America’s oldest city embraces fluff chuckers with a new storefront
St. Augustine is an angler’s oasis. It has redfish in the fall and winter; tarpon in the spring and summer; and world-class bass in the nearby St. Johns River, which is a roll-cast away in nearby Palatka.
As good as the fishing is here, the nation’s oldest city has never fully embraced a fly shop. A few folks tried to cater to fluff chuckers, but never made it work, which is no surprise to those who throw the long rod in Florida. After all, the Sunshine State has lost more than a half dozen fly shops since the mid 2000s.
So what does Don Reed do, he takes his online fly-tying business and starts a brick-and-mortar business. That was three years ago. The place was called Saltwater Flytyers. It was tucked back in a warehouse next to a gymnastics studio. GPS anyone?
But location isn’t everything. Reed hired a knowledgeable, dedicated staff and stocked his shop with an incredible fly-tying selection. Other shops might have a few shelves of fly-tying materials; SWFT filled entire walls with EP Fiber. And the fly bins bulged with distinctive patterns produced by a dozen domestic tyers.
Fortified by strong customer service, SWFT’s revenue increased each year from 2013-16. To meet the need for more business, SWFT expanded, moving to a new building with three times the space of the old location and changed its name—Saltwater Flytyers at Oyster Creek Outfitters. The new shop has more clothing and accessories, but hasn’t lost its identity. Customers can demo a rod on nearby Oyster Creek, where 30-inch reds and trout roam the shallows. Tyers can pull up a chair, sip coffee, and work on their favorite flood-tide patterns.
The name of the shop and the location have changed, but the commitment to those who fish remains the same, and it’s a big reason why SWFT at Oyster Creek continues to thrive.
See more at, Oyster Creek Outfitters.