DOVER, NH — As I am getting ready for a three-day trip to fly fish up in Pittsburg, New Hampshire, I am trying to decide what to bring. I like to travel light, but it is the unexpected that is hard to plan for. Pittsburg is not like a fly into Newfoundland, where if something goes wrong, you are sorry out of luck.
If you have spent any time on the water, you have experienced some “Fly Fishing Fails.” There are many types of “Fails,” some are self-produced, others are just plain accidents.
Most of my fails occurred when I was in a hurry or tired and cut corners. Most fly fishers can relate to the knot that doesn’t hold, or the more commonly called “Pig Tail.” I’d like to tell you that it has only happened to me a couple of times, but anyone who has fly fished for longer than a week knows I wasn’t being truthful.
My most recent fail was a few months back when I was fishing one of the rivers that flow into Lake Winnipesaukee. I was using a nymph rig and got into a Salmon. The fish had jumped a couple of times and was big. I had him close enough to try and net him. As soon as the fish saw the net, it made one more jump and he was off the line. All I had on the end of my line was the infamous “PigTail.”
Then there is the “Save a Dollar to Lose $100 Fail.” I was casting a fly to the opposite bank to a rising fish and caught my fly in a low hanging bush.
Rather than cut my losses and lose the fly I waded over to try and get it. The area in front of the bank was all muck. When I stepped close I sunk in up to my knee.
Using levers I rescued my fly. I was feeling really really good about myself until I tried to extricate myself from the muck. I ended up falling backwards and getting soaked in 40-degree weather.
I still wasn’t feeling too bad about myself, because I had caught a couple of fish, until I got back to the truck and realized my $100 phone was toast. I hadn’t completely zipped the water-tight pocket it was in.
Then there are fails that are accidental. I was walking into a river and another fisher was walking out. I asked him how he made out? He replied not too well.
He had busted the tip of his fly rod when he slipped stepping into the river. He then went on to explain that he hadn’t brought another fly rod and that he had driven over an hour to get here.
Another friend went to fly fish for Salmon on the Pulaski River in upstate New York. If you want to see combat fishing at its finest and want some laughs, Google “Fly Fishing Pulaski River.” My friend went up for a week to fish. The first day he busted the tip on his first rod trying to land a big Salmon. The second day he tied into another Salmon and his rod exploded mid rod. That was equipment failure. He ended up spending over $700 to get a new rod to get him through the week.
So, as I am packing, I am trying to pack and plan for possible fails, mine and equipment. However, if all else fails, there is the Buck Rub Pub where I can eat my fails away.
George Liset of Dover is an outdoor writer and avid fly fisherman who shares insights of his time on the water exploring New Hampshire streams and rivers as well of those around New England. George is a graduate of Wheaton College, Illinois, and the University of New Hampshire.
This story was originally published by InDepth NH.