by Dave Micus
ost long rodders come to the salt by way of the trout stream, and they tend to leave their good habits, like line mending and dead drifting, behind, while bringing along the bad habit of attempting to carry an entire fly shop with them on each and every excursion. It's understandable; old habits die hard and they still have that recurring nightmare about the time the trout were rising to Hexagenia and they only had Potamanthus. If you're new to the salt and this describes you, now is your chance to break that routine and shed a few pounds. You'll be grateful you did, seeing that you'll be casting twice the line weight that you're used to.
First, lose the vest. All of those pockets are begging to be filled, and everything in the salt is magnified (including the fish!) and you'll find the vest inadequate. Replace the vest with a chest pack or shoulder bag, but not one the size of a suitcase. Think of what you'll need; one fly box (no, not one dry fly, one nymph, one streamer and one midge box, just one box!), one spool of leader material (not every size form 0x to 6x), a pair of nippers, a pair of forceps, and a piece of lead line. That's it-only one pocket of your vest!
A great, cheap chest pack is the Eastport travel bag, sold at Walmart for $7.00. It's made of cordura, has a nylon zipper, two large and two small pockets, and will hold everything you need. You'll find it in the purse section because the manufacturer thinks it's a ladies purse, but we salt rodders know better.
Fish a floating line and forget about spare spools--if you've invested big bucks in a reel with a decent drag, chances are you won't be able to change spools streamside anyway. If the fish are deep, add the lead line (with a loop to loop connection) to get the fly down. Carry one spool of 15 to 20 lb. test, and use a straight leader six to nine feet long. I've had a lot of luck with Berkley Vanish fluorocarbon, and the cost is only $9.00 for 175 yards, more than enough to last two seasons. Keep a loop (I like the Bimini) tied to the tag end of the line on the spool-if you need to change you leader you can just peel off the amount you need, cut it, and attach it to the loop on the fly line.
Carry one large fly box with flies suited to the type of fishing you'll be doing. Better yet, carry a fly wallet, which is more pliable and takes up less space. You should start with a few clousers, a few deceivers (colors white, black, and chartreuse), a few Ray's flies, and maybe a surface fly like Gartside's gurgler in sizes 1/0 and 2/0. Change your fly box or wallet for different fishing situations; darker flies for night fishing, shrimp, crab, and clam worms for estuary fishing, weighted flies for fishing rips.
Buy a cheap pair of nippers (nail clippers work well) and hook them to the zipper of your chest pack. They'll be handy when you need them and will make opening your chest pack a bit easier. Fasten the forceps to the backside of your chest pack to keep them out of the way until you need them. Leave the $135 pliers at home.
The last thing you'll need, if you plan to fish at night, is a waterproof flashlight. My favorite is UK2AAA from Underwater Kinetics. It's bright, small, clips to the bill of your cap, and is waterproof to 100 meters, which I can attest to as I once dropped one in a strong rip and followed its beam of light as it headed to England.
That's it. Take the money you've saved and buy a new streamside thermometer, or a fish stomach pump, or some other essential piece of gear to squeeze in your vest. Just leave it all at home when you head to the salt.
Dave Micus lived in Ipswich, Massachusetts where he was an avid striped bass fly fisherman, writer, instructor and "star" of an episode of the outdoor show, Fly Fishing America. In 2006 he made the move from sea level to the Rocky Mountains of Montana where he has taken up fly rodding for trout, hunting and enjoying life in the "Big Country."
Copyright © 2003 - 2013 David Micus, All Rights Reserved