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Packing for a New Fly Fishing Season

Last week I wrote an incredibly unhelpful (but pointedly accurate) post about preparing for another fly fishing season. For whatever reason, when I write something that isn’t advertised as humor but is certainly meant for such purposes I feel the smallest bit of guilt for any potential sense of disappointment that a reader might have. It is small, but it is there.

The following article offers some legitimate and helpful tips for preparing for the season. It originally appeared on the Vedavoo Workshop Journal last spring.  Check out the method I’ve been using to clean, organize, and get ready for a season on the water:


Spring is almost here! Technically, at least.

Whether you live somewhere still covered in snow or a place where you’ve been fishing solidly throughout the winter, “spring cleaning” is a concept that can and should apply to your gear. If you have been stuck indoors, you might want to just grab your sling or vest and hit the water as quickly as possible.

But it is helpful to take some deliberate time to clean up. Also, comprehensively organizing your fly fishing pack ahead of time will ensure that you are ready to fish. Once you hit the water, you’ll have everything that you use and not necessarily be carrying around those things that you’ve just accumulated.

Here is one efficient and effective method for making sure you have what you need, where you need it:

  1. Unload your pack.  Whether you fish with a sling, satchel, or vest, take everything out. Remove the fly boxes, zingers, and smashed granola bars. Throw out bits of mono and last year’s crumpled-up license. This is also a good time to take a damp cloth and wipe away any dirt or fish slime that might be on your pack.
  2. Put your pack on. Why? Well, when you are on the river your pack isn’t on the table in front of you – it is on you. The next step (loading your pack) is going to happen in a much more logical and ergonomic manner if you are wearing your pack like you will be when you are fishing. You’ll want to put things in places that make sense when you are actively using your pack.
  3. Fill your pack with the essentials. With all your gear laid out in front of you, start putting things back in your pack. Now think: How many times did you use your nail knot tool? It is good to have on hand, but does it need to be on the outside of your pack? Or can it be hidden away in a pouch somewhere? You’ve left your hook hone at home and could have used it a handful of times last season. Why not clip that somewhere easily accessible so you’ll never be without it?
  4. Consider what you have and what you don’t have. Take the time to assess what is in your pack and what is still on the table. Is your flotant half full? Are you totally out of 4X tippet or BB-size split shot? Did you never replace the foam fly patch that got lost last year? And, are there things that aren’t in your pack that could go into a secondary bag; things that would be great to have in the car in an emergency (or a hatch), but aren’t worth carrying every time you go fishing?
  5. Think about it some more. Pick your pack up the next day and go through the process again. Better yet, go fishing for a few hours and consciously ask yourself if everything you need is there. Moreover, ask if everything is in the right place. After that first outing, adjust accordingly.

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