Saturday, January 28, 2012

Fly Fishing: Fly Friday: Essential Flies

George Grant style woven-hair flies tied by Tom Harman....
Tom, as many of you know, lorded over Harman's Fly Shop, in Sheridan (MT) for many years...reputed at the time to house "the largest fly selection in Montana." Enough fly choices to cover any situation and probably enough left over to cover situations not yet invented.

The first time I laid eyes on all those flies got me to recollecting how in the past I had hit the crick, so to speak, armed with so many flies more than once I could not find the fly I wanted, yet knew damn well was in there somewhere? In there, as in one the many boxes, in one the many pockets of an overstuffed vest, such zippers and velcro closures no longer closed and weighed enough after a long day astream my neck and shoulders felt much like I'd imagine toting cinder blocks on a rope might.

Then one cold winter night in a moment of forehead slapping enlightenment as I performed the yearly clean-out and reorganization chore it hit me...like Duh...the vast majority, stupid, has never been wet, has never seen the light of day since dropping off the vice who knows how many moons ago...For me a monumental breakthrough and a life changing one at that...OK not really but I did start to pare things down big time and in the process made my fly fishing life way less stressful mentally and physically way less painful.

For many seasons now when fishing familiar waters I carry two boxes max: one for dries; one for nymphs and for those rare occasions I feel really desperate toss in a handful buggers...that's it. Of late, more days than not, I forgo all but the dry box...a personal choice you no doubt disagree but hey, tis what makes the big round ball round, eh?

The dry box contains (two dozen or so total in sizes 10-20) parachute Adams (Purple Haze), Iris and X-caddis, Royal and Ausable Wulffs, Stimis and Flash Cripples. Later I might toss in a couple ants, beetles and hoppers or during, say, Salmon Fly time a couple big Sofa Pillows; in BWO and/or Midge time I'd probably toss out most of the big stuff and add a few no-seeums to the brew.

Based on what I consider sound advise, e.g. Tom Rosenbauer (Orvis) advises, "you need at least 4 times as many nymphs as dries" thus my box contains many more nymphs than dries but the number of patterns remains, to my way of thinking, totally manageable.

In the full range of sizes 4-22 (like dries I do not carry every pattern in every size or even any pattern in every size) my selection is made up of skinny mayfly and midge type nymphs--PT, Micro May, Split Back, Zebra, RS-2 and such. Caddis larvae, pupae, emergers-- LaFontaine patterns, Rock Worm, etc. And other stuff Copper John, Rubberlegs, San Juan Worm, Hare's Ear, Prince (Variations). Most nymphs don't  take up all that much room so I can get a little carried way and still keep it all in one handy-dandy size box.

Both boxes, along with floatant, a couple spools tippet, nippers and split shot fit nicely in the four pockets of  a fishing shirt, snap the forceps to a pocket flap, grab the rod and good to go...as I say all you need for your basic neighborhood sojourn. Simple deal made to order for a simple-minded soul.

On the road? Well, that's another tale best told at a later date...

Admittedly Fanatic Minimalists are by now cringing (gagging) at my idea of paring down but then they did not see the vest or bear the pain either...I rest my case.

PS...Yes I know if don't soon get back on the straight and narrow no doubt the Fly Friday Po-lice will be a knockin...sorry.

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