Welcome Beginners

Part Seven

Through The Eyes of a Beginner

By Don McPherson

This is part 6 of a new series, written by a beginning fly angler about his experiences and adventures in the world of fly fishing. It is a documentary - intended to encourage other beginners. It may also revive a few memories from old fly anglers.


I am constantly amazed at the amount of gadgets and gizmos that some fishermen carry with them.You see forceps, tweezers, grabbers, lights, magnifying glasses, pliers, and who knows what else.

Do you ever wonder if you're missing out because you don't have all the latest gizmos? I imagine that each of those gadgets has a use and probably makes some aspect of fly-fishing a little easier but I seem to get along with just a few. I carry a pair of forceps, a pair of nail clippers, and a pair of needle nose pliers. I use the forceps to get hooks out of mouths, the clippers to clip tag ends of leaders and tippets, and I use the pliers to bend down the barbs on hooks. I haven't yet had a situation arise when I wished I had another gadget. But then, I am a beginner.

That brings me to another piece of fishing equipment, the fishing vest. Now there is a myriad of vests available to the angler. There are vests with just a few pockets, those with lots of pockets. There are even vests with floatation devices in them.

I use a short vest that allows me to wade without getting my vest wet. I think it has only 6 pockets on total, a couple big ones, a couple medium ones, and two small ones. I carry a fly box in each of the big pockets, strike indicators in one of the medium pockets, and tippet material and my license one of the small pockets.

I guess I'm a student of the "less is more" school of thought. I think as my experience grows so will the number of items that are in my vest. I like the idea of just taking the essentials with me. I have seen anglers with more equipment in and on their vests than a soldier about to enter combat! There are anglers who carry extra spools of line, maybe one carrying a sink tip line. Others carry so many boxes of flies they have an imitation of every insect known to man, and probably several never seen before.

Mike Croft Cartoon

Now I am certainly not chastising others for their choice of accessories and essentials. One of the joys of fly-fishing is that each angler can use whatever equipment he or she likes. Often times I think that the cause of over stuffed vests is the fact that many anglers don't clean their vests out periodically. I am amazed at how much stuff can accumulate in a vest after just a few trips. I've cleaned my vest out and have found missing flies, candy wrappers, bugs, rocks, weeds, and lots of other things that were just taking up space.

Another item of basic equipment I have mentioned is the fly box. Deciding what flies to carry and how many may very well be like searching for the missing link. I carry two boxes. One is a two-sided gizmo, one side has about 12 compartments. In these I carry my bigger flies like streamers and larger wet flies. The other side is one large compartment with a foam to hook flies to. There I carry my dry flies.

The only reason I carry a second box is because I found it floating in some brush one day and could not find it's rightful owner. This box has a lot of nymphs and other flies that I've never seen before.

I wonder what other anglers carry in their fly boxes and how many boxes they carry? I would imagine that a lot depends on where you are fishing and what type of fish you're after. For me, deciding what to carry will certainly become easier as I gain experience. I guess the best way to unravel the mystery of the fly box is to turn to the folks that have fished your area.

I turn to friends and folks that hang around fly shops. If you look in the displays of flies sold at fly shops, you can get a pretty good idea of what folks use in that area. Deciding what flies to carry and when to use them is probably one of the most important, and toughest, decisions you will have to make as a beginning angler. I am still attempting to unravel this mystery!

I carry flies that I've caught fish with. I carry various sizes of Pale Morning Duns, different sizes and colors of spinners, a few midge imitations, and a few terrestrials like ants and hopper patterns. I also have a few nymphs that I carry. My knowledge of nymphs is severely deficient, so I carry some gold ribbed Hare's ear nymphs, some Brassies, a few Prince Nymphs and some Bead head Pheasant tail. I'm sure as I fish the area more and learn more, my selection of flies will increase. I imagine that the type and number of flies that you carry will depend on where you fish and what you fish for.

This week we've dabbled in the mystery of gizmos, gadgets, vests and fly-boxes. Oh the wondrous world of fly-fishing! Did you ever imagine there could be so much to a sport that seems to pride itself on simplicity?

I hope I've helped you understand this sport just a little more. If nothing else, you can find a little comfort in knowing that you're not the only one out there struggling to learn this sport.

Until next time, tight lines!
~ Don McPherson

If you would like to comment on this or any other article please feel free to post your views on the FAOL Bulletin Board!

Previous Beginners Journal

Return to the Beginners Journal
Part 1 Reflection | Part 2 Sorting the Equipment
Part 3 The New Fly Rod | Part 4 A Little Respect
Part 5 Snapping 'em off! | Part 6 Get a Few Lessons!
Part 7 Stuff | Part 8 Tube It?
Part 9 Take a Little Time

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