You live in a proud community which is chock full of admirable institutions and civic virtue. In all likelihood I’ve never been there, but I’ve experienced enough places to make that claim with confidence. I’m equally confident asserting that the local fly shop does more for you and your corner of the world than any other outfit in town. You disagree? Let’s consider the likely contenders.
Hospital – They come in handy to be sure. But wouldn’t we all be a lot healthier if we spent more time on the water, doing what we love in the sunshine and fresh air? Death comes to us all. No hospital in the world can change that fact. Exceptional fish come only to a select few. The shop can help on that score. Get on over there. You aren’t getting any younger.
Public Library – Near and dear to my heart, my library card is the hardest working piece of plastic I own. Paired with a little initiative, it has proven a reliable passport to untold worlds of knowledge and adventure. But the other day I walked into a strange fly shop in a small town far from home, with an obscure question about soft hackle flies. I walked out 45 minutes later with more information on design, theory, history and application than I could possibly make use of, along with a handful of world class fish stories– no ID or arduous research required. Verdict? Fly shop by a nose.
Newspaper – I’m a staunch advocate of a strong, independent press, but let’s be honest. The paper is essentially charging you a monthly fee to deliver fresh depression to your doorstep every morning. The boys at the shop meanwhile know all of the current events worth knowing – where the fishing’s hot, what’s hatching, which colors are turning heads. That kind of news can have an immediate, positive impact on your life, and it’s all yours for the price of stopping in to visit. Chalk another point, for the fly shop.
Bank – Have you read a newspaper lately? No contest. (Much like what many financial institutions are pleading in courts of law these days).
Court of law – One question… Given a choice, would you rather be in the market for a fishing guide or a lawyer? Case closed.
Museum – Show me the beauty contest where split cane rods, inlaid landing nets, and hand crafted dry flies are out of their league and we’ll talk. Show me the painting that can tighten your lines and I may even listen.
Supermarket – Give a man a fish and he eats for a day, teach a man to fish and he eats (and fishes,) for a lifetime. And we all know that man does not live by bread alone. Which leads us to …
Church – At least four of Christ’s twelve disciples were fishermen. And as literary legend David James Duncan points out in The River Why, they took time to tally their catch before catching-up with their newly resurrected Lord God and Savior when He reappeared at the Sea of Galilee. I don’t exactly qualify as a theologian by most conventional standards, but it seems pretty cut and dried to me. After all, who wouldn’t rather be standing in a river, thinking about God, than in sitting in church, thinking about the river.
Stalking the seam is not a solitary endeavor. We rightly honor the friends and family who support our pursuits. How about a little love for the guys and gals at the fly shop too? Who else goes to work each morning focused on sending us out properly equipped and appropriately informed? Where else do they listen to you brag on your triumphs and cry about the ones who got away? So be sure to scratch the dog’s ears next time you’re there and drop off some baked goods just because (maybe even an occasional six-pack). And most importantly, vote with your wallet – showrooming and bigbox stores do nothing for your town, your fishing or your soul. It may be the most valuable institution in your community, but if you don’t support your local fly-shop, who will?