What makes a great fly shop- is it price? Selection? Cool hats? Sure, and no. I walk into some fly shops and walk straight back out- I can’t afford to be there and they want me to know that. There are other shops who sell flies, but they sell so much beer and chips it’s hard to remember why they’re there. Here’s what I want, and have found, in a fly shop. I want a good selection of gear that I can afford, but still be able to drool over a Sage rod. I want atmosphere but not a bunch of dusty deer mounts from 1927. I want to be able to see and find what I’m looking for. I want good advice. I want a good cup of coffee. The shop dog has to be friendly but polite. I want a thorough selection of flies, even the ones I’ll never use. I want to be able to find a decent selection of books. They have to offer a decent range of services including tying classes, seminars and guide service.
Back to our happy place. Meet proprietor and guide Brian Pitser. Brian gets it, he gets you- what you want and need in a fly shop. In the space he has he's managed to pack in an incredible variety of gear, flies, tying materials, rods, reels and apparel. The tying materials really stagger me, as I always seem to be able to find what I need, and Brian has assured me (before we ever talked about this post, I might add) that he can and will get me anything I need. While he does stock high-end gear, The Northern Angler does not come across as high-end or stuffy. It is always neat, clean, well-lit, well organized.
They also offer a lot of services, not the least of which is guide service. Right now the shop has 3 guides fishing the Upper and Lower Manistee, the Betsie, Platte and Boardman rivers and Grand Traverse Bay. They pursue steelhead, salmon, trout, smallmouth bass and do sight fishing for carp that has to be seen to be believed- the water is so clear and such a shade of fluorescent aquamarine you would swear that you are stalking bones on the flats somewhere (I’ll finagle a trip somehow). With casting and tying workshops and classes in the mix, there's always something going on to keep you coming back. The Northern Angler even has a shop dog.
|Shop dog Casey- what a face!|
Brian had this to say about his shop and their philosophy: “I’ve tried to build the kind of place that caters to the hardcore guys, but still welcomes the novice. We all started somewhere. Let’s face it- as fly fishermen we’re all a bunch of geeks, but we know we’re geeks here and so I try to make this shop as inclusive as possible. Fly fishermen come from all walks of life, it’s not just a high-end sport, and so we try to welcome everyone. I have a great staff here, and I am always here when I'm not out guiding. I just want to earn peoples business, and you can only do that through good customer service.” I can vouch that Brian and his staff walk the walk (or is it cast the cast?). By the way- the coffee is that good, and he has mugs and not styrofoam.
Visit their Website by clicking on the links below and look for them on the Friends of Fontinalis Rising sidebar.
426 W. Front Street
Traverse City, MI 49684