White River Rainbow

Gear Up for Spring Fly Fishing

It’s hard to believe that it is March 6th already, and it was near 60 degrees today, with the sun shining and the snow melting.  It really made me want to get out on a river, although I am sure there are still ice shelves lining the rivers in the mountains, and some slower spots are still frozen over.  But still, the thought of getting out on a river soon is on my mind tonight.  Only two days ago it was 8 degrees at seven o’clock in the morning, but that’s how it is here in the spring, the days start frigid, and then warm up, then the night is cold again.

But I have to remember that winter is not over in Colorado yet, March is our snowiest month of the year, and April is the third.  Even though we may still get snow, it won’t be too much longer before getting out on a river is more appealing.  Sure, you can fish rivers in Colorado all year long, but during the very cold months of winter it can be very challenging, both for catching fish and on your body.  I always get out winter fishing at least a few times every year, I just can’t take that long of a period of time without my rod in my hand, feeling the line wisp through the air in front of and behind me.  Sometimes when I go ice fishing I bring my fly rod along to practice casting, and when people see me, I just say “I have no idea what they are biting on, I haven’t caught a thing all day.”

But just as baseball players get ready for the season with spring training, there are things we can do as trout fishermen to get ready for our season, which isn’t that far away.  No matter how many years you have fished, it is great to get out on the sunny days and practice your casting.  While the fish will be very hungry in the spring, they are still somewhat lethargic, and your casting accuracy is very important.  The water is still cold, and while the insect activity is slowly increasing, you will not get a trout to go too far after its meal, so it is important to be able to hit the sweet spots without spooking the fish.


Waist Fishing Pack

Now is the time to check up on all of your gear.  I have many fly rods, and I take each one of them out and make sure the reel is lubricated, the line is in good shape, and the rod isn’t damaged.  Usually it’s the line guides that get damaged, or the stringing around the guides that hold them to the rod, but for the most part my rods require very little maintenance.  I always have extra rods ready to go in case I am taking other people fishing who don’t have their own gear.

I take out all of my waders (yes, I have a lot of those too), and I check them for wear and tear, I check the felt soles to make sure they haven’t come loose or worn out, and I look for punctures in the waders.  I usually know which waders may have a hole in them, and maybe I put off repairing them until this time of year, so I inspect each pair thoroughly to ensure they are functional.

I use a few different fishing vests, depending on what type of fishing I will be doing.  I have a heavier day-pack vest that I use when I am hiking into remote areas, I have a waist pack that I use when I am not far from my truck and don’t need the extras that my day-pack carries.  I have a few fishing shirt/vests that fill the void in between the previous two, and I have a neck lanyard for times when I am fishing from camp.  With so many different things to hold my fishing gear, I take them all out and make sure each one has all the necessary items it needs; like fly boxes, leader material, weights, floatant, strike indicators, extra leaders, snips, and forceps.


Fishing Day Pack

Finally, and my favorite task, is reviewing my fly supply.  I tie flies during the winter months, and when spring time comes, it’s time to put all those new flies into my various fly boxes and remove the old ones that are no longer functional.  I can’t even tell you how many fly boxes I have, I’m starting to feel a little self-conscious about all the stuff I have in the first place.  But I have fly boxes for specific rivers or lakes that I am going to fish, and I label each one for that location.  I know which flies I will need for a specific location, so I stock each box with the flies I will want when I am at that place.

There is one important tip about your fly boxes that I want to share with you.  About 20 years ago I was fishing on the South Platte River, and in a small eddy I saw something swirling around in the water.  I walked up to it and saw that it was a small fly box.  I opened it up, and it was full of very nice flies, specifically for that river.  But there was no name on the box, if there had been, I would have returned it to that person.  Instead, I set the box on a boulder on the side of the river in clear view of anyone who passed by.  I don’t know if the rightful owner ever found his box, but ever since that day I started putting a label on my boxes with my name and phone number, then coated the label with finger nail polish to protect it.  These days you can use a Sharpie, but they weren’t invented back then.  I do that because a single one of my fly boxes could be worth $200 or more, and I would hope that if I lost one, someone might return it to me.  If not, they will have a nice selection of premium flies.


One of my Fly Boxes

Some people may say that I am a bit obsessive-compulsive with my multiple options for fishing, but it works well for me. I always have what I need ready to go for each fishing expedition, whether that’s a few hours after work on a weekday, a day-long excursion into the mountains, or a week-long trip deep into the wilderness.  The days on the river will be here sooner than you think, so now is the time to prepare for a successful fishing season.  Tight Lines!