Interesting read


Active Member
Interesting read........

Good article. I think most of us have been guilty, at some time or other, of punching our local shops in the gut by buying products from megastores for slightly lower prices. I know I have.

I have been a rather vocal Walmart hater for several years, based on my perception of what their business model (ingenious though it may be) has done to small business in this country, and I go out of my way never to shop there. I never gave much thought to how some of the other large corporations I patronize are similar to Walmart. For instance, I never thought of Cabelas or Costco as particularly evil, but this article pointed out ways in which I, by supporting those businesses, have made survival that much more unlikely for my local fly shop, and many other small businesses, for that matter.

I depend heavily on my local fly shop for tying materials, lines, advice, and the occasional line of bullshit (from other customers; not the proporietor) that makes fly fishing that much more fun. Cabela's, while it has improved, simply does not have as much to offer me in those areas, and their smaller items tend to be more expensive. I'm feeling like a real bastard for bringing the 6-wt. TFO Spey rod I recently bought at a steep discount from Cabelas into the local fly shop, bragging about what a steal I got on it, and then asking the proprietor to help me line the reel. Of course, being a good sport, the proprietor was content to sell me the line (hell, that's a decent purchase), and he went above and beyond, as always, to set me up to where I would be ready to tie on a bug and start fishing as soon as I got to the river. That's the kind of service I need from my gear provider, and unless I change my ways, that service might not be there for me much longer. I hope that article (while it may have been a little whiney) made others come to similar realizations.

The next rod I buy will likely be an Echo TR Spey rod. Even if I could save a few bucks elsewhere, I will be buying it from my local fly shop. Generally speaking, even if it does cost me a little more, I'm making a commitment to support local small businesses whenever it's reasonably possible. I realize that my little show of resistance won't stop the tidal wave of economic destruction Corporate America has brought upon us, but at least I'll be able to say I did the best I could when the last small business on Main Street rolls up the carpets and locks the front door for the last time. If America's middle class is to remain intact, a LOT more citizens are going to have to start looking at the unbearable costs associated with nickel and dime savings at big box stores.

Old Man

A very Old Man
WFF Supporter
Interesting read........

I see that 500 number is coming up again when you go to page 2. And I didn't read it all.

I don't buy from big box stores. My closest one is 65 or 75 miles away. And it's a Wally World. Depending on which way I go. I tend to spend my money at Frontier Anglers, keeping it close to home.

That first Statement was correct. Last Year was a bad one on high water. There was many roads washed out in 2011. Because of the high snow pack.

Bill Aubrey

Active Member
Folks, it's not just the big box stores. As mentioned, it's the internet also. You can buy from a fly shop online and pay zero in sales tax and zero in shipping. We have all been guilty of this from time to time. I try to keep my purchases local because I remember well how it felt when we lost the Morning Hatch in Tacoma. A couple of years ago, I wrote some articles for club newsletters along these lines. I live 2 miles from Cabelas and rarely stop by; it just is not the same.


Active Member
May 28 2011, I launched at the wolf creek bridge and took out at the Dearborn. Great day on the water!!

Support your local flyshop!

Upper Yak looking better today...... maybe tomorrow........



Joe Streamer
The thing fly fishing gear manufacturers appear to not realize is that once their sales channel becomes dominated by one or two retailers (Cabela's and maybe Bass Pro), then power in the industry shifts from those manufacturers to the big retailers. If you know anything about Walmart, you know how brutal they are to the manufacturers who supply the goods on their shelves. They squeeze their margins unbelieveably tightly, and this basically amounts to a shift of profits from the manufacturers of goods to Walmart. If Simms, Sage and other fly fishing manufacturers who index their retail channel strategy in favor of big box retailers aren't careful, soon Cabelas and Bass Pro will wield similar leverage over them.


Interesting read........

Great letter/article, thanks for posting it. I would like to "specialty manufacturers" like most of the flyfishing anufacturers, deal strictly with "specialty retailers". Of course it foregoes the easy sale to a box type store, but their sales should be able to be maintained if the "specilaty retailers" do their part to grow the sport.

From what I see, locally, a lot of the local fly shops work really hard to do just that, they need more support now from the manufacturers.

This is still a regurgitation of the concerns from specialty fly shops when ProGuide Direct was launched. Bottom line is that the fly shops that are doing it right will survive, and the ones that aren't, well the customers make that decision.

Aside from the obvious (down economy) these two comments sum it up best I think. I've been fly fishing for 26 yrs now, and always do my best to support the local fly shops. There are very, very few things I buy from box stores. In fact, fluorocarbon line for building my own leaders (at 250 tds a spool), and Owner hooks for my stingers on steelhead flies, are the only things I don't by from fly shops. They don't even carry those two items, otherwise I would.

Where else can you arrive 5 minutes before closing, by only $15 worth of material, and not feel like you're "pushing your luck" with time?

Sean sees me pulling into his shop, and can never get his door locked soon enough. :clown: I am getting better though :eek:


Active Member
Interesting read........

Smalma speaks much truth in his observation about too many fly shops chasing too few customers. He is also correct about the most experienced among us not buying rods, reels, or even fishing vests very often and instead we buy leaders, hooks, a few tying materials, etc. Because we have been fly fishing for many years and we like the high end rods and reels we have acquired, we see no reason to buy the newest, latest, etc. rod or reel. Don't get me wrong, we will buy a new rod when we need one that does something the high end rods we already own doesn't do, or do well. We just don't feel the need to go out and buy the newest model just because it is the newest model.

Before someone gets the wrong impression, I like local shops. I remember very well what it was like back in the good 'ol days when I started fly fishing. I was taught to fly fish by my father at age 6 back in 1959. Back then, there were very few fly shops. Yes, there were a few in places like Seattle, Portland, Southwest Montana (these were an anomalie and existed solely because of Yellowstone Park and the angling press telling the world about the terrific trout fishing in Southwest Montana), Chicago, New York City, Boston, San Francisco, Spokane, and a few other cities in the USA. However most of us had to make due with what we could find in the local general sporting goods store that carried everything from baseball and football gear to tennis and gold on to fishing and hunting gear. And most of these were not just down the road a few miles, most of them were sort of centrally located around 20-30 miles for most folks to drive. Plus, the didn't carry the high-end quality fly fishing gear because the market was too small and they couldn't afford to tie up their money in items that might take years to sell.

In order to get good equipment, folks had to mostly buy it from the manufacturers, unless they were lucky enough to live close to Seattle, Portland, Spokane, etc. where the fly shops were located. Otherwise, we were forced to contact the manufacturer, find out the cost, send them a check or money order, and wait for it to arrive, which in the case of high-end bamboo rods could take up to 2 years before it arrived at your door. The quality lines, reels, waders, wading shoes, fishing vests, rain jackets, and rods were not found in these local general sporting goods stores. They had to be purchased from one of the few catalog retailers like Dan Bailey's, Orvis, LL Bean, Marriott's, Herter's (yes they carried some good stuff), Abercombie & Fitch, etc.

There was not such thing as getting to try out several different brands of rods in the same line weight and length back then. Instead, you tried to find someone you knew who had a rod you were considering buying and asked him if you could cast it. Nor was it possible for most of us to simply drive an hour or less and buy a new pair of waders or wading shoes. Nope, we had to order them and wait 3-8 weeks to get them. As a result, many folks bought rods and other equipment simply because an author in a magazine recommended it, not because it was best suited to him.

Jump ahead to today. Now we all can either drive an hour or less and pretty much buy whatever we need. We get to try out different rods and then make our selection. Need a new pair of waders for the coming season, we can wait until the day before or even opening day to get them. This state of affairs today I much prefer over the old way.

So were does this leave the big box sporting goods stores like Cabella's, Sportsman's Warehouse, Bass Pro Shops, etc.? They, like the Herter's (and to a large extent Orvis and LL Bean) of the past providing a host of products that local shops cannot afford to stock. And the local fly shop, just like the few that existed back in the day, or the very few general sporting goods stores that had a good fly fishing selection (these were the ones that had an owner who fly fished) provides local knowledge, must provide great customer service, concentrate on the equipment needed for fishing in the area his store is located, have a good tying material and hook selection for the species in his area, have at least some flies that are unique to his area, and both get to know his "regular customers" along with being willing to go the extra mile to get a customer something not normally stocked in the store.


Not to be confused with Freestone
Interesting read........

That is an interesting article, thanks Mark. Lots of great points here by the forum. One other factor not mentioned is how much the advent of E-bay and e-classifieds, like the one on WFF, affect the sales or both the independents and chain stores? Think about the absolutely huge inventory of used equipment on the internet now -- through private sellers. Back when our mornings started with the Seattle Times, TNT, etc., we never looked at the "used flyfishing equipment" section in the classifieds. The only time used equipment made its way into our possession was perhaps a friend who wanted to change up some gear.

Not sure about everyone else, but I easily buy 80% of my equipment through these channels. Hey, do you suppose we could qualify for some recycling credits? :hmmm:

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