I've been spending time this winter writing blogs for Maineflyfish.com. It's a great website with a ton of great resources and people who contribute years and years of fly fishing knowledge. It's a great website that you should check out if you live in Maine or are going to visit Maine.
We’re days away from the traditional opener here in Maine, and I totally get it. Like you, I’m getting sick of watching fly fishing films, reading new fly fishing books and rereading old ones, and searching Google Earth to try to find that new secret pond to try out this summer. I’m over the fly fishing shows (except for the Eldredge Bros Expo this weekend) and “winter” fishing, which feels more like just getting out for some fresh air, and dodging ice chunks. I know April isn’t the most productive month, but it beats the heck out of February fishing. You’re probably feeling like sitting at the vise is becoming more of a chore than a pleasure at this point. I get it. You’re ready to go!
My intentions for this article are to point out some of the necessary preparations for the upcoming season. My hopes are that I’ll point out some things that may be new to you or at least a good reminder. If I’m missing something, please feel free to drop a line in the comment section.
The first thing I do every winter is go through every fly box that I have and take inventory. I take every fly out of its slot and check for rust and durability/sharpness. I throw out flies that are chewed up or rusting, and I make a list of all the flies that I need to tie (or buy) to replenish my box. When I discover new flies, I like to add them to the list, but sadly, I probably won’t really try them because I’ll revert to my “old reliables.” If it ain’t broke, why fix it? As you can see from my pictures above, I have a good number of flies and I usually sort this process out over the months of January, February and March. I’m sure there are plenty of you out there though that think I don’t have enough flies!
Rods and Reels
To be honest, I don’t really take my rods out over the winter for inspection. It probably wouldn’t be a bad idea to use the wax to clean the ferrules so my rods don’t stick together all season. I do, however, make it a huge priority to give all of my fly lines a good hard scrubbing and change out leaders that are frayed or worn. This year I found that two of my reels had been either stepped on or dropped and they were warped. Both Redington reels… hmmm. I won’t go there, but it was good that I caught it in January instead of getting out there in May with a client and handing them faulty gear.
Waders and Boots
If you put away your waders with no leaks back in the fall, you probably won’t have any issues with them. There’s really no good way to know if you’ve sprung a leak until you get in the water. If you fish in April, you’ll know pretty quickly if you have a leak. For wading boots, I’ve found it helpful to change out laces that are ripping or using gorilla glue if parts of the boots are starting to rip apart. Don’t use too much though or it’ll look like you have spray foam insulation coming out of your boots!
I like to check my fly fishing vest pack and empty all of the pockets. It’s always good to restock things like Ben’s 100 bug spray or small bottles of sunscreen. I always ask for those two things and a fishing license each Christmas. They make great stocking stuffers. Check your floatant options and make sure they haven’t hardened up. Put some fresh batteries in your headlamp. Throw some waterproof matches in your pack and a ziploc bag with bandaids. Restock strike indicators and split shot. Check your nippers to make sure they’re not dull. Make sure you throw some fresh TP in your wading vest or boat.
Lastly, don’t forget your 2019 fishing license. I always feel like a kid waiting for Christmas to come this time of year. I hope you enjoy your season. If you haven’t been fishing a lot in recent years, move it up the priority list this season. You only live once after all!
I'm excited to help others chase some early season brook trout like this one caught on the Magalloway River last year in April.
Aaron Broaddus is a passionate fly fisherman and a Maine guide.