With apologies to Shakespeare, “to be or not to be” is not the question. There are some things that just ought not to be. There are others that just ought to be.
This article is about things in the fly-fishing world that should be obvious but somehow are not. I’ll start the list, and maybe you could help by adding some that I left off.
Warning: opinions expressed below are that of the author who is suffering from fly-fishing deprivation this winter. He should not be held responsible for anything that may come across as snarky.
- Hooks smaller than size 18 should be made with extra large hook-eyes. All brands. Manufacturers who don’t comply should be staked naked to a bed of fire ants. What’s the point of making a hook that takes a jeweler’s magnifying glass, 8x tippet, fasting and prayer, and 20 minutes to thread when just an itsy-bitsy more loop in the eye would make everything as perfect as a Reese’s Cup?
- Mesh material should be banned from fishing hats, fishing shirts, waders, vests, nets, and backpacks. Mesh is a magnet for fish hooks. When – not if – a fish hook finds the mesh, you’ve not only lost five minutes of your fishing time, but you’ve torn up the fly while trying to get it extricated from the mesh. Barbless hooks help mitigate the problem somewhat for those of us who have made that journey, but people who are new to the sport aren’t there yet, and they are the ones who don’t need the frustration of the mesh monster.
- Tippet spools should have more than 30 yards of tippet on them. I get more thick floss on a small spool of dental floss than I do super thin monofilament on a tippet spool. Why can’t they put 100 yards of tippet on a spool like some manufacturers do on their guide spools and just double the price? That’d be a win/win.
- While on the subject of tippet, tippet should be marked to show when you have two yards left on the spool. How many fishermen have to find out they only have six feet of 5x tippet left while they are knee-deep in a riffle full of famished fish before someone figures a way to flag us when the spool is getting empty. Heck, even the NFL has a two-minute warning.
- Taking dogs wade fishing is a bad idea. Now, don’t get me wrong. I’m not talking about your dog. I’m talking about everybody else’s dogs that love to swim through deep pools, bark or growl at other fishermen, chase fish that are being played, and frolic in the skinny water. If your friend must take his pooch, he shouldn’t make others bear the burden of his puppy passion. He can rig up one of those carriers that people put their toddlers in while fishing and carry Fido on his back. He may feel foolish, but hey, he deserves it.
- An annual fishing license should be good for 365 days, not just until December 31. During this time of year (January), buying an annual license that is good until December 31st doesn’t seem that unfair. But not everyone fishes during icy winter conditions and folks that get their three weeks of vacation in August have to wonder why their annual license expires in five months. Several states where I buy annual fishing licenses give me 365 days. These would include Colorado, New York, Georgia, SC, and NC. It can be done. It’s not rocket surgery. I love to introduce new people to fly fishing, but I hate to tell them that the annual license they buy in Massachusetts or Connecticut in September will only get them <120 days of fishing. This seems like just another way for some states to stick it to fishermen.
- There should be a special, extra long hunting season with large limits for mergansers.
- Kayakers and tubers should pay a river-use fee of $10 annually that would go towards improvements to river access, river clean up, and regulations enforcement. If fishermen need to pay, why not others who use the state’s resources?
- Poachers’ cars should be impounded.
- On a state’s “Free Fishing Day,” there should be no sales tax on fishing equipment sold that day.
What did I forget?