Some fly anglers like to carry everything they could ever need in a lifetime of fishing, every time they go out. Others like to keep it simple so they can focus on catching fish, not looking for the right fly.
Personally, I like the minimalist approach. In the summer I’ll hit the river with the smallest flybox I can find, stuffed into the pocket of my board shorts, so I can wet wade and catch fish all without being weighed down by gear. Here’s how you can create a minimalistic fly kit of your own, with everything you need all in the palm of your hand.
Choose Your Flybox
There are many small flyboxes out there that can fit into a pocket (like this one here), or you can carry a small sling or hip pack if you want to look pro. Some like the DIY approach, recycling what you already have and repurposing it to fit your needs.
Altoids tins or something similar can be a perfect little flybox if you’re good at choosing only what you absolutely need and nothing else. Eat all your mints, throw a badass Postfly sticker on there and boom, instant minimalist flybox. Any flavor works, but personally I think the peppermint keeps my flies at their freshest.
Pick Your Flies
It’s not about having any fly that you could ever want to throw, it’s about having patterns that can be effective in as many scenarios as possible. I do this anyways even in my bigger flyboxes, but when it comes to going minimalist you have to really think about the types of forage you’re trying to imitate and get the most impressionistic pattern possible.
Instead of having 20 different patterns for any baitfish or streamer presentation, you can probably get by with a few woolly buggers. Instead of having the most perfect imitation of every dry fly as possible, use one with the same general shape and profile, or at least as closely as possible, in natural, subtle colors. For nymphs, you can never go wrong with a beachhead prince nymph. That always works anywhere.
Gather Your Tools
I know, I’m making you give up your vast array of tools and gadgets for the sake of pairing down to the bare essentials. Don’t worry, you’ll survive. Think about what you do on a typical day on the river. Anything else, you don’t actually need, no matter how cool it is.
You’ll cut your leader a few times, and probably retrieve the odd hook from the mouth of a fish. That means you need a pair of forceps, which you can connect to your belt loop, keep in your pocket or clamp and you need a knife or a pair of nippers. The knife you’re likely to already have in your pocket anyways if you’re a fisherman, and if you want to be a little more precise, a pair of nippers will fit in your tin flybox. Perfect.
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