Counting off the days...
Our route is charted, and the 4Runner is ready, more or less; the list of rivers stretched before us reads like a fly angler's greatest hits album cover wrapped around the soundtrack of "A River Runs Through It." Now, it's time to load up fly boxes, rods, and reels to complement these waters and the Trout that live there. Experience is a great teacher; having logged a few days on favorite streams we shall revisit makes this task somewhat more straightforward. But, then, there are new destinations that require research to maximize success.
Fortunately, our well-connected world puts many tools at our disposal to glean what we need from the archives of experience. My first tappable resource is always friends and guides that are known to have expertise in the area. A quick email loaded with basic questions on tackle and hatches reaps a wealth of information in addition to unsolicited invitations and suggestions.
Then, I look to the past, both recent and long forgotten, to search for fly patterns or techniques that may have fallen from favor as the sport evolved. I have found that anglers can be much more fickle than the Trout they pursue, turning cold shoulders to proven methods thought dated by today's standards. Old favorites fade from memory as time passes, waiting to become new again when pulled back into the light. Finally, I turn to written words held between dusty pages or ink barely dry to study up on the success of others. Such volumes seem archaic compared to electronic resources but can be carried off-the-grid for reference around the evening campfire.
Then, with knowledge gathered, the final selection is collected in boxes, bags, and packs, carefully placed for retrieval when the need arises. In this, there is a danger of casually missing something of great value or requirement, leaving it sitting on the table as we drive off to the east. As I hinted last week, our adventure this time last year was undertaken by both of us without proper footwear. Wading boots and flip-flops are perfect as designed, but a pair of sturdy shoes come in handy when winter's breath is on the wind.
Of all the preparations, sorting through boxes of flies is the task I find most daunting. As a purveyor of quality fishing tackle, it would be unseemly for me to arrive without the proper collection of feathers, fur, and steel. Even more so, my lovely bride. To that end, I have spent countless hours plucking ants, beetles, grasshoppers, mayflies, caddis, assorted streamers, and attractors from their far-flung hiding spots in our home, cars, and office, then putting them into reasonable order for my own use. At the same time, Jennifer has fine-tuned her well-stocked fly boxes from the assembled collection. If the truth was known and shared, we are both aware that of the multitude of options we carry, only one or two dozen will ever see the current. Yet, we will fuss over our fly boxes until we pull out of the driveway.
And now, the final selection process begins for the tools of this trade we call angling. Rivers and the residents therein dictate which rods will make this journey; we each have favorites that will not be left behind. Bamboo, fiberglass, and graphite will seamlessly write their pages in the journal of this coming adventure. Matching reels to suit our needs is a personal choice where my bride and I take slightly different paths. While I prefer a mix of old and new, her tastes lean more toward vintage, which explains her fine collection of Hardy reels and a graying husband. As both continue to function as designed, this should be an epic angling adventure!
While there is little room for guests in the Fly Fishing Adventure Vehicle, we invite you to join us as we set off on the Ultimate Trout Bum Road Trip. Be sure to check next week's newsletter for a link to our satellite navigation/communication system and follow our adventure. You'll have a live look at our travels to Montana, Yellowstone, and beyond. Just ignore the indicated speed, I'm sure it's not accurate, there's no way the 4Runner can go that fast...