Minimalism and Fly Fishing

How much stuff does one really need on the water?  If someone was to buy all the gizmos and gadgets sold on the market today, that person could be carrying close to 15 pounds on the water with countless  appendages tangling in the bushes.  Yvon Chouinard, founder and CEO of Patagonia, argues that the mark of the master angler is simplicity--carrying only one fly box, a pair of nippers, and hemostats. 

I appreciate this sentiment, but have to disagree with the one fly box.  A lot of anglers simply like flies and even if one does not need to carry an armada of flies to river, it is fun to tie and fish different patterns.  Plus, it is rewarding to precisely imitate the natural insect that the trout are feeding on.  I also believe in carrying some survival gear.  Water, a means of purification, a knife, matches, a rain jacket, and a whistle can help you a lot if you get stranded in the backcountry.  Drinking water is also critical for avoiding dehydration, which can lead to injuries and create an unpleasant trip.   Besides survival gear, I carry a multitool, floatant, a net, split shot, and a few strike indicators in case I go nymphing.  A net is a big help for catch and release fishing. 

What are your thoughts? What is truly "necessary" on the water?  What do you carry?


Roger said...

I've gone thru some changes on this as well. I used to carry many fly boxes with different flies for specific hatches I might encounter but came to realize I spent too much time changing flies and not enough fishing.
I've found that once I have committed to a certain fly I tend to fish it with more confidence and concentrate more on the presentation than wondering if its the right one for the moment
Nowadays I have a specific box for the particular stream type which covers what I expect to see.I'll tie patterns to match the dun,emerger,and nymph in a couple sizes but generally go with light body,dark body,a wing post I can see,etc.
A parachute fly in a couple different body and hackles colors fits the bill 90% of the time.
As for other must have vest items, string,matches,whistle,magnifying glass,nippers,tippets,split shot,duct tape,water purification bottle,knife,aspirin,sunglasses,hat,rain jacket,etc.keeps the vest or chest pack from being too heavy for day trips.

Lynda Hynes said...

Hello from Australia,
How much gear I carry when I go fishing depends on the location. If it is just a few hours wading up one of the local creeks for trout, then I usually have one fly rod and reel, one small fly box with about a dozen assorted flies, forceps, nippers and a spool of tippet. No net or bag as I usually release everything in these small creeks as all the fish are wild, not stocked.However, if I'm going on the "Great All Day Expedition" that involves a couple of hours drive from home, then I'll take along multiple rod and reel combos, lots of fly boxes, spare everything, net, vest(s), waders, spare clothing, food, hot tea in a Thermos flask, then find I'll mostly use the same dozen flies that I use when I fish locally! I think I have to do a leap of faith and just take the minimal gear on the "big" trip and see how it goes. Maybe even pare it down to just one fly(gasp). Probably a wet March Brown--I've found that fly seems to work well for me just about anywhere. Any other ideas on a favourite one fly choice?