Former car dealer opens outdoor store

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  • Ben Eisinger at True Water Fly Shop in Kalispell on Tuesday, Dec. 24. (Casey Kreider photos/Daily Inter Lake)

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    A Kitchen reel, one of the first flywheels ever patented that dates back to 1860, is surrounded by vintage flies called Bunyan Bugs in a display case at True Water Fly Shop in Kalispell on Tuesday, Dec. 24. Bunyan Bugs were designed in the early 1940s by Missoula resident Norman Means and were featured in the 1992 movie “A River Runs Through It.” (Casey Kreider/Daily Inter Lake)

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    A selection of fly fishing rods along “the rod wall” at True Water Fly Shop in Kalispell on Tuesday, Dec. 24. (Casey Kreider/Daily Inter Lake)

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    True Water carries a wide selection of fly-fishing flies.

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    True Water Fly Shop is located at 35 4th St. W. in Kalispell. (Casey Kreider/Daily Inter Lake)

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    A selection of vintage flies called Bunyan Bugs in a display case at True Water Fly Shop in Kalispell on Tuesday, Dec. 24. Bunyan Bugs were designed in the early 1940s by Missoula resident Norman Means and were featured in the 1992 movie “A River Runs Through It.” (Casey Kreider/Daily Inter Lake)

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    True Water Fly Shop is located at 35 4th St. W. in Kalispell.

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    Ross Reels are displayed among all the fly-fishng gear for sale at True Water.

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    True Water Fly Shop at 35 4th St. W. in Kalispell on Tuesday, Dec. 24. (Casey Kreider/Daily Inter Lake)

  • Ben Eisinger at True Water Fly Shop in Kalispell on Tuesday, Dec. 24. (Casey Kreider photos/Daily Inter Lake)

  • 1

    A Kitchen reel, one of the first flywheels ever patented that dates back to 1860, is surrounded by vintage flies called Bunyan Bugs in a display case at True Water Fly Shop in Kalispell on Tuesday, Dec. 24. Bunyan Bugs were designed in the early 1940s by Missoula resident Norman Means and were featured in the 1992 movie “A River Runs Through It.” (Casey Kreider/Daily Inter Lake)

  • 2

    A selection of fly fishing rods along “the rod wall” at True Water Fly Shop in Kalispell on Tuesday, Dec. 24. (Casey Kreider/Daily Inter Lake)

  • 3

    True Water carries a wide selection of fly-fishing flies.

  • 4

    True Water Fly Shop is located at 35 4th St. W. in Kalispell. (Casey Kreider/Daily Inter Lake)

  • 5

    A selection of vintage flies called Bunyan Bugs in a display case at True Water Fly Shop in Kalispell on Tuesday, Dec. 24. Bunyan Bugs were designed in the early 1940s by Missoula resident Norman Means and were featured in the 1992 movie “A River Runs Through It.” (Casey Kreider/Daily Inter Lake)

  • 6

    True Water Fly Shop is located at 35 4th St. W. in Kalispell.

  • 7

    Ross Reels are displayed among all the fly-fishng gear for sale at True Water.

  • 8

    True Water Fly Shop at 35 4th St. W. in Kalispell on Tuesday, Dec. 24. (Casey Kreider/Daily Inter Lake)

True Water Fly Shop is a new Kalispell business with a familiar face.

Ben Eisinger opened the fly-fishing shop in downtown Kalispell after 25 years at his family’s well-known car dealerships.

“It’s a dream of mine,” he said. “It’s something I’ve wanted to do literally since I was 18 or 19.”

Following his father Greg’s retirement in 2017, Eisinger stepped away from the traditional family business to pursue his passion for one of Montana’s most popular attractions.

Eisinger partnered with his wife Christy, as well as his brother Erik Lemire and Erik’s wife Cara to open True Water Fly Shop on Fourth Street West. The shop opened in November, offering fly-fishing equipment and guided fishing trips. In a few weeks, they will also open a small lodge above the shop with four rooms and a loft to house visiting fly fishers.

“I’ve always dabbled in both [fishing and cars],” explained Eisinger, who said he was hooked when he caught his first fish as a teenager, and has worked as a fishing guide for 20 years. “It just made sense.”

“We have the best brands you can have,” he reported. True Water Fly Shop carries equipment from brands such as Orvis, Patagonia, Scott rods, Sage rods, Ross reels, Lampoon reels and Fish Pond gear.

Expert anglers will be excited to see Bunyan Bugs, even though these famous flies, featured in the film “A River Runs Through It,” are only for display and not for sale.

True Water Fly Shop also includes equipment that might be harder to find elsewhere, since Eisinger said he and his team are committed to staying on top of the industry and “keeping it fresh.”

“It’s always evolving,” he said of the sport in general, so True Water Fly Shop will work to “consistently stay on top of change.,”

In this spirit, they carry equipment for growing trends like two-handed spay-fishing and the new “Euro-nymphing” technique. “It’s important for shops to keep learning the new ways and understanding them,” Eisinger said.

Of course, he added, “conventional fly fishing is still the most important part about it.”

But with the wide assortment of outdoors gear, Eisinger insisted, “you don’t have to fly fish to find something in here.”

For those who do fly fish, he believes True Water Fly Shop’s location will be a draw, since the spot off Main Street allows space to conveniently haul in boats and rafts. “We have lots and lots of parking,” he said. “You can pull right up and walk right in.”

The business will add even more convenience when the lodge opens above the shop.

“I’ve found that most customers don’t love staying in a hotel when it comes to fly fishing,” Eisinger observed. As an alternative, they will offer four rooms that sleep two to four people and a large loft that can accommodate six or seven people. There will also be an outdoor deck and common area for visitors to relax together after the day’s adventures.

And Eisinger hopes to cater to both out-of-town visitors and local fishing enthusiasts, with plans for community events such as kids camps and fly-tying nights. He expects True Water Fly Shop to get involved with “all kinds of fun stuff where we can include people in the valley.”

Opening the downtown store has deepened Eisinger’s appreciation for this local community and the opportunities throughout the area. “It’s another reminder of how great it is to live in the Flathead,” said the longtime fisherman, who has fished in exotic locales such as Russia and Patagonia.

“I’ve been to some pretty amazing places fishing, but I’m always excited to come back home,” he said.

True Water Fly Shop is located at 35 Fourth St. W. in Kalispell. Starting in January, hours will be 9:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m., Tuesday through Sunday.

Reporter Bret Anne Serbin may be reached at bserbin@dailyinterlake.com or 758-4459.

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