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 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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15 thoughts on “Fly Fishing: Being Outfitted Properly Should Always Be the #1 Priority

  1. “And four, you screw the guy with the camera trying to get fly fishing photographs, because you look like a total redneck.”

    Really? Are you just trying to help your sponsors sell more of their overpriced gear? Any friend of mine who cares what I wear when I fish can f*** right on off, photographer or not. I agree hat there are better things to wear than a cotton tshirt while fishing, but we don’t need to be getting all high and mighty. The fly fishing industry comes off douchey enough to outsiders, and quite frankly many insiders. BS like this isn’t helping the cause.

    • There’s no need to get riled up and rude Kyle. Kent cares how he looks because it’s part of his professional image. You don’t have to, but you do have to be polite if you would like to continue to comment on the site. I’m not saying you can’t express your opinion, but please do it in a civil tone.

  2. Haha, good article and a great reminder. I too have made some questionable decisions pre “best day fishing ever” that have come back to get me. A real heart breaker resulting in the loss of a Circa 5wt sweet, sweet lord I effed up.

  3. Kyle, it’s unfortunate, but your 100% right. Fly Fishing is a look, not a pursuit. Having been a Capt., guide, mate, and in the charter fishing bussiness for quite some time i’ve seen the power of marketing and it’s mystical force lead people to believe if I dont look like the guy in the magazine, I wont catch fish! Fishing, weather fly or other, should always have one important Rule…..HAVE FUN!

  4. I don’t agree with every word Kyle said, but I do agree with his overall message.

    “Being outfitted properly should be the number 1 priority”??
    That’s utter horse-crap, catching fish, and enjoying the outdoors should be the number 1 priority.

    • Also, what kind of outdoorsman gets worked up about some brush on his bare arms? “It didn’t feel pleasant”?

      How about stay in the cubicle next time.

    • Guys, you’re getting worked up over nothing. Kent had a miserable day because he wasn’t prepared and he felt stupid about it and was generous enough to share the experience with others so they wouldn’t do the same. There is no conspiracy here. We are not getting rich off of you clicks, just trying to make this thing pay for it’s self and share a love of fishing. We accept no payment for any content, period. We could, but we don’t. Find something else to complain about.

      • My post had nothing to do with the way you run your website, or advertising, and everything to do with just this article. The premise that gear should be your priority in fly fishing, is part of the problem in some fly fishing circles. To take things further and say that gear should be your number 1 priority in fishing is absurd. There is so much more to fly fishing then just having the right gear. And frankly, if you cant walk through the woods with a t-shirt without whining about some twigs touching you, you shouldn’t call yourself an outdoorsman.
        With all that said, I still wouldn’t have commented, but then to go and say that guys who fly fish wearing t-shirts look like rednecks? Are you kidding me?
        I have a strong feeling that you, and your crowd, are the same types that have $5,000 dollars worth of gear and get butt-hurt that the dude downstream of you is crushing them with his “redneck” fly fishing style.
        Good luck accumulating gear, and worrying about what type of clothes to wear, I’ll concentrate on my priorities, which are tying great flies, and getting good drifts.


  5. How important is it to bring a change of clothes? I’ve heard both sides of the issue, and am not sure which way to go. I’ve brought it along on several occasions, but never needed it. But there was that one spring creek, where I fell into a beaver hole… and didn’t have it along. It seems a big bother to bring it along, and yet…

  6. 100% agree with Kyle and Ryan, this article is complete garbage and embarrassing. If you can’t hike through some willows without whining stay indoors. Also as a Jackson WY local I can tell you there’s no poison ivy here so you’re not only whining but making things up…

    Trust me you look like “a complete tool” wearing a buff, $100 uv shirt and sun gloves in the northern rockies. Do you rock that get up for a day at the beach???

  7. Geez guys, just bring a raincoat and get over it!
    Kent is absolutely right. We all forget stuff occasionally.
    In the wonderful excitement & anticipation before you finally hit the water, its always prudent to do a final “idiot check” before walking away from the vehicle.

  8. Wow, look at you guys getting all butt hurt over a simple article reminding us to take a moment to ensure “ourselves” an enjoyable day on the water.
    I’m guessing if Kyle believes (which is his right) that the fly fishing industry is “douchey”, maybe he’s just too much of a man for this hobby.

  9. I think that the article was spot-on regarding gear. How many of us have spent the day cold and wet because we didn’t have the right gear? How many have spent more time trying to balance on the smooth slick “round” bottom stones due to inadequate boots, instead of concentrating on the fish? A lot of folks read G&G to be informed on locations and reasonable expectations of being prepared for the conditions just like the fish part of the story.

    That being said, I would wear a cotton T-shirt or, at least a cotton, long-sleeve, T-shirt! Being prepared is certainly more these days than briers or sun as numbers of outdoor participants wind up being treated for zoonotic diseases (look it up) because they are unprepared. The basics in the woods can be just as important as the face shield on the flats or off-shore.

    I read the articles to learn about many and varied types of fishing. I know some things and learn things that someone has experienced, to hopefully avoid similar problems. I also realize that hundreds, probably thousands of novices, like myself, read the articles and find some value in problematic issues.

    I guess if I were responding to Kyle or Ryan, I would say, hey, take a deep breath and remember that your “experienced self” is not the only reader out there.

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