I’ve been to places like Cabela’s, LL Bean, and Bass Pro Shop. Great inventory, but pretty soul-less places, IMO. It’s tough to get advice and really easy to buy the wrong gear or fly tying materials. I’ve been to other fly shops, where the service just isn’t that professional, in all honesty. (Among the chains, Orvis Dedham does the best job, IMO; Ty and Cynthia are awesome and fish a ton.)
At C.O., it’s the opposite. Great service. Great inventory. Amazing and very professional advice. For example, one time I was looking for a fly. Andy was out of them. So, he went to his car, found the fly in his personal collection, and gave it to me for free. When I ask them basic questions, they’re always patient and thoughtful.
When I went to fly shops, I used to find them really intimidating. I didn’t want to appear like a newbie, and so, I asked very few questions and pretended to know what I was doing.
I no longer do that. I’m all about learning more. In fact, when I hit a new river and run into an angler, I usually say this: “I’m new to this water–any advice?” Some tremendous insights nearly always come forth. So, I’ve learned to ditch my pride.
So, if you’re in the Greater Boston area, make a point of visiting Concord Outfitters. The guys are available as guides, too, and they coordinate trips out-of-state to some pretty amazing waters. Get to know them, support their business, and ask a lot of questions. And, if you cannot drive over, just call. You can call them and order gear, and they’ll ship it out to you. Ask questions.
I’ve learned this about fly fishing: the more I know, the more there is to know. There’s an endless amount of awesome information.
It’s why fly fishing is special for me: a life-long journey. And, a local fly shop with local knowledge is absolutely necessary.