DESIRE FOR SIMPLICITY
It seems the older I get the stronger the desire becomes for simple things. In this world where everything is increasing complicated, despite the idea that all the modern conveniences were allegedly designed to make life easier. Perhaps it's just the old geezer coming out in me but I think that the less complicated methods are the way to go. So I find myself applying this to fly fishing.
Over the years I have come to realize that I carry far too many flies. In addition, I have come to the conclusions that most flies are merely some ones idea of an improvement on someone else's pattern. There really are not new fly patterns just new material used to make old patterns look different; we might say "new and improved." A concentrated examination of fly patterns will soon reveal that there are just a relatively few basic fly patterns, especially when dealing with flies used in fresh water, but a myriad of variations on the basic theme. My goal, cut back to the basics.
In the last couple years I have been using dry soft hackle flies when working on trout that are rising to floating adults. My nephew, Tom Travis whose articles are often found on FAOL, was the instigator of this shift and I love the results. These are basically very simple flies consisting of just a body and soft hackle collar. The hackle is normally quail neck or head feathers, and when dressed with Frog Fanny or a similar product they float very well. When they get wet or slimed from a fish I blot the fly dry on Amadou and dust it up again with more Frog Fanny. You cannot get any more simply than that.
My fly rods are all older models; graphite, fiberglass and my old cherished bamboo rods. Likewise my reels are all pawl drag models; mostly Hardy's and the old original SA rim-drag models from the late 60's. Like me they are old but they still are capable of doing what they were designed to do and do it quite well, thank you very much.
I still occasionally wear a fly vest but normally I wear a shirt with two large billow pockets which holds my fly box, a spool or two of tippet material, a spare leader, and floatant. A retractor pinned to the front of the shirt holds a pair of nippers and I clip my hemostats to one of the flaps on a shirt pocket. My landing net, if I am carrying one, is slipped beneath my wader belt behind my back where I can easily reach it when needed. Thus equipped I'm ready to go.
I occasionally look back at pictures from my early days of fly fishing. A full stocked fly vest was always evident, loaded with dozens of fly boxes, vials of floatant, several retractors with nippers, hemostats, a hook hone, several spools of tippet material, several extra leaders in a leader wallet, a rain jacket stuffed in the back, a thermometer, insect net, etc., etc., etc. Most of that stuff I rarely used but I carried it faithfully, just in case. No more.