In a town gone crazy with baseball there are a few people in St. Louis that regard the Cardinals as mere amusement,
and something to occupy their time while driving to some of the most under-rated fly fishing streams in the lower 48 states.
Many of those drives start at T. Hargrove Fly Fishing Inc., tucked off Interstate 44 along the commercial sprawl of Manchester Road.
A quick drive gets you to the interstate artery that leads to all directions from St. Louis. Hargrove's is the last stop for
a fishing license and supplies prior to the road trip.
In a long forgotten depression era house, converted into a fly shop over 30 years ago, Tom Hargrove holds court among the regulars,
the "just-in town and need a fly fishing fix," or the caring spouses picking up a gift card, because everything with a price tag
on it is alien to them.
Hargrove's is the epitome of the bar "Cheers". The regulars are there waiting at the door before they open, and often close
the shop down at night. All are willing to help a stranger get an advantage on the fish.
Open the door and there is an old church pew, a tying table that has never been cleared, and a wood burning stove with simmering
beans, chili, or a hearty soup. Welcome! Come in and have a bowl. All of the senses are filled here, the walls are covered
with product and if not, with product posters - as well as the ceilings. While you settle into your bowl of chili,
Tom's electic vinyl record collection spins on the turntable: tunes such as Electricity by Captain Beefheart,
or some Exotica music from Les Baxter.
It is fly fishing! Relax. Sit down at the tying table and take a vise for a test drive.
There is no hurry here. Check out the latest rods, reels, or a pair of waders. Grab a rod and cast alongside the cars
traveling up and down the busy Manchester Road. You will get some looks, but you also need to know how the rod cast in a breeze.
If you don't see what you are looking for, Hargrove probably has it stashed somewhere in the basement. The basement is a whole
Tom and Craig Stephens who works in the shop, tie, fish, and build rods. If you can cast a fly to a fish in Missouri, these two
can point you to a creek, river, or lake to try and a fly that will catch the fish, whether it is a Trout, Bass, Carp, Catfish
or Alligator Garr. Sure you can buy tippet at the label fly shops or chain stores, but to glean a tidbit of info about a
stream with some wild trout, or where to wade for smallies, take some time and a bowl of chili at Hargrove's
You will find all the same brands in fly tackle, fly tying materials, clothing, and even some custom hand-tied flies,
if you need them.
The article was written for the magazine Drake On Line by Tim Scott. Tim is a former resident of Imperial MO.
and a graduate of Mizzou. He lives in South Bend Indiana; just two blocks off the St. Joseph River, and spends his time writing,
photographing and fishing Northern Indiana and Michigan. He has photo and writing credits in the
Drake Magazine and Catch Magazine. Currently, he is president of St. Joseph River Valley Fly Fishers (FFF).
T. Hargrove Fly Fishing Inc, 9024 Manchester Saint Louis, Missouri 63144 email: Tom@thargrove.com