We fly tyers can be a notoriously picky bunch.
As owner of Schultz Outfitters Fly Shop & Guide Service and a long-time fly tyer, I've learned some things along the way to keep even the most discerning fly tying customers happy and coming back to the shop.
If you're not a fly tyer you don't stand a chance. If you don't have the stock you don't stand a chance. Follow or lead — either way it takes time and commitment. Is the juice worth the squeeze? It's your shop; you make the call.
2. Keep up with what's happening in the fly tying community.
Follow relevant fly tyers on social media. Staying up to date on what's going on in fly tying has never been so easy! Social media has changed the game. Embrace it or fade away.
3. Be a complete fly shop.
Own your region and fishery, but don't forget about the traveling angler!
4. Source unique fly tying products.
Getting your hands on the top-shelf materials is KEY! Tying with the best materials you can get is extremely important. Customers appreciate the extra hustle!
5. Host tying events and classes.
Build a community around your fly shop! Our weekly Bar Flies series is now in it's 8th season. We pull an average of 45 tyers a week, 15 to 20 of which are beginners. This didn't happen overnight (back to the first point of commitment).
6. Take the time to instruct and educate.
It may take you away from the sales floor for a few minutes, but your customer will appreciate the one-on-one time. That's something you can't find at many big-box outdoor retailers. You might land a lifelong customer and a champion of your fly shop!
7. Use fly recipe sheets.
If you'd like some Flymen Fishing Co. how-to-tie cards for your shop, send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org
Some might say this is old school, but handing your customer a recipe sheet works better than verbally rattling off a list of materials. Keeping your fly recipe sheets dialed and up to date is important. Flies evolve and so should your sheets.
8. Have a dedicated fly tying classroom.
Andreas Andersson of Sweden leads a fly tying class at Schultz Outfitters.
Making sure your dedicated fly tying room is outfitted with a quality tying table, comfortable chairs, and good lighting is important! Pro it up by investing in quality camera equipment and a flat screen.
9. Remember that fly tying is NOT seasonal!
Sure, you might only have a half-dozen packs of black marabou in the shop come July; however, key components should NEVER run out. Items such as hooks, marabou, rabbit strips, bucktails, flash, shanks, etc. need to be on the wall all 365 days of the year. Know your inventory and make seasonal adjustments a priority.
10. The Team.
Your staff has to be on the same page. It's the owner's/manager's job to make sure everyone is up to speed. Coach your team on the new products, come up with a game plan, and execute. It's all about commitment to the craft!
What have you found works for your shop?
Stay tuned for new posts on the Flymen Partners Blog.
About Mike Schultz:
Mike Schultz (known as “Schultzy” to most) is the Owner of Schultz Outfitters Fly Shop & Guide Service specializing in Southeastern Michigan angling, instruction, and destination travel. Born and raised in the Great State of Michigan, Schultzy has been immersed in the outdoors. After graduating from Eastern Michigan University with a Bachelor of Business Administration, he started guiding and working in the fly fishing industry full-time. Logging countless hours on the water each year, Schultzy has developed a vast knowledge of Midwestern waters and beyond. The bulk of his guiding and angling takes place on his home waters of Southeastern Michigan; These Rivers offer world class warm-water fishing. His angling travels have taken him from Patagonia to Russia and many places in between.