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Opinion: Big box stores are nice, but make mine a local fly shop

Our Big Box world and fly fishing

For me, big box stores (BBS) are for buying ‘stuff’ on sale: spools of line, 80% off on clothes, a deeply discounted carry bag for the truck, a floppy hat that was marked $39 and is now to $9, and so forth.

If I am looking for something specific and they advertise having it at a really low price – my buy antennae go up. I have learned, though, not to be too disappointed if they do not have it at the store nearest me, or that they are out of it. The standard reply; go online.

If I call in advance, I sometimes get recycled: push one, two, three or connected to a none answering fly fishing department. The worst is push star to repeat the menu (of 18 possibles).

Sales folks at these BBS are just as nice as they are at your local tackle store of fly shop, but the difference is they do not have a clue regarding when the item you want will get restocked, and cannot reorder – anything. Too, they have no authority to discount a less than perfect item, and they cannot make any deal. Their authority is ‘automaton’ with regard to that.

Do BBS fly and tackle personnel know what they are talking about?

Yes, mostly, but not always. Buyer beware. Also, it is sometimes ‘impossible’ to find someone in the fly fishing section. I have come to believe that BBS are like the government; sometimes OK, here to stay, sometimes lousy and always too big.

Big Box stores do make a difference

BBS’s are huge in the conservation world, sport fishing support (politically), and they bring less expensive fishing gear to those with limited incomes. Too, they do a good job of promoting “outdoor” participation.

Their bigness, like the government’s, has universal benefits that affect us all in a positive way.

Saltwater Fly Tyers' patrons have the bonus of having Don Reed as the benefit having Don Reed as tying instructor. Don owns the shop and it just relocated to new and expanded facilities. See info below.

Don Reed owns Saltwaterflytyers, and is a master fly tyer. The shop just relocated to a new and expanded facility. See info below.

Make mine a fly shop – local knowledge

• Seminars held at local fly shops cannot be overstated. It is where angler advantage converges.

• Local shops have a handle on the best guides and generally have no financial reward for booking, or making recommendations. they want you back so they will not recommend the guy that smokes, drinks and shows up late.

• Tying classes seem to be the norm at most fly shops these days. And with the price of pre-tied flies that is a good thing. However, this tyer cannot ever resist buying a few pre-tied if my next outing looms in a few days. Why is that? I have no idea, but I guess I think I am the carp, bass, trout, bone or red and would like those #1/0 “Goony” flies if I were one of ‘them’.

• Fly shops might not tell you everything about their fisheries, but it is not in their best interest to send you off to a waterless flat.

• Many Shops have gotten into the ‘fly fishing trip’ business. What is fun about that is getting a few ‘buds’ to go along with the fly shop guy or gal who will serve as trip host. Everybody knows everybody. The price is usually right and everything is taken care of.

• If there is a deal to be made, a fly shop will make it if the sale and your proposed pricing matches their needs, but do not try a New York garment or jewelry district assault. That won’t work.

• One of the best services offered by shops is advice on anything NEW in fly fishing. An appro pro comment with ICAST 2016 right around the corner.

• Another great value for me has been being able to order what you want, but have owner of the shop step up to the plate and say: “Hey, that is a good choice, but take a look at XYZ, they have the same thing in your size and their 234 model is being discontinued – it is about half of the price of XYZ.” Hey, I’m in, thanks.

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