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Just One Thing: Prepping for the 2023 Season

One of the easiest interviews I have ever done was to ask our Orvis-endorsed guides just one question: “What is the Number One Task you do to prepare for the season?” Ask ten guides, get ten different responses.  Consider this your own check list to prepare “just one thing” for the 2023 season.

✔ Prepare for Wild Spring Weather

Vince Puzick focuses on creature comforts. “Having cold hands is the worst thing,” so his suggestion is to keep those handwarmers, gloves, or mittens handy in the early spring. The temperatures on the water can fluctuate so much throughout the day. Even if you only use the handwarmers in the morning, you start the day more comfortably which leads to a better outing. 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.  

✔ Inventory Your Flies and Fill Your Fly Boxes 

Guides had a range of responses that focused on flies and fly boxes.

Brian Hilbert ties in the off-season and continues tying to fill his fly boxes for the coming season.  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 buy your go-to flies in bulk.  For example, 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 just to realize that you have only one left, a size 18, when fish are rising to Neil’s size 22.

Do a quick inventory of your flies.  At the end of last season, my fly boxes had a strange mix of flies as they spilled from one box into another. I even had flies still in the little plastic containers from the Shop. Time to sort them, check their condition, and then rebuild some fly boxes.  Related to that, Steve Gossage suggests to start thinking outside of the (fly) box. “These fish see a lot of the same ol’ same ol’.  Switch it up with some different patterns. Throw them something other than one more RS2 or pheasant tail.”

Check out this video from Orvis, part of their series on Tackle Tune-up 2022, on organizing your fly box:

Our staff will provide guidance in organizing your fly box.

✔ Just one thing: Check Your Waders

You may not have worn your waders for a long time. Maybe you were wet wading in July and August. Or the last time you wore you waders, the water was warmer and the small leak was not that big of a deal. In October, you noticed just a little wetness on your socks and promised yourself that you’d check them in the spring for leaks. 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.

Orvis Grand Rapids Fishing Manager Trent Jackson and associate Paige Downing share some helpful tips on how to take care of your waders to ensure a long life, as well as how to repair small leaks.


We carry several products for repairing your waders: Aquaseal, Aquaseal Repair Kit, Gear Aid Gore-Tex Fabric Patch, and Loon UV Wader Repair.

✔ Inspect, Clean & Replace Fly Line, Leader, and Tippet

Fly line, leader, and tippet all lose their flexibility and life over time. Your line may have spent the last four months rolled tight on your reel, in your pack, in your garage. The fluctuating heat temps can have several negative effects on line and tippet.  Fly 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.

Neil Luehring suggests checking the fly line for cracks and wear. If the line is in good condition, he recommends cleaning it. Cleaning your fly line will prolong its life.  Here’s a short video on cleaning your line. 

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, and 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 and the player has more control with each swing. If your fly line and leader has been tightly wound on your reel, sitting in the garage for a few months, it has probably lost some of its life. Justin Brenner suggests starting the season with fresh leader and new tippet.

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 StreamCold Storage that suggests the best storage spot may be your freezer. 

Come in to the shop, or visit our online store, for your lines, leaders, tippets, and line cleaning products from Loon, Rio, and Scientific Anglers.

"Just one thing" from Orvis retail stores.
Come into the shop for help in getting your gear ready for 2023.

✔ Practice Your Knots

Several guides mentioned to practice your knots. 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 re-rigging 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?  

Check out Orvis’s Learning Center for short videos on tying different knots like the clinch and the surgeon’s knot.

✔ Just one thing: Consider a Refresher Classes 

Another way to prepare for the season is to watch our calendar for upcoming classes.  New to the sport? Try our Discover, 101, and 201 classes. Want to deepen your knowledge and grow your game? Phil Tereyla recommends taking an entomology class (click the link to register for the April 19, 2023 class!). “Become better versed on trout food! The more confident an angler is in selecting their flies to match the hatch, the more success they will have.”  Watch our calendar of events for all of our class offerings!


  1. John Winters on May 24, 2022 at 1:36 pm

    Great ideas for getting ready for the fishing season!

  2. John Winters on May 24, 2022 at 1:37 pm

    Good stuff! Thanks!

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