Neil Travis - February 21, 2011

January 2011, a New Year has dawned upon us. The major holidays, Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Years are behind us, the winter solstices has come and gone and slowly and inexorably the days are getting longer. If the winter solstices has come and gone can spring be far behind?  However, much of the world is in the depths of winter; whether buried in ice and snow or simply dealing with shorter days. This is an excellent time to make an assessment of your angling needs for the upcoming season.

Equipment Check:

Are your old waders on their last legs? [Pun intended] Is your floating fly line sinking? Is your fly tying vice made from a clothes pin? Was the last fly rod you purchased made of lance wood? If your answer to any of these questions is yes then you might be in the market for some new gear.

Seriously, if you take stock of your current equipment and it indicates that you could benefit by acquiring a new piece of equipment, now might be the time. With 2011 now a reality everything that was “new for 2010” is now last year’s model and it may be possible to get those items at a bargain price. The difference between a rod that was new last year and the current model is the label. The same can be said for reels, waders, and almost an item that was produced for a particular calendar year. The upshot of all this is that now is a good time to start looking for clearance sales and other special offers from your favorite tackle supplier. [Check the FAOL sponsor pages]

If you are anything like me you have lots of ‘stuff’ that, at the time, you just had to have but in reality it was just an impulse purchase. That’s one good reason to do an assessment before you open your wallet and spring for a new piece of equipment.

The first question to ask yourself, as hard as it may be, is do I really need this? I know that this is a hard question for many of us to answer truthfully, but in this economy it really is an important question to ask and answer –TRUTHFULLY! If you mostly only fish for bass and pan fish on small farm ponds but you occasionally spend a few days fishing for trout do you really need a three weight fly rod in case you might encounter a midge hatch? Perhaps your hard earned cash would be used more productively if you purchased something that you will use more than once a year.

If you keep a fly fishing diary where you keep a record of what flies you used, what hatches you encountered, and how successful you were this is a great time to review those notes. Are there certain flies that worked better than other patterns? Are there patterns that you wished you had in your fly box when you encountered certain hatches? If so now would be the time to either tie up some better imitations or spend some time perusing the offerings at your local fly shop or favorite catalogue or on-line fly source.

While you are checking your fly boxes you might check your leader and tippet supply. Come spring you don’t want to find yourself at your favorite spot only to discover that you used your last 9 foot leader on your last fishing trip or that you only have 10 inches of 5x tippet material. If you have been thinking about trying some new tippet material or perhaps trying furled leaders now is the time to make that purchase.

Making Preparations:

If you are thinking of taking a trip that includes some time fly fishing now is the time to make the arrangements, especially if you are going to employ the services of an outfitter service. If you plan to fish some private water that requires reservations time is of the essence. Many of the prime waters book-up very quickly and if fishing a particular place are important to the success of your trip you should make certain that you can get a reservation and make them now!

Finally, if you have not picked up a fly rod since last fall now might be a good time to find a vacant lot and do some practice casting. A good way to practice is to use some paper plates set at various distances and practice casting to each of the plates in random. When you get good at that get some smaller plates, and when you get good at that use small pieces of paper. A few minutes each day will greatly improve your accuracy.

Now all we have to do is wait for summer!

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