While catching fish on the fly is one of life’s high points, a visit to a landmark fly shop is a small reward in itself. Whether preparing for a bucket list adventure, sneaking out on business, or spending family time; browsing the local fly patterns and unique features of a new fly shop can be the best part of any trip. Here is one of my favorites.
Hiding in Honolulu like a giant trevally in the admiral blue waters around Hawaíi, Nervous Water Fly Shop rewards anglers in a big way too, with top quality gear, geographically perfect flies and the most local knowledge available.
Founding the small shop in 1999 as something of a long shot and a mission, Clayton Lee has since grown the fly fishing community and made Nervous Water into the center of expertise from Christmas Island to Níihau. While the shop used to be located in a small quarters behind a Chinese grocery, Lee and business partner Sean Niesz recently moved the shop to a larger location higher up Mount Konahaunui. The drive from touristy areas of Honolulu is part of the reward that Nervous Water gives. Seeing the homes of residents, and businesses that serve Hawaíians, the excited angler gets a taste of the area.
Once they find the shop, a precisely aimed collection of flies can prepare the angler who did not bring their own box. In the land of high importation costs, it makes sense for the owners to source their products locally. The collection features many local ties in sizes and color combinations that took Hawaíian fly fishers years to perfect. From the Sean’s Turd Fly to variations of Clay’s Jiggy Bone Bug, the shop’s fly selection might be the most locally specialized I’ve ever seen. Clayton and Sean also offer a bright selection of tying materials and the correct rods, reels, and lines for the visiting DIY angler. If the long trip means you prefer to let someone else handle the gear, Nervous Waters features native guides who fly fish the area regularly.
Of course, those giant trevallies are headliners for customers, but they share the program with bonefish, barracuda, and ladyfish among others. An unanticipated reward is that the fertile Pacific Ocean grows all its residents to story-worthy sizes. On the islands, peacock, largemouth and smallmouth bass, introduced in past years, populate the freshwater reservoirs. These great sportfish will be here in the future too, as the Nervous Water crew is using their years of knowledge for promotion of fly fishing and conservation.
A stop here will be meaningful for any fly fisher as this store is the shop small movement personified. When you take home a few of their unique flies, you are getting very good flies for local fishing and very local souvenirs to keep and give as gifts. When you make the trip to Hawaíi, set aside time for fly fishing, or at least a visit to this important fly shop. You’ll be changed for the better.