The idea of opening a fly fishing shop in Evergreen, Colorado began in the mind of Mark Harrington in the summer of 1987. A resident of Evergreen and an occasional fly fisherman, Mark was aware of a growing national interest in the sport and felt that local interest was large enough to support a full service fly fishing shop with how-to classes and guides on the local rivers.
At that time, Mark owned an octagonal barn on old Highway 74 and felt it would be a good location for such an enterprise. Because he knew little about running a fly fishing business and the technicalities of the sport, Mark enlisted help from Jim Cannon, an avid fly fisherman living in Denver. Jim, desiring a new occupation, gratefully accepted the challenge and together they opened shop in May 1988.
While searching for a name for the new shop, hearts and minds kept going back to the Blue Quill Angler. The Blue Quill is a very small Baetis mayfly that appears in early spring and again in late fall. In the spring, it announces the beginning of the fly fishing season. This first mayfly hatch excites the trout to gently rise in the cold river waters and the excitement that rise evokes causes the angler to look forward with enthusiasm to the coming fly fishing season. The mayfly’s appearance in autumn indicates that winter is just around the corner causing the angler to wistfully reflect on the past season and prepare for the coming winter. No other hatch fills the angler with as much passion as the spring and fall Blue Quill mayfly hatch; they are the alpha and omega of the fly fishing season. The Blue Quill Angler was chosen as the name for the new fly fishing shop because as the mayfly does, The Blue Quill Angler instills in its patrons a passion and love for fly fishing.
The original vision of the owners Mark Harrington and Jim Cannon was that The Blue Quill Angler would become a place where people would learn to fly fish, have available the highest quality gear and it would be backed by satisfaction guaranteed. Since its inception, the vision of BQA has not wavered. The Orvis Company, whose fly fishing school is located in Manchester, VT, was sought out to be the main supplier of fly fishing products and instructional information. After Mark and Jim attended the school and duplicated it in Evergreen, The Blue Quill Angler was authorized to become the home of The Orvis Rocky Mountain Fly Fishing School. The 1992 release of the film “A River Runs Through It” added to an already sparked national interest in fly fishing and greatly increased the number of beginning anglers through the school.
Jim Cannon, along with his spouse, Martha, bought BQA from Mark Harrington in 1999. In 2000, Pat Dorsey was brought in as a partner whose primary roles would be to train guides and continue to develop the “Fly of the Month” club. Pat has set the standard of excellence for our guides using the Orvis Endorsed Guide Service as a model. At the Blue Quill, all guides are trained by Pat using “shadowing” techniques in real time out on the water before being “cut loose” on their own with their own unique styles.
In 2004, the BQA owners decided that in order to meet customer requests and remain competitive, it was time to broaden the product lines. Though Orvis remains the main supplier of fly fishing products, items from Sage, Simms, Fishpond, Rio, Scientific Angler and C&F were added. In 2006, Winston rods were also added to the product line. New oak fly displays were set in place also raising the fly capacity to over 1400 bins. The addition of new products meant the loss of the Orvis Rocky Mountain Fly Fishing School. The Blue Quill Angler classes have continued and because of the addition of these new products the courses have become much more comprehensive in the equipment to choose from.
There are four things that make the Blue Quill Angler unique: 20+ years experience in guiding and teaching, highly experienced and trained employees, hand-picked fly fishing gear and the proximity to many of the West’s best fly fishing waters. Our central location has allowed the Blue Quill Angler to travel to those waters, to fish and learn in these classic trout streams. The rivers have been the greatest mentors with the trout as the teachers.