This is the time of year when most Fly Fishers are going crazy from cabin fever. I have to admit I fall under this group, but we have to remember there can be a lot done before you hit the water. Being prepared and having your gear ready to go may give you a good start to the season. Hats off for those die harders that have been on the water already, regardless if you have or have not keep in mind a few of these tips that may make your season begin on a good note.
1. Tie your flies and fill the boxes!
The fly boxes are usually a first for me. I lay all the boxes out and open them to look at all the empty voids and immediately I start to remember that those missing ones were some of the patterns that did really well for me. Those small simple but very effective streamer patterns, the delicious looking nymph patterns, and the new stuff that has gone through this Bug Chuckers head are all flies that are on the “must tie list”. It’s not a good feeling when you are on the water and open the box to find that favorite fly you had last year is not there.
2. Leader and Tippet Check!
Last year I was on the water in April and found myself bumming tippet material from Steve-O. Good thing I had a fishing partner with me or I would have found myself fishing with oversized tippet or calling the trip short. Another problem I found when guiding was a few rolls of tippet got wet and stayed wet which I believe made the tippet soft and gave it a less break strength. I have used Frog Hair and Orvis Tippet materials, both regular mono and fluorocarbon the last 3 years. I received both brands free or at a really good cost and they have held up really well in my opinion. I really like the Rio tapered leaders and that’s what I use. Leaders and tippets could mean the fish of the year.
3. Fly Line and Reel Maintenance!
When’s the last time your fly line was cleaned? If it’s been awhile you may notice a big difference once you start double hauling streamers for hungry fishing this spring. When you have your fly line out inspect it for cuts or knots which could get worse through the season and leaving yourself making a trip to the fly shop for a new fly line. I use Scientific Anglers Fly line cleaner. Surf the web and see what’s out there. Take some time and look at the reel. One of your most important parts of the reel is the drag system. Some reels may need a little wipe down with an oil cloth, especially the guts. Make sure everything is working properly.
4. Fly Rods!
It’s such a great feeling when you get a new rod, especially when it’s a stick you have wanted for a while. If you are still using your experienced veteran rods then you want to check several items. Start at the butt of the rod and work to the tip. If your rod is equipped with a fighting butt make sure it is still tight to the blank. I once had to replace a fighting butt that broke loose, so as basic it may be you always want to check. When checking your real seat, make sure everything is intact and clean. Cork handles are more common to wear and tear. Some rods that do not have hook keeps make the cork handle the area where you stick your fly at times. Depending upon the grade of cork you may find your handles with little holes or pieces missing. If this may be the case I have a simple fix for you. Take a piece of loose cork, Elmer’s glue, and a fine piece of sandpaper. Sand the cork down to where it’s almost dust with the occasional larger chunk that will fit the missing piece of the handle. Mix that with a dab of glue and work into any voids on your handle. Once you do that let everything dry and take your “fine” sand paper onto your entire handle to clean any dirt or marks that may be on it. I know this might feel like the wrong thing to do on a high dollar rod but with the right tools and materials you will not hurt it. The next two items sometimes might take a fine eye or a good pair of glasses. Look over you entire blank for any marks, nicks, or gouges that may weaken the blank. When doing this also look at each thread wrap to ensure that the thread coating is still durable. In time without proper maintenance thread wrap coatings will begin to weaken or even crack, especially when there is stress on the rod. You can also look at each guide at this time when checking the thread wraps and coating. If you notice any of these 3 issues “guides, thread wraps, thread coating” you want to address it before you plan on using that rod. If your rod is under warranty look into what it may cover and costs. In some cases the manufacturer will cover it but comes with a high cost. If you do not want to go that route have a reliable rod builder fix it and if you do not know anyone contact your local fly shop they should be able to get you in contact with someone.
5. Prep your Vest
Cleaning your vest out before each season or trip will give you a good idea of your inventory on indicators, weight, tape measure, toilet paper, etc. Clean those dry patches off of old flies and restock. I find it the best to empty the vest completely to determine everything I have stored. Once I do this I begin to combine certain items, clean, and re-pack. It may just be me but doing this gives me a good sense of knowing that I am ready for the season.
I could go on and on but these are 5 basic tips that help me get ready to break the cabin fever. Hope everyone has a good and safe year.