As snow flutters past my window and the chilly winter weather sets in, I’ve become reminiscent of a spectacular fishing year. I remember setting my first hook back in March when a Blue Wing Olive hatch surprised me on the Gunnison River. Springtime browns were followed by early summer cutthroat, which catalyzed into the best summer of fishing I’ve ever experienced. Hiking to remote places I’ve never been opened my eyes to beauty that I’ve otherwise overlooked. Summer winded down with Salmon spawns and learning how to properly nymph. In this article, I’d like to walk us through some of my favorite gear additions which made this year one of the best.
Favorite Fly Rod
A majority of my year was spent fishing smaller waters which were sometimes ridiculously hard to access. I fought more willows and shrubs this year than I can count (sometimes I even won). Given that I mostly fish for trout, I opted for a 7’6″ fiberglass 3 weight. The slow action adds great precision to a cast and the light weight gives you great feel when battling those monster 8″ brookies. Roll-casting fiberglass is a dream for both dry and wet flies. There is a plethora of fiberglass rods out there, so check around for something that matches your needs.
Favorite Fly- Dry
Most of the fish I brought in this year were on dries. This is 100% because I didn’t learn how to properly nymph until September. That being said, I had a great year on dries. From June-September, I caught most of my fish on Orange Foam Stimulators, typically size 14. They are a great universal fly which mimics a bunch of topwater flies. Trying out different sizes will get you into some great fish. Unlike some super tiny flies, they’re easy to see in a drift.
Favorite Fly- Wet
As I said before, I just started to nymph properly. I was a bit hesitant to try because there seems to be so many variables. But it became natural after summer passed and I was still keen to fish. My most productive fly was a Two-Bit Hooker, size 18. As I was picking up nymphing, these flies surprised me with how attractive they were. I landed both tiny fish and 17+” trout on a double dropper rig. It’s been my go-to nymph so far and I haven’t found a reason to change that (yet).
Favorite Gear Addition
I’m not one to carry a lot of gear out with me. I have a Fishpond Arroyo pack and it carries everything I need. The biggest nuisance was keeping my tippet in any sort of reasonable order. My pack looked like the Spaghetti Monster any time I opened it. I solved that ordeal with a Fishpond/Rio Headgate Tippet Holder. It is super simple to operate, feels durable and keeps all my tippet in great condition. If you’re the type to get tangled when tying your shoes, I highly recommend picking up this tippet organization tool.
Favorite Fishing Clothing
I didn’t even think that a fishing shirt would help me become a better fisherman. Now that I own a Patagonia Graphic Tech Fish Tee, I can proudly say otherwise. Typically, I’d go fishing in whatever shirt I had on, which was acceptable for quick trips. On days where we’d hike into the backcountry to find some Greenback Cutthroat Trout, I’d wear my Patagonia shirt. It’s light and airy yet kept me covered from insects and the sun. On top of those benefits, it’s undeniably comfortable.
Favorite Home-made Addition
Now that I own a nice fly rod setup, I always winced when I set my reel down too hard when changing flies. Being a crafty yet frugal grad student, I googled around the web and came up with a super simple rod holder. I took a piece of 1″ PVC, cut off a section lengthwise and glued some camping mat foam into it. After it dried, I cut out a “V” with a razor blade and drilled a loop hole. A device as simple and effective as this definitely fits the bill for anyone who has a half hour, some glue and old PVC laying around.
What an incredible year it was. I’d like to sincerely thank the Fishwest Team for assembling some amazing blogs, selling quality gear and being so supportive of fishing and water conservation. As the New Year comes around, we should all reflect on our adventures and what makes them special. We should also lend a helping hand in preserving these waters. Handle trout carefully, leave no trace, and stay humble to nature’s grandeur. Here’s to 2018!
Fish on, my friends.
Note: This post was originally published in December, 2017 and may be out of date.