Flyshop Friday

I remember the first time I walked into the old log-and-brick cabin in downtown Jackson. I suppose we all have an archetype in our head of what the ideal fly shop should look-and perhaps more importantly-feel like, and for me HCF was it – it had the requisite funk, character, sense of history, whatever you want to call it. That elusive “something” that can’t be manufactured or contrived, a vibe that can only grow slowly, and never intentionally, over time.

Founded by local guide and well-known fly tyer Jay Buchner in 1974, High Country Flies has occupied the corner of Center St. and Gill in downtown Jackson, Wyoming, for the past 12 years. Under current long-time owners Howard Cole and Jim Jones, HCF has developed into one of the most well-regarded shops in the greater Jackson Hole area-a must-stop for experienced advice and honest info on local conditions, as well a place to swap stories and jokes in the tradition of what fly shops used to be before too many sadly morphed into stuffy, upscale boutiques.

Offering guide services on the storied waters of the Snake, Green, New Fork, Hoback and Gros Ventre rivers in addition to custom-tailored instructional days, HCF intentionally keeps their guide team small and personable. A number of famous western flies have originated from those associated with the shop during over the years, including the Turck’s Tarantula, Power Ant, J.J. Special, Drake Snake and the Light Bright Serendipity.

As in any shop with so much history, the stories could easily fill a book. One of my favorites involves the guy who came in asking where we, “kept the free flies.” Without missing a beat, J.J. replied, “Over on the windowsill. Help yourself.

Bruce Smithhammer
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