A few years ago on a trip to the river I sat perplexed as I tried to cram a truck bed full of gear, flies, and other fishing “necessities” into a small hip pack. In fact, I ended up so frustrated that I stopped and reminisced on the early years where the allure of two flies, a spool of tippet, and floatant was all that was needed to accompany a great day on the water.
Over the years the quintessential fly fisherman has evolved from the simplistic hat full of flies and a creel (best portrayed by Paul Maclean in A River Runs Through it), to the boat bag bearing, tool carrying “hard core” anglers like myself who cannot fish without their rod vault and MFC boxes stuffed with more patterns than most shops carry in their bins.
After my conundrum with the hip pack I went home, laid all my gear on the floor, and began the simplification process. What did I really need? After considerable consideration I realized for years I had been fishing about 5 patterns consistently, with one floatant, and just two sizes of tippet. I loaded up a hat with 10 flies, threw two spools of tippet and floatant in my pocket, and hit the river. That day I landed plenty of fish and it reminded me of how simple the idea of fly fishing really is.
Through recent years, my methods of simplicity have remained fluid but I have settled on a few key ideas. First, learning to fish 10 flies ten different ways each can at times be more effective than having 100 patterns that fish one way. Second, 3x and 4x tippet work 95% of the time. Third, fly presentation is only everything. And last fishing is fun. Here’s a list of what I carry for a full day on the river.
12 Dry flies, 12 nymphs, 3 streamers (stop by the shop if you care to know which ones)
12 lb P-Line
High-N-Dry liquid floatant
1 9 foot 3x leader
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