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.
There is something about the doing of it that makes fly fishing special. About going deeper into a world and connecting with something special at a basic, visceral level. When I look at the mountain, I see it from a distance. I know the river flows below beneath it, and that trout sway in its currents and seams. I know it, just as I know that fish swim in the sea. When I gaze at the beauty in the waves and colors and sounds of the ocean I see it as I see the mountains and rivers and forests. Out there.
I started with scarcity and circled back. Throughout the years I acquired all manner of fly fishing gear and paraphernalia and most of it went in my fly fishing vest. I bought the vest when I started. It seemed like the right thing to do. And I paid very little for it. I filled the vest partly because I did not know what I needed and partly because I did not know what I liked, but as I spent more time on the river I settled into a rhythm and learned the difference. It became less about quantity and more about function. This discovery came with my introduction to the fly fishing lanyard and a realization that, on the river, less is more.
I knew in the time I walked the ten feet from my dorm room stairwell in Sijan Hall to his blue Land Rover that my day on the river would be cold.
“Wanna tie a fly Pop?” It was a whisper, but it woke me. My son’s weight leaned against my chest. When I cracked my eyes, his gleamed back inches away. I took a deep breath and smiled.
I admit I discovered it slowly. I had just started tying for my next trip to the Yakima River.
They say you can save a lot of time and solve a lot of problems with a glass of whiskey and a table covered in fly boxes, reels, strike indicators --- they don’t really say that. But it’s true…
I know what I need in life, and I don’t need much. Turns out packing for a fly fishing trip is no different.