What's special about local fly shops? Just thinking about how last year, Fairbanks' fine fly shop closed. I'd visited the Alaska Fly Shop during work trips to Fairbanks. Great shop and staff was well-informed and happy to chat about local fly fishing or tying. They carried excellent gear too. I don't know why the shop closed, but markets being what they are, try to do my part to support local fly shops. They seem to do their best for local fly fishers and fly tyers.
One thing I like is they can save you much time in the end. They generally deal in better quality gear, are familiar with each line's construction and design, field performance and warranties. It was at a local fly shop that I first learned about Echo rods, proving to be one of the best values in mid-priced rods. One never knows how long a piece of gear will last, but I can sure look back over cheap gear (cheap = great price, but didn't hold up) I've bought then had to replace. Plenty of gear did fine, but 1 reel failed in the field, which has made me more selective about certain pieces. Beyond the shop owner/s expertise is the "quality" of the chatter you might overhear if you spend much time in local fly shops!
Local/locally-owned shops: Mtn View Sports, Worldwide Angler are mentioned in this older post: July, 2004: http://www.outdoorsdirectory.com/akf...hing/26519.htm
Some changes: McAfee's is now "Mossy's Fly Shop", down on Dimond Blvd. If you live southside Anchorage, you're fortunate to have WWA & Mossy's nearby. Three Rivers Fly & Tackle in Wasilla is also new since this old post. Some places where flyfishers/flytyers shop, good advice comes from certain individuals, but you have to know who's working that day to know if s/he is one of those better information sources. Not the case in my experience at 3 Rivers (closest), WWA & Mossy's, where I get most of my fly gear. I get mostly tying stuff from MVS.
Fly tying materials: I've found MVS most often has what I'm looking for, or something new when I'm just browsing. Some other places have innovative materials an some have bigger inventory, but I end up at MVS often - in part because they're relatively close for me. Recent thread: http://forums.outdoorsdirectory.com/showthread.php/95510-Wifes-inspiration!?p=908076#post908076: one of many threads which mentions Mtn View Sports as a source of fly tying materials. I have found MVS has a consistent variety of interesting and good quality materials. When I want anything specific, I most often end up there.
Soon the gulls will be here, heralding smolt out and returning Kings as they move up our rivers. Arm yourselves! Soon.