Fly Shops are more than a place to purchase products. They are a culture, a conduit, a chat room, and a myspace.com for meeting other like-minded fisherman. They offer more of a “hands on” approach to learning the sport than anything you can find on the web or in a superstore. Even though fly fishing is a quiet, independent sport, sharing those experiences with others is equally important, and equally important is the FREE knowledge from professionals that steepens the learning curve of the sport.
With all of this to learn, share, and research, it is no wonder that Fly Shops are a very integral part of the Fly Fishing Experience. From my own experience, they have been a major factor and influence on every aspect of the sport, and have left many memorable impressions on my journey. I learned to Fly Fish in college, and after the affliction caught on, I spent more time in the fly shop than in the classrooms. If truth be known, I got a degree in Fly Fishing with a minor in Business Marketing.
We all get caught up in the chase to find the best “deals” on fishing gear. The web has provided that comparison model for finding the best prices. Our first inclination is to forget about the local shops to save a couple of bucks at the superstores….more often we forget to even give the shop a chance at price matching. The “volume” model has swallowed corporate America….it is seen by the big biz. as the future in retailing; offer the most for the least and with 100’s of stores, snatch up all the market share. This works great for groceries, but not necessarily for the fly fishing industry.
Your local fly shop is feeling the squeeze from the giants. Fly shops across the nation have been financially unable to continue and have thus closed their doors. While some need to step up to the plate, others who have a good swing already are striking out. Just remember your local guys the next time you decide to save $1.50 by going to the giants. You just might not have them around, and an important part of the sport will be gone forever.