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Ronan's report

Wednesday 15th April, 2009

Today, tackle manufacturers offer anglers more flyrod, line, and leader options than ever before. The number of choices is simply staggering. An interesting result of this trend is that it has actually spawned a new breed of modern fly fisher. The gear nerd. I'm not talking about anglers with tackle fetishes here, those have existed since the beginning. I'm talking about anglers who derive as much pleasure from experimenting and tinkering with the myriad of rods and line tapers as they do from actually catching fish.

The last few years have seen an explosion in the number of double handed rod and line options, perhaps surpassing the growth of specialized lines for single hand rods that we saw in the previous decade. And it seems like the steelheaders of the Pacific Northwest have gone head over heels for it. Here in Oregon and Washington you will find anglers who seem to know more about the rods and lines than the manufacturers themselves - how to cast them, how to match them up, where the sweet spots are for a given line and even how to cut, and even how to cut, splice, and modify lines to match their needs. The fact that our steelhead runs are in big trouble has something to do with it. If there aren't any fish to catch, I think some anglers are naturally drawn to the challenges and intricacies of the tackle.

I have some mixed feelings about this whole idea of really getting into the gear for the sake of the gear.

On one hand, if you own rod X, and would like to know which lines cast well on it, in which grain weights, and for which applications, knowing an accomplished gear nerd is about the best thing you can do. A simple email or a phone call will probably net you 10 times more information than you needed, and you'll probably end up with a sweet casting kit. I'm fortunate to have a buddy who is just nuts about lines for DH rods and has some great connections within the flyfishing industry. We happen to be in love with the same flyrod, too. So, every two weeks or so I get a call about this new line that he's got dialed in for my favorite rod. What could be easier?

This guy happens to be a helluva DH caster, and he easily adapts his casting stroke and style to maximize efficiency when changing between different lines and rods. Which brings me to my next point.

If you are thinking about dabbling in the ways of the gear nerds, be forewarned. Not only can it become a very expensive hobby, but if you are still learning the fundamentals of casting (double or single handed), endless variation and experimentation will probably frustrate you more than anything. Experimenting is fun, but it can play havoc with your timing and feel, especially when you don’t have it all dialed in yet. I know several anglers who do this, and i think that their fishing suffers for it. Unless you are a very experienced caster, it's hard to transition between gear seamlessly. Familiarity with gear like tips and lines allows you to fish water more confidently, and confidence is everything.

So, my advice is to relax and spend some time getting comfortable with your gear. The rod and line companies are going to be beating down my door for this, but I'd recommend getting a good kit that you know will work and stick with it until it feels like an extension of your body and mind. How do you know it's a good kit? Ask one of the existing gear nerd masters. Don't know one? Get in touch, and I can recommend several. Don't change lines, rods, and sink tips every time out when you are still working out the bugs in your casting stroke. You need to have the fundamentals down before you will truly appreciate the ways of the gear nerd.

Fish On,

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