Here in New England that really just means one thing: Preparation.
Preparation for April 1st – opening day! Winter has been long up here and it has taken a toll on more than just fly fisherman’s psyche. I spend March getting ready mentally to return to my favorite areas and watersheds and making sure my gear is ready too. Here are a few things I do to get ready for the fast approaching season. These help get me excited to fish and hopefully ensure my 1st trips out in April are as productive and successful as possible.
For many of us our last days on the water were some time ago. I use March to go through my fly boxes and take inventory on what flies I need to tie more of and to organize my boxes. The second part of the above advice can be applied to fly fisherman individually. Personally, I like my fly boxes to be color coordinated, organized by size and pattern and totally filled to capacity on April 1st. It’s a silly thing, as I will probably use no more than 4 flies on opening day, but it mentally makes me feel better knowing my green drakes are stocked and ready to deploy even if there is zero chance I will tie one on until late June. Some anglers do not care this much about fly box organization, but March is a good time for everyone to take stock of last season’s lost tackle and make sure we have the flies we need.
If you are into trying your own flies, I find March to be a great time to tie. The act of tying flies only increases my excitement to go fishing. I think about big fish hooked and sometimes lost on flies I have tied. I also take this time to fill my boxes with proven patterns and often make tweaks to patterns that I think could work. This gets me thinking about trying out these new patterns or even just simple small changes to time tested patterns.
Attention To Detail:
In addition to filling my fly boxes I go through my entire pack/vest. Now is the time to think about replacing older products. How old is that spool of 5x tippet? How much dry fly powder is left in that container? Tippet and leader material, especially monofilament, definitely has a useful life span and can lead to easy break-offs if not replaced over a period of time. I normally will only use a spool for 1 year – 2 at the most. Other things to consider now would be to toss in some fresh glasses wipes or lip balm to my pack. I also take a look at most of my flies. We all get lazy after a long day of fishing and will not dry off our flies. This can cause rust depending on what kind of irons/hooks are used. I will sharpen my hooks, especially on my streamers or larger hook points.
Now is the time to address any lingering gear problems. Did you have a small leak in your waders that you decided you could live with in September? Well, you won’t want to live with it in April when the water temp is 34 degrees. Get it patched now or replace with new. When was the last time you stretched out your fly line? If it has been in your cold garage wrapped tightly around a spool for the past 4-5 months don’t plan on laying out any tight loops on opening day. Stretch that line out and clean and dirt and residue off it now with a line cleaner. It will lead to better casts and more fish when you do make it to the water...
Lastly, remember how much fun it is to be out on the water. Enjoy the process of getting ready to be fly fishing again.
Words + Photo By: Tim Ervin