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Tangled Lines

Cheap thrills and hacks for fly-fishing

Fly-fishing, like other addictions, gets expensive. 
It is absurdly easy to read about a new doodad, or the best fly ever, or the miracle tippet material, and charge out and buy it.
These are the things that litter the third shelf of my fishing cabinet. 
It’s a lot easier on the wallet and the psyche to think a bit about the goal behind a new purchase, and perhaps find a less expensive way to accomplish said goal.
Item: Studs for wading boots

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How to decide if it’s too hot for trout

Acouple weeks ago I trickled over to the ancestral homestead in Phoenicia, N.Y., for a couple of days.
The river there is the mighty Esopus, a river built along the same general lines as the Housatonic, but a little smaller and a lot cooler.
That’s because for the 11 miles between the Shandaken tunnel (known locally as The Portal) and the Ashokan reservoir, the Esopus is a tailwater, and thus resembles not the Housatonic but the Farmington.

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Rare moments of glory on the Housatonic River

The other morning I was out on the Housatonic River (flowing at about 850 cubic feet per second) bright and early at 7 a.m. on the dot. Since it takes me about two hours to wake up these days, I find this incredibly impressive.
I went to the Elms on the River Road side, so the sun, if it came out at all, would be behind me. (This is worth remembering. I have seen anglers doing some serious squinting at 9 a.m. from the Route 7 side, with the sun blasting in right at them. River Road a.m., Route 7 p.m.)

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In which our seasoned angler shares some secrets

Saturday, April 13 is the opening of the 2019 trout season in Connecticut.
That’s a little misleading, actually. Trout Management Areas like the Housatonic and Farmington rivers are open year-round. Whether or not they are fishable is another question.

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A fisherman’s plea: Bite me

Are you ready for some fishing?
I am.
Connecticut’s general regulations say that trout season opens on Saturday, April 13, but Trout Management Areas are open all year. New York state opens Monday, April 1. Massachusetts is mostly year-round, except where it isn’t. (Check the respective state websites for details, lest you run into a fish cop.)
So the real question is this: Where is it feasible to fish right now?

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What the well-dressed angler will wear in the 2019 season

It may be jumping the gun a bit … but here is the Tackle Fondling edition of Tangled Lines for 2019.
If you fish small streams a lot, you might look into a pair of wading pants. These are the same as bootfoot chest waders except they stop at the waist. No straps to fiddle with, and subsequently a lot easier to get in and out of.
Obviously you can’t go in as deep as with full chest waders. But if you are creeping around little brook trout streams, that is not a problem.

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Leave this to the foolhardy and to the veteran expert

SOMEWHERE IN NORTHWEST CONNECTICUT — It was almost 50 degrees when I leapt from the bed at the crack of 8:30 a.m. on New Year’s Day. 
The hand computer informed me that, while it had rained the night before, there was no more rain in the immediate future. 
And a quick check of the USGS gauge on the Salmon Kill told me that while it had risen a bit, the additional flow was minor. 
So clearly it was a day to check out a little blue line.

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Casting about online for holiday gifts

For one reason or another, you may not get to your local fly shop when shopping for the fly-fisherman on your Christmas list. 
I therefore offer these online suggestions.
Inexpensive reels
There are two schools of thought on fly reels. One is you need the very best, because you never know when that 12-inch brown trout is going to take you into the backing.
The other school notes that the primary purpose of the reel is to hold the line, so get the least expensive model that does what you want it to do.

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Casting about on a rainy day with a legendary Wulff

Since the endless rain has turned the fall 2018 fly-fishing season into a soggy mess, I thought the best way to wrap things up would be to go to the Phoenicia, N.Y., library to hear Joan Wulff speak.
Wulff, widow of the innovative angler Lee Wulff, is a legendary figure in the sport. Clocking in at about 5 feet flat, she can outcast most men. 
She set a distance record in 1951, casting a fly 161 feet. Most modern fly lines are 90 to 100 feet long, incidentally.

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A vacation that wasn’t what it was s’posed to be but, hey, that’s OK

Every year I take a week’s vacation at the family homestead in Phoenicia, N.Y. I try to time it for the end of September or beginning of October, the better to take advantage of early fall fishing on the Esopus Creek and tributaries.
It’s a happy time, especially since there is no internet at the house, no cable TV, and I have to drive 5 miles to get a cell phone signal.
That means, for instance, that I will not know what Kanye tweeted that week. 
This is a good thing.

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