The Efficient Angler
Let’s face it-most of us don’t get nearly the number of hours on the water that we would like. Precious few are the days in which we have nothing else to do but cast a fly to eager trout on your favorite river, stream or lake. It stands to reason, then, that it is mightily important that we spend our fishing time actually fishing instead of doing things that at best aren’t really necessary and at worst may ruin the day entirely. In short, learning a few tips for increased angling efficiency can add hours to our fishing time over the course of the year. It’s just a matter of learning a few good habits.
1. Check your equipment before you leave home! You will not be a happy camper, if in your rush to meet the caddis hatch on a remote part of the Arkansas River, you arrive streamside only to discover that your box of Elk Hair Caddises is still sitting safely on the kitchen counter. Take the time (even make a physical checklist) to be sure that rod, reel, waders, flies, sunglasses, leaders and tippet actually make it into the vehicle. Otherwise that drive back home or even to the nearest flyshop to correct your oversight will not be your favorite part of the day.
2. Practice your knots! There is probably no greater time-devourer on the water than an angler who fumbles with knots. If what should be done in seconds takes minutes, you’ll be spending unnecessary, frustrating time sitting on the bank when you actually could be doing something enjoyable instead, i.e., fishing. Practicing three basic angling knots (the improved clinch knot, the double surgeon’s knot and the nail knot) may not seem like an exciting activity at home, but even a single evening of practicing these knots can save hours of time onstream over the course of a season. You can even practice these knots in front of your favorite sitcom, thus partially redeeming that otherwise wasted time. For the dexterity-challenged, numerous tools exist that can make knot tying easier.
3. See clearly! Closely related to much knot-fumbling inefficiency is the fact that many of us aren’t as young as we wish we were. Our manual dexterity may be fine, but just seeing the darned eye of that #18 Blue-winged olive we’re trying to thread is akin to trying to read the date on a penny at twenty yards. The solution? Swallow your pride and acquire a pair of magnifiers. For even more efficiency, keep them on a strap so they can dangle from your neck at all times.
4. Organize your flies! If you’re like most anglers, you have enough fly boxes to stock a small flyshop, but do you know in an instant where your #22 Griffiths Gnats are when that big rainbow starts rising on the San Juan? As brief as hatches frequently are in the Rockies, you don’t need to be doing a search through every box you own to find the fly you need. Spend time at home organizing boxes by dries, nymphs, streamers, midges, etc., memorize where those boxes are among your vest pockets, and never change their positions!
5. Bring backups! There’s likely not an angler alive who doesn’t have an “in-a-hurry-to-get-to-the-stream-I-smashed-my-rod-tip-in-the-car-door” story or a “while-playing-the-monster-trout-my-reel-blew-up” story. Moral of the story? Bring backups of everything possible whenever possible. Even using your old clunker 6-weight rod of first generation graphite is a better option than going home after you’ve stupidly stepped on your new 700-dollar dream rod. Fishing days lost to a lack of backup equipment are as heartbreaking as snapping off a nine-pound brown at the net.
Fishing certainly isn’t all about efficiency. If it were we would go out with dynamite and large nets! But it ought to be enough about efficiency to keep us from wasting time when we’d rather be fishing. Take the time to evaluate the time-stealers of your fishing days and take steps to eliminate them. Your reward will be additional hours actually fishing and probably lower blood pressure, too!