I returned to the river for the first time since returning from Patagonia. Yes, it’s been a while! It felt strange to be on the river. How long has it been since you’ve been on the water? If it’s been a while, are you ready to fish?

Temple Fork Outfitter Hip Pack | www.johnkreft.com

I thought I was.

I took a few items from my bag and waders and took them to Argentina and Chile. When I got home, I attached my nippers and amadou patch to the front of my waders and stored my flip-down cheaters somewhere.

I must admit, I felt like a new fly fisher arriving at the river. My muscle memory told me I had returned all the items to different places than I remembered. I took a breath and pulled out my euro nymph rod and reel and began to tie knots, add tippet and flies.

As I fished that day, I wondered if you had the same issue after taking the winter months off. Perhaps you haven’t fished yet in 2024. If so, what would you need to do in order to be prepared?

Here are a few thoughts that may help:

Practice tying knots

When setting up a new euro nymph system for the day, I tie five knots: 1 – tippet to tippet ring; 2 – 20 inch 6X tippet to tippet ring; 3 – fly to tippet; 4 – 8 inch tippet to tippet ring; 5 – fly to tippet.

Yes, it’s a lot of knots and I hope I don’t lose all of them the first cast! I generally fish with dry flies and might add tippet with a triple surgeon knot with a Davy knot to attach the fly. Being proficient at knot tying will eliminate frustration.

Restock your fly boxes

If you haven’t fished for a while, how many empty spots are in your fly boxes? It might be a good time to check and sit down at the vise or visit your local fly shop to restock those boxes.

Steam your flies

I’ve talked about this before, but it’s a great way to “refresh” those dry flies that have been scrunched in a fly box since the last time you were on the water. You’ll be amazed how this technique works! Here is a link to my RiverKeeper Flies YouTube channel where I demonstrate how it’s done.

Check tippet

How many different sizes of tippet material do you carry? I have one roll each of 4X, 5X, and 6X. Take them out and tug on a length to see if it breaks. How many years has it been in your bag? Check it now instead of losing a nice trout due to a break off!

Check fly lines

While you are checking tippet, it’s a good idea to check the fly line for cracks or nicks. I had one last year and ended up breaking a fly line while fishing the Madison River. I retrieved the line and was lucky I carry an extra fly line for us on our fly fishing road trips.

Check waders for leaks

Were your feet wet the last time you went fly fishing? Don’t remember? It might be time well spent, especially if you plan to go soon and the weather is cold.

Speaking of replacing items, the image above is what my pack looked like at least three or four years ago. It’s well used now and the zipper on the front compartment sticks and pulling away from the fabric. In other words, it needs to be replaced.

I hope you are better prepared on your next fly fishing trip.

As a little teaser, here is an image from the Metolius River fish hatchery. Notice the fish with mouth open eating a pellet?

Metolius River Fish Hatchery | www.johnkreft.com

Enjoy…go fish!

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  1. Sounds familiar. I also seem to change something up early in the year. Yesterday, I put my nippers back on a leather shoelace lanyard. I like this position, but a couple of times, I’ve hiked to my destination only to find I forgot it. My Loon hemps, thankfully, have cutting blades! I’ve been out a few times this winter, and am headed back to the Met today!

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