Fly Fishing: Being Outfitted Properly Should Always Be the #1 Priority

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You can ruin a perfect day of fly fishing not taking the time to outfit properly. Photo Louis Cahill

Many can attest to the feeling of pure excitement that comes over us right after we’ve parked the vehicle and are fixing to hit the water for a great day of fly fishing.

It’s an awesome feeling, one quite frankly, that I never get tired of, because it opens the door for each of us to experience true freedom, solitude and adventure. And there’s nothing like the anticipation of not knowing how the day is going to play out for us. This feeling has gotten me into trouble many times over the years, and I’m sure that I’m not alone. Look back on some of your past trips and I bet you’ve had a time or two where you got in way too much of a hurry, and forgot to pack critical gear. We tell ourselves, “the sky is blue and there’s not a cloud in the sky. I don’t need to bring my rain jacket”. We leave that granola bar or bottle of water in the truck because we hit a food joint on the way into the river and sucked down a 20 ounce bottle of water. Sometimes, we get lucky and we don’t wind up needed the stuff we’ve left behind. Unfortunately, if you get in the habit of doing this too much, eventually it’s going to bite you in the butt. It happened to me on a recent wade fishing trip with Louis in WY.

I was chomping at the bit to get on the water. It had been two years since I’d made a trip out west fly fishing. My late flight into Jackson had got us off to a late start. Since fishing time was limited I decided to do something I never do, which was slap on my waders and hit the water in just a light weight t-shirt. I didn’t second guess myself since Louis told me that we’d only hit this one spot upstream, and then we’d head back to the truck and drive further up river. I took a few seconds to look at the terrain. It was primarily made up of only scattered sage brush and there was a clear path to the water, so I moved onto my important gear, threw on my chest pack and strung up my fly rod. With both of us with our wading boots wet and midway into our first drifts, we doubled up on trout. The hot fishing continued on well past our target hole, our fishing plans changed in transit, and the next thing I knew, we were a long damn ways from the truck. The once wide open terrain, that made it so easy for us to hike-in from the beginning, had somehow transformed unnoticed into thick walls of moose thicket. It lined the banks in both directions as far as the eyes could see, and that my friends, was about the time I realized wearing a t-shirt was a bonehead decision to make. Thankfully, the brush didn’t have thorns but the branches were still rough and abrasive enough to not feel pleasant at all on my bare arms. I took it like a man two thirds of the way back to the truck, cussing to myself loud enough only for me to hear. On top of all that, I had to listen to Louis constantly laughing up ahead of me the entire hike back. By the time we finally got to where I could see the truck, my arms were beat to shit and I felt like a complete tool. I almost ripped off that shirt, torched it, and went Tarzan the rest of the way. Of course, that would have been an even more ignorant decision to make, so I let that one go.

I learned several negative things about wearing a solo t-shirt fly fishing that day. One, they suck at protecting you against UV rays, bug bites and poison ivy. Two, they provide very little warmth if you find yourself in a situation where you need it. Three, they offer zero abrasion protection when bush whacking through thick brush. And four, you screw the guy with the camera trying to get fly fishing photographs, because you look like a total redneck. Lastly, and by far the most valuable lesson of all I learned in that t-shirt, was just because the path to the river is a breeze on the way in, it doesn’t mean it’s going to be that way during the trip back out.

It’s so easy for us to get jazzed up when we get to that perfect looking fishing spot and rush to the water. Always make sure you pack-in with you the appropriate gear you’re going to need, even if it seems overkill at times. That way you’ll be ready and prepared for tough situations when they come up on the water. Trust me, much pain, grief and humility will be averted doing so.

Keep it Reel,

Kent Klewein
Gink & Gasoline
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4 thoughts on “Fly Fishing: Being Outfitted Properly Should Always Be the #1 Priority

  1. Like the old joke about the Bull and the Young Bull looking down the hill at a herd of cows… If I’m not ready, I tell my Buds to go ahead. There will be fish for me. I need my gear, appropriate to the day, as I see it.

    And, if I get tired, it’s time to take a break, or stop for the day.

  2. I just did this to myself yesterday on the Deschutes. Didn’t pack the jacket (I did grab a fleece shirt, which promptly got wet in my pack when I went deep wading through the first run) but, once again,I left my magnifying glasses in the truck. I just can’t seem to get used to the idea that I can’t focus on things close to my face (I need reading glasses these days). Oh, well. I’ll remember eventually.

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