It’s early in the morning and you are getting ready for a day out on the river. Do you have EVERYTHING you need for a successful day of fly fishing?
As a guide, it is important that I have everything that YOU might possibly need as well as everything I need. It is tantamount, as an experienced guide, not to get caught looking for something you need or worse, not having it and appearing completely unprepared.
Here is a bit of insight about my daily routine and my daily checklist for a great day of chasing trout without worry, stress and looking like a pro. This short list of nine are important to me but please, feel free to email, comment or add to this list. I would love to share your best tips in a future blog.
1. Polarized sunglasses: It is in my honest opinion that polarized sunglasses are THE most important item that any serious fisherman should own. I love SMITH Optics, I won’t guide without them, because:
a) They give you an incredible advantage of seeing the fish if you know how to look for them,
b) They provide a much safer way to wade and to see the river bottom and any other obstacles and,
c) They enable you to see the fly on the water when a delicate little ‘sipper’ takes that #20 midge.
2. Great wading boot, or at least OK waders: Buy the best you can afford but think about how much wear or “time in the saddle” you’re going to give them. I have always been a dedicated SIMMS guy. I think they understand what professional Fly Fishing guides need and that can only benefit the recreational fisherman with great R&D and history.
One thing to assess, if throwing stacks of 100’s at something, you’re “just going to get wet”. I will stress buying really good boots and medium priced waders. Cheap boots fall apart and can be dangerous. Always think safety.
3. A decent rod: You might notice that I didn’t mention a rod and reel – that’s coming up. What you do want is a rod that feels right to you. When you’re shopping for rods, do not start with price. First thing you should do is go to a shop that sells real Fly Fishing gear, not fishing gear and baby cloths and iPods. The only other thing that is acceptable in the store, other than flies, is other fly fishing related goods, and maybe a mug.
I have Sage and ‘Winston rods. These are the rods that I feel best casting, but there are many out there I haven’t casted that I am sure I would fall in love with, I will have to wait until the next fly fishing show or a generous Rep to show up at the shop!
Anywho, ask to cast a bunch of rods in the weight that is appropriate for the fish you’re chasing; #0-#5 are great weights to start with. Be sure to cast these rods with reels and line. Don’t just stand in the shop and shake it around, it looks cool but doesn’t tell you anything. Choose the one that you connect with, I can almost promise that it will not be the one your friend suggested you get. Now you can look at the price. If it is too much, the shop guy will lean you into a good second choice. If you choose one that feels right and you can also afford, BUY IT. I, still to this day, fish with a old Sage RPL 2 piece that I love.
4. A good to great reel: This is sometimes a sticky wicket. I own great reels, I own not so great reels. I own them both by choice. Personally I find it hard to spend $600 on a 2 weight reel, but no problem with that much on a 9 weight reel. One is to “put the fish on” and the other is simply to hold line. My thought is this, get a reel that has a warranty, looks great and balances well with your rod. I will leave it up to you to choose between practicality, a piece of jewelry, or both.
5. A REAL fly box: Be sure to have a box that is easy to open and more importantly, stays closed. Do not keep the bugs you just purchase in one of those plastic specimen cups with a snap on lid….so rookie. This is the best way to lose the $30 or more worth of flies and look stupid doing it. Also, the box should fit in whatever pocket you keep it in… securely.
Again, nothing is worse than bending over to net a fish you have been working for an hour and watch your fly box float down stream.
6. A great set of snippers: Nail clippers don’t cut it. Buy a good set designed to cut “mono”, then buy another.
7. Everything else: Be sure to always have enough tippet. It is best to double up with floatant, weights, leaders, and hemostats. This will ensure that you will not to be caught with your pants down when the fish are rising and you’re not digging through your pockets looking for that 6X tippet and all you can find 3X. Get my drift?
8. Light weight rain jacket: A must have that should never leave your car, unless you are wearing it on the river, in a rain storm.
9. Gas: Always fill your transportation with gas. You don’t want to be worrying about running out of fuel when you should be running up the river to get the evening hatch.
This is the basic list that I pretty much follow everyday that I get in the car and head out. I hope it is helpful and at least gives you a base of good preparation.
Next week will be my list of things you absolutely don’t need but think you do need.