There’s no rhyme or reason to what I look for. Sometimes I’m looking for early editions of some of the classics on salmon fly tying, sometimes I’m on the hunt for some Gierach books to fill gaps in his bibliography. And sometimes I just purchase before I even know what I’m looking at.Read More
I grew up in a region designed for big words. It demands superlatives.Read More
I have a sizable collection of fly fishing books. Sometimes I’ll review one. I’ll keep it under 500 words. Any longer and you should just go read the book. Expect slander, personal opinion, and unbridled honesty. I like both books and fly fishing too much to be nice.
I have a thing for wet flies. It almost defies explanation, but it’s there. They are not the most effective patterns in most situations, they date back to an era before our current high level of understanding regarding entomology, trout, river life, and fishing tactics, but I love them all the same. It’s not unusual for someone to have a retro affectation in their hobbies. Some anglers use cane rods, some cyclists only ride steel bikes, some carpenters only use hand tools. I have a deep love for classic, old-school wet flies.
If you’re of the same bent, or even just mildly interested in adding some wet flies to your fly box, I would suggest Dave Hughes’ Wet Flies. Whatever your needs, be it tactics, patterns, tips, tricks, or just a learned dive into all things wet fly, this book kind of has it all. It’s equal parts anecdote, in-depth tactical and functional analysis, and pattern book, with loads of photos to document how Dave Hughes ties some of his favorite patterns. I wouldn’t go out on a limb and say that it’s the most thrilling fly fishing book I own, there is no high adventure here, but it nonetheless broadened my understanding of wet flies to a considerable degree. I found the section on tactics to be particularly valuable. I never hurts to have a knowledgeable person provide insight into the hows and whys of a given approach.
When I took up fly fishing again as an adult, after a nearly two decade break, I had my first real success with wet flies. Either with a tenkara rod or a western set up I carried a box of size 14 and 16 soft-hackles and kebari flies and I did very, very well on my local rivers and streams. I experienced great fellow feeling for Dave Hughes when, in his introduction to Wet Flies, he talked about the decision to walk away from a “perfect dry-fly day on perfect dry-fly water”. I’ve made that same decision and been amply repaid with fish in hand and great days on the river. One thing I love about collecting fly fishing literature is the sense that my experiences are shared with others. That somehow, across space and time, I am sharing a feeling, or a place, or an emotion, with someone else. That my angling experiences are, in some small sense, universal and that there is something inherent in the experience of fly fishing that connects anglers. Reading Dave Hughes’ revelation about wet flies reminded me of my own past conviction that a size 14 Moorit wool kebari was the fly, the only fly, that I needed. Next season I’ll be sure to have a fresh box of wet flies and, on some perfect dry-fly day on perfect dry-fly water, I’ll tie on a soft hackle and cast up into the next pool.
By Sam Larson
‘Tis the season for everyone to start dreaming big about what might lie beneath the Christmas tree. Thus, welcome to the first ever Blue Lines Ten for Christmas list, containing all the best and coolest fly fishing things that I can think of arranged in no particular order. Is this list heavily skewed towards what I would want for Christmas? Heck, yes. I make no apologies for that. Thankfully, I happen to have great taste so I think the list remains valid, personal bias not withstanding. So get to hinting and maybe something from this list will end up in your hands this holiday season.
This is, just like their ads say, the best fly fishing deal on the internet. Seriously. A reel, two extra spools, and a carrying case? Come on. All that and the reels look nice, too. Reels are one of the things that, unless you’ve already spent the cash, you kind of always want to upgrade. I have some nice reels, and I have some cheap reels, but I always want to try new reels. This is an easy way to upgrade your gear, and let’s you spool up a floating and sinking line side-by-side. Plus, it’s available in a few different reel styles and line weights so you can get the gear that suits your fishing.
Photo from cheekyfishing.com
I only recently learned about CE Tech. They make one of the coolest aftermarket vise additions I’ve yet seen. I looked around for a tool caddy add-on for a while and finally went with the Peak version. It worked with my Peak Vise, it was cheap, and it holds the tools. But had I seen this thing during my search it would have gotten some serious thought. It looks great. Whether you’re checking out the Scout base or the Explorer tool caddy it all looks thoughtful and well-designed. I’m a huge fan of the hook and bead wells, the magnetized tool holders on the Explorer, and the general finish of the parts. Don’t believe me? Watch Sven Diesel unbox the base and see for yourself.
Image from cetechinnovations.com
A lot of my gift ideas skew heavily towards fly tying because, well, I’m me and that’s the kind of thing that gets me going. If the person on your list is just starting to tie flies, and maybe bought themselves one of those all-in-one starter kits, the Loon Fly Tying Tool Kit will help them level up because the stuff that comes in those beginner’s kits is absolute garbage. They’ll appreciate the higher quality and they’ll enjoy tying flies more. If they already tie flies then this is just a nice addition to the pile of tools they already have. How many bobbins and scissors does a person need? There’s no upper limit and even if they’re fully stocked they’ll find a home for this kit.
Image from loonoutdoors.com
Does the person on your list have a growing pile of half-open Ziploc bags spilling feathers and debris all over your house? Do you lack a room where you could sequester them and their fly tying equipment? The Tomahawk Fly Tying Kit from Fishpond might help you out. I think of this gift as a hint, like getting a pile of Metro shelving for the garage or a new closet organizer. I recently saw the TOmahawk in action and it looks great. Clean, easy to use, with spots for materials, tools, and a vise. If the fly tying gear needs to get brought out and then put away, and you can’t give up the kitchen table from now until forever, this kit is a solid start to making setup and teardown less painful.
Image from fishpondusa.com
This net is just sexy. Nets are one of the things that everyone needs, everyone uses literally all the time, but no one thinks to really spruce up. Your gift giving target could use a spruced up net. I have a pair of Rising scissors and some nippers and I’m likely to spend some of my own cash to a net from them as well. There are several reasons for this. First, I run through wooden nets. Granted, I buy cheap ones but the laminate splits and then I need a new net. Second, I have it on good authority from an acquaintance that he ran his Rising net over with his pickup and it’s still fine. Third, they’re made in the US by good people. Fourth, the handle is a flask, if you’re into that kind of thing. Fun colors, super tough constructions, and supporting good people means the Rising net is a winner.
Image from risingfish.net
Umpqua Mini LT Fly boxes
Best stocking stuffer option.
Everybody, and I mean everybody, needs at least one more fly box. I accumulate fly boxes more quickly than I thought I ever would and yet I always seem to need one more. These new Mini LT boxes from Umpqua are doing it for me at the moment. All the functionality and general radness of the LT flyboxes, in a convenient shit pocket size. I like to have a couple basic creek boxes when I want to fish without a pack and these would scratch that itch. I’ve handled the normal LT boxes in real life and the quality is sky high. I can only imagine that these are the same. These get my nod for “Best Stocking Stuffer”. If they fit in a shirt pocket they can easily fit into a stocking.
There are no images for this item yet, and they may not actually exist at the moment, but they are all over the Umpqua Instagram feed. Check ‘em out!
If the person on your list ties flies then they need thread. They always, always need thread. I would recommend a double fistful of UNI thread. It’s the best. They likely need both 6/0 and 8/0 and a few each of black, gray, brown, and tan. Don’t want to go that deep? Just get black. At less than $2 per spool you can get as many or as few as you need.
Image from uniproducts.com
Got some room for that extra special gift in your Christmas budget? Or are you Santa in your household and looking for a way to treat yourself? The TRV vise from HMH might be the thing. This vise is gorgeous. Everything HMH makes looks great but the TRV takes it to another level. I really appreciate the way in which HMH got almost all of the adjustability of a much more complicated-looking vise into a package that has a simple to use jaw and a single arm angle adjustment bolt. And that big brass wheel to rotate the arm? That’s sexy. If someone out there had the cash to throw at a truly big gift for me this vise would be at or near the top of the list.
Image from hmhvises.com
No one likes stuffing wet waders and boots into the back of their car. If you’re like me you’ve gotten by with a Rubbermaid tub or tubs and that’s fine, but somewhat inelegant. The Yakoda Supply Drifter bag gets your gear from the house to the car, and the car, back into your house with minimal fuss. It’s big enough to hold everything you need for a day, if it’s not totally full you can make it more compact (try doing that with a Rubbermaid tub), and it has a fold out standing pad for when you’re skinning out of your waders on the side of the road. No more standing in the dirt for you! You could stand on a waterproof mat like a boss and keep your socks from getting all dirty. We call that a solid win in the Blue Lines world.
Image from yakodasupply.com
If you’ve read Blue Lines at all you know I love a book about fly fishing or trout. Robert Behnke is one of the foremost experts on salmonidae in North America. Pair his expertise with beautiful illustrations and an introduction by fly fishing author extraordinaire and you’ve got a title that’s worth flipping through.
I have had this book on my list for a number of reasons. It’s pretty, it’s got both informational and aesthetic value, and I can’t resist the allure of new books. I believe this book would be a grea addition to any fly fishing book shelf. Does the angler in your life have everything? They can’t possibly own all the fly fishing books out there. I know because I have tried/am trying to get them all and there’s a lot.
If you are an angler and a book person you need a copy of Muriel Foster’s Fishing Diary on your bookshelf.Read More
When the tool itself is so well designed that it works seamlessly with you, you have a winner.Read More
I would buy this book for someone who was just getting into tying flies and taking their first steps into the big, wide world of fly patterns and the heightened opinions and emotions that surround them.Read More
The Dyret is a useful jack of all trades fly that doesn’t match the hatch but blurs the line between enough different insects to be effective in multiple situations and on all but the pickiest of tailwater fish.Read More
If you are an experienced hunter for stone arrowheads then you, much like an angler, know generally the kinds of places such things could be found, what conditions are likely to make your hunt more successful, and that there’s a certain amount of hope involved in the enterprise. Just because it looks like the right spot, the conditions are right, and you bring a double armful of experience and knowledge to the table doesn’t mean that you’ll find either trout or arrowheads.Read More
When I pull into a parking spot, when I finally see the stretch of river that speaks to me, I tend to lose my calm. The tailgate opens, my gear tumbles out, and I’m lost in trying to do three things at once, to get my waders on, pack my gear, and string my rod.Read More
The first conversations before rigging up are a spell, something to conjure up a best-case scenario. We want dry fly fishing. We’d accept swinging wets. We’ll nymph if that’s what the day offers, but we won’t go home and brag about it.Read More
Want to know what goes into a Silver Doctor or any of the various Akroyd variants? It’s all in here.Read More
Goals, if I can philosophize, are the bane of camping and fishing, unless the goal happens to be the destination.Read More
I am not a fan of dropping my rod and reel into the water, I can only stumble around on the bank for so long looking for a safe spot to set the rod before it stresses out the fish in my net, I can’t balance the rod across my shoulders like everyone seems to do in their grip-and-grins on Instagram, and I’ve had it slip out from under my arm far too many times.Read More
I think that James Prosek hit on something vital and important when he conceived this book, namely that fishing books aren’t necessarily about fishing.Read More
I’ve never been someone to buy cheap tools. My grandfather had me standing on a four-legged stool next to him as soon as I could be trusted with a screwdriver. I spent years of my life repairing bicycles and using tools and my hands to earn my keep. I know the value of a high-quality tool that you can trust to get the job done. Which is why I’m so damn angry about this pair of scissors.Read More
John Gierach is everyone’s favorite curmudgeon, and I’ll admit that every time I fish the Vrain I keep an eye out for a bearded gentleman carrying a cane rod.Read More
I’ve decided that this is the year I finally crack the whole carp thing. I’ve done the reading, I’ve looked at the maps, and I am ready to go all in. At least until runoff is over and all of the trout water opens up. But until then, it’s carp for me.Read More
There was the kitchen that never once in my life had the utensils I needed to finish cooking a meal, a laundry room that felt secret and detached from the rest of the house, the horse barn, and the cast iron lawn statuary from decades past. And in the end there was a hospital bed in the living room, the whir of the oxygen tanks, night nurses, and an old man whose hand shook when I held it and couldn't recognize me any longer.Read More
Above me, in stair-stepping pools of tea-colored water the river continues climbing towards the Continental Divide, a minor riverine extravagance below the greater extravagances of the mountains that chivvy and shove the shoreline back and forth between their feet.Read More