To Dylan: A long time ago, I watched a very talented young man low crawl through some cow shit to catch a nervous trout. It was a thing of beauty. He could have thread a long cast to the bend pool, probably drifted a dry fly downstream on a slack line, but after watching him catch the trout with the leader/fly line nail knot halfway through the guides, I knew he was just having fun. Dapping, just "lowering" the fly to the waters surface straight down from the rod tip was just another technique. Not even standing up, he flipped the trout into his hand, released it and proceeded to catch another. All of my thoughts of "traditional" fly fishing were being broken for the first time ever that day. Dylan stood up laughing and I am sure he knew that I was impressed. On his hip was an old "creel," one of those cheap nylon "army surplus" store specials that he had turned into his fishing bag. Right then and there, I realized I was not learning from a "Orvis fly fisher" this was the reel deal here. I started watching him a little closer, pretty much mimicking his moves, copying his ways. I didn't ask too many questions and hell, if I did what he did, I caught fish and had a lot of fun.
Around his neck was a nipper on a old piece of fly line.
One day a year latter, on a HUGE western river, I out fished my friend Dylan for a few minutes. That was the day I graduated from school. A big day for me. Dylan was eighteen and I was thirty six. Today he owns his own successful fly shop and I am comfortable knowing I no longer have to catch more fish than Dylan to have fun. I am far on my own now, have been for quite some time but both my fly fishing and my writing have a lot of Dylan's lessons in them.
Before this time, I had been purchasing my "motif" straight from a catalog. I had a very rough time outfitting myself on my own, not using what was functional to me, going for the look just buying it straight from a catalog. My vest was packed full of stuff I didn't need. I looked at Dylan thinking he was a poor guy who couldn't afford a good vest. Man I was wrong, he was a totally functional angler. His creel probably cost six or seven dollars new and it was falling apart. I didn't know at the time that it was falling apart from use, I thought he may have gotten it second hand. I gave him an old claymore mine bag that I had used to carry when I was in the Army. He took this bag and proceeded to wear it. Little did I know at the time what I was missing giving away my cool bag. After a couple of months, I got rid of my vest because I learned to hate it. I was a prisoner to it and to the "stigma" that went with it. I started on my journey looking at bags, chest packs. I have Dylan to thank for this and I am proud to give him this dedication.
I've already written about fly fishing bags, enough said. What I haven't done is to continue the "minimalist approach." Sometimes I don't carry a fishing bag and it isn't all about choices. I don't carry one because I am not hiking or I just don't feel like it. All I do is stick a windowed Wheatley in my pocket along with a hemostat, a spool of tippet, some fly ointment and my nippers and I am set. This, along with my fly rod is all that I need for ninety percent of my trips up the stream. The Wheatley fly box is a personal choice and I look forward to the day I write about my little collection of them. This choice you can understand, the hemostats, the dry fly ointment, and a spool of tippet all don't need any reasoning, but the lanyard is an essential choice as common to me as the fly rod. It is the one thing that does not change for me no matter where I fish.
I have many lanyards that I can choose from but only a couple that go with me most of the time. Only one that goes with me ALL the time on my small stream fly fishing adventures and if you look anywhere there is a close up of me at smallstreams.com, you will see me wearing it. It is a old piece of fly line with a special little nipper and one of those cool C&S design needle nail knot tube with a small magnet. I use the needle for leader work like fishing out a wind knot. Pretty detailed? I can't stand a wind knot in my leader and I have worked the odd one out of 6x tippet more than once. The more I fish, the less I get them. The nipper is just a part of my fishing, it works and it is always there.
I don't buy magazines, they do not interest me and I don't want to be affected with their content. Magazines are for selling you something and I have no interest in that. Why the magazine comment? I look at them when I am in the fly shop or bookstore. I look at pictures of anglers, looking at their "motif" and what tools they carry. Almost all wear vests. The vest is furry with little gadgets and tools but rarely do I see the nipper on the string. Can't imagine going fishing very often not having one. It isn't necessary, I can use my teeth, but I like using a nipper, it is a act of function, a sort of rite of passage to nip the tag end of a nicely tied on dry fly or nymph. This is just the way things are for me. My lanyard is nothing more than a big excuse for a way to to carry my nipper.
I've found that I can get a few things out of my pocket and ready to use where they are easily reached and quickly accessed. First I dreamed up a good way to carry them. The answer was found in a photography shop, it is a binocular or camera loop that has a length of neoprene to distribute and reduce the pressure on your neck. Probably overkill but good for a few light items. I have been using them for a couple of years, with a small chest pack. You can probably search one out online at a photography shop, the one above was an experiment.
Next I take a three Rapalas to dress the damn thing up. Hell, why not? I stalk trout. The bodies separate the little tools you are going to hang around your neck. The Rapala's come in different sizes and colors. I use the RT-7 floating which is a number 7 in a Rainbow trout color. Take the "lip" off of the crank bait or not, it doesn't matter but you can remove the treble hooks and use the split rings to attach the tail to the nose and your implements.
I like using swivels because this keeps things from binding, it isn't necessary, just easy. I've always liked the idea of carrying a spool of tippet, but those "T" tippet holders kept the tippet in the wrong position for me. I took the middle out of my tippet and fashioned a swivel around the tippet spool where it will pay out. I normally use 6x Rio Fluorocarbon for almost all of my small stream fly fishing so I bought a spool of 6x fluorocarbon and ground out the middle with a Dremel tool for my lanyard.
I use Varivas 8-9-10x wrapped on a "Loop Tippet Dispenser" that I stick in my pocket. This thing has got to be the coolest tippet dispenser that I have ever seen. It is actually a fly box with the tippet loops wrapped around it. If you are on a stream where only one type of fly is needed (this is most streams for me in my area) you can get by with this little innovation. Man those guys at Loop are really killing it! Take a look at one if you get the chance or you can order yours from Feathercraft where I purchased mine. I promise you that the twenty dollars or so for this thing will be well spent. It is one of those ideas that are fully realized not at an overkill level.
But back to our lanyard.
You don't need a class on exactly how to put this all together now do you? I get the funniest e-mail sometimes from the most skilled fly tiers. Guys who can tie the most intricate flys, who are so detail oriented, they write me on how I made this or that and it gives me a complex that I am not writing clearly, but to me, this would be much too boring. I am not asking for questions and this is not heart surgery, that of which I've see enough of.
These pictures combined with my words and you should be able to get a feel for what I am writing about combining the two. The lanyard is important to my fishing, not essential, as my teeth will work every now and then for nipping a bit of tippet off of a little fly. I would miss it if I lost mine and would have to make one or I would feel compelled to do so. It is a sort of way I look at fly fishing. I put mine on and things get a little more fishier and it is easier for me to get into the zone. Funny how I am about this, but it is me and this is the way I do things. Enjoy my pictures and words, or not. It's all good and it's what I choose for my fun flings. What I should have done is suggest that you use your old fly line to make a cool way to have your nipper around your neck.
That's what Dylan told me a long time ago.
Have fun fly fishing.