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
www.ginkandgasoline.com
hookups@ginkandgasoline.com
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8 thoughts on “Fly Fishing: Being Outfitted Properly Should Always Be the #1 Priority

  1. Hi Kent, thanks for the chuckle at your expense! I’ll add to your admonishment to pack-in all of the appropriate gear you will need for the day.

    I recently got up early one morning to hit a spot on the Gunnison River that is a bit hard to get to. I had packed everything in my pickup cab the night before so all I had to do was jump in the truck and head to the river.

    When I headed out that fateful morning it was dark and I didn’t take time for one last equipment check. I got to the river and started getting gearing up only to discover that I had wading boots and no chest waders. In my minds eye I could see them probably gently waving in the breeze where I hung them the day before to dry from fishing that afternoon. I remember thinking, “I’ll hang them right here and throw them in the pickup when I head out tomorrow morning.”

    Well, I decided to just tough it out as punishment for being a bonehead. I strung my rod and hit the river in wading boot and shorts. I stepped into the water and nearly had a heart attack from the shock of how cold the water was on my bare legs. A quick check with my thermometer revealed that the water temperature was 49 degrees.

    I spent a miserable morning fishing for maybe 10 minutes then standing on the river bank long enough to get some feeling back in my legs, then back to fishing again as long as I could stand it. Finally about noon I was starting to get cramps in my calf muscles from the cold and had to admit to self inflicted defeat. I did have the fun of catching and releasing some nice Browns a wish I could have stayed longer.

    The moral of this long sage is don’t just pack-in what you need for a day of fishing, but TAKE IT WITH YOU TO START WITH !!

  2. Hi Kent, thanks for the chuckle at your expense! I’ll add to your admonishment to pack-in all of the appropriate gear you will need for the day.

    I recently got up early one morning to hit a spot on the Gunnison River that is a bit hard to get to. I had packed everything in my pickup cab the night before so all I had to do was jump in the truck and head to the river.

    When I headed out that fateful morning it was dark and I didn’t take time for one last equipment check. I got to the river and started getting gearing up only to discover that I had wading boots and no chest waders. In my minds eye I could see them probably gently waving in the breeze where I hung them the day before to dry from fishing that afternoon. I remember thinking, “I’ll hang them right here and throw them in the pickup when I head out tomorrow morning.”

    Well, I decided to just tough it out as punishment for being a bonehead. I strung my rod and hit the river in wading boot and shorts. I stepped into the water and nearly had a heart attack from the shock of how cold the water was on my bare legs. A quick check with my thermometer revealed that the water temperature was 49 degrees.

    I spent a miserable morning fishing for maybe 10 minutes then standing on the river bank long enough to get some feeling back in my legs, then back to fishing again as long as I could stand it. Finally about noon I was starting to get cramps in my calf muscles from the cold and had to admit to self inflicted defeat. I did have the fun of catching and releasing some nice Browns a wish I could have stayed longer.

    The moral of this long saga is don’t just pack-in what you need for a day of fishing, but TAKE IT WITH YOU TO START WITH !!

  3. Hi Kent, thanks for the chuckle at your expense! I’ll add to your admonishment to pack-in all of the appropriate gear you will need for the day.

    I recently got up early one morning to hit a spot on the Gunnison River that is a bit hard to get to. I had packed everything in my pickup cab the night before so all I had to do was jump in the truck and head to the river.

    When I headed out that fateful morning it was dark and I didn’t take time for one last equipment check. I got to the river and started getting gearing up only to discover that I had wading boots but no waders. In my minds eye I could see them probably gently waving in the breeze where I hung them the day before to dry from fishing that afternoon. I remember thinking, “I’ll hang them right here and throw them in the pickup when I head out tomorrow morning.”

    Well, I decided to just tough it out as punishment for being a bonehead. I strung my rod and hit the river in wading boot and shorts. I stepped into the water and nearly had a heart attack from the shock of how cold the water was on my bare legs. A quick check with my thermometer revealed that the water temperature was 49 degrees.

    I spent a miserable morning fishing for maybe 10 minutes then standing on the river bank long enough to get some feeling back in my legs, then back to fishing again as long as I could stand it. Finally about noon I was starting to get cramps in my calf muscles from the cold and had to admit to self inflicted defeat. I did have the fun of catching and releasing some nice Browns and wish I could have stayed longer.

    The moral of this long saga is don’t just pack-in what you need for a day of fishing, but TAKE IT WITH YOU TO START WITH !!

  4. I feel you my friend – I’ve been deep in the moose thicket around Jackson myself more times than I can count… tough stuff. But only real anglers have the scars to prove it 🙂 Nice work on this one… great read!

  5. I feel ya. I get so anxious to get rigged up and hit the water it can get ridiculous sometimes. I’ve forgotten things like nippers, hemostats ( which I can’t live without), tippet, nets, etc. It’s like I’m afraid that if I don’t hit the water right now, then the damn river will dry right up and there will be no fishing ever again. I’ve had to resort to telling myself to chill out, eat a snack, and go over my gear so I don’t have to come back to the truck, or worse, completely do without my sunglasses or hemostats, which equals catastrophe.
    Congrats on the new baby girl dude! Hope everyone is doing great. Cant wait to start hearing your daddy-daughter stories!

  6. A good fishing buddy imparted some wisdom to me years ago that I try to remember when heading out – “I’d rather be looking at it than looking for it.”

  7. Great read Kent. Been there done that!

    I have done most of those things mentioned in the comments in the past. I now have a system where I put all my gear in a box ready for the car boot. I take everything.

    Then when at the destination I start getting dressed for the day. The only thing I have to decide at the river is what reel, lines and flies I will carry. If things change I can come back later but I make the decision on the condition of the river and weather condition.

    I have each of my pockets designed for a specific item so even when I get fishing I can find things easily.

    Less haste more speed is the answer, 🙂

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