Winter provides fly fishers with plenty of opportunities. For some, it is one more season to chase anything that swims. For others, it is a brief and anxious respite.
Regardless of your intensity, winter is a great time to take stock of your gear and get it all ready to roll for the coming spring. You take care of your gear, and it will take care of you. Plus, who has ever heard a fly fisher say “no thanks, I don’t care to look at all my rods, reels, and fly boxes!”
No one. Those things are the things we do.
Below are twelve tips for organizing, cleaning, preparing, packing, and thinking about your gear:
- Lay everything out. Choose a spot that is obtrusive to everyday life. The dining room table. The living room floor. Your bed. Not only will this allow you the space to work, but it will lead to conflicts with your significant other.
- Fiddle with stuff. Zing your zingers. Snip your snips. Reel your reels. Spend an inordinate amount of time goofing around with your gear. You are procrastinating and performing quality control.
- Become obsessed with the one thing you can’t find. You know you have another set of forceps. Where are they? Check in every pocket of your vest. Look in your car. Call your fishing buddies. Stress out over a pair of $14 forceps. Look back in that vest you first checked: yup, there they are.
- Get overwhelmed by your flies. You have a lot of flies. A lot. But look at them: they are disorganized, chewed up, and spread across a few dozen boxes. Begin to rearrange them. Feel the dread associated with this task. Give up. Feel bad about giving up. Say you’ll do it later. Never do it.
- Clean your fly lines. This involves running a sink full of warm water, adding some gentle dish soap, and getting your fly line tangled up in an enormous, wet knot.
- Repack your sling/vest. Marvel at how everything came out of said sling/vest, but now you are inexplicably unable to fit it back into the sling/vest. Question physics/reality/sanity.
- Check your waders for leaks. You think you felt a leak at the end of last season, so you should check your waders. But they’re all the way in the garage. You’re sure it will be fine. That early-season runoff water isn’t that cold, anyway.
- Throw away all the trash. Why is there half of a McDonald’s apple pie in your wader bag? How are there at least six colors of spent stick-on strike indicators stuck to different surfaces of your chest pack? Under what circumstances did a monofilament bird’s nest the size of a keeper bluegill end up in your raincoat pocket?
- Inspect your fly rods. Pull each out of its tube and sleeve. Assemble each one. Lay them out next to each other. Look at all those fly rods. Your house looks like a fly shop. This is what it is all about. Now quick, put them away before anyone sees the thousands of dollars you have tied up in fishing rods.
- Reminisce. Hold a fly box in your hands. Look at it. Think of where you got it, where it has been, and the memories it is linked to. Contemplate how this simple little container is like a metaphor for your life. Each little nick in the foam representing a moment, every fly indicative of an achievement. Fly fishing is about so much more than gear, trout, or prestige. Those fleeting minutes on the river, recorded through fish and water-worn flies, exemplify the essence of your being.
- Shop. But foam fly boxes aren’t that great. You want to replace everything you’ve got with silicone. This is the 21st century. Hop online and grab five or six.
- Put everything away. Now that you’ve assessed your inventory, put it all away in an organized manner. Which, if you’re honest, won’t look a whole lot different than it looked before your ambitious efforts. But that is how you’ve done it every year. So why mess with success?