By Montana Grant

Posted: July 8, 2023

Sportsmen love new stuff. It seems that we never have enough hats, fishing rods, guns, gadgets, garments, and outdoor stuff. More is better, I guess. The more stuff we have the better we feel about our sport. Anglers are especially addicted to collecting more NEW stuff.

When I was a kid, I had a cane pole, bobber, some hooks, and an old juice can, full of worms. My cousins and I would sit on my Uncle’s Potomac River dock and catch stringers full of bass, bluegills, catfish, and fun. Sometimes we would get some minnies. My Orioles hat was dirty and sweaty as were my shorts and t-shirt. We never got skunked when using our Spartan gear and outfits.

When adults were not around, they made us wear a bulky life vest. Later we needed a net for the bigger fish. A minnow bucket helped to keep fresh minnies on hand. More stringers were required along with some needle nosed pliers. A custom spring lid worm can improve our bait containment. Sunglasses helped us to see the fish. Each year, we added more gadgets, goodies, and gear.

With all the modern and new gear that is available, I don’t know if it made fishing more fun than when we used a cane pole. My lucky Oriole cap was luckier than most of my fancy new ones. Fly rods are just fancier cane poles. A worm is still great bait when you don’t have minnies.

New is nice but not required. Fly guys love to invent new flies and discover custom new special flies. Ironically less is more. A few years ago, I forgot my nymph box. The Yellowstone River can be very picky fishing. I noticed in an old fly box several decades old Wooly Worms. I had tied them back in the 1970’s, when I was just getting good at fly tying. Back in the day this old pattern was money. If you didn’t have a Wooly Worm, you caught fewer fish.

My favorite Wooly Worm was on a size 8 nymph hook, red yarn for the tail, a brown chenille body, covered with a wrapped grizzly hackle. My ties were also weighted with wrapped lead wire. I tied one of these OLD flies on.

The Yellowstone browns, bows, and Cutties could not stay off it. I was putting on a new clinic using an ages old fly. I am sure that may have been the only Old Guy fishing a Wooly Bugger that day, in the entire state of Montana! Other anglers were amazed when they saw me catching so many big trout.

“Hey Buddy, what New Fly are you using?” I replied, “a wooly Worm”. They had no clue what that was. They did have wooly buggers, and every other new-fangled fly that the trout shops could sell them. They didn’t have bent rods and full nets.

I wish I still had my lucky Oriole fishing cap.

Montana Grant

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