How’s business? Pandemic business boomed for Glenwood Springs fly shop |

How’s business? Pandemic business boomed for Glenwood Springs fly shop

Tom Trowbridge, the Roaring Fork Anglers store manager, compares a stonefly larva, which was collected from the Roaring Fork Valley, to a stonefly flyfishing fly Friday.
Ike Fredregill

Interest in outdoor recreation rocketed in 2020, drawing a number of new and old fly fishing enthusiasts to the Roaring Fork Valley, said Tom Trowbridge, Roaring Fork Anglers’ manager.

“Business is good,” Trowbridge said Friday. “But, last year was our best year since 1981.”

Located at 2205 Grand Ave., Glenwood Springs, and 995 Cowen Drive, Carbondale, Roaring Fork Anglers provides a mix of fly fishing supplies and guide services, Trowbridge said.

While the pandemic put a snag in supply lines, creating challenges for securing fishing supplies from some of the shop’s manufacturers, Trowbridge said an influx of new and renewed interest in fly fishing more than made up for supply line hiccups.

“We sold a lot of starter kits and rod and reel setups to people who were trying for the first time,” he said. “But we also saw several customers who began their fishing journey years ago and simply hadn’t had time to get out on the water in recent years.”

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A lifelong angler and Wisconsin native, Trowbridge has worked at Roaring Fork Anglers since 2005. He and his wife met while he was managing a fly shop in Buena Vista, and moved to the valley shortly after getting married, Trowbridge said.

“Nobody in the outdoor industry could have seen 2020 coming — it was a benchmark year for so many,” Trowbridge said. “After a year like that comes along, the best we can do is ride it out and hope enthusiasm maintains momentum for the next 3-5 years.”

Business is good this year, he said, but as people return to the workplace and kids go back to school, sales have dipped compared with 2020. Mudslides in July and August also impacted sales, Trowbridge said.

“Our busiest period is that 8-12 weeks during the summer,” he said. “We have a good many local customers, but a lot of our business is visitors. We consider this a destination fishery.”

Business waning in the coming years isn’t all bad, though. The river is a finite resource, and too many anglers can stress the fish, degrading the overall quality of the sport, Trowbridge said.

“We encourage people to show the fish kindness, using barbless hooks and keeping the fish wet during the catch process,” he said. “But most importantly, we encourage people to view fly fishing as a way to experience nature and friends, rather than a numbers competition.”

Reporter Ike Fredregill can be reached at 970-384-9154 or by email at

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