10 Things Every New Fly Fisher Can Live Without!

1 02 2011

They come in the mail. The snail mail. The email. By postcard and letter and sales flyer they come. Ads for outdoor products you just have to have. Products, tools, gadgets, equipment that you simply cannot live without! Fly fishing companies are perhaps the worst of the outdoor gear suppliers. There are an infinite number of gizmos that come out each year that are, to quote one fly fishing catalog I recently received, “going to set the fly fishing world on it’s ear” or some such nonsense. The fly fishing world hasn’t been turned upside down since the invention of modern fly lines from what I can tell. Large arbor reels? Yeah. Nice, but not earth-shattering. Polarized fishing glasses? Helpful, but not a life-changer. Chest packs? I kinda like mine…but it was no revolution.

So, let’s look at ten things that every fly fisher/fly tyer can absolutely live without. Remember though, it’s not that these things can’t be used as advertised, or that they don’t make something easier or better…they’re just all things that you could do without. Save your hard earned money for things you really do need…like more flies, tippet or a new fly line.

10.  “Line to Leader Loop Connector” – $6.99 ( You can make your own loop in any line very easily )

9. ” Monofilament Leaders ” – $4 – $13 ( Try Braided Leaders.(or furled leaders) For 1-8 wt rods, I promise you’ll never go back to mono leaders and one braided leader will last for YEARS.)

8. ” Leader Straightener Leather Patch” –  ( For the “memory” in your mono leaders. Lose the mono and you don’t need this waste of money.)

7. ” Fly Sink” – $3.99 -$4.99 ( Dirt works almost as well and it’s cheaper. Like, free.)

6. “Line Cleaner/Dressing ” – $6 ( Modern fly lines only need periodic cleaning with mild soap and water. )

5. “K****** Release or other release tool” – $20 ( You have forceps for pinching split-shot right? Enough said.)

4. ” Dubbing Brush” – $4-$8 ( Velcro glued to a stick works just as well, nearly free.)

3. ” Fly hook sharpener ” – $5.99 ( Unless you’re fishing for bass or tarpon, you don’t need to sharpen your fly hooks. Chances you’ll lose the fly before you dull the point on modern trout-sized fly hooks unless you make a habit out of hanging into rocks all day…)

2. ” Digital Microscope ” – $80-$??? ( Seriously? Why make it harder than it needs to be? You don’t need to know what a #26 gray midge looks like in that much detail. You just don’t. You may want to, but you don’t need to. How about buying something useful, like a couple hundred #26 gray midges instead. )

1. ” Bobbin threader ” – $2-$8 (  This “handy” little gadget threads…well, thread onto the bobbin. Or, you could just do the sensible thing and suck the thread through the hole, old skool style. Do you think Theodore Gordon or LaBranche used a tool to get the thread into the bobbin? If you have one of these, you should stop reading now and go put it on ebay. Then hide under the couch in shame for a week.  )

If you’re new to fly fishing, don’t fall for every gadget out there. Get with someone who knows the in’s and out’s of the sport and ask them before you buy anything. It could save you alot of money over first few years of your fly fishing journey and it could save you from spending way too much time on ebay unloading all that stuff you thought you needed.

Fly Fishers...scary looking, but they'll give you the shirts off their backs!




11 responses

1 02 2011

This list has been very helpful, perhaps moreso than the flyers, ads, catalogs and such that you speak of. In fact, in many ways your list is just like those ads, because now I realize there are some gizmos I need that I haven’t yet purchased, like them furled leader things!

Oh, and besides unnecessary, those leather patch leader straighteners just weaken the mono. Thankfully I don’t have one of those.

1 02 2011
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1 02 2011

I would say this list is highly accurate. Why weigh yourself down with so much stuff that you can’t enjoy yourself? I carry my rod, forceps, pockets knife, small backpack with a few odds and ends, and some flies. That’s about it.

1 02 2011
Owl Jones

@Kirk – that’s funny. I actually didn’t think about it that way. But the braided leaders are the bomb. Kids still sayin’ that? meh. I dunno. 🙂

@Mark – I’m trying to get down to even fewer items myself. Each year it seems like I’m able to whittle down things a bit more.

1 02 2011

I think as long as you’re not jeopardizing your personal safety, you can whittle away. I’m usually loaded a little heavier in winter. I like to at least have some extra socks and waterproof matches in the pack just in case. Maybe a very small lightweight flashlight.

1 02 2011
Owl Jones

Don’t forget a safety whistle without a “ball” if you’re going very far from a road where you might be able to get help easily. It’s cheap and it might save your life. After the ordeal I’m laying out in my series on our unexpected night spent in the woods, I always carry one.

1 02 2011
The River Damsel

Hey guys, do us all a favor and keep your shirt on!! Thanks. Now about those “release” tools…I have seen them and I just think…why? I actually think that they probably give the fish a more traumatic experience! Anyway…I will continue to use the forceps or just ease that fly out myself.

1 02 2011
Owl Jones

I think they are also touted as saving your fly from damage – but let me tell you – the day I catch enough fish to worry about my forceps eating up a fly…I won’t mind! 🙂

1 02 2011
Functioning Fishaholics

Just tried sucking the thread threw the bobbin… Much easier than the threader but this kit was made in China so I’m not sure I can deal with all the lead I just ate…

4 02 2011
Fontinalis Rising

Hey Owl- love your stuff, but disagree on the bobbin threader- some threads simply refuse to suck through for me. A package of 6 looped needle threaders from Joann’s is about $7- take two and share with some friends. I glued some foam on the base for a handle and so I don’t lose them.


4 02 2011
Owl Jones

Fonty, well that’s ok! You can disagree all you want! Matter of fact, that kind of deal on one might make me think twice about not having one! Since I mostly use 8/0 and 6/0 thread, I guess I just haven’t run into the need for them. Or, maybe you’re sucker ain’t workin’ right? 🙂 LOL j/k ya. I don’t even know what that means. ha.

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