It’s that time of the year, when we are turning our attention to the coming fishing season. We think about all the places we will go, streams, rivers and lakes. And, all the fish we will catch. But, first do we have what we need? Lets take a look at our fishing gear.
One of the things I do is that I will get all my reels out and look at the lines. Are the nail knots good? Once I lost the whole leader to a bad nail knot that I knew was cracked, but I thought would be fine. How are the loop connections? You want them nice and smooth. Is the fly line dirty? If so, clean it with Dawn and then dress the line. Is your line cracked? If it is, then it must be replaced. Cracked lines will soak up water and they will not float. Also, a cracked line will wear the guides on the rod, putting grooves in the guides. This means that it will then have to be replaced or it will damage the new fly line. This is all important for your casting. Having good clean fly lines will make it easier to cast, your accuracy and distance will also be better. You will be able to pick up the line off the water easier, therefore being able to set the hook, and land more fish. Plus, it will be more enjoyable to cast and mend the line.
Next you want to check your tippets and leaders. Don’t forget the leader that is on the reel right now, usually it’s in pretty bad shape because it was not replaced after your last fishing trip. I will run it through my fingers and feel for any rough spots. The abrasions will make it weak, so if I find any I will replace it right away, then I will be ready when I get to the river. Do you have a good selection of tippets and leaders for where you fish? How old are they? As old tippets and leaders will be weak. Don’t want to lose the big fish because of bad tippet. Or, I hate when I go fishing and forgot to check how much 4x tippet there is on the spool, and it’s only a few feet. I like to have at least 9’ 3x and 4x leaders, and 2x, 3x, 4x, and 5x tippet in my vest. Now, I will be ready for any trout situation I might come across. Maybe, I am fishing to a rising fish so I am using a #14 and 4x, the fish rises and looks at the fly, but won’t take it. The fish keeps rising, but still won’t take my fly. I now need to make an adjustment. Usually I will try a different fly about the same size, but sometimes I need a smaller fly. If I tie on a smaller fly, then I will have to tie on smaller tippet. The reason I like extra leaders is that when you are fishing you will get tangles, your line will caught in the trees, or it will get snagged on some rocks. The end result is a crimped, twisted, and abraded leader that will be hard to straighten and often be rough and weak. This is something you don’t want when you are fighting that big fish! Fortunately, that won’t be a problem for you because you are prepared and have a replacement.
Other items I check:
Fly Floatant, is the bottle full?
Power dry shake, is it full?
Split shots, do I have a good selection, or did I use up the BB size on the last trip?
Do I have a few indicators?
Last, I open all the fly boxes and make sure I have at least my favorite patterns. Probably after a busy fishing season they will be a bit disorganized, so I spend some time putting the flies back into the right box. One year it was so bad I had to set up several tables and dump the flies out and sort them for days. (A good winter project, not the night before your fishing trip if you had a mess like mine!) It was amazing how many of my favorite flies I found that I thought were gone or lost. Nope! They were just misplaced. Once I’ve gone through all my flies, I can now tie what I need, before the fishing season starts. If you are not a fly tier you can make a list and get them at your fly shop or you can stop in to our fly shop when you get into town. We are always ready in the shop to help point you to which flies are working. We even have a new fly bin called “What’s Working Now! Which is fly selections by rivers. Try to plan ahead if you would like a custom order of flies. Right now, I have several custom orders to tie for customers. If you have a special pattern you want tied, or flies tied with a new variation, or tried and true flies you can’t find in shops anymore, make a note and get your order in, so you will have it for your upcoming trip. I have more time to tie custom orders in the fall and winter than I do in the summer season. I do tie custom order flies in the summer, it just takes a few days longer as it’s really busy then in the shop and there are more custom orders I am busy tying.
Oh, and don’t forget to renew your fishing license!
Once you have looked through all your gear and got it all organized, now you know with confidence you will have everything you need to help you land those fish, regardless of what flies are working and where you decide to go fish. Now get out there and enjoy fly fishing!