A fishing vest is a handy piece of clothing, especially for fly fishermen. A spin fisherman usually is on the bank or in a boat with all of his tackle in a tackle box right next to him. A fly fisherman, on the other hand, generally will be wading out into a stream and has to have all of his gear on him, that's where a vest becomes invaluable.
Choosing the Fishing Vest
Fishing vests come in a wide variety of styles. A fisherman can have his choice of materials, designs, and brands. He can pay a few dollars or hundreds of dollars for a vest. Several considerations come into play. Weight is important, some are feather light, while others are made of heavy materials, and once you load them with gear they are cumbersome to move in, even dangerous when wading in swift water. A vest with a lot of pockets is important, small and large pockets, the more the better. Another consideration is size. A vest should fit snuggly around your torso; a vest that flops around will make casting a fly line difficult. If you are a fisherman who fishes in warm and cold weather, owning two vests is a good idea. First, choose a warm weather vest that is lightweight and fits snuggly. Then, for cold weather, a vest that is bigger and can fit comfortably over your cold weather outer wear will be useful. The key is to choose the vest that you are comfortable in.
Filling the Vest
Selecting the necessary items for fly fishing is important; it pays to buy good quality. The placement of each item on the vest is strictly up to the fisherman. A clipper is one of the most important items on the vest. The clipper is mandatory for snipping the ends off knots that are tied to flies, tippets, and the line. The clipper needs to have a lanyard attached to it that is clipped to the vest, so as not to drop it in the water. Having a supply of extra leaders is necessary, keep them in the manufacturer's packets; don't put them loose in a pocket.
Carry spools of tippet material in varying strengths, a spool of each from 1 lb to 4 lb. A light tippet is needed when water conditions are clear or the fish are finicky. Having a range of tippets in the vest will allow the fisherman to change tippets on the spot.
A container of fly line cleaner is good to have if you end up fishing in dirty water. Cleaning the fly line will lengthen its life and help floating lines to float better. Tuck in a bottle of fly dressing for dry flies to keep them floating high on the water. Also the opposite is helpful, a bottle of leader and fly "sink" for fishing wet flies.
Include a small box with several little hollow tubes for tying the "nail knots" that attach the fly line to the leader. One inch sections cut from the empty ink cartridge of a pen work well for this. Include several as it is easy to drop one and lose it. Carry two fly reels with you. Load one with a floating line for fishing dry flies. Load the second with a sinking line for fishing streamers, nymphs, and wet flies. Put one on the rod and store the other in one of the big pockets on the vest.
If the fish are not taking dry flies, it is a simple matter to exchange reels and begin fishing wet flies. The most important items in the vest are the fly boxes. The number of boxes varies with the fisherman. Standing out in the water, you will want to match whatever the fish are feeding on and a wide variety of flies is necessary for all situations. Have enough pockets on the vest to hold all the fly boxes. A game pocket on the back of the vest is good for storing the landing net in.
Once on the water, the net can be pulled out of the pocket and hung from the waders. Keeping the net in the pocket will protect it from being damaged while walking on the land heading for the stream. Those are the most important items to have on a fishing vest. It is up to each fisherman to add what he likes to the pockets of the vest.
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