Spring is a deadly time for me, or, more precisely, for my bank account. In most things I’m a bit of a Luddite. A tool that worked three decades ago ought to work today, right? Mostly, that’s my philosophy. Still, I have two areas where I exhibit almost no will power.
My first weakness is kitchen gadgets. Cooking is a hobby that’s more fun when I use tools designed for the job. Even uni-taskers are OK if the task is a common, important one. For instance, there’s only one use for a pizza peel, but when homemade pizza is on the menu, you really can’t be without one. So I have two, and may add a third, a metal peel, to share cabinet space with my pair of wooden ones.
But a strawberry stem remover? Sorry, that’s a one-off tool that’s less efficient than my teeth when it comes to eating fresh berries, or a paring knife when I’m prepping a strawberry dessert (something that almost never happens).
Still, a rarely used kitchen tool isn’t such a great waste since eating isn’t exactly discretionary behavior. That’s not the case with my fly-fishing hobby, however, and since I’m mostly a catch-and-release type, this is about as far from essential activity as I can get.
Maybe that’s why I love it so.
Someday I hope to retire, and retirement requires savings, or a lucky break in the lottery, so I probably should make a spring habit of dropping my credit cards in a carton of water to leave in the freezer. Spring is the season I wander back to my local fly shop, where I’m compelled to nose around for unessential trinkets that I’m sure I can’t live without.
Those smaller purchases add up, especially when you consider it an act of sacrilege to walk out of any fishing emporium without a dozen new flies. That six of those flies will find a home in an unoccupied corner of my fly box, never to be fished, is beside the point.
It’s the unoccupied corners of my dozen or more fly boxes that forces me to act. The fly box must be full. Someday, some bizarre set of conditions will prevail, and that obscure emerger pattern I’ve long since forgotten the name of, will be the only fly the fish will eat.
I have to have it, just in case.
Then there are the major budget busters. Everyone knows fly fishing gear doesn’t come cheap. You can still lay down a Benjamin for a decent spinning rod-and-reel combo, one that might last a lifetime, and get some change back. Buy a fly rod and reel in that price range, however, and you’ll be lucky it survives your first walk to the river.
I was tempted the other day. My actions were innocent enough. I was in town visiting and an old friend works in a fly shop. I stopped in just to say hello. Then I noticed one of those new Lamson Center Axis rod and reel combos. I suspect the Center Axis may end up winning the fly fishing uni-tasker of the year award for 2018, but I had to try it. My friend, skilled in the art of persuading anglers they need to buy things they don’t really need, uttered the magic phrase: “Why don’t you take it out back and try it.”
It almost worked. The Center Axis is an intriguing outfit, feeling uncannily light while you cast, but I’m not sure it’s enough of a game changer to catch on.
It might not need to be. If its light feel persuades enough of us to lighten our savings account, someone will be happy, even if this new, latest fishing gadget is soon forgotten.
Rob Breeding is the editor of www.mthookandbullet.com, which covers outdoor news in Montana.