Salomone: Faces at the shop |

Salomone: Faces at the shop

Getting to know the folks who stock the shelves can pay huge dividends on the stream

Michael Salomone
Hunter Burnham is Vail Valley Anglers' e-commerce manager.
Michael Salomone/Courtesy photo

As anglers we have a need for gear, information and guidance. Keeping up with the “new” in our sport is a daunting task. Magazines are filled with items we long to wrap our fingers around and that is not easily achieved when shopping on the internet. You have to enter your local fly shop. This is where the backbone of our local fly-fishing industry rides — on the labor of select faces that remain year after year. Do yourself a favor and take a few minutes to introduce yourself to the people that make the fly shops tick.

Inside the shop is where all the fly-fishing magic comes alive. No one knows the new gear, the hottest flies and the fanciest rods better than the people who stock the shelves and listen to the sales reps speeches. 

Having difficulty finding a specific item or locating the correct tying material? Just ask. It always pays to speak up. The best way to feel appreciated in our local fly shop is to develop relationships with the faces you always see.

Not only does it help to ask questions, but it establishes a knowledge base. The managers — who remain eternal in the fly shops — will remember what you ask and what you purchase. At the next visit into the shop, they will have questions for you.

“How was your saltwater flats vacation?”

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“Are you enjoying your new rod?”

Vail Valley Anglers guide Will Watson instructs a pair of fishermen.
David James/Courtesy photo

They will cultivate a sense of how you fish. This pays off tremendously when an angler enters the store and the shop already has products available and catered to the client’s taste. At Vail Valley Anglers fly shop there is great pride in delivering the best experience possible.

Let me introduce you to one of the faces at the fly shop.

Hunter Burnham, Vail Valley Anglers e-commerce manager

What are some of your more impressive fly fishing adventures?

“Some of my more memorable adventures I have had with a fly rod came from high-Alpine lake fishing for cutthroats. There is something magical about packing a bag with the essentials needed to get out into the backcountry. When you pair that with a lightweight rod and a small box full of terrestrials and small dry flies, it’s hard to beat for me. Although, who doesn’t get fired up about stripping some streamers in the saltwater, right?”

High-country cutthroats are Hunter Burnham’s favorite fish to angle for.
Michael Salomone/Courtesy photo

What factors make fly fishing the choice for your angling?

There are multiple factors that make fly fishing my “go-to” method as an angler, but I think it is the complexity of the sport that really draws me to it. The depth of knowledge needed to be consistently successful out on the water is vast. When you dive into the world of entomology and how fish react to water temps and the barometric pressure, it is easy to get lost in it. It challenges me to be more thorough in my rigging, my casting, and not to mention the challenge of making that “perfect drift” every time.”

There are many other means for angling, what makes fly fishing so attractive above all others?

“I like to say I am an angler, which by definition is “a person who fishes with a rod and a line.” Although, I think what makes fly fishing so attractive to me rather than traditional fishing is the hand-to-hand combat feeling you have when you are stripping a fish into the net. You have to be on your game 100% of the time. I also enjoy the fact that fly fishing is a sport that kind of forces you to open yourself up to some humility. No one will ever know everything about this sport; therefore, it is on you to constantly try to be better and better.”

Why would you encourage someone to try a guided fly fishing experience?

“I always encourage people to take a guided trip at least once. Especially if this is a sport that you are wanting to pick up having never done it before. No one becomes a pro in one day, but you can drastically decrease the learning curve by going out with someone that can coach you through the frustrations and give you constructive feedback. It is also a fantastic way as a seasoned fisherman to get a ton of local knowledge about the waters you are fishing, and is extremely beneficial when you are fishing areas you haven’t fished before.”

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