Flyshop Friday

Hotlanta, GA

The Atlanta, Georgia, metropolis moves and shakes with more than 5 million people. It’s home to Coca-Cola and Rubbermaid, sweet red meat and BBQ, and crunk scenesters like Lil Jon and OutKast. What these entities have to do with flyfishing culture is hard to say. But beneath all the Hotlanta hype, a force has surfaced.

West Linn, Oregon

I recently had the pleasure of visiting Royal Treatment Fly Fishing in West Linn, OR. Upon walking in the door I was greeted by owner, Joel La Follette, who waved me in, put his hand on my shoulder, and said, “Hi Sarah, make yourself comfortable at the fly table, Rob [Crandall] is tying winter steelhead flies. Also, you must have some cake!”

Now this is my kind of fly shop!

Calgary, Alberta

Think of Canadian delicacy “Poutine” much like you would a savory ice cream-Sunday—only substitute vanilla for French fries, chocolate for brown gravy, and nuts and a cherry on top for a heaping dollop of cheese curds. Sounds gnarly, but it’s actually quite brilliant… so long as you limit your intake in accordance with the Surgeon General’s warnings.

Key West, Florida

Long before Occupy Wall Street spawned from the gritty sidewalk cracks of Manhattan, back in the spring of 2009 when the U.S. economy capped its worst performance in 51 years, the sentiment around town—at least for those working in finance—was less about occupying anything and more about evacuating everything.

Fort Smith, Montana

Located in a rugged side-pocket of eastern Montana, little Fort Smith is a big flyfishing destination. There are few roads and plenty of river; more browns and rainbows per river mile than humans per square mile; and limited amenities exist other than fly shops, outfitters, and a few fishing resorts. Life is good, if you live to fish.

Lake Placid, NY

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Back in 1980, Lake Placid played host to a little event called the Winter Olympics. A bunch of figure skaters and tobogganers showed up, as well as some dudes with hockey sticks and missing teeth. Naturally, no one paid too much attention to the figure skaters. (Tonya Harding was barely even born yet. And Will Ferrell’s Academy Award winning Blades of Glory was still 27 years off the radar screen.)

Denver, Colorado

sciatica-reliefHello there! My name is Petulant Sciatica, and I am a symptom of significant time spent decaying within a steel and glass coffin on the 27th floor in downtown Denver. Each day I am indirectly exposed to vast amounts of bitter, charcoal-tainted java while my host—his name is Jack—exchanges voicemails and e-mails with others just like him… career office zombies.

Saddlestring, Wyoming

There are those flyshops we find in pursuit of convenience: they either live close to home or en route to destinations that require localized beta and specific bugs. Then there are those—farther afield, in unlikely places you visit once but may never return—that find us. Rock Creek Anglers, located in Saddlesrting, Wyoming, falls into the latter category, where fishing was the pull but I stumbled into a shop that felt immediately like home.

West Concord, MA

My local flyshop is now an empty space with a "For Lease" sign in the window, closed due to competing Internet sales, Wally World, Cabela's, and a Dick’s. It was the only local place where I could actually talk to someone who fished, fly fished, and gave a damn about the state of fishing in Western Mass. Frankly the current situation sucked. I wanted a place to talk fishing. I didn’t need a place to buy “stuff” because there is the Internet and I travel enough to stop at stores and pick up what I need or want. What I missed was a place where the subject of fishing made someone’s eyes light up as a good conversation ensued. I missed putting a fist full of flies on the counter, having the total added up, and then rounded down a few bucks. It wasn’t the money, but the recognition of one addict by another and the shared joy knowing that something good was going to come out of this transaction. I missed the totally foul mouths of some of the local characters spewing vindictives against anything and everything. These guys were mostly bait fishermen, but after a time they realized I did not judge them and they in turn stopped judging me. In short it felt a bit like home.

Not Your Regular Flyshop

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WHITEFISH, MT—Scott Fenwick says Northwoods Angler “isn’t your regular fly shop.” It only takes a few seconds inside to understand what he’s talking about.

There are rare books, collectible paintings, antique signs and surfboards scattered among the requisite flies, rods and other fishing gear. In one room, underneath a television displaying a flyfishing adventure documentary, men share fishing tales and chat jovially.