February 11th, 2002

The Premiere OnLine Magazine for the Fly Fishing Enthusiast.
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Cleaning the Vest Out
By By Richard D. Zieger, Iowa

Well I did my annual task today. I took everything out of my vest. All the fly boxes, the loose flies, the tippet material, the odds and ends of everything that was in it. Actually I started yesterday and finished today because it was somewhat of a task to get everything done.

I carry 14 boxes with me, I put 4 patterns in each box. I don't want to run out of flies and I want to have a variety of flies with me. Also, if the fish are biting, I may tie on all of the flies of that pattern that I have with me. I do this because I feel flies that have caught fish work better. Maybe because I think they will work better. In any case it is my habit to do that.

I have two boxes of poppers, a box of ants, a box of grasshoppers, a box of other terrestrials, a box of dry flies, boxes with streamers, nymphs etc. As I am fishing they tend to get a little messy, so I open them up and clean them, putting flies back where they belong and stocking it if it is short of flies.

Also cleaned out the loose flies that always get dropped in a pocket and stick my fingers when I reach in to get a box. Now I know none of the rest of you who fly fish do this. But if I see fish I don't always get the fly back in the box but the box goes in the vest. Lost one box one time and won't do that again.

Another thing this lets me do is to look at the patterns that I really use and discard those that have not worked as well as the others. One box I carry is flies that come in on swaps and another is flies that I see I want to tie. I usually tie six of a pattern. This gives me a few to loose along the way. Some of these did not work as well as other flies so I set them aside and clean all the material off the hook to use again. This is a way I recycle some of the hooks so I don't have a lot of flies that don't work for me.

I always find flies that just need to be repaired a little and this gives me a chance to get them collected to do that. Some may be ones I did not tie too well and have lost a wing or a tail and it is not hard to fix.

The best thing is that it brings back the memories of some very fun days. Being able to be out and enjoy the outdoors. Also on some days to share it with a friend. To be on the pond where the geese nest and have them fly in and land. All those things come back as I do the grungy job of cleaning my vest.

Makes the winter weather a little more tolerable. ~ Rich Zieger

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