New school meets old school
Ski legend Andy Mill popped in the shop recently, and something he said really stuck with us. “Nowadays, we’ll never be as good as our equipment.” Andy literally wrote the book on tarpon fishing (“A Passion for Tarpon,” Wild River Press) and this is so true, especially now. He’s a fixture on the Keys tournament circuit as well as the Fryingpan and Roaring Fork, and is one of the most diverse anglers we have the pleasure of knowing here.
Fresh and saltwater fly gear is simply spectacular these days, whether we’re talking reels, rods, fly lines, waders, you name it. Rod technology is way ahead of what used to be available, and even introductory rods have excellent action compared to yesteryear’s offerings. (Bamboo trout rods are still around and preferred by many who grew up with them, though.) The industry has come up with fly lines that float like a cork, sink like a stone, and everything in between. Modern reels have silky-smooth drags and can take much more abuse, and breathable waders are comfortable and fit you like a glove compared to older versions. Waders designed by and made for women are one of the best breakthroughs lately, as many women are embracing (and always have embraced) this sport.
Fly design has become an industry of its own, although many anglers still fish classic patterns that have been available for decades. Many of the flies these days are ultra-realistic, but many anglers still prefer the impressionistic ones. Many local guides are now signature fresh and salt fly tiers for brands like Umpqua, Solitude and Montana Fly Company. Leader and tippet is now much more consistent and diverse, although many old-school anglers still build out their own.
Despite the latest and greatest gear, you still need to practice, learn and listen to become the best angler you can be. We all know that fisherman decked out with all the latest toys but still doesn’t know what fly to tie on, as well as the trout bum with a 20-year-old rod and reel that plucks fish out of every little spot they cast into. New technology makes our lives easier, but becoming an accomplished angler still takes patience and practice, just like in the old days. Some things will never change, thank goodness.
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