Fly Fishing

Fishing Companions: Ones that Don’t Talk

by Rebecca on October 29, 2009

in Fly Fishing

~Bandon and I, heart to heart~

~Bandon and I, heart to heart~

I fly fish alone the majority of the time…, now, don’t feel bad for me. I consider my solitary fly flinging excursions a result of natural selection and been there, done that. Apart from going with a few select individuals, a few predictable fly buddies, I’ve found fly fishing is on par with a trip to heaven and I see no need to drag a few potential sinners along to tempt the water gods. (again, been there, done that)

However, I do have one very predictable and always loyal fishing companion and she is the El Dog. Also known as Bandon. A sweet tempered Golden Retriever who is my constant shadow.

Bandon wasn’t acquired to play the part of constant fishing companion, no, not at all. She was purchased to be a reliable duck/goose hunting dog but despite her neurotic fetching addiction, a duck or goose is completely beneath her girly tastes. Essentially, the dog wouldn’t touch anything with a feather even if you slathered it with bacon grease and stapled a lamb chop to it. No freaking way she declared as she stuck her nose in the air and pranced back to my side during many (many MANY) feeble training sessions.

A Hard Day on the River

A Hard Day on the River

Going fishing however, was right up her alley. Because she’s so girly, and polite, with a set of impeccable dog manners, she’s never, ever, a pain on the river. She’s content to stand chest deep in the river with a stick in her jaws for hours waiting for her big chance to fetch something. She doesn’t move an inch towards random people as they walk by and other dogs are irrelevant nuisances she sometimes encounters but typically won’t give them the time of day. She’s got me in her line of sight and that’s the only thing that seems to matters in her world.

Must Not Look

Must Not Look

I have come to the conclusion that once a decision to go fishing has been made, we humans must give off a certain excited aroma or aura that only dogs….or maybe it’s just my dog…..can pick up on. The moment I decide to go fishing, without saying anything, without even going to the closet to get my gear, Bandon picks up on the ”going fishing” scent and darts to the front door, guard style, as if to remind me that if I am going fishing it would be blasphemy, a true mortal sin of dog ownership,  if I left her home. Because she knows that’s exactly what my plans are.

Nope, NOT going to Look

Nope, NOT going to Look

This is a good time to mention that my darling timid companion is also terrified of cameras, so the odds of ever taking a decent picture of her and posting it is slim at best. I think I have 2, maybe 3 where she didn’t have a chance to twist her head sideways. It seems at some point in time she deemed the camera her version of potential ‘death by looking’, a Medusa like contraption that will turn her into instant stone if she looks directly at one. Maybe that will change as we continue with, “project desensitize Bandon to the camera” but so far the therapy isn’t working.

For many, many years I simply went fishing by myself, but now that I have Bandon, I can’t imagine not taking her. She’s excited for me when I catch a fish and always there to encourage me along. Now if only she could learn how to collaborate my claimed fish stories I’d be doing good.



Fly Fishing Attire: Runways On The River

by Rebecca on October 27, 2009

in Fly Fishing

~Two accessories on this day ~ Fly bag and Fly Rod~

~Two accessories on this day ~ Fly bag and Fly Rod~

I haven’t seen him in a few years, but there was a flyfisherman I’d occasionally catch a glimpse of in Yellowstone Park (on the Yellowstone river) while I was fly fishing for gorgeous cutthroats. Truth be told, there was no way to miss, or forget  the man because he was always decked out in NEON GREEN among other wild colors.

Sadly, I never got the chance to talk to him so I have no name, no identity to call him other than, Mr. Neon. I imagine he is, or was, well known on the Yellowstone, what with all the guides and fly fishing guru’s prowling the banks, but I’ve never been in any fly fishing loops, so I wouldn’t know. I loved knowing Mr. Neon was out wading the waters at the same time I was because his “fly fishing attire i.e. WILD outfits” made my less than magazine worthy attire more forgettable amid all the high style fly guys.

I wasn’t always such a river slacker in the fashion department.  There was a time when I first started fly fishing that I probably over compensated for my lack of fly skills by dressing the part from head to toe. I was a walking taupe and khaki wannabe with more pockets than I knew what to do with. That’s right, I looked flashy, stylish and like I just stepped off the cover of a magazine. My fly may have been embedded in my forehead from ineptitude, but by gawd I looked the part!

I was also terribly uncomfortable. First I had the chest waders that not only made my ass look like the state of Texas, but they were annoying, I was always poking holes in the neoprene and they promoted death risking wades into deep waters. I did not like chest waders, ever, and eventually gave them up.

I also burdened myself with a Fly Vest that had so many pockets I could have hid the hope diamond in there and no one would have ever found it. Usually when I needed tippet it took no less then 10 minutes to discover which pocket I had haphazardly tossed it in. My fly vest was also heavy and cumbersome. Part of that could be blamed on the fact that I am female and can not resist the natural instincts to gather—-and pack—and stuff—as many things as possible into any sort of storage container and pockets certainly fall into storage mentality.

Give me a fly vest with 25 pockets and you can be damn sure I’ll find something to go into all 25 pockets.

So these days I can be found looking less like an Orvis worshiper and more like an unassuming slouch who just happens to be walking down a river bank with a fly rod. I toss on any old t-shirt, and rarely is any particular fishing brand displayed or an arched fish highlighting my back. I pull on hip waders over jeans, sweats, or shorts and let it go at that. (and if I can get away with NOT wearing waders, I’ll pick that choice quickly and without apology)

This Outfit Would NOT make the cover of a Magazine!

This Outfit Would NOT make the cover of a Magazine!

Once I learned how to actually fly fish, I realized a lot of the things I hauled around with me weren’t exactly necessary. Does one really need mini-binoculars, an entire first aid kit, 10 separate fly boxes and a partridge in a pear tree just to catch a fish? The obvious answer to that was no, I didn’t need those 4 crushed granola bars and the emergency rain poncho. So I pared down, way down, to a small Patagonia fly bag that I strap over my much smaller, waderless ass.

 Just call me,  flyfishing ZEN~

 Yes, there are times when I’m fishing and an affluent looking flyfisherman will walk by (on his way to a photo shoot no doubt) and I wonder if my outward appearance plummets outsider opinion of my flyfishing credibility… Then I remember how uncomfortable I was decked out in all the latest fashions and I turn around, spy another trout surfacing and get back to what matters most.

One thing I know as fact…. thankfully, the trout could care less what I’m wearing……….


Fishing Mentors: My Dad Inspired Me

by Rebecca on October 26, 2009

in Fly Fishing

~ Mini Rebecca, Fishing addict in Training~

~ Mini Rebecca, Fishing addict in Training~

There are two people I can credit with mentoring my fishing evolution.

Today’s entry is about my first mentor. I credit my own Father with introducing me to the Great Outdoors and specifically, fishing. He christened me when I was a 6 week old baby with a Mepps Treble hook to the forehead and I consider that moment… natural selection. If we observe destiny throughout all the ages, a good fable starts with a meaningful baby scar.

I can’t remember a time when I wasn’t fishing, ever. My earliest memories are all about camping and fishing. Fishing and camping. I’m sure my family did things during the week like work, school, housework and regular life, but my memories are stuffed full of the best parts, our weekends away. We spent almost every weekend away….

I didn’t start fly fishing until my mid-twenties, so back then life was all about drifting a smelly salmon egg down a river current or tossing my favorite fish slayer, the Mepps #2 spinner, across lakes, rivers and the occasional dredge pond. Much to my Fathers dismay, I had a huge (read serious irrational phobia) to worms, so although I wasn’t fly fishing yet, I was already leaning heavily on a dependency of artificial lures.

It was my Dad who showed me how to read a river as a book full of hints and clues. He showed me that a deep calm hole wasn’t the only place to discover fish and that little ripples and behind certain rocks held some of the best fish. He taught me patience and demonstrated the tenacity needed for a day when the fish were being difficult. He also made fishing fun by offering all the kids a quarter for the first fish, the biggest fish etc….thus sending all of us little ones out onto the waters, competition style, with a quest to WIN.

Dad and I, S. F. of the Boise River

~Dad and I Flyfishing~

What I didn’t realize back then (and to type ‘back then’ puts the cringe in the truth of getting old enough to type ‘back then’) is that my Father was giving me a huge gift by including me in everything that he loved. He could have easily left me home while he went off fishing and hunting to enjoy some alone time, away from wife and kids– guy time–but instead he always asked if I wanted to come…and I always did.

Turn about is fair play and I’m happy to say a time came in my life when I had morphed from a fishing gal into a fly fishing gal and I was able to show my Mentor Father how to do something new. Fly fishing.

To my Dad, to all the Dads who pass on alone guy time to take their little ones fishing, hiking, camping, hunting, anything….. Thank you for showing the little ones the beauty of the outdoors. It really is a priceless gift that can last a lifetime.



Fly Fishing: Fly By Questions

by Rebecca on October 22, 2009

in Fly Fishing

~A Look Into A Few of my Fly Boxes~

~A Look Into A Few of my Fly Boxes~

One of the best parts about fishing is the people one meets while charting their own fishing destiny. Paths cross, people toss lines into the same body of water and we all share a similar goal—-catch fish. We share nods or smiles as we respectfully adhere to wide margins of personal fishing space (except in salmon fishing, that’s an expected combat zone) and we snarl like mountain lions when someone invades our temporary water claim.

One thing that can be expected out on the water is questions. The mack daddy question of course is “Catch anything today?”  The only way to avoid that question is hiking 5 miles into the wilderness to fish, alone……..but once you hike out someone will still ask that question. Unavoidable. The only quandary here is whether or not to tell the truth. Personally, I balance the moral burden between truth or lie on a case by case basis.  

On the water I’ve heard every conversation starting question, help question, information question, and personal question one might find in a question tackle box. Usually I don’t mind unless I’ve waded out into the river and someone is shouting questions at me from the bank. When this happens I fall back into the case by case scenario. Pretend deafness or wade in closer to have a legit conversation.

Because I fly fish, there seems to be a standard set of questions that go along with the deal. Once I’ve made it past the ‘catch any fish’ question the follow up is usually ‘what fly are you using’ that slides nicely into ‘do you tie your own flies.’

I wish I could claim that I tie my own flies, but I don’t, so there, that little fact of flyfishing inadequacy is out for public opinion. I have tried it. I’ve plunked down an obscene amount of money in the past on the feathers, hairs, fur, hooks, line, yarn, swinging bobbins and all I can say is I didn’t have the talent or patience for it. Pure Flyfishing Scandal—I buy my flies— When I cough up this truth on the riverbank I can see my flyfishing stock plummet, but so far I’ve lived through the disappointment.

The one question I have a problem with is “can I see your flies?” I’m not sure why some people are inclined to ask this or what they expect to see, but I find the question akin to asking me to pull up my skirt. This is probably a me thing and not a general flyfishing consensus, but the contents of my fly bag are sacred. Each little fly is a sentimental friend and there’s a few flies I’d probably dive into a river to save from a rock or the nasty jaws of a white fish to retrieve.

I suppose I like to keep them personal, untouched by other hands and away from any judgemental opinion. Maybe my issue stems from an emotional value on my little fly friends, but without a doubt I assume the role of Mother Bear when it comes to prying eyes and touchy fingers. (A few people have experienced the voodoo curses associated with attempting to kidnap one little fly from my bag, it isn’t pretty)

Once I wade past all the normal questions I occasionally get hit with a big one. A question some ladies wait a lifetime to hear.  If this final river question was proposed with a diamond each time rather then over flies, I’d have more jewels then the Queen of England. The usually joking ”will you marry me” request I’ve heard face to face, from across a river, from a boat, or from around the bend. Now, 99.9% of the time my moral compass dictates I say no to this question, but if he has a drift boat, I do consider skirting the ‘no’ factor for at least an afternoon.

I said ‘consider’ ……I am a fly fisherman after all, and a drift boat is the ultimate in flyfishing temptation.

On the topic of questions, here’s a few more of special note I’ve heard on the waterways:

“How do you tie a fly onto your line without it smashing”
“How do you know where to cast so it’s in front of fish” 
“Why do you release fish back into the water when you go through all the trouble to catch them”
“Will you watch me and tell me why I can’t catch a fish”
“How do you catch flies to fish with”
“You’re a girl” (I guess that’s not a question, but the tone usually implies question)
“Why do fish bite a fake fly like that? It’s like, fake”


Size Matters Not When Fishing

October 21, 2009

Several years ago I lost Robert to his pursuit of big fish. Leisure trips to the local river flyfishing for a standard 12 inch trout no longer impressed him. Although my arms have felt the difference between hauling in a 9 foot sturgeon (pain and torture, oh joy) to a 40 inch salmon (fantastic fight) and a 12 inch trout [...]

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