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Ronan's report

Wednesday 25th July, 2007

I'm writing this way ahead of time, so I don't know what this week’s topic is. I don't care either. This is more important...

Here in the US, there is a disturbing trend of cool, local fly shops going out of business.

I don't like it. You shouldn't either.

Where else can you go to shoot the shit about flyfishing with people who are experts on the local fishing, or buy a few fly tying materials to get ready for the weekend and at the same time get a quick casting lesson? Sure, you can turn to the internet for some information, but what happens when you need hands on help, one-on-one service, or an update on the local hatches? What if you need help tying a nail knot for Pete's sake? These small, friendly, and helpful shops are the heart and soul of the flyfishing industry, yet they are disappearing fast. Despite their commitment to helpful, friendly service, and local knowledge, they can't make ends meet and are being forced to close their doors.


One of two reasons.

Reason #1. They are not actually providing helpful, friendly service. Many anglers I know are getting sick of the so called "flyshop attitude" these days. You know the story. You walk into a shop with a half million dollar inventory hoping to buy some tippet and a pack of pink marabou and you get ignored, or worse, made fun of, by the employees and management, who have somehow forgotten that treating people right is the number one rule in business and in life. This happens all the time in some shops. When they go out of business I don't feel bad.

Reason #2. They are beaten out by the Big Guy. This is the scenario that really drives me nuts. I'm sure you've seen this one happen too. Two years after SuperMegaSportingGoods opens a new store in your town with a flyfishing section, the little shops that used to do just fine start going under. Sometimes the big guy doesn't even have to open a store to put the local shops under. Instead, a thick, glossy catalog shows up on the doorstep of every house in town. Most get tossed in the trash, a complete waste. Then there is UltraGiganticWebFlyShop whos website has full color photos and discount prices. For some inexplicable reason, the anglers that used to buy gear from the local fly shops stop doing it. Now they order through the mail just so they can save $5 on that flyrod. A $5 that they probably lose in shipping costs. The only time they go back to the fly shop is when they have a question about the local fishing, or find a problem with their mail-order gear and need someone to complain to. The local shop is still providing the friendly service and useful information that is unavailable from the web based big guy, or the pathetically untalented and unknowledgeable high school kid behind the counter at SuperMegaSportingGoods. People keep returning to the local shops for the service and information but keep on buying their gear somewhere else. Then one day they stop by the shop for a hint on matching that great mayfly hatch down on Local River X and all they find is a sign on the door that says "Out of Business, Thanks for all the Years of Support". "Thanks", when what it should say is "Screw you guys for pumping me for info and services and still taking your business elsewhere". But you'll never see that, because these local shop owners are classy, helpful, and respectful to the very end. They are what is good about flyfishing. Even when their dream has been destroyed, they still have the sense to be kind and helpful.

The worst thing about reason #2 is that it doesn't ever have to happen. First, everyone needs to realize that flyfishing, as we enjoy it, is a complete luxury and that knowledgeable service from a kind employee is worth paying a few extra dollars for. Then we all need to make a conscious decision to buy all our gear from the really great local shops that will take the time to help you tie a nail knot, match the hatch, and probably throw in some free backing with that reel you've been wanting for so long. If they don't have what you want in stock, ask them, and they'll probably be able to special order it for you. They go out of their way to offer us the best service, knowledge, and products. We should go out of our way to support them by buying gear from them, and telling others to go and buy gear from them.

End of Rant. Every little thing makes a difference.

One last thing, as usual.

If you have not done it, remember to sign the petition in support of catch and release for Wild/Native steelhead on the Umpqua River, OR. We're closing the petition in 2 days, so hurry up. As of this very second we have . We're shooting for 1000 so make it happen. Read more on Matts Corner.


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