“Ah… This is the why I love fishing,” you say to yourself, looking up at the trees and the clouds. Everything just seems perfect; from that IPA, to the thick cut bologna and cheese sandwich, and the hammock … oh the hammock, you feel you could stay in it forever.
It is late October and you decided this morning you would drive out to one of your favorite native brook trout streams, it’s not a stream that receives heavy fishing or hiking pressure. You know you will be alone up there all day. It’s just the remedy you’ve needed after the hellish week you have had at work. The only thing you had to plan out this morning was a stream side lunch. Other than that you knew for the past week each morning has been rather cool, however, by afternoon the temps are reaching 80F. Before heading out with your lunch you put on a pair of shorts, a t-shirt, a pair of sandals and grab a sweat shirt.
Once there at the stream you put your lunch in your fishing bag (which is a small back pack containing a couple fly boxes, a roll of tippet, floatant, and your portable hammock) and grabbed your fly rod. After a two mile hike up the stream just to get to the native brook’s water, you hiked another ½ mile to reach the one big hole you love to fish; it always produces some monster natives. All in all it was the perfect morning fishing even if you haven’t caught anything decent in size. But hell that’s not why we fish for native brooks, we fish for them because of their color and because they are always located far away from civilization.
Now laying here in your hammock full and content, all of the stress you’ve been bottling up all week is draining out of you fast.
-jingle, thump, jingle.
“What the hell was that,” you think to yourself, trying to listen for it again.
“Well I guess I better get out of this hammock and start fishing again,” you think to yourself. Even though you hate the idea of getting out of the hammock, because you were so damn comfortable.
-jingle, thump, jingle, splash, jingle, splash.
“Shit…,” you say to yourself now knowing what that sound was that you heard earlier.
Looking downstream you see the guy you just heard, he is wading right through the hole you just caught your last brook trout out of. The guy looks miserable. His face is blood red and drenched in sweat. What little hair he has, that is not underneath his soaked ball cap, is fluffed out like he had been running his hands through it repeatedly. He is wearing neoprene waders and probably the heaviest pair of wading boots you have ever seen. To top it all, he is wearing a thick winter fleece; over it he has on a monster chest vest that looks like it is completely full of only god knows what. Tangling from the vest you see what has been making all of the jingling sounds you’ve been hearing; nippers, forceps, scissors, a line straightener, a bottle of floatant, what looks to be a bass net, and five rolls of tippet.
“Hello Mr. Jingles,” is all you can morosely think.
After a five minute talk with Mr. Jingles, progressively seeing his discomfort increase as you tell him that he is just now getting to part of the stream that holds trout, you part ways. While you’re feeling refreshed, deciding that you will fish another mile up to a big waterfall before calling it a day, he looks absolutely defeated as he heads back down the trail to his vehicle.
Hah, stop laughing. Though this story is fictitious it is based off of true events, I was Mr. Jingles when I first started fly fishing. I am the guy that over prepares for everything; because of that fact and having zero idea what I actually needed in order to fly fish I was fooled into purchasing a lot of gear I didn’t need. Now that I am older and wiser I became the other fly fisherman in this story and I feel it is time to help prevent other people from becoming Mr. Jingles.
Let me say first off: you should always feel comfortable out on the water. If you are not comfortable, whether too hot or too cold, this will directly affect your day out fishing. Check your local weather forecast for the day and be prepared. Just remember everything you take out to the river has to come back with you. During late Spring, Summer, and early Fall I will usually wear shorts, sandals, and a t-shirt (if the weather looks like it could be bad I take a rain jacket or a fleece). Late Fall, Winter, and early Spring I wear just enough layerable clothing to keep warm on a cold day, also I usually keep another bag of extra clothing packed in the car just in case I need it.
Now that we got that out of the way, yes, my first pair of waders were neoprene. However because I wasn’t informed enough to know to get the pair that had the separate wading boots, I purchased the pair with the boots attached. To my defense at the time I hate getting cold when I am outside, I thought that neoprene would solve that problem. As for the wading boots: honestly I thought wading boots were a scam made by fly fishing companies, I just could not see any sense buying separate boots for wading when they could already be attached to the waders. Boy that was an education I paid for. After a year of sweating to death and falling down a lot (because the attached boots provided little support), I broke down and bought a pair of high quality waders and wading boots. I cuss myself daily for not doing this in the beginning. In the end the benefits of buying a pair of quality waders and boots separately outweighs the cost of buying cheap waders with boots attached. The chief reasons being: attached wading boots will never fit like an actual wading boot would (to tight or way to loose), they are way too bulky, they provide zero ankle support, and if anything happens to your waders (a rip or a hole) or to boot (sole coming off or a crack in side) you will have to replace both the waders and boots
As I mentioned in my last blog post there was a time when I carried “way” to much equipment. Luckily I never fell in the river when I had all that gear on; if I had I probably would have drowned. Yes it was that bad. I felt that every pocket in my vest had to be put to use. If a pocket wasn’t stuff with something then I would need that something and not having it would ruin my day. God help me, I must have spent several hundred dollars on stupid things like new strike indicators, longer forceps, decorative nippers, tool retractors, and a tippet carrier. All of which never helped me to catch fish, I should have saved that money to put towards a higher quality rod, reel, or even fly line.
Lastly I wanted to talk about nets even though they are a difficult subject to talk about. Because there are so many styles and sizes you really cannot come up with a happy medium in terms of usage. However there is one style of net that I feel that I should steer people away from; the mesh nets. These things are no bueno. Have you ever tried to remove a hook from a piece of cloth? It makes you want to cuss. Well now imagine having to remove a hook from a piece of cloth every time you land a fish, this is what you will have to deal with if you have a mesh net. God forbid you run a tandem nymph rig. Instead of a mesh net, look to purchase a rubber landing net. While the rubber nets are bit heavier than a mesh net, I have yet to get fly stuck in my rubber net like I would in a mesh net (once I lost 15 minutes getting hook out only to end up ripping the net).
I’m not going to lie to you and state that fly fishing is not an expensive hobby to pick up. Even if you pick up the bare gear and minimal flies needed to start fishing it’s going to be expensive. When I first started fly fishing I didn’t have a mentor; I learned from watching videos on the internet and reading books/magazines. I would always see ads for new tools and new gear; in the ad someone would always be holding a monster steelhead or brown trout. Like I said, I didn’t have someone to mentor me, someone to tell me to not buy these things, so I bought them. Yep my education in fly fishing was very expensive; I don’t blame anyone but myself for how much I sunk into learning how to fly fish. But guess what, I am not going to tell you what gear to buy and what gear not buy (with the exception of booted waders and mesh nets). All I want to do is advise you to reevaluate every purchase you make. Ask yourself, “Do I really need/want this?” If the answer is yes then buy it, if it’s a maybe/no then put it down and don’t buy it. Also try trimming down on the things you take out to stream. The lists below are what I normally take out every time I go fishing.
- Cargo shorts (I never wear waders during the summer unless wear I’m wading is going to be above my knees)
- Ball cap
- Polarized sunglasses
- Lite backpack (optional )
- Wading stick
- Fly Box
- Extra strike indicator wool ( I use the New Zealand Strike Indicator rig) (optional)
- Scissors (optional)
- 1 spool of tippet
- Floatant (Loon Aquel)
- Fly Rod/Reel
- Rain Jacket (optional)
- Layered shirts
- Ball Cap
- Polarized sunglasses
- Wading stick
- Fly Box
- Extra strict indicator wool
- 1 pool of tippet
- Fly Rod/Reel
- Fleece/Heavy Jacket
Also if you take your phone out on the stream make sure it is in a water proof case. I made this mistake once and will never do it again.