The Fly Shop. We've all seen it on the east side of I-5 as we drive north from Anderson, CA into Redding. The building sports a green metal roof and a very large rainbow trout on its west side making it hard to miss. However, unless you are a fly fisherman, you may not know all the activity that happens within. This is a wonderful success story.
Was it luck or was it the owner's very smart mother who suggested the location on I-5 would be just right because of exposure? Northern California is well known for its bountiful fly fishing waters. With no less than 51,000 cars (including all fly fishermen coming to the area) driving by the store daily - it was a prime location from the start. Taking a moment here to think about it, what passionate fly fisherman could possibly drive by without stopping?
Being a keen fly fisherman himself, Mike Michalak launched The Fly Shop in Redding on April 15, 1978. With $2,750 of his own and a $125,000 SBA loan, it began. To give a sort of cost comparison, gasoline was 63 cents a gallon.
Hard work, dedication and a love for the sport of fly fishing drove this business forward. This is a sport one can start young and continue for decades. Some of Mike's first clients still frequent 'The Fly Shop.'In fact, it's not uncommon for them to visit the store more than once a day sometimes to pick up this or that so they can get back out on the river to fish. If you've ever known a keen fisherman, this isn't a stretch of the imagination.
Arriving for a tour of the business a couple weeks ago, it was hard to ignore that the parking lot was full. In fact, a parking space was almost difficult to find in the middle of the afternoon when three cars pulled in at the same time. It was interesting to note that the cars were from California and several other states which was proof that the location was indeed a good one - just off I-5 heading north into Redding, CA. Pictures were shared of traffic jams in the parking lot prior to sunrise as fishermen pick up last minute gear and also meet up with their buddies to go fish nearby waters. It makes sense to meet there. Why? Everyone who fishes Northern California knows just where this shop is!
Entering the building, it was hard to ignore the fact that every square inch of the 3500 sf space (or so) was used to the max. Mike explained how spaces (even nooks and crannies) had once been used for this but are now used for that. As the business grows, they reconfigure. It feels fluid and responsive. Their aim was apparent. It was all about keeping their fly fishing clientele happy.
Besides this prime location for the physical building itself, years ago 'The Fly Shop' started mailing out a 4 color 176 page catalog each January. Today this catalog is mailed to 250,000 people globally. A cover of each annual catalog has been mounted on a wall as a reminder of how long ago they started. There is no doubt, when looking at that wall, that they are serious about what they do. And to think they have tentacles now in fishing communities all over the world.
Have you seen 'The Fly Shop's' website? It is ranked the #1 fly fishing website globally. In fact, 'The Fly Shop' has become the most popular retail fly fishing store in America. Located in Redding, CA, 'The Fly Shop' does 1% of the entire world of all fly fishing retail.
Today, TFS brands fly rods, reels, waders, luggage, tippets, leaders, and clothing. They have been the recipient of several prestigious awards known in global fly fishing communities. They have been recognized as the #1 fly fishing store in the world, the finest fly fishing travel company in the industry, and were inducted into the 2010 Fly Fishing Federation Hall of Fame.
Have you ever wanted to go on a fly fishing expedition? Whether booking your fly fishing adventure in Northern California (such as Bollibokka you see here) or beyond, it shouldn't be a surprise you can book your trip via 'The Fly Shop.'
Further destinations can also be booked in Alaska, Mexico, Russia, Canada, Bahamas, Chile, Argentina, New Zealand, the South Pacific, and Tierra de Fuego. You'll likely note that many of the fishermen will be happily sporting gear and clothing with 'The Fly Shop's' logo on it which continues to spread the word about this dedicated establishment. Or you may wish to book a Fish Camp via the same link above. They are held at Antelope Lodge in Siskiyou County, north of Redding.
While they have many items for purchase in their catalog, TFS's #1 product category is flies. Going in the shop, you will be able to view 1000's of them beautiful enough to frame!
Locally, it's noteworthy to realize 'The Fly Shop' does approximately 2200 guided trips in the Redding area each year. The majority of these trips are between Redding and Red Bluff which results in 3000+ bed nights in Redding hotels which is a wonderful injection of tourist dollars into the local economy.
Just his year, 'TFS' has opened up a bass fishing learning center on Steiner Lake, 23 acres in size, which is 15 minutes from downtown Redding. It is where a person can learn the fundamentals of bass fishing.
The Fly Shop is a wonderful local success story. The shop itself has 14 fulltime employees, all with benefits. To walk through the shop, it's apparent each employee is dedicated to the customer's experience - be it in the shop, setting up the right fly fishing adventure in Northern California or globally, or mailing the right fly off to a fisherman so he / she can enjoy fishing at their next destination - wherever that might be.
Hats off to 'The Fly Shop' for being a wonderful part of the Redding community in Shasta County over 34 years now. They recently donated the popular exhibit Fly Fishing: The Art of Deception at the Turtle Bay Museum in Redding. This exhibit can now be shared with other museums. Hats off to Mike and Bertha Michalak and their tremendous staff for making our area richer for what they offer to the community on so many levels. They are making the global community richer, as well, by year in and year out offering the best that fly fishing has to offer.
Please check out the professional photos The Fly Shop provided us to show off the beauty of fly fishing in Northern California. They are posted in The Fly Shop photo album on the Shasta EDC Facebook page.