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What’s In Your Fly Box?

by your President, Tom Hogye

As I sat drinking my delicious coffee on our third morning at Kennedy Meadows, I had all my Trout fly boxes out to look at what I had left that I’d want to throw at the fish the next couple of days.  Everything tastes and feels better when you’re in the mountains, especially the coffee.   As we fished hard the last few days, the rewards were great, but the sacrifices many.   For me it as a few wear marks on my feet from wet wading in sandals, and the loss of flies I’d been doing so very well with.

I love the mornings up here, especially early before anyone else is awake.   The only technology to behold was the lantern, the coffee pot and my fly boxes.    No rushing to respond to anything.   Just the contemplation of what will work next.

This trip was even nicer with the addition of some of our club members and good friends.  Scott, Bob, Cecilia, Sophia, and Kathryn.   The opportunity to fish together, laugh, eat, and chill by the campfire or coffee together in the morning.   We are nominating Kathryn for both the Otter and Alligator award at our Annual Dinner in January.   This gal out-fished all of us and carried the battle scars to prove it, first day getting a black eye, from a fall.  The next day attempting to cause yours truly to pass out with a hook deep in her finger and that barb she thought was pinched, wasn’t completely, scaring all the bears in the forest as Cecilia tried to help with that pull it out quick with some leader looped around it trick.  Then, after landing yet another sizeable fish in a challenging piece of water, decided to go for an early morning swim after nearly donating her rod and reel to the Stanislaus in homage to the fish she caught.   The most beautiful spirit and super fun person, who would have stayed the duration if not for the untimely, but perhaps timely, passing of her father who would have wanted her to be fishing and to keep fishing when he departed – which she did, but then headed home as anyone would have done.  I am so looking forward to next year already.   What a blast we had.

A fly box can tell you a lot about yourself, or someone else.    It’s not just a box that holds your flies.  It could possibly be a reflection of you.   At least that’s my observation as I stare into these somewhat organized but deliberate assortments within.  Then there’s those other folks.    You know; you’ve seen those meticulously organized boxes with dry flies, hoppers, nymphs, perfectly arranged by type, size, weight.    Maybe six or more of the same flies all in a row, color coordinated, labeled on the outside, some even stacked in their own fly box holders, ready to be selectively stuffed into a vest depending upon what body of water is being fished.  Hundreds of them.   And I’m just talking trout boxes.  If you’re like me, and you see these fly boxes in a raffle, scoop them up, and after a few years, they never look that way ever again!

My fly boxes are somewhat organized but are a scattered collection no less.  Nymphs, attractors, dry fly, wet fly, fly flies and un-fly flies, all together.   And while I may have originally had six or more all neat in a row, I’ve fished them, lost them, and usually replaced the empty spaces with different flies.   And I don’t have just one box like this.  They’re all that way.  Probably because if I only had one box, I’d want it to cover top, sub-surface and dredging.   Some are even flies I’ve acquired, but never used.  Or flies I’ve used and purposely tried not to lose, an attempt to keep at least one of them in the box so I know to either tie some up on a cold rainy winter night or buy some at the next fly shop I visit.   Some I’ve used just for teaching because they really look like the bugs they are imitating, or a frog, a mouse.     Kid’s love to see that when you open the box and a fly is tied like a mouse – I guess it isn’t a “fly”, is it?!

I know all the flies in the boxes, which ones I’ve used where, and even remember fish they’ve caught.     In the latest instance, I had these quite favorable BWO’s (Blue Wing Olive’s) with a trailing shuck for a tail.  They were terrifically effective, and I felt they could catch a thousand fish.  But I lost my last one on a fish this week, and I couldn’t tell you where in any of my fly boxes there was a space for one, let alone six of them in anymore but one size or two.

Your fly box is also a memory holder.  When you open each one, a flood of memories embraces you – hopefully most of them good memories.   If you’ve had that fly box for as long as you’ve been fly fishing, the box alone is a memory.  You remember when you got it, why, from whom, and with all those flies, you remember the fish, the day, the experience casting that fly, the take, the play, landing that beautiful specimen, and its safe release back into the wild.   The high-five you had with the friend with you, or the extraordinary gratitude you had for the gift, the peace and tranquility as you look at all the beauty around you.

No doubt the next time I see a Blue Winged Olive in my fly box, I’m going to remember this trip and especially those who were with us who made it most enjoyable.

See you Wednesday at the Barbeque and Swap Meet – Sherriff’s Posse Hall, Ocean Street Extension.