Flyshop Friday

A fly shop runs through it

Wolf Creek, Montana, is just ambitious enough to justify a post office and a couple of bars. Its proximity to cold, clear tailwater stretches of the Missouri River, below Holter dam, also make it ripe for a fly shop, and that’s where Wolf Creek Angler steps in.

front use

Shop co-owner Jason Orzechowski purchased the retail space and motel/cabins business from Montana River Outfitters’ (MRO) owner Craig Madsen in 2013. He and his partner Fred Davison have since been hammering and sawing and filling it with flies and merchandise for anglers who’ve sidestepped the dudes-in-waders mecca of Craig, just down the street, for good river access and an out-of-the-way experience only Wolf Creek can provide.

Step inside Belize's first and only full-service fly shop

Convincing a permit to eat your fly is similar to doing business in a foreign country in that success in both is hard-won. Guide and Tres Pescados Fly Shop owner, Wil Flack, can relate.

Knoxville, TN

It’s 2011, the economy’s in the toilet, and businesses are folding at an alarming rate. So what did Allen Gillespie and Jeremy Nelson do? They opened a fly shop. Foolish? A guaranteed loser? Others may have thought so, but these guys dove in, opening 3 Rivers Angler that fall. They wanted to alter the flyfishing climate of the upper southeast and beyond with their business and thus far they’re well on their way.

Cartersville, GA

Cohutta Fishing Company began life in fall 2009 high on aspirations... a little short on ceiling space. For three years operations were dwarfed inside an 8-foot high, 1,400 square-foot box—which made selling 9-foot fly rods tough. The shop has since relocated, ballooning its square footage, expanding inventory with stocked shelves of top gear, and planting roots in the historic district of downtown Cartersville, about an hour north of Atlanta.

Ypsilanti, MI

Today’s fly shop is evolving. No longer is it merely a place to stumble in, drop 10 bucks on bugs, exit toward river, and repeat six months later. There’s more to the equation. Successful shops are community builders. Gathering places for the like-minded. Hubs of activity offering wisdoms extending beyond the sale rack.

San Carlos, CA

Bay Area fly shops have taken a hit and many hanger-ons have slid off the cliff in recent times. In 2006, after witnessing a flurry of shops fold, current California Fly Shop owners Xavier and Karen Carbonnet made the brazen move to embrace the industry and acquire one.

Reading, Bryn Mawr, and State College Pennsylvania

Flyfishing may be good in the West but it was definitely brought here, not born here. And if you’re looking to source the cradle of the sport, best turn a 180 and squint toward the bustling metropolises of the east and a little place called Pennsylvania. Its list of flyfishing trailblazers is long and Tulpehocken Creek Outfitters (TCO Fly Shop) has been serving and suiting them up since Tony Gehman founded his first shop in Reading in 1980.

A concept for the future—SLC, UT

Try this on for size. Close your eyes and imagine a flyshop more interested in amplifying experience than sticking you with spools of $14 tippet, dozens of hyperanatomical flavor-of-the-day flies, and pearl strands of pink thingamabobbers. Imagine that this same flyshop has invested in this “experience giving” commodity for 25 consecutive years, pushing things like fisheries preservation over bottom line. Now picture its founders weighing the notion of wildfire growth—in an industry hell bent on driving it to the brink—with a healthy dose of skepticism.

Now open your peepers, and behold Western Rivers Flyfisher—not your typical flyshop.

Van Nuys, CA

The Fishermen’s Spot has been serving the Southern California region for more than 40 years. Tenacity, exceptional customer service, and deft product know-how all play into such impressive longevity. But never discount dumb luck, stubbornness, and an unwillingness to face reality, says shop co-owner Ken Lindsay.

Cape Cod, MA

Cape Cod is a gnarly pine tree sandbar that sticks sixty miles out from Massachusetts into the north Atlantic. A fishing mecca from time immemorial—Vikings crossed the Atlantic in open boats called knarrs to fish the teeming offshore banks, and the native Wampanoag perfected clambakes there—up to today with one of the best bluefish and striped bass fisheries on the East Coast.