Here's the situation: I took my first fishing trip of the new year on Sunday. It was just a day trip with some friends, a couple of which had never been fishing before. So we headed for a place called Deadhorse State Park, in Cottonwood, AZ. It's just a couple of 6 acre ponds they stock a couple times a month, but it offers a good place to practice casting, and new anglers a chance to catch a fish.
We got there in the afternoon and fished for three hours. We caught a few and of course, lost a few, but everyone got a fish or two, and for the first trip of the year, that's a good day, right?
Anwyay, I had brought two boxes of flies with approximately 350 flies, not including the 180 in my chest pack. This is a pretty standard loadout for me wherever I go. As I was breaking my rods down with the sun dropping behind the mountain tops in the west, I realized I had only tied on three flies all afternoon. A simi seal leech, a black humpy, and a parachute adams were the only flies to hit the water out of all those flies.
That got me to thinking. One of the reasons I started flyfishing is that I thought I'd be fishing with less stuff. You know, less tackle, lures, bags and boxes, etc. I mean, you watch "A River Runs Through It," And these guys are fishing with, what, a box of maybe a dozen or so flies? When I started down this crazy wonderful road, I thought this was the idea.
As time went on however, I found myself bringing two or three rods, a backpack/chest pack that was stuffed with four to six boxes of flies, four or five spools of tippet, four or five leaders, two or three mini heads, split shot, my lunch, etc. Now, even if I brought all my flygear, including my vise, it wouldn't weigh half of my conventional gear load, but it's far from 'minimal' fishing. And the idea of fishing 'light' is part of what attracted me to flyfishing in the first place.
So today, after my experience the other day, I am putting together a 'minimalist' flyfishing kit. I won't go into everything, but the flybox is starting to look like this: 3 Stimulators #16s rc/yellow/olive, 3 CJs #18 blk/red/olive, 3 Pts #18 natural/brown, 3 para-adams #18, 3 WBs #8 olive/black, 3 simi-seal leeches brown, and 3 zebra midges blk/red. It's my idea of a go-to box.
So, I want to ask you guys, what's the least number of flies you have or would take fishing, and what would your batting order be? Very curious to compare/contrast philosophies and regional preferences. Thanks in advance.
For just a day trip you did take a lot of gear imho, and the gear does depend on what your going to fish. For me it would of been one rod, 2 spools and a dozen flies, some dry and wet. On long trips, a week to 10 days 3 rods 6 spools maybe 30-40 flies just tied for the area and time I was going plus a dozen flies I would buy from a local fly shop after I got there. There would be all the other gear lines ect ect and I would take a vise for that trip. I do my best to go light even though I've been collecting gear for the last 40 years as my wife reminds me.
I wouldn't be in a big hurry to go too slim; or maybe I just don't understand the condition completely. I have never bought into the 8 spools of tippet on a lanyard mentality myself so maybe I don't completely understand your perdicament. I have never found myself weighted down by flies; I would sacrifice everything else first. I have two decent size fly boxes for dries and wets/nymphs with 3 or 4 duplicates of probably 25-35 patterns, and a streamer box. All of these fit in my vest and never get in the way. I am rather minimalist on the rest of my gear and hardly every NEED something on the stream. 350 flies goes in three vest pockets, and I never even think about them being too much.
I keep floatant, sinkx, 2 sizes tippet (3x 5x unless there is a special occasion; tricos or something), couple leaders, nippers, hemostats, pocket-knife and flask.
For a day trip, I take one rod, a spool or two(if I have an extra for the reel) and about a dozen flys. Then there's the vest with the 4-5 spools of tippet, a few extra leaders, hemostats, floatant, shot/tung putty, and that's about it.
The fly selection depends on what I think I will run into, but I try to keep it about half dry's half wets.
Now for a trip that is a few days long, I'll take maybe two rods and then up the ante of flys. I have a couple of giant fly boxes and I'll usually take on of those filled up; maybe a hundred flys or so.
For day trips I'm thinking about ditching the vest and getting a lanyard so that I take even less.
There will undoubtedly be different takes on what to carry but knowing where you are going and how you like to catch the fish will be a determining factor in what you take along. We have kicked this topic around a few times here and I think I remember what i have written in past threads. I used to carry enough stuff that I could have had a stream side sale and made money while still having more than enough to fish with left.
This is normal I believe and it's hard to find someone who hasn't done the same thing. It is part of the evolution of the fly fisher. I've been at this for quite a while and I remember how keenly I was influenced by all of the stuff I saw featured in magazines. As a matter of fact I purchased most of it just because the 'cool' guys in the articles had it. I carried dries, nymphs, wets, streamers, extra spools for my reel with different lines, you name it, I had it.
The picture I'm pasting on here pretty much represents how I am outfitted on a warm day. When I wear a jacket I carry the same items that are inside the pouch of my waders when I fish without the jacket. You'll get there it just may take some time. Between you and me; I catch more fish now because I'm not busy looking for the magic bullet, I get it done with what I have.
Warm day, carrying a spool of leader, a box of 40 flies, BB size shot, and my nippers.
Cool and rainy, carrying a spool of leader, a 40 clip fly box and a bag of BB size shot and nippers.
My load changes from water to water. I minimalize whenever I can. At the most, I have two boxes. If I know what I am getting into, I make a "day box" or put a bunch of flies on a chest pack insert. Whatever I can carry on my lanyard or chest pack and fit into my pockets are all I really need to carry.
I usually carry two fly boxes - one that has a sample of typical trout flies, one that is specific to that time of year/river condition. I might keep a box of two in the car just in case. I take extra spools of tippet (usually 4-6X) and a couple extra leaders and my lanyard. However, I never go far from the car without some safety equipment - a whistle, some bandaids, sunscreen, bug dope - and a snack, water and camera. If the weather calls for it, I carry either a rain jacket or gloves and stocking cap. All this fits easily in my waist pack.
I do keep some extra clothes in the car and an extra rod and reel as well.
Minimalism is fine, but I do not like to get caught unprepared and ruin a great day.
"what's the least number of flies you have or would take fishing"
Well I have taken ZERO flies on at least two outings, of course there was much cussing and such all the way back to the house after finding them on the dinning room table where i had left them.
Like others it depends. For a day on the river I carry one or two fly boxes (depends on the time of year). I always have a selection of both nymphs and drys, even in the winter - when I first started out I got caught on a cloudy winter day (started at 30 and warmed to 40) with no drys (had to run back to the truck to get some), and a hatch going off.
I typically carry 1 two sided box that has a variety in it (at least 2 or 3 of each of my standards) maybe 100 flies total, and 1 small box that has midges, copper johns, etc (the smaller stuff) 3 or 4 of each in 3 or 4 colors (maybe 24 small flies).
I used to just take one rod, but after I broke one on the river last year and had to pack up and head home when the fish were hitting, I now always hide a spare 4 piece in the truck with a reel attached.
A lanyard with 3 sizes of tippet, nippers, hemostats, split shot, floatant; a spare leader in my wader pocket, a net on my back and that pretty much rounds out my equipment for a day trip.
When going to the lake, I take a couple more leaders, and another doublesided box or two (it all fits in my float tube pockets).
I can not stress enough the need to take two rods, two reels, and a spare leader, expecially if you are going to be out all day or a distance from home. It can ruin your day to break a rod 30 minutes into a trip and have to quit.