Welcome to the Fly Shop Tour!
Last Fall, the Flylords team put our wheels to the pavement and headed out on a month-long, 5-state tour of the American West, to visit some of our favorite fly-shops. The mission in mind? To spread the word about fly shops’ importance within the fly-fishing culture.
Watch Episode 2: Wyoming – NOW LIVE
How this idea came about…
We’ve all heard the term, “shop small” so liberally thrown around over the last 5 years. But what does it really mean? With the emergence of commerce giants such as Amazon, Wal-Mart, and other sporting goods conglomerates that have taken root within our beloved industry… there seems to be a dwindling spotlight overtop the very fabric of our sport: your local fly-shop.
Fly shops are the pinnacle of what makes fly-fishing such a unique endeavor, and is the very reason we refer to the group of people that make up our sport as, “our community”. Before Instagram, before “the movie”, before… well, Flylords – there were fly shops. A place owned and occupied by people with a single thread connecting the very nature of being – a love for being outdoors, on their local trout stream or salt flat.
It was within the confines of these establishments that folks could spend hours sorting through mouth-watering selections of flies, rods, and any other piece of fishing gear that could be dreamt up. More importantly, however, it was a place where anglers could be themselves: anglers – and nothing but. Fly shops were a place of business, but more importantly, a place to learn. Acting as a sanctuary for sportsmen and women to sit atop an old cooler and enjoy lukewarm beers while exchanging stories of the ones that got away. These showroom floors that could smell of anything from cigarette smoke-stained carpets to freshly polished oak were places where wide-eyed kids and adults alike could walk in without an ounce of knowledge to their name, and walk out with an encyclopedia’s worth of fishing information between their ears. These places weren’t just a place to purchase bugs and the newest stick…but more a temple where the tradition of what we know and love has been preserved.
So, when did fly shops change?
The true answer is: they didn’t. Unfortunately, the world around their skin-mount-covered walls did. Life got faster. Companies got bigger. Time grew more scarce. So, what happened? The world turned to a turn-and-burn method of living. Soon, small town fly shops were turned into parking lots as surrounding real estate costs skyrocketed. The internet reared its head, and the world of DTC took over. Now, this isn’t to say these methods of convenience don’t have their place in this world, but it’s up to us to make sure we make sure the people who showed us the way, don’t get left behind.
In today’s age of fly shops, there is a certain pride associated with the lack of change that’s occurred in the last few decades. These shops act as placeholders to preserve a simpler time. a more neighborly time. A grainy snapshot of some friends in their nylon, tan fishing vests standing in front of their favorite river, unencumbered by care besides arguing over who caught the bigger fish. this is all not to say shops don’t or shouldn’t change. Of course, some adaptation has to come with the times. But it seems that with fly-shops in particular, those who have embraced the future have done so without forgetting the past.
What is the Fly Shop Tour?
This series is a celebration of fly-shops. An homage to all the shop rats slinging flies looking for beer money. A Thanks to those who turned away dental plans for a drift boat, and a commemoration of the backbone of our industry: fly shops.
In this series, we had the privilege of visiting a few shops in each state we visited (Colorado, Montana, Wyoming, Idaho, and Utah), and offering a glance into the stickered shop doors for a behind-the-scenes look at the current-day-status of these small businesses. In each episode, you’ll meet some of the absolute characters that manage and keep these shops alive, as well as some friends met along the way. Each episode is concluded with an in-person event thrown in order to raise money for a local, fishing-focused, non-profit. In between all that, you’ll see car troubles, lost fish, good people, and a whole. lot. of. flies.
So make sure to tune in every week for a new episode in what is to be considered the first, and not last, season of “Fly Shop Tour”.
Watch Episode 1: Colorado
Watch Episode 2: Wyoming – NOW LIVE
Thank you to all the shops that took time out of their busy schedules to spend some time with our team on the water and in front of the camera. We are so grateful to have a community made up of such passionate and invested individuals. Also, we would like to thank our sponsors who made this tour possible: SIMMS, YETI, Costa Sunglasses, Sage, Turtlebox audio, and Adipose Boat Works. Thanks for keeping gas in our tank and for donating all the prizes which were raffled off for non-profits.
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