It’s not often you get a chance to pick the brains of several guides from Angler’s Covey in the same day, but the annual cookout to kickoff the season gave me the chance to ask them all the same question: “What is the Number One item, the item at the top of your “to-do” list, as we start a new season?” And, true to form, six guides each gave a different answer.
Warm Hands: Zack Tokach started with creature comforts. “Having cold hands is the worst thing.” His suggestion is to keep those handwarmers, gloves, or mittens handy in the early spring. The temperatures during the day on the water can fluctuate so much. Even if you only use the handwarmers in the morning, you don’t spend energy trying to warm them up as the day moves on. And dress in layers. You can always strip off a fleece jacket if it gets too warm, but it is harder to warm back up once you get cold.
Fly Line, Leader, and Tippet: Your line may have spent the last six months rolled tight on your reel, in your pack, in your garage, which has had heat and cold the last six months. Extreme heat and fluctuating temps can have several negative effects on line and tippet. Line has “memory,” so those spirals may be difficult to get out. Leader and tippet will get brittle with age, and you’ll notice it pretty quickly when it breaks off each time you try to tie a fly on. And fly line, leader, and tippet all lose their flexibility and life with time. Dave Leinweber uses the analogy of two tennis players. One of the players takes out a can balls from last season. The balls have lost some life; they don’t bounce quite as high, they need a bigger swing to get over the net. Another player pops the top on a new can of balls. They have a lively bounce. The player has more control over fresh tennis balls with each swing. Justin Brenner’s suggestion is to replace at least the leader and tippet. And check your fly line. It may be a good idea to clean it, check it for cracks or thin spots, and replace if necessary. See this article by Orvis’s Product Developer, Tim Daughton, on the shelf life of tippet. And here is an interesting idea from Field and Stream: Cold Storage.
And as a reminder, cleaning your fly line will prolong its life. Here’s a short video on cleaning your line.
Check Your Waders: You may not have worn your waders for a long time. Maybe you were wet wading in July and August. Or maybe the last time you wore them, the water was warmer and the small leak was not that big of a deal. Maybe you wore your waders in October and noticed just a little wetness on your socks and promised yourself that you’d check them in the spring for a leak. Well, it’s that time. Greg Blessing suggests taking fifteen minutes and check to see if you have any small leaks that could only get worse. Check out Simms’ FAQ on their Repair Center site for general info about care of your waders and their own policies about repairs.
Fill Your Fly Box: Jon Kleis (and his wife and daughter, Bree) got right to the heart of the matter. If you tie flies, tie a bunch of the most likely flies that you will use in the upcoming season. If you don’t tie, maybe you will want to buy those top shelf flies in bulk. Instead of buying six BWOs each time you go to the river, buy a dozen (or two) and load your dry fly box. Having a surplus inventory of flies can also prevent you from opening your fly box in the midst of that BWO hatch only to realize that you have only one left, a size 18, when fish are rising to Neil’s size 22. In the last year or so, I have started buying a couple of Amy’s Ants each time I go into the store. I know my wife and I will use a bunch in July and August (in particular), so why not just build my fly box of dry flies and terrestrials as I go?
Knots: Kristina Doughtery suggests practicing knot tying as you prepare for the upcoming season. We’ve all been there. You’re standing in the river just after the snag tears off your nymphing rig right at the surgeon knot. Less time retying the knot means more time with your fly in the water, so why not practice at home before “game time” at the river? And push yourself to learn new knots. Why not try that loop knot with your streamer this year?
Refresher Classes: Bob Taylor tapped into his skiing experience as well as his experience as a guide for his answer. “My dad always encouraged me to take a brief refresher lesson when I was learning to ski. It made sense to begin the ski season with some guidance from the instructor at the slope.” Bob made some great suggestions: maybe take a casting class; how about taking a half-day guide trip to learn some new water (like our new “Small Stream 201” class) or to hone a skill; why not take that entomology class to deepen your knowledge of bug life?
As we gear up for the new season, there are a handful of things to do before even heading to the streams or lakes. These six guides offer their insights in getting prepared. Come into the shop and chat it up with one of our sales staff and guides. And tight lines for 2019!