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.
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.
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.
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.
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.