A Guide's Spring Checklist

It seems as though the last few winters have been shorter and milder, but that hasn't changed the fact that anglers are off the water for extended periods of time. It is easy to lose touch with your gear through the holidays and the cold season.

Maybe you weren't willing to give up on your fall season, and thought you had a few more trips left.  Maybe you have to pack the vest and waders into the attic to make room for the skis and winter clothes.  Regardless of the condition in which you left your gear in the fall, now is the time to get it into working order.  It is mid February, and although it is hard to believe, we are only a few weeks away from the first major hatches of the year.

I have been guiding now for over ten years, and know the importance of organization and preparedness, for successful fishing.  Here are a few things on my checklist that may help you be ready to hit the water even earlier this year.

Let's start with waders, because it is still cold out there, and we don't want to start the season with hypothermia.  A great way to check for leaks in your waders, besides getting wet, is to go into a completely dark room and work a flashlight all through your waders.  If light makes it through so will water. Then it will be time to break out the aqua seal.

Next let's check our rods.  Rods are fairly maintenance free.  Once a year I will apply ferrel wax to all of the male ferrules.  This will allow you to put the rod together and take them apart easier, and reduce breakage.

Reels are fairly maintenance free as well.  Remove your spool and clean out any sand or dirt, and then lubricate your reel if needed.  Most reels benefit from lubricating at least once a year depending on usage.

Fly line is probably the most neglected piece of equipment.  There are many great products from Rio as well as Loon that will help you clean, and slicken your line.  A clean slick line can completely change your cast.  It is also important to recognize when your line is dead. Some anglers just don't know when to say goodbye, but these lines do have a shelf life.

Now it's time to dive into the vest.  Leaders and tippets sometimes have expiration dates, but if they don't do some inspecting.  If they are frayed, turned yellow, are cracked, or can be broken by hand much easier than they should, then dump them.  Guide pet peeve number one is losing the biggest fish of your life over shoddy tippet.

Guide pet peeve number two is losing the biggest fish of your life over dull hooks.  Inspect your flies.  Ditch rusty, unravelling, or chewed up flies.  Grab your hook hone and go to work on those dull hooks. There are still a number of great tying days left so make a list of what your box is missing and get to work.

Some of the must haves in my vest are floatant, desiccant, split shot, and strike indicators.  Checking these now, and not after you have driven two hours, and hiked in an hour is a pretty simple idea.  However we all get excited enough to fly to the stream on that first 75 degree day without thinking.

One last thing, don't forget to pay the man.  Fishing licenses in Virginia are good for one year from the date of purchase.  That means everyone has a different date to remember. There are trout stamps, national forest stamps, and other add ons that you may need, like your Mossy Creek permit.

Head to the stream organized, safe, dry, and legal in 2013, and I hope to see you out there.

Happy fishing!

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