Posted on February 03 2019
Perhaps the most valuable tool to the fly fisherman is the local fly shop. This is if the shop has taken on the responsibility of making itself resource central for their little corner of the world. There is lots of work and attention required for a shop that really wants to help the anglers that come to fish. The shop and its employees need to do all they can to help the visiting anglers get all they can from their trip.
Six ways to use a fly shop to your advantage:
1 - Don’t be afraid to ask questions. Answering questions is what we do the most.
2 - Use the fishing reports a shop offers. Conditions and flows change daily sometimes and being aware of these changes can effect your success. Reading through the reports of previous years can give an idea of what you might expect this year.
3 - Hatch information. What the bugs are doing can change daily and having the right flies for the right time can greatly increase the fun.
4 - What flies to use. This, as you might expect, is one of the greatest areas of interest for the fly fisherman. Next to questioning successful anglers in the act of catching fish, nobody should know this better than the locals' fly shop. The shop guides are out there everyday and should have a handle on what's working.
5 – Ask questions about gear. The type of gear that is asked about the most is leaders and tippets. As important as this connection from line to fly is, it is often the most misunderstood. I think this is because many fishermen that we see only spend a week a year on and annual trip to the area. They sometimes forget the basics like the correct size tippet to fish with different sized flies. Two other gear issues we deal with a lot are the use of split shot and felt bottom wading boots.
6 - Access info. I don’t know how many times during the season we pull out an area map and give directions. After all, you can’t fish unless you can get to the water. Getting a good map and directions is an important part of a successful trip. I remember visiting the Catskills a couple years ago armed with two new guidebooks. I spent the first day half lost and not fishing much. A visit to the local shop got us straightened around and we found a couple nice places to fish.
Some things NOT to always expect from a shop: (What’s NOT cool)
1 - Don’t expect every detail! What I mean by this is while a shop should be expected to supply the necessary info for you to have a fulfilling trip, we can’t do the fishing for you. Lots of the adventure of being outdoors fishing is about discovering things about nature, fish, and wildlife on your own.
2 - We don’t have a crystal ball. Sometimes I will get a call that goes like this: “Hi, I am thinking of driving up from Boston next weekend to fish. Do you think it will be worth the four-hour drive?” My reply can be different depending on how my day has gone so far. What I want to express to the caller is that there is much more to fishing than catching fish. Any day spent on a river in the woods is a good day and worth the drive. An extreme version of the crystal ball question is, “If we get any rain in the next couple months, will the weather be nice enough and will the fishing be good enough that my 80-year-old father will be able to catch some trophy salmon in mid-September?”
3- Don’t drag a bag full of L.L. Bean gear into the shop, dump it on the counter, and ask us how to use it. While we kindly will, it still is not cool.
4 - Don’t take a picture of a map we are showing you with your cell phone. The right thing to do is buy a map as a thank you for all the information. Also, it is not cool to break copyright laws.