Today’s fly shop is evolving. No longer is it merely a place to stumble in, drop 10 bucks on bugs, exit toward river, and repeat six months later. There’s more to the equation. Successful shops are community builders. Gathering places for the like-minded. Hubs of activity offering wisdoms extending beyond the sale rack.
You probably know this shop. If it doesn’t already exist in your backyard, you’ve gone and sourced it elsewhere. Earlier this year Mike Schultz, along with business partner Brian Doelle, built it. Born on the banks of the Huron River in Ypsilanti, Michigan, Schultz Outfitters has been generating strong buzz with its focus on angler education, local conservation, and fun in the form of world-class warmwater fishing opportunities.
“In our corner of the state we have some of the best warmwater fishing in the country,” Schultz says. “We primarily fish the Huron, Flint, Shiawassee, and Kalamazoo rivers—all produce exceptional smallmouth bass, pike, and carp.”
Lake St. Clair is also within striking distance, offering excellent musky and smallie fishing. And within a few hours you can strip streamers for two-foot trout, swing for steelhead in the Great Lakes tributaries, or hit the Upper Peninsula area for trout, steelhead, salmon, musky, and more.
“Most of our team cut their teeth fishing the rivers of southeast Michigan. We’ve chased all manner of species near and far but our true love is warmwater species, including smallmouth bass, carp, pike, and musky,” Schultz says. “One of our goals is to introduce both beginners and old hands to the bounty right in our backyard.”
Flowing through that neighborhood is the Huron River—one of the shop’s core guiding locations. It’s also become the center of operations for product testing, tying and how-to classes, and community outreach efforts.
Of the later the list is long and includes Fly Shop Fridays—a variation on The Drake’s theme—with a noted local tier on the bench in the fall and winter. Bar Flies is a Wednesday night mainstay in winter, featuring a nationally recognized tier… plus a bar and beers. In-shop presentations are free, while the staff also organizes a Single-Fly tourney and Huron River cleanups to raise money for the local watershed council.
“If you were looking for words to summarize the shop, ‘alive’ and ‘energy’ come to mind,” Schultz says. “Simply put the shop is a hive of activity.”
Inside the vortex you’ll find a 1,600-square-foot space maximized to showcase carefully selected merch. The open layout is divided down the middle. One half houses rods, reels, and tying supplies. The other, gear such as waders, softgoods, and space to host clinics, seminars, and presentations. On the big screen—when not being used for presentations and tying demos—lives the requisite fish porn. Hanging above it, a collection of fish-themed skateboard decks, a testament to the fact that owning and operating a fly shop should be fun.
That core element is evident as soon as you step into Schultz Outfitters. And the vibe exuded by its professional staff has proven contagious among customers who continue to show up, hang out, and add life to the conversation… even when they don’t need anything specific.
For more info on the shop and fishing in southeast Michigan, see schultzoutfitters.com.