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Salomone: Advice for traveling anglers

Michael Salomone Vail Valley Anglers
Me, holding a barracuda.
Michael Salomone/Courtesy photo

Every year, while the transition on the mountain changes to summertime recreation, hoards of local fly anglers head for the beach. Time spent with your toes in the sand cleanses your soul and preps your spirit for what has turned into the second busy season in our valley experiences. Summers used to be the realm of the local, quiet and subdued. The summer months were what kept the locals here year-round. Well, the secret is out. Colorado summers are big business. So to prepare for the overwhelming amount of business the next few months deliver, anglers like me have ventured to the sea for rejuvenation. The traveling angler doesn’t just arrive. There needs to be some thought involved. Let’s cover a few key points traveling anglers might overlook before they depart.

Gear selections are centered around location and style of fly-fishing you’re going to experience. Anglers targeting the beach in saltwater catch a variety of species. While snook may be the species of choice for the beachbound fly-fisher, jacks are just as apt to eat your fly as well. An 8wt fly rod is a good all-around tool to possess in your fly rod arsenal.

Enjoying a good morning coffee at dawn.
Michael Salomone/Courtesy photo

Reels need some attention to perform as expected. A little cleaning to remove any sand, grit or saltwater residue restores proper functionality to a critical piece of equipment. This is a good time to have the shop guys at Vail Valley Anglers replace your tired, sun-bleached backing. It’s a cheap fix for a common problem and will also eliminate the dreaded under-wrap you haven’t encountered.



Line guides have a way of loosening with repeated use, packing and travel. Some rods may need a little tender loving care to reattach correctly. Better to make those repairs and adjustments before the trip.

A couple of words about traveling with fly-fishing gear that I’ve learned over a few decades of angling travel: Pack to be TSA friendly. A lot of the agents I’ve encountered do not recognize fly-fishing gear. Fly reels should always be packed in your carry-on bag. But be prepared for someone along the way to want to take a look. Luggage handlers are rough on bags and valuable gear like reels deserve to be carried and not checked.



Rods need proper protection when stored in your checked bag. And yes, you read that correctly, rods. I always pack a backup rod or multiple rods to tackle any situation I may discover. The trip I’m on right now in Florida, I’ve packed 6,7,9 and 10wt fly rods in a rod cannon to protect all of them. From freshwater largemouth bass and peacock bass to light beach action for snook and heavy rod work with tarpon, I feel I’ve got things covered for what I will encounter.

My flies travel in the same place as my rods. Numerous TSA agents have hassled me for large hooks in the past. In anticipation of this, I check most of my flies but not all. I pack one small fly box with some essentials like a few chartreuse and white Clousers, a couple of white Schminnows and some Black and Purple aka Peanut Butter flies in my carry-on with the fly reels.

There is always one rod with me as well. If I arrive without my checked bag I can still fish with what I have carried on the plane. Strapping it onto my carry-on backpack or even gate checking like an umbrella or a children’s stroller ensures I have one rod when I reach my destination.



Terminal tackle can be a hassle to find in some destinations. I can’t always count on a fly shop to be close, so I pack a variety of spools of line for leaders and tippet. I tie my own leaders for everything from bonefish to billfish in the ocean. Anglers not comfortable with their knot tying can purchase saltwater-specific leaders from Vail Valley Anglers before they depart. A collection of both monofilament and fluorocarbon material travels in my luggage every trip.

That’s my list of traveling angler advice to ensure a pleasurable experience before we jump into the hustle and bustle our valley will encounter over the next three months. Go ahead and take a trip. Clear your head and stick your toes in the sand with a fly rod, of course. I will see you on the river soon enough.

Michael Salomone moved to the Eagle River valley in 1992. He began guiding fly-fishing professionally in 2002. His freelance writing has been published in magazines and websites including, Southwest Fly Fishing, Fly Rod & Reel, Eastern Fly Fishing, On the Fly, FlyLords, the Pointing Dog Journal, Upland Almanac, the Echo website, Vail Valley Anglers and more. He lives on the bank of the Eagle River with his wife, Lori; two daughters, Emily and Ella; and a brace of yellow Labrador retrievers.


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