Fly fishing isn’t exactly cheap. The sport has become more affordable on the rod and reel end of things but the day to day costs add up. If you’re like me, cutting corners is a necessity to keep gas in the tank for the next trip. Here are a few tricks to save a little cash without having a negative effect on your game.
Lifetime Supply of Dry Fly Floatant
Your average bottle of fly fishing floatant weighs about 1/2 ounce and costs 5-8 bucks. I will say, Loon is great and the small bottles are nice when you don’t lose them. I have a few circulating through wader pockets and gear bags and they tend to disapear and reapear at random.
But for the sake of saving on cash and making it last, a tub of Albolene moisturizing cleanser will do the trick and keep your flies riding high. It’s also a mild formula without any harsh chemicals. Some folks cut the cream with lighter fluid or white gas to make a dip style floatant. It’s a killer recipe but I’m not a big fan of dousing the river with gasoline.
The tubs come in several different sizes. One year I ordered the larger, 12 ounce tub. That’s about the equivalent of 24 individual bottles you would find in the fly shop. Rather than break it down into smaller containers, I just left the tub in my drift boat. Eventually, it was dropped or kicked and a crack developed. On a hot day, all of the creme melted through the crack onto the floor of my boat. Eventually it solidified on the floor and I spent a good 6 weeks rubbing flies against the glob for my floatant. It worked surprisingly well.
Now I have several 6-ounce containers and I keep them in plastic baggies to prevent a major spill. One 6-ounce container lasts for a very long time. Like years for most people. And it runs about 7-8 dollars on Amazon. You could easily break down the 6 ounce container into your own smaller units as well.
Hair Ties for Tippet Spools
The normal fly shop tippet spools typically come with a tie to hold everything together but if you’re like me and fish off large spools of Seaguar, Stren or P-Line fluoro, they typically come with a small piece of tape that is removed immediately. Containing the line on your spools will prevent damage and make them last much longer. Head to your nearest dollar store or any discount shop and find a band of hair ties. If you’re a middle aged man like me, have your cash ready, make the purchase and get the hell out. Loitering in a dollar store with a bunch of hair ties pushes the limits of creepy but you’re tippet spools will be happy.
Swivels for Fly Fishing?
I mean, why the hell not. Take a stroll through the gear isles nest time you hit a Sportsman’s Warehouse or any multi-sport tackle shop. You can find some serious gems here. I use the regular old Eagle Claw snap swivels for streamers and even large stonefly nymphs on occasion. In the streamer game, tying one solid knot to the ring side and using the clip for quick changes is convenient. The swivel really allows the streamer to move well and it has no noticeable effect on the fish. Trout, bass, pike, etc. It works.
Pre-loaded Split Shot
Again, the gear isle is wonderful. Buy a bunch of cheap, reusable split shot in various sizes. I like to pre-load it on sections of tippet. Take a few feet of fluoro, 8 or 10 pound is my normal choice for trout nymph and streamer rigs. Tie a tippet ring or loop knot on both ends of the line and add your split shot. Insert this section into your leader whenever it needs some serious weight. You could also use is with a small swivel.
Bonus Tip – The cone weights found in the gear section next to split shot are excellent for streamers. Tie a bunch of unweighted buggers and streamer patterns to use with sink tips. When you use them with a floating line or just need to penetrate deeper, simply slide a loose cone on the line then tie the know to your streamer. It will slide against the streamer like a normal cone head and give you additional weight in a pinch.
Remember that bit about buying big spools of Seauguar fluorocarbon? I love a good tapered leader but fishing everyday beats them up in a hurry and I opt for building my own most days. Or working off whatever configuration I have leftover from the previous day. 7-8 feet of straight 8-pound gets the job done for about 90-percent of my trout fishing. I haven’t carried 5x and 6x in about 7 years and can count 3 times when I wish I’d had some. If I need to build out a taper, 15-12-10-8 is a good one. A 12-10-8 also works well. When they get picky, drop to 6-pound which seems about equivalent to most 4x spools in the regular tippet isle.
Rubber Legs, Foam and Fly Tying on the Cheap
Bass skirts from the gear section work great for rubber legs. You can also slide them right up against a streamer to increase the action and profile. Head toe craft store and you will find a ton of fly tying supplies. Foam in standard and unique colors are easy to locate. I bought out several craft stores in a particular lavender foam that seems to be discontinued. It’s deadly for trout. Craft fur, eyes, glues, pom poms for egg patterns, etc. Take a walk around and let your imagination run wild. In the dead of winter, roaming around a craft store isn’t the worst way to kill some time.