A question and a rant?

I don’t think your in the wrong. I’ve had several similar instances in Bozeman, I now only go to two shops in town. However, I give a shop a few visits to interact with different people before I come to a conclusion. That kid has an obligation to know the products that his shop sells. It’s his job...
IMHO if you did not mention the fly shop you would of gotten a different response from many of the naysayers that you did wrong...

Times have changed. Brick and Mortar need to keep up with those changes. They should provide great customer service now more than ever. Without great customer service they do not provide minimal 'value-added'. No great customer service results in reduced sales to keep their job or small business open.


Reactive Member
I didn't see anything wrong with your post until I got to the part about "never going back". Just my opinion, but that seemed a bit premature to me based on one less than stellar experience. Were it me, I would try to speak with the owner or store manager in a calm voice and with the intent to help the store.

Managers cannot be on-site 24/7 - well, I guess they could but they, too, get to have a life - and management may not know there might be a customer who's unhappy with the service they received. It used to be a rule of thumb that for every customer who makes a comment, ten didn't say anything but won't come back.


Active Member
Griswald, I don't blame you at all. It's a fly shop you should be able to cast a rod. Fly rods are such a personal choice you should be able to go throw a few and see how it fits you. Also, how and where you spend your money is your business and it's not unreasonable to expect at least basic service, that's the whole point of going to a fly shop. If you want mediocre service and very little knowledge, you can just go to a big box store. Of course, if you post your business in a rant, everyone is not going to agree. My thought process would have been like yours (I get more critical judging service as I've gotten older, lol) but I probably would have skipped posting the exact location and as some have stated probably the most positive thing to do would have been to offer feedback to the owner.


a.k.a. Griswald
Thanks for the responses. I did write them a letter. This must have been an anomaly.
I do not think it was unreasonable to ask to string up a rod or two. Gig Harbor Fly shop would do it, Puget Sound Fly Co. would do it, Pacific Fly Fishers would too.

I have spent a career in outdoor retail, then in qualitative market research. Good attitude and interest, regardless of an employee's knowledge base goes a very long way...

In the end it will all work out.
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Here is my experience from both sides. This is my experience, i don't know if it is applicable to this situations.

1. Fly shops are nearly always low wage jobs. People with good skills and knowledge are rarely willing to work for those wages.

2. Products are changing constantly it's next to impossible to keep your knowledge base current on products.

3. It's exceptionally common for people to come to a shop, cast rods and then go online to buy.

Granted none of these are good excuses for poor customer service but it's just a matter of fact good people who work hard are not going to stick around for low wages.

Here is an example. I recently sent my resume to a good shop in a big city near my current home. I am exceptionally qualified but they ignored my resume.
A few weeks later that same shop has an ad on indeed looking for a retail person for their shop. According to their ad they wanted someone like me. The pay listed was 11.10- 12 per hour. If i was paying that wage I'd expect the person i hired to be a rank beginner with no skill and no knowledge.

My last employer paid nearly double that.

The young man in the shop you visited appears to be lazy and uncaring. If i was the business owner I'd want to know about it so i could keep him from giving my shop a bad name.
Pretty good points here, from a person who's worked in fly shops before.


ISO brown liquor and wild salmonoids
When I was a kid, my Dad would drive up to a gas station and two guys in uniform would come running out. They’d fill the tank with 25 cent/gallon gas, wash the windows, check the oil and tires and give my Dad S&H green stamps. If I drive into a gas station in Montana now, I’d be very disappointed if I expected that sort of service.

Times have changed. In my mind the name of the game today is “Adapt or be pissed off all the time”.

It’s more profitable for people to pump their own gas. It’s more profitable to hire a millennial than a seasoned fly fishing salesperson. The online sales are customer supported by people in Techsupportistan. Brick and mortar shops are at a huge disadvantage.

I believe most are in their twilight.

Old Man

Just an Old Man
I ordered a fly line here in Butte at a fly shop. No Names here. I ordered it around the first of April. They said it would take about a month. Well it now the 20th of the month of May. Going in today to see if it showed up. If not going to cancel it. As much as I don't fish anymore a cheap line should work. I just can't see paying 75 bucks for a line I might use 10 times in a year.

I've bought things there in the past. But going on 6 weeks is much to long for me. I just might go online and pick up a cheap line.
IMO you are right to be upset and complain. Shops will generally let you cast anything....not just what happens to be "strung up" in the back. And even that day if you had said "I want to buy this rod, but I won't buy it before casting it" I bet he would have let you. Not that you should have to be so forward - shops are usually jumping at the opportunity to get people to cast new rods.

After one bad experience I personally wouldn't be blasting the shop online or writing them off forever before trying to get in touch with the owner and giving them the chance to correct the problem.


Well-Known Member
Good help is hard to come by. Managers have been saying that forever, so there's likely a grain of truth to it. Sometimes managers bear some responsibility because they won't bother to properly train the help they hire, and sometimes the hired help is an irresponsible lout who is shocked to discover that the boss didn't hire him to play around on his I-phone all day.
You would never have an experience like that at the Confluence Fly Shop in Bellingham. Scott and Brandon go out of their way to help out everyone who walks through that door.

I used to live in Ketchum, Idaho and the people behind the counter of the shops there couldn't be bothered unless you looked like you would drop the coin for a new Winston and a fresh Set of Simms. That's how I discovered internet shopping and the differences in sales tax.

You are paying for service. If there is no service, why waste your time and money?
I walked into a well known shop in on the West side...with the intent of buying an echo rod.

A bit of my story, I worked for an Orvis shop in high school for 5 years thru college, and then while working for Filson, opened the First Filson retail store in 1992. (It was alot less complicated then) I have been fly fishing for 35+ years and I would call myself an intermediate capable fly fisherman.

Over the years I have fished and collected a fair number of rods, but I am really starting to let go of several of the more expensive (Sage and GLoomis) rods I have built or bought in favor of less expensive ones. The choice is due to the fact that I don't think the brand of a rod helps my casting! (Duh) and I have found a few rods that I love, cast well for me and that I do not worry about in terms of theft while on a trip, etc.

I know good customer service, and I always want to support bricks and mortar shops. For the last 12 or so years I have made many online purchases from the above mentioned shop. When I shop, I am always kind, respectful and modest. My wife said I should remember I am the customer and that I don't serve the shop employee.

Anyway, I walk in, and it is a nice, clean shop. The kid behind the counter (say 25-30) says hi and I tell him I would like to see a couple of Echo rods, and maybe cast one or two. It was like he could not have been less interested in helping me. He did not know much about any of the rods, or the action, and steered me over to the rack.

I asked again if I could cast one, and he said I don't think we have any strung up. Now, in my mind I am wondering I must be an odd ball wanting to cast a rod before buying one.

So fellas, was I being unreasonable?

Then after I made a decision (after about 4 minutes of me looking at the 2 offerings) I decided no cast, no buy. But because I am a sucker and feel like I should not leave a fly shop empty handed I asked if they happened to have this odd little Kamloops pattern, and the guy said I don't think so, let me google it. He did and then walked off and when I went to see if he found it a few minutes later while still looking at his phone he said nope I was looking at something else.


So I spent my obligatory $30 and left. And I will never return.

Am I the asshole here? Was my expectation out of line? I mean this kid and the woman who was also working there had zero interest in making a sale from my perspective. Zero engagement.

Well, you might be an asshole, you might not...did the guy offer any rods to try out, or flat out refuse to let you try any? That seems odd. You also mention a woman working- if the guy wasn’t help, why not ask her? Were there other customers there, or were you alone in the shop? All of those things affect the level of service you get, and without knowing them it’s hard to say who was in the wrong.

Anyway. What’s the Kamloops pattern you were looking for? And if it’s odd, why were you surprised he was looking for it on his phone?
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In any retail, in general, what I experienced a bit- and was taught, was to "Learn to identity the real customer from the tire kickers, and don't get it wrong! "

industry to industry has exceptions. Camera stores hate gearheads who want to steal 20 minutes of time with no intention of buying anything.

Am sure most have car shopped and walked from dropping serious coinage because of slight slip-up in initial treatment at dealerships.


Active Member
Semi-related plug - I've met three new guys who recently started* at Patrick's (from what I've gathered, Pat's is not the shop under discussion, but it's also under new ownership). They've all been great. For those interested in generational pigeonholing, I'd put all three of them in their early- mid-thirties.

There's a good new doggo working there too, soft ears & likes butt scratches.

*At least I think they're all new, as I don't recall seeing them back in the Jimmy days.

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