Cincinnati native Brian Flechsig has helped define central Ohio as a fly-fishing mecca while building one of the top fly-fishing shops in the country.
Mad River Outfitters, at 813 Bethel Road, consistently records national sales in the top 10 for fly fishing, thanks to a thriving Internet business as well as a professional retail shop, according to Flechsig.
“We’re one of the top 10 fly-fishing operations in the country,” he said. “Most people think of a fly store as a mom-and-pop shop with just a few things and people sitting around talking and tying flies.
“But we’re very serious here, with a full-time shipping manager and full-time web manager. So not only do we maintain an extensive retail store, but also
an extensive online store with dozens of packages shipping out around the world daily.”
Flechsig said one of his keys to success is what he calls the umbrella.
Mad River Outfitters offers retail and online sales, guides fly-fishing tours locally, nationally and internationally, and produces instructional courses and DVDs.
“I’m hosting our annual spring Tarpin trip in the Everglades right now,” he said earlier this month. “We do these trips all over the world, South America – a lot of trips to Brazil for Peacock bass, in the Bahamas.
“We operate a full-blown guide service, including about 16 guides working for us throughout the Great Lakes region, so if you can’t afford a week to Montana or wherever, there are trips you can hop in your car and do on a weekend.”
According to Flechsig, fly-fishing has always been labeled as something that is only for trout fishing.
“Everyone associates fly-fishing with trout and snow-capped mountains, but I produced a video about 10 years ago called ‘Carpin’’ that was all about catching carp on a fly rod,” he said. “I got a lot of hate mail about it because people didn’t like that I was catching a trash fish on a fly.
“If you’re open to fishing for things other than trout, then Columbus becomes a fly-fishing heaven. There’s carp and bass all over the place here.”
Being innovative, such as teaching people to fly-fish for the local fish population, working hard, and hiring committed employees, Flechsig said, are the other keys to his success.
“I was 24 years old when I quit my job, borrowed money to start this business, and opened the doors that December in 1994,” Flechsig said. “I paid the bank off in two years and haven’t owed anyone a dime since. I’ve been very lucky, but it took a lot of hard work and thinking outside the box.
“I have some very loyal and hardworking employees who have believed in me and my dream. If it weren’t for their help and the help of great friends, I don’t know where we’d be.”
The retail store was recently remodeled and expanded and Flechsig said a new website design is under way.
“I think the future holds growth for us, that expansion will be at the remodeled store but mostly through the Internet,” Flechsig said. “After 18 years, I’m just really learning how to do this now, so if we’re halfway through, then the second half is sure to be even better.”
For more information visit www.madriveroutfitters.com.“If we can play even a small part in that, we want to. We want to keep doing this because we truly believe in