Friday, November 25, 2016

Fly Fishing Dollars, and Sense

Frederic Halford at left tying flies.

Public domain image hosted on wikicommons. Some sort of attribution ought to go to Mike Cline who is listed as the author. I'm not sure Mr. Cline is the original photographer but I'm happy to have the public domain image to use.

It's the season of shopping. 

They'll no doubt be plenty of chances to acquire fine tackle and other gear during the next six weeks. I have no less then five "fantastic blow out deals" in my email bin now.

Careful, anglers. Careful.

There's a lot of money to be spent in this pursuit. Unfortunately, damn little of your money actually does that much from the trout's perspective.

Yes, that's coming from a man who has bought a couple rods a year for the last half-dozen years.

I've a nice stout 4/5 piece of split cane that Chris Lantzy sold me out of his "ready bin" this spring. I'll post the review here but I've spent more on a dinner this year than I gave Chris for the rod and the rod is a charmer. The point being is that great gear -- meaning gear we can effectively use on the stream -- isn't necessarily expensive gear.

I like SA System One click-and-pawl reels. You can find them for less than fifty bucks with a spare spool (Got a whole collection of spare spools. Easier just buy a whole new reel than fumble with a bunch of spools.) I like my Galvan Brookie too and a I gave a lot more than fifty bucks for it.

To the trout, which is better? The Brookie reel holds a three weight Wulff TT line that can roll cast the skin off a cat. (Catgut reference. No actual cats skinned in the writing of this bog entry). My usual SA has a five weight Wulff TT line.

Now, both reels throw the same class of line just fine. I could carefully buy a half-dozen SA Ones for what I gave for the Brookie and that I bought on a brother-in-law deal from my fly shop owner. Dirk is a soft touch about reels. Don't let that get around.

The point is this: good gear isn't expensive. There is fine inexpensive gear that will catch trout all season long. Trout gear isn't scotch.

Cheap scotch is seldom any good. Once you get old enough tmmo like a decent scotch, there's no such thing as a cheap bottle.

What can you spend money on here in "sale" season?

Decent boots. If they're on sale, buy a good pair. Pinched feet and hammer toes scrunched into a neoprene vise ruin a day faster than anything. I like the old "Centurion" style for cobble bottoms but for hiking-in they're just brutal. We've little cobble here in Michigan and I'm looking hard at something lighter. Once upon a time I used Chuck Taylor high tops with felt I cut and epoxied. Those days are gone.

Lighter boots make the day easier. Consider it.

A new line. Yes, I make fun of Airflo Super-Dri Bandit lines. No, I won't use one. However, finding a line you like at a discount to new is probably a good deal. Haven't bought a line in three years? Haven't washed your line in that time? Might consider a new line. Your old line sucks (water). The finish on your line breaks down with age and use.  The line becomes less a precision instrument. If you're throwing water on the backcast, you are seriously in need of a new floating line.

A Tackle Buddy spinner holder. Yes, this comes from the walleye world where old guys fish with pre-spliced and tied spinner rigs of 30", 45" or even 60" lengths. These hard plastic and rubber devices are little more than waterproof paper towel rolls that prove incredibly convenient to hold pre-tied dropper rigs.(Look here ). When the sun goes down and you need to re-tie, having one of these pre-spun with half a dozen dropper rigs you can splice-in with a surgeon's knot is the difference between catching and swearing for half-an-hour. It'll fit in your bag and for sawbuck, it's a bargain.

There's no fun in packing out because you can't see to tie a knot.

A flask. Look, you've got your priorities. I've got mine.

A decent whiskey. My priorities are working overtime.

That flask needs something more than Jack Daniels. Ditch that domestic bourbon and get some decent Irish Whiskey (which means Bushmills -- the oldest continuously operating distillery in the world, thank you very much). If you grow-up and discover some actual taste buds, a scotch old enough to vote is a nice treat but we're talking bargains here ... and that scotch won't be.

If you're an occasional angler on the water a half-dozen times a year, don't be cheap with your beverage. A nice whiskey travels well and goes down fine after that trophy trout you'll land. Trout have taste and class. They've no proven affinity for Old Milwaukee Light.

New Tippet. I know half of you out there in Troutland are using three year old tippet. I know it. That stuff gets brittle. Don't hoard tippet. Buy it as you need it, seasonally. Now counts as "next season."

A pipe. Now, I'm a cigar man and have been since before I could buy a drink. I had a locker on Fifth Avenue for over twenty years (my tobacconist moved and thus no more locker). I have a weakness for women I cannot afford, scotch whiskey I shouldn't afford, and cigars I shouldn't be allowed to to afford. I still love them all.

However, that cigar will ruin a line or leader if the two should meet. Yes, that's the same advice I give to friends seeing the other woman: let the two meet and it'll ruin your day. My close friends are old enough to be past the stage of infidelity. They cannot afford any other ex-wives.

You'll be sitting on the bank watching the river at some point next year. Hopefully, you'll be doing that a great deal. A pipe is a safer alternative to the cigar. I save cigars for around the campfire or on my deck. The pipe is the field implement of choice. Peterson makes a nice product that won't break the bank.

A Decent Set of Compact Field Glasses. Now, I know there's always too much stuff in the sidebag or the vest. I know it. However, you'll be better served  "glassing" the water than your present "squint and search" method allows. The fish you miss could be because you aren't looking before fishing or you aren't looking well enough at the water you intend to cover.

There's also the utility of looking at all the lovely birdies. (Obscure Missouri Breaks reference but I've a weakness for killers and Brando plays a good one). Seriously, a pair of waterproof compact binoculars good enough for glassing the water will run under $40. More seeing = more catching.

Never take anything on the water whose loss will pain you something sore.

Trout are heartbreakers. Don't give 'em extra chances by overspending on gear.


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