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…
It never fails. The night before I hit the river, you can find me hunched over a table of fly fishing gear, rifling through flies and fly line. With meticulous dedication, a furrowed brow, and a glass of bourbon I take in the day’s lessons, take inventory of lost flies, and prepare for the next day’s adventure.
The ritual begins with me preparing my rod and reel so that I do not have to bother with it in the morning. I examine my line and ensure my leader and tippet are in tip top shape. Repair and replace as required. Then I select my flies. Lead fly and dropper. If I am fishing from a drift boat, I will set up my second rod as well if I have one. Usually, I have one ready to fish dries and one for nymphing. My goal is to be able to load my rods in the drift boat or in the truck and take them straight to the water and begin fishing.
Next I find myself pouring through my fly boxes. I re-supply and organize them for what I think will catch fish. This involves transferring flies from box to box. It takes a minute, but it keeps me from having to carry my vest everywhere and allows me to fish with just my necklace. I make sure my go-to flies are in the box tethered to my necklace and my other smaller fly boxes hold my starting line-up. These smaller fly boxes can fit in my pockets. I make changes based on what fished well that day. I also identify if I need anything from the fly shop. Either in the morning or after fishing, I will drop by, say howdy, and grab a leader or a fly or a piece of advice.
While all this is going on, there is usually a discussion about the next day’s plan of attack. Where will we fish? The same rivers? The same sections? Or will we try someplace new? If we will fish from a drift boat we agree on where we are floating and roughly where we may stop and for how long. Will we wade at all? Finally, its decided when to leave the next day, and when to stop fishing.
Once my rods are prepared and my gear is ready, I put everything back together and load the rods. Having a good plan, with my rig and flies ready to go gets me fishing faster the next day, which is where I want to be.
For me, the preparation for fly fishing is exciting. Talking about the next day and re-living the day’s events helps to etch them in my brain. Stories are told about the one that got away, or the hot fly. We share what we learned and the pictures that help capture some of those memories. I embrace the night before because it helps me appreciate the places and people off the river who make being on the river, well — another reason why we go. Wadeoutthere.