Being that Jeff and I are headed to the Ausable River, in New York next weekend, I decided to wash my fly vest so I look more presentable. Ya, that’s right, washing the sacred, well worn, VEST that gets treated like an old pocket apron at times. Besides keeping everything needed to fish in the pockets, we wipe off our bug spray, fish slimy, plant excretion hands on it. It gets soaking wet when it rains, protects us from jagger bushes and faulty back-casts on windy days. We’ll hang it low on tree limbs, out in the darkness, when we’re camping so every spider, midnight bug and moth can examine it and even hide the night away. Not only that but it also gets used as a cloth net when cradling one of our big catches when we forget our net. Let’s not forget about the beer stains, whiskey stains, dry fly formula and other stains that drips or gets rubbed up against while wearing it. The once or twice a year soaking it receives either in a downpour or when slipping into a slimy rocky stream doesn’t cleanse it by any means.
Though we treat it like a coat of armor, like gladiators, as an extra layer to protect us form heavy brush cover along the creeks it holds our most valuable fishing possessions.
I asked myself, though it may be bad karma, would I rather lose my $280.00+ Scott rod or my $35.00+ pocket filled fly vest? Uh ha, gotcha!! Think about it? I lose my Scott rod and I’ll be saddened like losing a healthy charismatic girlfriend I’ve had for years. My favorite Scott rod that moves like an extension of my own arm or hand that casts delicately and precise or deliberately fast but accurate. I guess if i would lose it, it would give me a reason to buy a more modern one! But then again I would have to learn all about it, just like a new girl friend!! It’s just awful to think this one out.
My vest, on the other hand, every pocket filled with fly fishing gear and then some? All the fly boxes and flies I’ve hand tied and accumulated over the past 20 years or so? All the lethal tied patterns I time tested and came up with in a deadly pattern? All the ‘gadgets’ lost? Line straightener, nippers, hemostats, etc.? Spools of tippet, leaders, lead, indicators, knife, honing stone etc.? Tough choice?!
Anyhow, emptying my fly vest last night, to wash it, I found things in the pockets I had either forgotten were in there or wondered how they ever got in there in the first place. After taking out all the fly boxes, gadgets and the zip-locked toilet paper, bug spray, thermometer and other normal fly vest gear, I started to search the pockets more thoroughly. I didn’t want anything to gum up the washer or scratch the inner dryer drum.
Starting with the inside pockets I found two old stogie butts accompanied with burnt ashes as well as tobacco crumbs resting in the crease of the pocket. I wondered why my vest smelled like stale cigar each time I opened the side doors, of the van, as my vest hung on the convenient, easy to get to, hanger rod. In another pocket I found two or three, couldn’t tell, lumps of Dentyne gum remnants. They were as hard as a rock. I wonder how long they’ve been in there.
My front top pocket I found an old, brown finger stained, toothpick. I’m sure I put it there some time ago for tying nail knots but then again one end did look a little chewed up. I wondered what I was saving this for. It’s wood, not like I would have been littering if I would have thrown it on the ground among the dead tree branches and sticks lying upon the forest floor.
In a bottom pocket I found a few ’quick snaps’, I use for bugger and streamer attachments, in between the small sticks, leaves, stems and dried floral arrangements that happened to fall in my pocket while walking along the stream thickets. What looked like a small piece of fuzz ended up being a #16 nymph and what looked like one of my beetle imitations, which may have fallen from my fly patch, happened to be a real dried up dead beetle. I guess my beetle imitations are pretty realistic after all.
The last pocket I checked was the one I carry my split shots and lead in. I don’t use split shots much unless I’m fishing real deep or real fast water. I like using the matchstick shaped lead strips instead. I feel these distribute the weight more evenly on my leader and I have found I get less hang ups on the bottom. In my lead pocket I take out a few used split shots, with teeth marks, and an array of twisted lead strips in various lengths.
With nothing else left in the pockets I looked at the stains around the bottom left pockets and the middle right pockets trying to figure out why they are so much more stained than the others. My upper right pocket, that hold my hook hone, has small holes in both corners. The puncture holes above my top left pocket from reattaching my license. My bottom zipper pocket’s zipper is broken. Some day I’ll figure the best way to sew some Velcro to it. There’s a stain on the top left shoulder of the vest and how it got there or what stained it is beyond my comprehension. I wondered if washing the vest really would come out much cleaner. I wondered?
It was time to throw my outdoor stained fishing vest in the washer and dryer so it would look fresh, clean and presentable for my trip to the Adirondacks.