Adjacent to the parking lot of the American Museum of Fly Fishing in Manchester, VT. is America’s most well known purveyor of fly fishing equipment: the huge Orvis flagship store and rod factory.
The flagship store is two stories of everything Orvis, from clothing and luggage, to their entire line of fly fishing equipment, dog gear, and an upland hunting gun library with some fine shooting tools on display. (my Dad’s favorite part)
I always head straight for the fly area to see what’s new, what flies are working on local waters, and say hello to the huge ‘shop staff’ trout. There’s an indoor and outdoor pool with enormous trout that you can feed and imagine catching one day. Each species present is identified with placards. You can test cast rods on the pond outside, and all the staff is ready to answer any questions and help get you hooked, so to speak, on fly fishing.
I was also here to see how Orvis fly rods are made, and for that friends from Orvis met me at the shop for a quick lunch before heading to the rod factory next door. The theme for the day was locally made, and local boys Phil, Sam and Shawn and I enjoyed a local-ingredient burrito at Cilantro before heading to the rod factory to see where the magic happens.
The Rod Factory is right behind the flagship store and where Orvis rods have been manufactured for a long time: over 150 years. Materials and tools have evolved over the years, but what hasn’t isn’t the level of personal attention each and every rod receives. Generations of Vermonters have worked here. The factory is open to the public to tour and see the level of expertise and craftsmanship in each and every rod. We walked the entire process, from cutting fine carbon fiber sheets to rolling blanks, infusing resin, shaping ferrules, and seating rod butts, mounting guides and graphics and putting on final details before sending the warehouse, ready to be cast at a trout near you.
It was great for a day to begin with seeing the origins of American fly fishing equipment in the museum, to seeing modern day fly rods becoming a reality. That left enough time for one last thing to bring it all full circle – it was time to go fishing.
It’s a Vermont stereotype, but one thing there’s no shortage of is old covered bridges over clean, clear, old mountain streams. The type of streams native, wild Vermont brook trout love.
They aren’t hard to find – just look on a map, pick nearly any mountain stream, and start hiking up it. You’ll find that nearly every shady pool that should hold a trout often does, and they love to eat dry flies. Cover ground, and have some fun catching some of the most beautiful fish you can catch.
Handle these little mountain gems gently, and they’ll keep swimming in these streams for years to come.