The other afternoon I decided to stop by Springfield, Missouri's,
only independent fly shop, Backcountry Outfitters. The shop
is located in a 1,000 square foot storefront in a strip center
on Battlefield Road. It's a well-stocked shop with a great
fly shop ambiance. They carry a lot of FishPond gear, only
Simms waders, and most of the major brands of lines, leaders,
tippet, and tying materials. Their supply of tying materials
was pretty impressive. It's comparable to that of the Orvis
shop in Branson and exceeds that of Bass Pro here in town,
which is the flagship store of this big box sporting goods
retailer. They carry a few high-end vises and other tying
paraphernalia as well.
When I walked in, one of the guides greeted me promptly and
asked if I needed anything in particular. I said no and he
left me to browse. The owner and another guide were playing
cards at the tying table in the center of the store. After
I checked out the entire place, I said hello and sat down for
a chat. I've been looking for a particular rarely-stocked
tying material I wanted to ask them about. It's what I was
looking for when I walked in. They made some good suggestions
about what type of products to look for and apologized for not
knowing exactly what I needed and having it in stock. But
they didn't offer to find it for me. In the past, all of
the independent fly shops I have asked about stuff like that
have offered to find it for me, gone through catalogs with me,
and taken my contact information to follow up. So I was just
a tad bit disappointed in the level of service comparatively
Prices at Backcountry Outfitters are very competitive within
the lines they carry. But carrying only FishPond and Simms
limits their offerings to the low-end consumer. Frankly, I
didn't even look at their rods to see what they do…and don't...
carry. But judging from the Simms and FishPond brand loyalty,
I would assume they aren't carrying a bunch of sub $100 fly
rods, either. That may be a very wise business decision given
their proximity to Bass Pro Shops. They would not be able to
compete with such a huge retailer on price points on products
Bass Pro carries.
The guys there are pretty cool and younger than the staff
you find in most independent shops these days. They're not
kids by any stretch. But they don't have gray hair yet,
either. They tend to be streamer-focused anglers, themselves.
And the shop has a very good selection of quality streamers,
streamer-tying materials, and bass and panfish merchandise.
I also think it is wise for most Ozarks fly shops not to
limit themselves to just trout. We have far more high
quality warm water fisheries than we do trout fisheries.
Smallmouth and largemouth bass, white bass, and crappie
are all species within the range of expertise at
Backcountry Outfitters. In fact, while I was there, even
walleye and carp were discussed. And that is a refreshing
change for a guy who is used to the fly shops of Branson
and northern Arkansas.
You can find Backcountry Outfitters on-line at
http://www.backcountryoutfitters.org Next time you're in
Springfield, stop by and say hello. And tell them I sent you. ~ Ken
Ken graduated from Southern Methodist University
in 1988, and spent the next several years serving
in the United States Navy as an intelligence analyst
and Russian Language translator. He is a veteran
of Desert Shield and Desert Storm. Leaving the
nation's service in 1993.
Ken is also a published outdoor writer and historian,
having penned articles and stories that have appeared
in several national hunting publications like North
American Hunter magazine, on GunMuse.com, in regional
and local newspapers, and historical and literary
journals. He has also provided hunting and dog
training seminars for Bass Pro Shops and other
sporting goods retailers nationwide. He volunteers
his time to Ducks Unlimited and Trout Unlimited,
as well as several local charitable organizations.
He is also a REALTOR with Coldwell Banker in
Springfield, Missouri; where he lives with his wife,
Wilma, and their Weimaraner, Smoky Joe.