I am normally pretty organised before the start of the season but not this year. Some dark evening in January I drag out all my gear and delight in going through it in great detail, Rods are checked and rings replaced/re-whipped as required, corks are checked and filled in handles and rod bags plunged into the washing machine for their annual rinse. Nets, bags and all the other kit is scrutinised and patched/glued/stitched/burnished or otherwise mollycoddled as the rain hammers against the window.
Then I set about the reels. I love reels. There is no obvious reason for this passionate affair. I am not an engineer or designer. The technicalities of gear ratios or the comparisons of die-cast vs. single piece go way over my head. Yet I love the feel and even the smell of reels. Being mainly a fly fisherman it is fly reels which provide the greatest pleasure. Don’t get me wrong, I don’t own a huge collection of expensive reels. Just a few bog standard fly reels of the kind churned out by the thousand in nameless factories and machine shops in the orient. Never the less, I thoroughly enjoy stripping them down and cleaning, greasing and oiling all the right bits and finally re-assembling them for the upcoming season.
Somehow January 2015 came and went without me finding the time to carry out my pre-season ritual. Only this evening have I managed to address this oversight and even then i have to admit it has been a pretty half-hearted affair. Just finding everything was a nightmare and a few items are still in hiding. Some important kit was eventually tracked down and I think I am in a position to venture out to the river tomorrow if the weather Gods are kind.
I don’t carry a bag when fishing on rivers, I find them too clumsy and I much prefer to lug all my tackle around in a waistcoat. To save constantly swapping items around I have different waistcoats for salmon and trout. Tonight the trout waistcoat was given a thorough spring clean and the contents of the numerous pockets checked out. Spools of tippet material have been placed in the handiest pockets as I change tippets frequently. Tools such a nippers, de-barbing scissors and hook hones are all present and correct but the magnetic lanyard which attaches my scoop net to the back of my jacket had gone AWOL. It eventually turned up on a ‘D’ ring on the front of my waders.
Next it was on to fly boxes. Last season was a disaster for me in terms of actually getting out on the river, so the boxes are still pretty well stocked as you can see. Early on I rely on nymphs and spiders for much of my fishing so there are a couple of boxes crammed with these goodies in the pockets. A box of dries is also there just on case there is a hatch to bring the trout to the surface.
I know that I carry far too many flies with me but I am happy to burden myself with the problems of fly selection, it adds to the fun for me. I guess that it costs me in terms of the numbers of fish i catch as I swap flies more often than I really should. Weighed against that is the pleasure I get when, just occasionally, I dip into the box and pull out some long-forgotten fly which then goes and tempts a fish.
Eventually I had tracked down all the gear I think I need to try my luck for the first time this season. I will report on that in my next post.