March 26th, 2007

It's Show Time
By Neil M. Travis, Montana

The days are getting longer and the long months of inter will soon be just a memory. In the pools and runs of your favorite trout stream and in the weed beds of your local bass/bluegill lake the bugs, leeches, and assorted fish food are beginning to stir. If spring is coming can summer be far behind? If you want this season to be one that goes down in the memory bank as particularly unforgettable, in a positive way, now is the time to take the steps necessary to assure that it becomes a reality.

Presuming you are not a first time angler preparing for the coming season, do a quick review of the past season. Most of us tend to be creatures of habit, we fish the same waters each year, we try to hit the same hatches; in short we try to replicate our past experiences. A quick and honest review of the previous season, its successes and failures, will go a long way toward helping make the coming season a more pleasurable experience.

If you have not already inventoried your fly boxes now is the time. Get them out, dump them out on the table, and sort them out. Discard the ones with rusty hooks, broken points, and the ones that have been mangled beyond recognition. Take note of those patterns and sizes that have been depleted during the previous season. Now is the time to purchase or tie up replacements since it is likely those are the flies you used most successfully in the previous year.

Set the fly boxes aside and go over the other items in your vest. Do you need to replace your clippers, purchase a new supply of floatant, mosquito repellant, or tippet material? Now is the time to replace those things before you find yourself waist deep in your favorite stream swatting at mosquitoes rather than fishing.

Now check out all the ancillary equipment. Does your net need a new bag, has your rain jacket seen better days, are your waders more patches than original material, and has your old fishing vest seen its better days? If so, now is the time to rectify that situation.

Take out your fly rods and reels for the inspection process. With your fly rods start at the butt and check the reel seat and cork grip. If the grip is dirty it should be washed with soap and water, and if it still does not come clean it can be lightly sanded. Wipe the entire rod down with a damp cloth. It is amazing how dirty a fly rod can become in the course of a season, and that dirt may transfer to your fly line. While you are wiping down your rod check the windings on the guides and check the guides themselves to see if they are grooved or rough. Grooved or rough guides will shred a fly line and should be replaced. Worn or frayed wrappings should be removed and rewrapped. When you get to the tip of your fly rod check the tip-top to make certain that it is still glued firmly to the rod and still at the original angle.

Fly reels should be disassembled and checked for wear. If the reel has been used extensively during the previous year it is generally a good idea to wipe the inside of the reel mechanism with a soft cloth to remove all the old lubricant and any grit or other foreign objects. Then apply a very light coat of high quality lubricant to the spindle and reassemble the reel. Wipe down the exterior of the reel with a damp cloth to remove any accumulated dirt and grime.

Finally, inspect all of your fly lines for cracks and other defects in the coatings. If you use a nail or needle knot to attach your leaders to your line you should check that connection, and if it has developed a crack in the line finish where the leader is attached it should be clipped off and retied. If the line is in good shape clean it with a commercial line cleaner and wind it back on your reel. If it is cracked it should be replaced.

Once you have checked, cleaned and reassembled all your gear, and replaced anything that needs replacing put all your gear in one place. This will help you avoid that sinking feeling that settles in the pit of your stomach when you arrive at the stream and remember that you left your waders at home in the hall closet!

All that's left now is to complete all those 'honey do' projects so that when the hatches start you will have earned enough good time credits to spend a little time using all that gear. ~ Neil M. Travis, Montana/Arizona

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