It’s not likely any of us will escape our fly fishing journey without arriving at the river having forgotten something. It’s more likely that, if you are reading this, you already know the pain. If not, remember there are those who have and those who will. Sometimes it's no big deal. Forgot our water bottle? Fish thirsty. A box of dry flies? Fish nymphs. Raincoat? Fish wet. But some items cannot be fished through. Some things are deal breakers. I’ll admit it’s been more than once I have reached a trout stream without a critical piece of gear. It was after one of these exceptionally deflating days that I finally decided enough was enough. I committed to solving the problem in the only way I knew how. Applying mental checklists in the way I did during my time flying fighters for the Air Force.
When I began tying flies, I was stationed at Nellis AFB in Las Vegas. Part of the government budget sequestration in 2013 meant that my USAF fighter squadron was grounded for six months. Bad, because I loved flying and instructing in the A-10 Warthog. Good, because I had the opportunity to fly fish more and began learning how to tie my own flies.
I was twenty-two years old when I put the chapel spires of the USAF Academy in my rearview mirror for the last time, pointed my burgundy Volvo North, fly rod sticking out the window, and set out for the Rocky Mountains with my best friend in trail formation.
There was enough light by the time I drove over the bridge. I pulled the steering wheel and raised up in my seat to see the river over concrete.