Fall can be the time for pursuing wild browns amidst the changing colors of leaves and reflecting on the past year’s fishing. Journals can help, often times a fly box can be a great place to look to bring back memories from months ago. The tattered snow shoe hendricksons and soft hackle nymphs in my box bring back early Spring evenings. Size twenty midge pupaes, zebra midges, caddis larvae and the faithful San Juan kept things hot on cold winter days. Wet flies, caddis pupae and pheasant tails in many colors and sizes dominate rows and rows of slitted foam in my boxes. My “fur lined” streamer box is a menagerie of creatures lined in tight rows, which give the appearance of one multi color pelt.
I recently pulled quite a few flies from my boxes in a effort to make room for future patterns. Those future patterns have yet to be tied, some even yet to be dreamt up. I prefer ushering out old patterns and leaving big gaps in all those rows of slitted foam. The mayflies, beetles and terrestrials that have served their purpose for the summer are stored until next year. Caddis, midges and attractor nymphs are reliable and effective patterns year round. Flies that rarely work, despite looking realistic or patterns that have little place locally all need to go. There can be no greater sense of satisfaction than to open a fly box that has been crammed full of flies tied by you. No greater sense of frustration than tying and fishing patterns that seem to fall short of productive. A level of comfort is gained by a full fly box, although random flies and prototypes from years past are just taking up space. An empty fly box makes anglers anxious, and that nervous feeling can best be remedied at the vise. Tying new patterns, whether from books or websites can provide inspiration along with seining insects on local waters. Tying and fishing flies is a constant progression toward having a fly box that is filled with patterns that catch fish.