Michael Gracie

Adventures in Fly-Fishing Retail – Episode 1: Back To The Roots

This much is certain: fly-fishing has entered a new age. The quiet sport is now rock n’ roll extreme, and it won’t be long before anglers are swooping into canyon tailwaters via parachute. Vin Diesel is bound to be Orvis’s future spokesperson, and I wouldn’t rule out white label video games with John Madden’s voice for narration.

It’s all about the marketing. But you already knew that.

What you very likely don’t know, however, is that my first retail experience was undertaken during my junior year in high school. Back then I worked as a stock boy in a women’s clothing boutique. This job had quite obvious benefits, a discussion of which is beyond the scope of this post. But let’s just assume I felt myself one lucky bastard at the time. Fast forward and the idea of a fly fishing bum wannabe working in a fly shop, even in the very limited time frames for which I have been proffered, should also seem like a boon. But it took just one day to realize that fly fishing retail is much more than just fun and games.

See, this Tucker Ladd guy (a.k.a. the Boss) has heard the tale: I’d caught plenty of salty and/or warm watery fishy creatures before I ever set eyes on a trout. It’s the exact opposite path to that which the majority of fly anglers take, but the Boss doesn’t forget anything.

Did I sell a dozen high-end rods and reels my first day? Take potential purchasers out all afternoon for casting demonstrations? Help female customers in and out of the Goretex waders I insisted they try on over and over and over again?


Like any other retail business, to sell product you must display product. And display properly. Hence, the low man on the totem pole spent the day moving, sorting, and organizing flies. Mostly saltwater flies, big ones, with extremely sharp hooks. Fancy that. No gloves allowed either.

Trout's Fly Fishing

My fingertips are still bleeding. Those are, however, some darn sweet flies.

MG signing off (to find a workers comp claim form)


[…] This post was mentioned on Twitter by K Wesley Howe, David Deffenbaugh and Dave Smith, Avril Anjers. Avril Anjers said: “Adventures in Fly-Fishing Retail” – Episode 1: Back To The Roots …: This much is certain: fly-fishing has ent… […]

Brandon says:

Well sorted mate!

Thanks! Now if I can just improve my photog skills.

n.taylor says:

Do the dedicated readers of get preferential treatment in said shop? Can we expect a blowout sale on your last day? These are questions that need answers, and I for one am going to insist that I receive nothing but the highest degree of customer service from someone of your stature.

RE: “Stature” – I used to walk up to Trout’s only to find the “We’re Closed” sign hanging in the door, Master Kanda being the culprit. I hope that answers your last question.

As for the first, I’ll do what I can as long as I’m not scrubbing the toilet. And on the middle…

What do you mean by “last day”? I may take this up as a new career!

D. Brittain says:

About time you found respectable work.

I’ve got a good mentor.

casting demonstrations? HAHAHAHA!

No, but seriously, nice sorting.

When I’m done laughing myself, I’ll get back to you. PS: Get your package yet?

No package as of yet…

Jim Hunter says:

No, No, I want to hear more about the wader fittings.

I’d love to, but if I spout off management might start frisking me for cameras.

rmc says:

“I felt myself one lucky bastard at the time. ”
lucky you didnt get fired for that

Guess it’s a good thing the employer of my youth didn’t consider working around beautiful women all day, and enjoying it, an offense.

Glenda Fletcher says:

I’ve got a good mentor.

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