The Flyfishing Vest Revisited-  March 12, 2022

As promised by the weather forecasters, today we’re having a great late winter snowstorm. It started early this morning. By midday there was already over six inches of snow on the ground, accompanied by a strong wind out of the north. The wind was so brisk that the crows are clinging to the trees, and the few brave chickadees trying to get to the feeder out back were being blown backwards.

It being another day for inside activities, I figured it was time to unload the old flyfishing vest. If I plan to explore the local streams and rivers this year in search of trouts, the gear needs to be assessed. My hope is very little will need replacement, but it’s been in storage for at least twelve years. The vest itself shows its age, faded and dust covered. I’m pondering washing it.

If I recall correctly, I purchased this vest in the mid-90s, and it saw fairly heavy use until 2009 or so. And yes, I’ll admit to suffering from flyfisher’s voidophobia- the fear of empty vest pockets. This thing was crammed full of flies, reel spools, gunk, gink and leaders, along with an assortment of tools attached with automatic retractors. This is what unloaded from the vest:

I was surprised to find the flies in remarkably good shape. Those in the dry fly box (bottom left) look as if they were tied yesterday. The three boxes of flies I used a lot, Woolly Buggers, Muddler Minnows and Elk Hair Caddis also survived the dormancy in their little homemade fly boxes. I remember making those boxes from empty Altoid cans, spray painting them and gluing felt in the bottom of each. I also remember tying the flies.

The wet flies and streamers also survived their time in purgatory. I tied most of them as well. A fly line on one of the spare spools, a sinking tip weight forward 5-weight seems to have somewhat decomposed, but I’m not too worried about that one. My plan for this year at least is to stick with a floating line. Sinking the leader when needed  will be enough for the waters around here.

The leader wallet at the bottom center of the picture has some old commercially-purchased and hand-tied leaders. The monofilament of the hand tied looks yellowed and degraded, but the store-bought ones at least look okay. Back in the day I preferred to tie up my own leaders, and bought fresh spools of leader material each year, because it definitely did weaken over time. At least, the Maxima brand I was partial to did. After checking current prices for leader spools, I think I’ll do some testing of what I still have before placing an order. Like everything else, it’s become pretty expensive.

Overall I think everything is in good enough shape to at least start the season, which for my local waters is April 9th this year. I’ve a couple floating lines that are still serviceable, the rods and reels are in good shape and there’s obviously enough flies to get rolling. I bought new hip boots last year, and the old neoprene chest waders look solid. I’ll probably need them early when the water is still numbingly cold in the North Country.

All that’s left is to buy the fishing license as I’ve decided not to wash the vest.

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