“What fly are you starting with?”
“I don’t know yet.”
“How much weight are you using?”
“How long of a tippet are you tying on?”
“I haven’t decided.”
At the start of the trip, after lacing my boots and grabbing the fly rod, I’m gone. I don’t rig up at the truck. Instead, I walk to the river before making these decisions. Rather than guessing what I might need for my fly or tippet length, I wait until I see the water in front of me.
Some of my friends (maybe most) do it the other way. They thread the line and leader, make some tippet adjustments, add a fly or two or even throw on an indicator, perhaps making a decision to nymph before they ever come close to the river’s edge. But I don’t understand this logic. (That doesn’t mean it’s wrong. It’s just not my way.)
Why guess about what the trout will be eating? Why decide how much weight you will need? Why even choose nymphs over dries or streamers until you see the water? Unless you back the truck down to the river’s edge and drop the tailgate right there, you don’t really know what the water will look like. And you don’t have enough intimate detail about where you’ll make the first cast.
All the Things
I enjoy being a versatile angler, ready with any method at every moment. And however I’m fishing, I’m always willing to adjust. So it’s a rare day when I decide to throw big streamers ahead of time or plan to fish dry flies only. But on those odd days, then sure, some of the choices are easy ones, and I might not need to see the river first. However, day to day, I want to look at the water and gauge its depth, speed and clarity. I scan the creek for bug life and fish activity. I watch for birds eating spinners at the tree line — anything that might provide a hint about the best tactic and approach for my time on the water. Only then do I choose a method, a fly, a weight (if necessary) and a tippet.
One more thought here about rigging up at the truck . . .
Why spend any more time away from the river than necessary? Odds are, you took some time to get here. You’ve daydreamed and made plans about this fishing trip for quite a while. So go to the river. Even if you’re sure that you’ll fish a pair of wet flies, take a walk and find your starting spot first. Scan the water as you rig up those wets. Read it while you tie the leader knots. And your first casts will be full of hope, educated by a deeper and longer look at the currents ahead.
Fish hard, friends.
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Enjoy the day.
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