Ladyfisher
Outdoor Writers Association of America
This Week's View

by Deanna Lee Birkholm

June 26th, 2000

Uniform of the Day



Every weekend the army of anglers loads up their vehicles and heads for the water. A steady full-dress parade of jeeps, suv's, and pickup trucks head for freedom. An occasional old 'fish car' shows up in the parking lot too, a memorial to those who have dedicated a part of their life and priorities to having the 'perfect' fishing rig.

On the streams and rivers, the 'army' with their rods extended could be warriors off to defend their chosen holy grail. All outfitted in the uniform of the day. Neoprene waders in cold water, breathables in moderate to warm water, and a few hardy souls in hip boots. I say hardy because I've personally never worn hippers without wading deeper than the top. That means I could have waded without them, just in tennis shoes as stayed as dry.

The rest of the uniform includes a vest, favorite hat, lots of boxes of flies - in fact so many the vest pockets can't contain them all so the angler has to have a tackle pack of some sort. You know the ones that hang around your neck on a strap, or around your waist.

A while back a couple of fishing tackle suppliers came out with color co-ordinated hats, vests, shirts and even a neck scarf. That seems to have toned down.

I don't have any problem with the folks who have decided they have to have all the gear possible, and who insist on also wearing whatever this year's uniform of the day is. That is certainly a matter of choice and comfort.

My approach is different. Yes, I do have waders, both neos and breathables (and yes so you don't have to write me and ask, I do use Bare Waders - which I had long before they were a Sponsor here. That fact is I love them, and that's why we invited them to be a Sponsor.) I do wear a hat. I've had several over the years, some really a bit strange, but I wear the long brim hat you see me with, except my new one has dark green underneath which helps with the glare off the water.

I don't use a vest. I have one, and it has lots of nifty patches from fishing groups I belong to (or have been a member of) it's neat to see, and not particularly useful or comfortable to fish in. I will wear it if the weather is threatening, since I can stuff my waterproof jacket in the back pouch.

My personal preference is really a minimalist approach.

Here's why.

Wherever I fish I usually know what the hatch or hatches will be. There may be a possibility of three or four insects hatching during any given time. My casting is pretty good, I rarely lose a fly to a tree or bush. I only fish dry flies on fresh water. So I also am not snagging stuff on the bottom and breaking off flies.

Those four possible insects, counting a small, medium and larger fly in each pattern, or a slight color variation of each gives me a dozen flies. I may have as many as six of each of those, but more likely I have two or three. Those can be contained in one fly box. At the moment I have one box of dry flies which I would use for Montana, Yellowstone Park, and another for Michigan or the eastern waters. One box of Castwell Marblehead's for Salmon in a few sizes to match the bait of the season. That's it. Back when I did fish nymphs and streamers, I had two fly boxes on the stream. One contained the nymphs and streamers, relevant to where I was fishing, and the other the dries.

That may seem like I'm really understocked on flies. But I'm not. I just carry those flies in my fly box that I will use on any given outing. If there are fish to be caught, I will catch them with what I have.

That really is not bragging, it's just practical. The reverse of that is a well-known tier and author which whom we fished on Armstrong Spring Creek a couple of years ago. JC and I did very well, our friend, who truly is an expert, had over a thousand flies in various boxes on his person and wasn't catching anything. Eventually he asked what we were using, found he didn't have anything close, and proceeded to snip, and clip a couple of flies to be able to catch something. Had he been carrying just a couple of fly boxes I'm sure he would have enjoyed the experience just as much. Instead, he wading the stream, clattering with all the fly boxes banging together, looking somewhat like Santa loaded down with his pack.

I find it more comfortable to tuck my fly box in the little zippered pocket in my waders than to wear a vest - especially in hot weather. I carry a spool of tippet material and a pair of nippers in my shirt pocket. Most of my fishing shirts have velcro on the pockets, and I've never lost anything from my pocket. I clip a pair of hemostats on the flap of the pocket. My fishing license in it's little plastic protector is in my other shirt pocket.

There is something to be said for being outfitted in the 'proper' fishing attire, and for many it may help their confidence. And I won't knock the fun of purchasing great stuff for fishing. It is fun. But a great deal of it is not necessary.

You might try fishing sometime without the uniform of the day. Wear what is comfortable, something that doesn't restrict your casting - or the landing of the fish. Pick a few flies based on what should be happening on the water you want to fish. Go light! Keep it simple and basic.

You just might find it is even more fun! ~ LadyFisher

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