“Do I have any open wounds on my feet?” was my first thought as I waded knee deep through a brackish and stagnant backwater channel. Normally this would not be an issue but I religiously refuse to wear waders in the summer. Opting for wet wading in sandals; fleeting thoughts of infections, gangrene, and leg amputations are washed from my mind when I see moving water through the bushes 20 feet away. I justify this maneuver with the same ‘college’ logic as the ol’ 5 Second Rule: if I can make it through the bacteria bog of decay fast enough and get my legs into the moving water, I should be good…right?
No harm done…hopefully.
Oh well, it’s summer and the trout are rising to hatching insects on the surface. All thoughts of infections and hep B; jobs and debt and chores and stress are swept away with the cool currents that swirl around my ankles. For the next few hours, my mind will be focused on solving three repetitive problems:
- Finding likely holding water in the currents.
- Choosing the right fly.
- Getting that fly to drift properly over the good looking holding water.
That’s it. Those are the only problems I care about solving right now. Here are the problems I don’t want to be solving right now:
- Bugs biting me.
- The sun burning me.
- My equipment malfunctioning or being a burden to use.
- Having the right fly.
- My hunger. (I should be concerned with this issue, but I just don’t want to be right now. Didn’t I mention the fish are rising?)
- Global finances, national politics, and the current clash of cultural ideals across our nation.
I have learned from my years using defective equipment and numerous bottles of Aloe Vera lotion to cool crispy sun fried skin that these problems are best solved before the sunrise drive through mountain passes to unnamed waters. Well, except for number 6, I still have not figured that one out.
To solve these summer fishing blues; a handful of innovative products and old standbys are available that make fly fishing more fun. Isn’t that what fly fishing is all about anyway? Having fun and letting everything else fall by the wayside? In no real particular order they are:
Buffs – Ok so I said no particular order, but Buffs would come out to number 1 had this been an ordered list. Buffs came on the fly fishing scene a few years ago and have been met with mixed opinions. In my mind: function before fashion and Buffs still come out ahead. Keep biting bugs off your face and unwanted sunburn off your ears, face, and neck. In the immortal words of Wu Tang: “protect ya neck kid”.
UV Shirts – Following the skin protection theme, UV Shirts are a Godsend when you have been gifted with the skin tone of an Irishman (like myself.) The Simms Long Sleeve Sloarflex shirts are incredible at keeping one sunburn free and cool on even balmy summer hikes. Simms also makes a Solarflex Hoody for Women.
Fiberglass Rods – No, not the Eagle Claw fiberglass rod your grandpa gave you when told him you liked fishing. Although paying homage to fiberglass rods of eras past; modern fiberglass rods have been built to be lighter and stronger while hearkening to simpler time before the internet and smartphones. The Redington Butter Stick and Scott F2 fiberglass rods slow down line speed and present dry flies with a whisper. They may not throw your line the full 90, but they will put a smile on anyone’s face when hooked into a 12″ high mountain cutthroat. If summer is for dry flies, dry flies are great with fiberglass.
Sunscreen– This one is obvious.
Shimazaki Dry Shake Spray – Fly Floatant spray was new to me up until a year ago. Shimazaki Dry Shake Spray makes quick work of taking a waterlogged dry fly and bringing it back to it’s high floating capabilities.
Sage Circa – It’s hard to say enough good things about this fly rod. If the fiberglass rods above were any indicator of how I like to fish in the summer; then this should come as no surprise. I like slow action fly rods for the dog days of summer, casting Caddis and PMDs to rising trout. The Sage Circa is my absolute favorite dry fly rod. It is light, extremely accurate, and roll casts like no other one handed rod I have ever used.
Simms Vapor Boots – The Vapor Boots is not your traditional wading boot. Built with hiking as well as wading in mind; these boots are light and work great with Simms Guard Socks for wet wading after a long trek from the parking lot. When weight and foot comfort is important, these boots are a solid choice through the summer.
Dry Flies – More than anything else, dry flies are the absolute hallmark of summer. A small box full of dry flies is oftentimes the only thing you will need to carry when headed to a high mountain creek for a full day of exploring and trout stalking.
Flask – While not a necessity, a flask full of a choice beverage can make a great summer day a little bit better.
For me, these items help focus on the hallmarks of Summer fly fishing: cool rivers on hot days, dry flies cast to rising fish, and spending time outside with good company. Just make sure to get into that cool river quickly after trudging through any stagnant bogs. You never know.