by Kirk Deeter

Yes indeed, the arrival of fishing catalogs in the mailbox is a sure sign that spring is just around the corner. And the catalog I wait for eagerly every winter comes from The Fly Shop (

Truth is, most catalogs I get are thrown right in the kindling pile next to the fireplace. Okay, except Victoria’s Secret. And the Fly Shop catalog.

The Fly Shop catalog is the only one I get that makes me literally feel like I did when the thick Sears catalog would come to our house (many, many years ago, when I was a boy) in the months leading up to Christmas. Oh, I’d spend hours leafing through those pages, ready with the pen to jot notes to Santa about the Aurora AFX race track, or the GI Joe (with Kung Fu grip), or a Flexible Flyer sled…

And I feel much the same way looking through The Fly Shop Catalog. Only now, as a magazine editor, I’m actually amazed and envious when a 180-page print product comes to me in the mail. This catalog is an artifact, worthy of prime placement on the commodes of respectable fishing cabins from coast to coast.

I love to imagine the exotic vacations described here… by the same token, I like leafing through the fly pattern pages to plan how I might restock the fly box arsenal for spring. I like the fly tying materials, because the materials at my local fly shop aren’t very good. I also like the unexpected treasures… like on page 63, the “Simms Jack Flask” decorated with Derek DeYoung art.

Most of all, I see the The Fly Shop Catalog as a bellwether on the fly fishing industry itself. I’ve known The Fly Shop owner Mike Michalak for years, and I read as much into the major brands that are conspicuously absent in his pages as I do those that are prominently featured.

This year I also notice The Fly Shop making its own rods, reels, and waders… and selling them at low prices. Breathable chest waders for $179.95, really? Hmmm. I wonder if that’s a trend that will be spreading to other fly shops around the country anytime soon. Check back in a few weeks, and I’ll give you the scoop on that.

What’s your favorite fly catalog?