Name: Nick Carter
Hometown: LaFayette, Georgia
Passion: Fishing, hunting and telling stories
In the last few months, the coronavirus has driven increasing interest in fishing from the general public. It really is the perfect social-distancing activity. For most anglers, the idea is to get away from people. Fishing — and especially trout fishing on cold, high-elevation creeks — takes you to beautiful places where human impact and interaction are at a minimum.
But I can't read another columnist spewing platitudes about the regenerative and spiritual benefits of fishing. Someone who tells you it's not about catching fish is probably someone who hasn't figured out how to catch fish yet.
Fishing is absolutely about catching fish. It's about using nature's clues to find the right combination of lure and presentation that on a given day will trigger a trout's predatory instincts. It is about immersing oneself in the wild world through observation and stealth. It is unapologetically impaling the jaw of a living creature with a hook and then feeling its frantic fight for survival transmitted through a line and a graphite rod. It is fun. It is how we satiate the primal urge of hunter/gatherers.
A fly fishing gear primer: "Rod, reel, vest, boots, waders!"
Early in the morning, before the coffee kicks in, chanting that mantra while loading the truck ensures you'll have what you need to explore a mountain hollow. Yes, there's a lot of other stuff that probably falls into the "necessity" category, such as good polarized glasses, a ball cap, food and water; but you can trout fish if you've got the five essentials listed in the chant.
Felt-soled boots grip slick rocks better than anything else available. Waders keep you dry when you're standing in cold water in cool weather. The vest is your gear-hauler/workstation. Keep it stocked and it's a grab-and-go item. With a ridiculous number of pockets and clip-on points, it carries everything from tackle, flies and rigging gadgetry to creature comforts like food, water and a can of dip.
What you pack in your vest is a matter of personal preference, but a vest gets cumbersome in a hurry when you start loading it with stuff like nets and rain gear. Less is more when you're hiking, wading, scrambling over boulders and crawling under laurel slicks. And, like a backpacker's pack, you want gear to be balanced and streamlined for ease of movement.
Here is a look at the items I carry in my hike-in fishing pack.
A. Redington Sonic-Pro Waders
B. No-name knock-off fishing vest
C. Simms felt-soled wading boots
D. G Loomis StreamDance 7'6" 4-weight rod
E. Orvis Battenkill Mid-Arbor II reel
F. Skeleton Optics Scout polarized sunglasses
H. Fly boxes organized in dry flies, nymphs and streamers
I. Strike indicator, dry fly floatant, split-shot sinkers
J. Extra leaders
K. Spools of tippet (5x, 6x, 7x)
L. Opinel INOX No. 6 folding knife
M. Forceps and nippers on a spring-loaded retractor
N. Fishing license and wallet/ID