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Down by the River

The Orvis Fly Fishing School Baptizes a Novice in the Intricacies of Casting Lures and Catching Fish
Mark Vaughan
From the Print Edition:
Bill Cosby, Autumn 94

(continued from page 4)

Buying a fly-fishing outfit that matches your needs and level of expertise can be a daunting task. Orvis lists more than 90 different rod and reel sets, 14 kinds of waders, seven fishing vests and assorted accessories to fill 100 pages in its fishing catalog. Though a bamboo rod still carries a certain cachet in fly-fishing circles, most professionals agree that graphite is now the material of choice. Even master rod builder Dick Davis fishes with graphite rods because they are "lighter and more versatile."

With waders, vests and other accessories a good rule of thumb is simply to buy the quality you can afford. With fly rods it is a more complicated matter, since a rod that is appropriate for one environment can be completely inappropriate for another. Someone fishing exclusively on large Western rivers might prefer a 10-foot rod, while someone who fishes the small streams of the Northeast would chose a seven-foot-six-inch rod. Fly rods are also made to match a specific line weight (one through 13) with the type of line again determined by where you fish and what you are fishing for. A 10-foot rod might be sized for a four-weight line for mountain lake fishing, or for a 12-weight line for ocean surf fishing.

I asked Bill Cairns to suggest a basic Northeast fly-rod outfit and other equipment. His choice: a seven-foot-nine-inch graphite rod for five-weight line. As Cairns says, "sometimes you feel like a well-stocked tackle shop wading up a river." A list of other basic equipment he recommends includes:

* waders with felt soles
* baseball-type cap
* polarized sunglasses
* vest (with fleece patch)
* tackle and accessories
* assortment of three to 10 dozen flies
* fly floatant
* six nine-foot leaders and various tippet material
* stream thermometer
* snips
* surgical forceps
* insect repellent
* nontoxic split shot
* strike indicators
* small flashlight
* landing net

Where the fishing is always good

Ask a dozen fishermen to name the best trout streams and rivers in the world and you are likely to get as many different answers. Actually, fly fishermen usually give two answers: the river where they most often go and the river they have always dreamed of fishing.

There are many ways to judge a river, including the type of fish in it and the ease or difficulty of catching them, its size and strength, the average temperature of its waters and access to its banks. Generally trout streams in the Eastern United States are smaller, warmer and less rambunctious than those out West. Internationally, the same can be said for European rivers compared with those in such New World countries as Argentina and New Zealand.

Invariably, the people at Orvis point to the Battenkill as their favorite river, primarily because it is in their backyard. Lucky for them it is a world-class fishery. Other worthy trout streams most often mentioned by the fishing-school team include:


* Kennebec in Maine for brook, brown and rainbow trout
* White in Vermont for brook and rainbow
* Beaver Kill in New York for brown
* Delaware River system in Pennsylvania for brown and rainbow
* Clinch in Tennessee for brown and rainbow

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