changing any time soon, they just don’t make good stream frontage like they used to.
4. Special Flies – No not flies that lick the windows on the school bus. Special like every river is different special, and while you may not buy your parachute adams at the local shop, you probably tie it yourself, you will buy 1/2 dozen of “whats working” that they only sell at that shop, and it’s probably tied locally too.
3. Guides – Guide Fees pay the bills at most destination shops, and that ain’t going change any time soon.
2. Mickey Mouse Ears – When people are in Disney land they want to buy Mickey Mouse ears. They could order them at home off the nifty omnipresent interwebs just as easily any day of the week. However, when infected with the fever of “It’s a small world after all” those ears seem like a necessity. Similarly when you are in fly fishing paradise with visions of fins, gils and kypes dancing in your head, new waders, vests, rods, reels, lines etc. seem necessary and infinitely usable/practical in that reality.The compulsion to buy something from a shop at that moment can be irresistible, or maybe bivisible, or Humpy even?
1. The FISH – As long as the fish are there, anglers will be there too. And anglers will need things, things like: advice, coffee, conversation, reassuring words, gear, gas, gut bombs, a place to crash, a lift, jumper cables, beer, firewood, bacon, beer, gas, beer, flies, gink, licenses, stamps, beer, flies, beer, and wader patch kits. So as long as we take care of the fish, which I think we are starting to do as well as ever, then destination fly shops have nothing to worry about.
PS – if you have a destination fly shop, you should become a SmithFly dealer, just saying.