I have unwittingly acquired a fair number of rods over the course of this past year, and I once again find myself in a position of having more than I can truly use. This condition is certainly not new to me, nor is it limited to myself. A brief perusal of most fly fishing forums, websites, etc. will provide ample evidence to support that it is actually a fairly widespread condition among anglers. So I got to thinking about that, and wondered, “At what point am I acquiring gear to fill a need, and when is it just gear I’m collecting?”
To evaluate this further, I decided to consider the actual number of days I fish, and statistically how many days most anglers actually get to fish. So I did a little research and found that currently the average angler in the United States fishes fewer than 22 days a year. (21.3 days) Now that statistic struck me as a bit low for an avid DFG like myself, but in actuality it’s probably closer to reality than I had first assumed. I’ve kept a bit of a fishing journal of my own exploits for the past five years, and while I can’t claim that it is completely accurate and accounts for every day I’ve ever wet a line during that time, it’s certainly better than nothing.
In evaluating the entries there, I found I had a high of 131 fishing days in 2012, and a low of only 26 days in the following year (2013). It should probably be noted that even on my most active fishing year, only 18 of those days were actually a day I spent fishing. The other days counted in that year were just days where I squeaked in an hour or two somewhere. But irregardless of the amount of time I spent fishing on any given day, the best estimate I have for the number of days I went fishing in any given year over the past five years averages out to only 49.4 days per year. This really surprised me, because I thought I fished a lot more than that.
The next thing I considered was the kind of fishing I do, the water I do it on, and the need I have for a variety of rod choices. This is the area where my desires and emotions can get the better of me, but if I just consider it logically and rationally, I know I don’t need many options. A specialist uses specialized equipment, and that equipment is ideally suited for the task at hand. So they have no need for the ability to handle every (and any) contingency. For example, a sniper doesn’t have much need of a shotgun, irregardless of how much they might desire one, or even love the one they have. Likewise, a dry fly fisherman can keep their equipment options to a minimum as well. I only need a floating line. I only need dry flies in size 10 and smaller, which means a single line weight, or two at the most, can easily cover all my line needs. Which also means I don’t need any more than two rods, and two reels, if even that. A four, five, or six weight can easily cover everything, and a three weight can get pretty darn close. Things really are simple until I let my emotions do the thinking. Then “It sure would be fun to have this, that, or the other thing.” starts to creep in, and I begin to feel like I need a new “other thing.”
Now I’m not saying that getting new gear isn’t fun. Nor am I saying that you shouldn’t get this, that, or the other thing. Heaven knows I will. All I’m saying is that as a DFG, I really only need one rod, one reel, and one line. A second rod, reel, and line provide a backup should something bad happen, and they have the added benefit of expanding the possibilities and providing another option for me in my fishing. But for myself, that is the limit of fishing equipment I need, and it ensures that all the equipment I have gets used over the course of a year. Anything beyond two rods though is going to be stretching my available time, and is likely being purchased as an acquisition, and not to fill some actual need. I might rationalize that getting it is filling a need, but that’s likely just what it is: a rationalization.
Of course there are exceptions to everything, and one exception to this rationalization is when I acquire a new rod in an honest effort to see if it is one I’d prefer over something I already have. In those cases, I’ll obviously own three (or more) rods that I’ll be regularly fishing. But if I don’t eliminate one of them in short order, I’m well on my way to once again being a collector of gear. Don’t get me wrong, collecting isn’t a bad thing, and if it’s your thing more power to you.
I however, am not much of a collector of anything, and my wife has often chastised me for getting rid of a perfectly good article of clothing or pair of shoes. But I just don’t enjoy having something around that doesn’t get used, so I move it along to someone who (hopefully) will use it. With items I really don’t care about (like most apparel items) it’s easy. But I have rods (and reels and lines) that I’m currently holding onto simply because I like them and can’t seem to part with them. I want to keep them, but I know there isn’t a logical reason to do so. So keep your eyes on The Pool section of the Dry Fly Forum, because I’m determined to only have equipment I fish, not collect, and that’s where I’ll be posting the items I’m moving along. I just have to figure out now which items should be the first to go.
Oh, the pains of letting go…