Keeping it Simple

Keeping it Simple

Less is more.

My birthday gift to myself was minimizing the gear I wear and take while fly fishing. As the weather shifts to warmer days and my hikes increase in length to find solitude, I needed to drop weight and cool down. The key? Dropping a piece of gear that carries way too many things.

I like my fly fishing vest, advertised as having 30 pockets. Awesome!! (I don’t think I’m exaggerating). The problem is: it contains 30 pockets. And it’s quite warm. The obvious solution was to wear a waist pack. But before the vest, there was a sling and then a large waist pack. The sling remains as a colorful, fun outdoor pack but I didn’t like casting in it and the waist pack was too heavy and kept falling down unless I used the shoulder strap and then it was no different than the sling so it was returned. The vest was the perfect solution.

During colder months, when the extra insulation is appreciated and I’m not having to walk as far to find solitude, the vest is great. But these days, I’m hiking six miles or more with 70 degrees (and climbing) temperatures so a small pack seemed like a good idea.

While the idea of a smaller kit for my gadgets and tippet and fly box seemed great, what about the net? I visited my favorite fly shop in Townsend, Tennessee, and had some awesome assistance in figuring out the net. A simple holster was the answer. A smaller fly box was the only other essential I needed.

As I begin to unload the vest and store things like the small emergency blanket pack, the drying towel, the heavy fly box, I laughed at how much ‘stuff’ I was carrying on my fly fishing hikes. No wonder it felt heavy.

Figuring out how minimal I could go was actually quite fun. Lightening the load felt like a puzzle I was solving. How much can I leave behind? How much do I really need? Such important questions….not just for fly fishing.

Six and a half miles yesterday hiking and wading was the maiden voyage of the small waist pack. The overall feeling? Freedom. Nothing weighing me down, cooler as the temperatures climbed to 72 degrees. I felt lighter with more room to move and cast and bend over to photograph wildflowers that were blooming everywhere.

So often fly fishing (or wading-with-a-10-foot-stick, as I call it) mirrors life so perfectly. Letting go of things I don’t need is good, but letting go of thoughts I don’t need is even better. Once in a while it’s helpful to inventory what we are carrying–that we no longer need–whether it’s gear or thoughts or burdens. What keeps us weighed down? What can we do to keep it simple?

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