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Jimmy's All Seasons Angler street sign. Photo by Beau Davis

By Beau Davis

Once known as little more than a railroad hub, prime agricultural center, and adjacent to the first economically viable nuclear reactor in the United States, the community of Idaho Falls has since become known as centrally located to some of the best trout fisheries in the country. These include the main Snake River, the Bear River, American Falls, the South Fork of the Snake, the Henry’s Fork, Yellowstone National Park, and more water in-between than you can literally and metaphorically shake a stick at. And, if you’re looking for one of the best all-purpose and all-species fly shops to service you in this flyfishing mecca, look no further than Jimmy’s All Seasons Angler in Idaho Falls.

The stickers add authenticity. Photo by Beau Davis

First opening in Pocatello in 1979, today Jimmy’s is located in Idaho Falls’ downtown within walking distance of the Snake River. Consequently, its no surprise that Jimmy Gabettas, owner and operator of Jimmy’s All Seasons Angler, has got this local fishery dialed in.

“In the fall there’s really good fishing right through Idaho Falls, and then early Spring. It’s kind of fun to go fishing downtown for a couple of hours. There’s even a sprinkling of cutthroats through town, believe it or not. And also rainbows, browns, cut-bows, sturgeon. Below town there’s also some carp and smallmouth too there in Gem Lake. And around here you have everything, small streams, big streams, wade fishing, boating, and small reservoirs,” Gabettas said.

And with this plethora of angling opportunities comes an equal multitude of tying material, frequent online area fishing reports, and gear from almost every major angling brand you can think of. However, the tying section in particular is one of the best I’ve seen out of any fly shop I’ve visited as entire section of Jimmy’s building is completely devoted to all kinds of chenille, dubbing, hackles, hooks, and everything in-between.

“Definitely I’m glad that we’ve really stuck with tying and expanded it. It does set us apart having all the material. We also still have some books, magazines like the Drake, and a really good vinyl record collection with a turntable,” he said laughing.

It wasn’t always that way though. During our conversation, I asked Jimmy how the industry has changed over the years since he started in the late 70’s and particularly how the tying game has changed.

Jimmy’s venerable shop kitty Miss Katie. Photo by Beau Davis

“In the beginning, there was not a lot of variety of inventory. There were just a handful of rod companies, a handful of reel companies, and fly tying has just changed dramatically,” … “There used to just be saddle hackles, chenille, a lot of real basic stuff. And then all of a sudden you started seeing some synthetics come in like crystal flash. I remember seeing the first crystal flash and all the applications you can use for it. We have a large selection of materials in the shop and what’s interesting is people come in and they’ll buy the same materials for several different types of flies. One tyer will use it for one thing and another for another. So, materials aren’t species-specific or fly specific. It’s fun to see that creativity from the tyers.”

Continuing from this, Gabettas also recounted how Idaho’s fisheries conversation efforts, the history of which is certainly less than stellar like many western states, has also changed over the years.

“Fisheries management has improved dramatically. Like, when you consider the population growth of the West and the impact of all the fishermen, if we still had those same bag limits and those same management practices, you wouldn’t see the quality of fisheries you have now,” … “A classic example of this is when I was a little kid in Burly, Idaho. In the mid 60’s they had a massive fish kill on the river down there. And then of course when the Clean Water Act got passed in the ‘70s, all that pollution was cleaned up and now you’ve got that incredible Smallmouth Bass fishery right through the town. In the 60’s and early 70’s, nothing could live in that stretch of river.”

And, as mentioned earlier, another one of those changes in Idaho’s fisheries management has included efforts by the state to introduce White Sturgeon in the upper reaches of the Snake in downtown Idaho Falls and above Shoshone Falls in particular. Because of this, since 1989 there has remained the distinct possibility of catching truly huge sturgeon throughout the entirety of the Snake River in Idaho.

Almost guaranteed to have that certain chenille you like. Photo by Beau Davis

Another aspect of Jimmy’s All Seasons Angler that diverges from much of the competition is the fact that they don’t have a guide service and instead choose to focus on providing quality gear and instruction.

“You know, we don’t have a guide service. We’re just a standalone shop. That helps. Idaho has a really good structure to the outfitting business. There’s a limited number of outfitters per river so, you know, the resource is protected from overuse. They were really forward-thinking when they set up our system here. Guiding itself is a whole other business.”

Despite this lack of a guide service, Jimmy’s provides excellent opportunities for newcomers to the sport to learn or for those that just want to up their game. These include both their casting lessons over the summer along the Snake and awesome tying demonstrations over the winter months, the latter of which is showcased ubiquitously in pictures above the tying wall.

Everything but the kitchen sink…or at least sucker meat. Photo by Beau Davis

“In the wintertime on Saturdays we have tying demos. We have people who come in and tie for two or three hours and do the demonstrations so we just started taking pictures and putting them on the walls,” … “There’s a lot of good local tyers and we’ve been fortunate to have some really nationally recognized tyers come in and demo too.”

As I gathered up some of my final questions, I asked him what else he’d like included.

“Well, what’s different now is that it is just so easy for people to learn. Like on the internet as far as fly tying goes, you can learn really, really fast. There’s also a lot more classes available through shops in casting. It helps someone because the toughest thing is someone will get started in flyfishing and then he might get discouraged because they don’t have a mentor or ability or a place to learn and now, I think it’s a lot better. It’s just a lot better for someone getting started.

Finally, I asked him if there was anything else he enjoyed particularly about being located in Idaho Falls except for the huge amount of angling opportunities.

“Well, you got people coming into Idaho Falls to go to Yellowstone Park. It’s fun in the summertime here because there’s people who come in from all different countries and they come here to fish. You may not speak a common language, but you can get the communication part of it done because fishing is a common language.”

That it is.

Jimmy’s All Seasons Angler

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