I'm lucky to have some good fly shops within an hour~ of home. Two that are within 25' actually. I enjoy going to these shops and checking out what's available and being able to really look at materials I need or want for tying. Heck, the first "fancy" fly fishing reel I got, was in middle school I think, when my dad went to the Lower Forty Outfitters in Worcester MA and got me an early Lamson. Amazing gift, and 25-30~ years later the reel still works (good example of buying good gear - it can last a LONG time). Concord Outfitters is a newer shop, but the help and gear on hand is awesome. Likewise, Eldredge Bros Fly shop near York Maine is great as well. As I said, I'm lucky to have great shops near by! There's even a shop I have yet to get to - which is a shame because all reports are that it's great and it's only about 40' from home called the Evening Sun Fly Shop - it's on my list to make a reason to go up and check this shop out soon!
That ability to go in, shoot the breeze and enjoy the "family" that is fly fishing is awesome.
That said, some times, you just have to order things online for whatever reason. For me, it's being busy. For others, distance.
Traditionally my online business has been The Bears Den, or J Stockard. The Bears Den being here in MA tends to get more of my business... plus I've had the fortune of going to the shop - I make it a point any time I'm in SE MA for work or pleasure... It's the largest fly shop I've personally been in, and wholly smokes do they have just about anything you could want, or want to touch. Plus the folks who work there are very knowledgeable and friendly. I'm always amazed with Bears Den, how you make your order, pay for shipping, and when you get the note letting you know the order was processed (which is typically quite quick), you also get a note letting you know they adjusted shipping. What I mean is this: every time I've ordered, they have reduced my shipping charge because the amount was beyond what was needed to get the items to me on time. I don't know that this would be the case if you lived in Ohio or Nebraska or Wyoming etc... But it's a nice touch for sure!
Recently though I've ordered about 50% of the stuff I've ordered from Performance Flies. By recently, I mean the last 2-3 years. They seem to specialize in euro items... which is a soft spot for me. My love of cycling and endurance sport has made European things interesting to me since before I knew fly fishing was a big deal over across the pond. Maybe that's what got me into the stuff they have at Performance Flies... But the thing that got me to make a post like this, was that I ordered some things from them at about 3:45 yesterday and got a note this AM in my email letting me know the items were shipped already.
That's awesome service - especially since I didn't ask for "fast" shipping.
And that's the way it always seems to be when I do order from Bears Den OR Performance Flies.
I own a small business, I want people to "shop small" and "shop local". Get out and get into those local fly shops. It's vital to knowledge transfer in our sport. It's vital to our sports culture. But if you cant go to a shop, or for whatever reason need to order vs purchase locally, check out Bears Den and Performance Flies. Both are fast, great with questions and great with service. AWESOME options!
PS - I have NO affiliation with any business noted. This was a post that just came to mind after getting the "order shipped" email this AM.