Getting ready for summer fly-fishing |

Getting ready for summer fly-fishing

Brody Henderson

With local rivers running high and fast and fly-fishing options limited for the next couple of weeks, now is a good time to check all your gear to make sure you are ready for the upcoming summer season.

It can be a big disappointment when you are standing on the side of the river watching dozens of trout rise only to discover your fly box is full of useless, rusty patterns from when you took a dunk this past fall. Take the time to go through your entire fly fishing kit to make sure everything is in working order before the fishing heats up.

Here’s a quick checklist to start with:


Waders can and do leak. Give your pair a quick inspection and look for wear spots, tears or tiny pin holes. A small but tolerable leak from this past year will eventually become a big problem. Fill your waders with water and check for holes. Most leaks can be repaired easily with an affordable patch kit. For those of you with waders covered in patches, it is time for a new pair.

Fly Line

Many anglers tend to ignore caring for their fly lines for too long and their fishing success suffers. Regular cleaning is needed in order for fly lines to cast well and float high. Cleaning only takes a few minutes and should be done throughout the season and not just once a year. Look for small cracks in the line and dirt build up that is not easily removed with a fly line cleaning kit. If a line has been cleaned but continues to sink and cast poorly, then a new fly line is the only fix.

Tippet and Leaders

Terminal tackle such astippet and leaders do have a shelf life. If kept stored in a dark, dry place, then they’ll last a long time but not forever. Check old spools of tippet to see if they break easily, if so they’ll need to be replaced. Old leaders may have nicks or weak tippet sections and these old leaders can be either used for short streamer leaders or replaced.

Floaters, Dry Shake and Weights

Make sure you hit the water with these important items. On the river, during a blizzard caddis hatch is no place to discover your bottle of dry shake is empty and you have no way of keeping your dry flies floating. Likewise with weights, when the fish are eating in deep water, you need to get those flies down. Stock up before you hit the river.


Fly-fishing tools like nippers and hemostats have a way of disappearing into the bottom of boats or getting left on a streamside rock. Blades on old nippers go dull and cheap hemostats lose their hook debarbing strength. Rather than grabbing a cheap set out of the bargain bucket, a slightly more expensive but more rugged and reliable tool is worth the small investment. Consider attaching all your tools to a lanyard or retractor so they are always there when you need them.


Never wait until the hatch starts to check your fly boxes to make sure they are fully stocked. This past year’s supply is likely disorganized and missing the fishy patterns that got depleted this past summer. When the fishing gets very good, the local fly shop bins can empty out pretty quickly of that week’s hot fly. Pitch the old, rusty and beat up flies, and organize your fly boxes now. That way, you’ll know what flies you need to be prepared this summer.

At Vail Valley Anglers, we are geared up and ready to go for the summer fly-fishing season. Our fly bins are full, and we can help you load up your fly boxes and make recommendations on gear upgrades. Stop by the shop in Edwards for advice on where to fish and what to use.

Brody Henderson is a senior guide for Vail Valley Anglers in Edwards. He can be reached at 970-926-0900.

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