Monday, January 16, 2017

The Fly Shop "TOUR"

"Faith is taking the first step even when you don't see the whole staircase"

Martin Luther King 


Martin Luther King Day is a wonderful day for me.  Personally, I choose to recognize the memory of Martin Luther King for all he brought to our country through history.  His role was and still is significant.  The statement in quotes above is very meaningful and is so valid.  Take a moment and reflect on it.

Another reason this day is so significant in my life and how it relays to fly fishing and a fly tying blog is the basis of the rest of this post.

When I lived in Eastern Idaho, prior to my move to Colorado a few years ago, a small and avid group of fly fishers and fly tyers used this day as a day for the Fly Shop Tour.  Where we lived was around (90) miles or so from West Yellowstone, Montana.  Also known as the Fly Shop Mecca of the world!  Since we all had the day off from work, we annually planned a trip to West Yellowstone to tour the great fly shops and visit with friends that hung out here this time of the year.  We would get up early, have Coffee and Cinnamon Rolls at the local truck stop and then be on our way.

Our first stop was along the famous Henry's Fork of the Snake River.  Here we would stop in at

 Mike Lawson  is known as the local guru on the Henry's Fork and the owner of Henry's Fork Anglers.  Excellent fly shop and very friendly to all who wandered in during this time of the year.  Mike has a sense of humor that is kind of a dry one, but, I always had a laugh or two after listening to his stories of being on the river.  (Spent money here....)

Just down the road in Island Park, along the river, we also would stop and say hi to our friend Lynn Sessions at 

Lynn was always very friendly also and came across as just one of the guys.  Our group enjoyed sharing stories and picking his brain for information on the Henry's Fork and also some Henry's Lake information. (Drank coffee here till the pot was empty and then off we would go to the next stop on our Fly Shop Tour).

Once we arrived in West Yellowstone our first stop on the route was at

Bob Jacklins's Fly Shop.  Bob had such a warm and welcoming attitude he brought to his customers, along with the ability to talk about great fishing adventures in the area.  We also use this time to schedule Bob to come down to Idaho Falls to speak to our Fly Fishing Club to bring everyone up to date on current fishing conditions in Yellowstone area.  Bob, never once turned us down, and for that became a very familiar face to our group.  (More money spent here!!)
We would grab a Hamburger and a cold drink for lunch after that and then head to 
Blue Ribbon Flies.  Here we would be hosted by Craig & Jackie Matthews and other very knowledgeable staff.  I must admit that if I were asked to rate my most preferred fly shop that I had ever been in, Blue Ribbon Flies, would take the honor.  Craig, Jackie, and crew published a catalog that I eagerly anticipated getting each winter season.  It was full of great information on fly fishing the Madison River and other great Yellowstone waters.  Articles written by the Matthews' and their staff.  Hot fly patterns for the area and the shop was loaded with some of the highest quality fly tying material you could find anywhere.  Our group would drool over some of the pieces of Deer Hair, Elk Hair, etc.  Necks and Saddle Hackles were of prime quality also.  Basically, a Fly Tyer's Heaven!  (Lots of money spent here.  My wife used to say that my life was mortgaged here!)

Our ride home was spent talking fly fishing and fly tying.  The Tour was over for another year, but as each winter blew in, our group would come together and begin anxiously awaiting our trip to all the fly shops on the route again.    Fly Tying season is here.........

Keep the focus on the vise!

Grandpa Mel & My Friend Ol' Walter


  1. Mel those are some well known fly shops. When traveling it's nice to stop by a local shop and just poke around. They're all fly shops but they're all different.

    1. Alan, totally agree with you. If you are looking for fly rods, reels, fly tying material, etc., then most of them are all alike really. What is unique to me is the characters and the personalities of those who toil away running these shops. Most are a lot of fun to talk and very willing to share stuff you would not know if you didn't pay a visit!

  2. Mel
    You guys are so lucky out there to have the Bass Pro of fly shops close by, wish we had those types shop here. Thanks for sharing

    1. Yes, we are Bill, yes we are lucky. Also, most regular fly shop visitors are in some form of "Cash Strapped" after their visits........ Thanks for the comment.

  3. Appreciate your words about King. And the fly shop tour is a great idea. I've spent some time at those Henry's Fork shops.

    1. Jim, thanks for the visit and comment. They are always welcome here! During these days and times it is quite easy to put the "Blinders" on and ignore MLK's contribution to the country we live in. May his efforts not be in vain........

      If you have spent time in those Henry's Fork shops then you know of the pleasure one receives when visiting. Not always about the dollars you spent........

  4. See Mel, what a great story you dug out of the vault! I've never been to those shops mostly because I've never been to Yellowstone. Hopefully I'll have a chance to check them out before I check out.

    1. Thanks, Howard, for the kind comment on my memory bank......
      You and Pam owe it to yourself to plan a trip to Yellowstone Park and the surrounding areas, just once, to take it all in..,
      You would love some of the characters in the fly shop business in the area. They are a great bunch of guys and gals.


">" async= src="//"> ">