Talking Alaska Fly Fishing with Mike Brown of Mossy's Fly Shop
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When its time to get the lines back in the water and scratch that Alaska fishing trip off your bucket list, then it's also time to look for Mossy's Fly Shop. The current owners of this Anchorage Alaska shop (Mike and Brian) have been helping anglers with fly selection, equipment, and advice for a decade now.
We did a little Q&A with Mike Brown, who is a frequent contributor to our Ask the Pros section, to learn more about how he came to own Mossy's, what they offer anglers, and what some of his favorites are when it comes to fishing Alaska. Learn more about Mossy's Fly Shop below and at their website; www.mossysflyshop.com.
How Did Mossy's Fly Shop Get Started?
When did Mossy's Fly Shop open? And what was your inspiration behind opening a fly shop in Anchorage, Alaska?
Mossy's Fly Shop was established in January 2010. I bought an existing fly shop, McAfee's Fly Shop, which was established in 1985. The shop has been in the same location since it opened. I want to share my passion for fly fishing and the Alaska outdoor lifestyle.
Can you tell us a bit about you & Brian? How did you guys meet? What did you both do prior to opening Mossy's?
I was born and raised here in Alaska. My father came to Alaska in 1948 with the military and he started a house moving business when he got out and eventually moved into owning a truck equipment shop. That business is over 60 years old now and going strong. I started working there answering phones in the 4th grade and evolved into a parts guy, I worked for the company for 30 years. After my dad passed away, I felt like I needed to do something else. So, I sold my half of the business to my brother and was looking to open a fly shop. McAfee's literally landed in my lap at the right time.
I met Brian as a customer, over time we became good friends. Brian is a 20-year retiree from the Airforce, which is what brought him to Alaska. He was born and raised in North Carolina and joined the Airforce right after high school. Over Brian's time in the Airforce he managed to be stationed in Alaska for the majority of his career.
Where are you located in Anchorage and how would someone visiting Alaska get there. Are you close to any hotels or public transport?
Mossy's is located in South Anchorage, just a short 8 minute drive south of the airport. We have a lot of transportation options here in Anchorage including Uber, Lyft, and taxis. Anchorage is a major hub for Alaska, with so much tourism coming in we have a lot of hotels here and some of them will even shuttle folks around.
Why You Should Stop By Mossy's On Your Alaska Fishing Adventure
Mossy's seems like a great place for anyone visiting Alaska to stop by to pick up some flies and get advice/tips. What are some of the most common questions you get from visitors from outside Alaska who stop into Mossy's?
The most common questions are where to go fishing, what flies and equipment to use and can I go somewhere and have solitude while fishing. I answer a lot of emails during the year for people planning fishing trips to Alaska and we take a lot of phone calls for the same.
Do you ever get customers who decide to do a day or two of fishing while they are in Alaska and call or stop in looking for advice? Are you able to help get them paired up with a local guide or do you usually just give them a list of recommended fishing guides?
Yes, we get a lot of people who are here for work or on a family vacation that have a couple days to spend and want to get on the water. Being a couple hours removed from good fishing, we are what you call a destination style shop and not a guide shop. We have racks with guides and lodges we recommend all the time.
We don't really facilitate the bookings, we give them contact info and options. If they struggle to find an opening with who we recommend, we will do our best to find them someone reputable with an opening. If coming to Alaska and you know you have a day or two to go fishing, it's best to try and get things booked sooner than later. Our season is so short here that guides book up quick.
What do you sell at Mossy's? Just flies or also fly-fishing gear & accessories?
We are a full-service fly shop, rods, reels, lines, leaders & tippets, flies, tools, gadgets, apparel, waders/boots, packs and the list goes on. We carry a lot of your major brands, like Simms, Patagonia, Sage, Winston, Scott, G.Loomis, Echo, Scientific Angler, Rio and the list goes on. We are also a fly-tying shop so we carry a ton of fly-tying materials and equipment.
Can you tell us a bit about your selection of flies you have in stock at the shop?
We stock A LOT of streamers because those are common for all the species we have here. We also carry dries and nymphs as well, but that selection is far smaller than the streamers. We have over 500 different types of streamers alone.
How do you stay on the pulse of what flies are working throughout the season? So, for example, if someone comes into the shop and is asking for advice on what flies to use over the next week.
We go fishing…that is the best way to know what's going on. However, since Alaska is a big and vast place, we also rely on our customers feedback for what is working too.
Do you tie your own flies? Or source them from someone else in Alaska?
Both Brian and I are tiers, we fish a lot of our own stuff but have never really tied for our bins, I keep saying we are going to put a couple different patterns we tie in the bins. We do sell some flies from a local tier as well, but the majority of them we buy from the various fly companies in the industry.
Take a Fly Fishing or Fly Tying Class at Mossy's Fly Shop
Do you offer any fly tying classes or fly fishing lessons through Mossy's fly shop?
Yep, we start Saturday fly tying classes in December and run them through March. We have a beginner, intermediate, and advance class (advanced style classes are pattern/style specific). In January we'll start our Buggers & Bobbins tie in night, this is where we have a theme each week and folks bring in their stuff and tie flies for a few hours. Great event that allows us to hang out with customers and let customers meet other fly tiers/fishers.
We typically put on a fly casting class in the spring and then we host a spey clave the first of June and try to have a couple spey casting classes as well. I want to do more with classes because the interest and want are here.
Mike's Favorite Alaska Fly Fishing Flies, Locations & More
If you had to pick your favorite 5 Alaska flies what would those be?
Sculpin Pattern, Dolly Llama, stonefly nymph, mouse and stimulator.
What is your favorite time of year to fish Alaska?
Fall, which one could ask which two days is that…haha. September and October are my favorite two months because I love the crisp mornings and the fall colors.
Are you and Brian still able to get out & fish now that you are running Mossy's Fly Shop?
Yes, we make some time to get on the water, not nearly as much as one would like but we get out for sure.
What is your favorite place to fish in Alaska?
That is a tough one. The Kenai Peninsula holds a special place in my heart and is my home water to fish but I love going to Western Alaska as well.
What do you do during the winter months?
Winter time is tying time, so we spend a lot of time with classes and our Thursday nights Buggers & Bobbins tie-in. Winter is also time that we rearrange and try to freshen up the shop. I like wood working, so I am always thinking of different ways to display and layout the shop. We need a bigger shop though and I am running out of ways to put more stuff in here.
Anything exciting planned for Mossy's in the next few years? Additional classes or offerings?
I am always on the hunt for a bigger location, but it has to be right because I'm only moving once. We are working on having some additional fly fishing classes as well as having some guest speaker nights.
Popular Alaska Fishing Destinations
Fishing & Adventure on Baranof Island - Visit Sitka for great fishing for Halibut & Salmon, a good variety of lodges from luxury to afforable and a wealth of outdoor activities & wildlife viewing on Baranof Island.
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Alaska Parks Highway
A 358-mile adventure from Anchorage to Fairbanks - There are many fishing spots along the Parks Highway...most are smaller walk & wade streams but there are also some small lakes as well.
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The Hailibut Capital of the World - Located at th Southern tip of the Kenai Peninsula. Offers easy access to excellent saltwater & freshwater fishing as well as a wealth of activities, restuarants & lodging options to choose from.