Part Sixty-seven

Randy Fratzke

Get Your Stuff Together For The Fall Run

By Randy Fratzke

I start getting excited every year about this time. The fall run will be starting soon, one of the best times of the year for fishing. Around here, that's September and October, when the days are getting shorter and the leaves are turning colors. It's the time of the year when the fish start their annual feeding frenzy, stocking up for winter.

It's also a time when most of the forage species, at least the ones that haven't already been eaten by the other fish, are getting pretty good sized and that means I don't have to use anymore of those little flies and midges to fool the fish into biting. The fish are aggressive and will chase down almost anything that faintly resembles anything they eat! This is also a great time to introduce someone to flyfishing. They'll curse you all winter for not introducing you to the sport sooner, but that's when you introduce them to fly tying and this computer site!

Okay, Back to the matter at hand, getting your gear together. Start with your rod, clean it, tip to butt. We've all heard it, "it's always clean", or "I clean it every time I use it," yeah, right, and every fish you tell about is the correct length and species too…. Pass a little tuft of a cotton ball (check your wife's side of the medicine cabinet, guys, or ask your favorite lady friend, (ladies, help them out, please)) through the guides to check for any knicks or rough spots. If you notice any of the cotton sticking to the inside of the guides then check it out. Either it's not clean yet (so clean it again) or it's knicked.

If it's knicked you have several options: you can do nothing and let it slowly ruin your new $60.00 fly line and foul your casts; you can take some very fine (200 to 400 grit, depending on how bad the knick is) emery paper and carefully sand the spot down, just make sure you don't knick the graphite and ruin the rod; you can put a little clear finger nail polish over the area (guys, check with the women folk again, and follow their advice (I always do)); or take the rod to a professional and have a new guide put on, or at least get some advice from a pro as to which method to use.

Clean your reel(s). To do this properly you really need to take the line off of it, so clean your line as you take it off the reel. Check the line, leader and tippet for any knicks or abrasions, repair or replace if necessary.

Then go after the reel, take it apart and check the pawl area or disc area for any grit, grime or rocks (if you find rocks, chuck the whole thing and go buy a new reel!) Check the manufacturers recommendations on cleaning and lubricating your particular reel (you know, the paper stuff that came in the same box as the reel did…). I clean my reels using a soft bristle tooth brush (not the same one I use on my teeth, I usually use the "complimentary" one the dentist always gives me when I leave his office) and some "Q-tips" (some of you guys might need to check with the ladies again on this one…). After you clean the reel and lubricate it with a quality reel lubricant, not "WD40" or "3-In-1" oil, put the reel back together, reline it and you should be set to go, with the rod and reel anyway.

Now go through that fishing vest, empty every pocket (yes, every one of those 30 odd pockets). Lay the contents out on a table (or gymnasium floor, if necessary) and start sorting it all out. Pare it down to just the stuff you will actually be using, put the show-off stuff somewhere else for a while.

After you've sorted out your stuff, actually open the fly boxes and check out the flies. Make sure the hooks aren't rusted (I know, that never happens to you because you always let all of your flies thoroughly dry before you put them away…), and that the points are sharp (if not, learn how to use a honing stone). Make sure there's not still tippet material left in the eyes (no angler ever does this) and the fly material is still in pretty good shape.

You may even want to take the time to touch up the paint job of the cork poppers or put new eyes on them. You may even want to take the time to organize the flies. You know, take the stray nymph out of the streamer area and put it where it belongs and the black Wooly Bugger out of those Yellow Sallies and so forth. Then repack your vest, putting in only the flies you need for fall fishing.

Okay, now your equipment should be fairly well set to head out after all those fall feeding frenzied pan fish. Once the first hard freeze hits (providing you live in an area that freezes) they'll really start hitting! The days and nights will start cooling off so it'll be a little more comfortable in those waders too. Grab a buddy or a "newbie" and hit the streams. Trust me, (yeah, right…) this is some of the best fishing you'll have all year! ~ Randy Fratzke

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