When I was a little kid, L.L. Bean had the
neatest stuff, especially those Main Guide
Hunting boots. High-tops, leather over rubber.
The images of dreams to a twelve year old like
me. I never had any though, but settled for a
local knock-off, but mine did have a small sheath
for a pocket knife at the top of the right boot.
Image was important to me then. What I wore told
those around me who I was, or at least who I
thought I was.
The war was on and I needed a coat for school, it
had to be a P-Coat of course. Wheaties supplied a
'Breakfast of Champions' arm patch for it after I
sent in the dime. My car during highschool had no
hood, it had one but with it on you couldn't see
the chrome carb and goodies on the engine. When I
decided to go all the way into fly-fishing I realized
soon that I qualified for the great image of the times,
You do realize, of course, that as a spinfisher one
is not allowed to even own a vest. Vests are the sole
property of those of the long rod. Orvis was the place
for me to buy mine, a proper vest, no knock-offs for
me at this stage in life. I had to make an impression,
even if it was just on myself. Well, I did invest in
a somewhat silly hat, but I will leave that out for
now. My 'Tackle-Pak' arrived and now I was complete.
Can you still remember the first time you tried on
your new vest? Fit well, all the pockets closed
nicely, nothing bulged out and it weighed
practically nothing. My, my, how some things can
change. I still have it, buried deeply in one of
my back room closets. And, yes, I did wash it once,
didn't seem to hurt it at all.
Over the years I managed to sew a few 'patches' on
it. Actually I had to remove some to make room for
others. Well, heck I was into a lot of groups and
companies. And they all had 'patches.' There were
times when it really was appropriate for me to wear
the thing, mostly at shows and schools. For sure
At first I did though. But then it only had a
few things in it and even had a few empty
pockets. That did not last long. The Orvis
catalog came to my rescue. Then the winters
game became, shuffle stuff from one pocket
to another one, move things around, rearrange
my gear. Before long it was full, then over-full,
and now it weighed a lot. A whole lot. Way too
much. Take things out, retreat, go minimalist,
cut back, reduce weight.
When I fished I never wore it again. But I have
it and if ever confronted by someone with a
bedazzled fly-vest I can jangle mine in
opposition and even have a chance of looking
as silly as he. Status symbols are very
important at all stages of our life and a
fly vest is certainly one of them. But, it
needs to be earned. You must be a fly-fisher.
It must be unique. It will be because you will
dress it up with patches and pins and zingers
and bottles and clippers and wool chunks and
just about anything else you can get to adhere.
You see, back before Lee invented the fly-fishing
vest we all had to carry our things in our pockets.
I remember the great shirts and coats that L. L.
Bean sold. Red and black plaid. You used a
layered effect back then, multiple layers of
clothes. You could keep warm in any weather.
And you know what? You didn't need a vest. You
had lots of pockets.
Does the LF have a vest? Well, it started out
with 'Buster Brown' shoes, then on to a skirt
with a picture of a poodle on it...