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Ask The Experts: Most Unusual Item In Your Boat Bag

Posted on August 12 2009

Got anything unusual in there?

As we announced last week, we’ve started an ongoing series of posts in which we ask a panel of expert fly anglers questions, and report the results back to you.

The first question that we posed to our panel is a really simple one: What’s the most unusual item in your boat bag?

Today we present the most unusual items in five of our experts’ boat bags. As you’ll see, there are some common themes but we got a very wide range of responses.

Got a question for our expert panel? Leave us a comment and we’ll ask ’em!

Chris Price grew up in Snohomish, Washington where he learned how to duck hunt and fly fish with the immense patience of his father Walter (Dub) Price Jr. Chris works year-round for Deneki Outdoors as a manager at Alaska West and Chile West.

“The most unusual item in my bag these days is probably a roll of electrical tape. Electrical tape can be used to tape stripping fingers, reels to reel seats, ferrules, loose rod guides.”

Charles St. Pierre runs Northwest Speycasting, the premier source for spey casting instruction in Puget Sound. Charles is also a long-time guest spey instructor during our king salmon season at Alaska West.

“The most unusual item in my boat bag is a small, walnut size, smooth, light brown stone I picked up on the upper Skykomish River from a pool where I landed a beautiful 12 pound, two-stripe “Working Man’s” buck steelhead on what would have been my father’s 85th birthday one month after he passed away. It was, by coincidence or not, the first time I had fished since. That said, I was acutely aware of what day it was in February and deliberately traveled to the Sky to spend it there as he and I had many times before at the foot of the rugged and snow drenched north Cascades. The fish came to the fly mid-way thru the last pool at the end of what had been, up to that instant, a very tough season and “bite-less” day of winter steelheading. I picked up the stone from the bed of the river at my feet where I released the fish back to its home and purpose. Then took my rod down as the light began to fade and sat there near the edge of the pool, with him palpable and present by my side, to remember. It was and remains, bar none, the most special moment of my angling life and I have the rock to remind me it was his moment too…”

George Cook has been swinging flies in the Northwest since 1922. Well, it seems like that long ago. George is one of our guest spey instructors at Alaska West, and is the Northwest rep for Sage, Redington, Rio and other fine brands.

“The most unusal item in my boatbag is my first-time Argentine fishing license and Tierra Del Fuego Lodge ‘Catch Log Book’. I kept it in there because I absolutely ‘Cleaned Clock’ down on my very first trip in 2002. I saw it the next season and figured it should just stay in there!”

Brian Niska owns and operates Whistler Fly Fishing. He’s also one of our fine spey instructors during king season at Alaska West.

“The strangest thing in my bag is probably 3M Vetrap Bandaging Tape. This stuff is awesome for dealing with severe line cuts, it adheres to itself and is fine in the wettest of conditions.”

Greg Thomas is one of the best writers we’ve got in the fly fishing industry. He’s currently Managing Editor at Fly Rod and Reel, and he’s got a new angling web site called

“Ok, technically, this isn’t a strict ‘fishing’ item. Or maybe it says ‘fishing’ as much as anything else in my gear bag. I mean, who doesn’t enjoy a little libation while on the water, especially to celebrate the landing of a quality fish or simply a great day on the water?

After being queried about the most interesting item in my boat bag, I dug through the crevasses, pricked a finger with a wayward hook, and extricated an absinthe spoon. “Yes,” I said, “This is it.”

Ah, absinthe, a 2006 fascination for my wife and I, a year in which we purchased and imported 38 bottles of the good stuff from Europe. To enjoy absinthe, my wife and I learned, that rocket fuel has to be toned down. Hence, the spoon. Here’s how it works:

Place two jiggers of absinthe in an absinthe glass; balance the spoon over the lip of the glass; place a sugar cube on top of the spoon, over the holes; drip cold water over the sugar cube until it dissolves, partially or completely, depending on your taste and the level of alcohol blast your prefer; wait patiently while the absinthe gains its louche, a cool, cloudy re-coloring of the substance; sip and watch the clouds become a little sharper, the trees just a little more colorful, the problems at home or the office fade from existence. Feel the pain from a sore casting arm dissolve as if by miracle.

But don’t overdo it. Absinthe gets a bad rap because everyone believes that van Goh cut his ear off while ingesting the stuff. And maybe he did. Artists overdid it, which gave absinthe a bad name and a long-standing ban in the United States. Europeans admitted, earlier than us, that absinthe, like all alcohol, can be abused when consumed in ridiculous quantity. Also, they realized, when consumed responsibly absinthe is no worse than any other drink. And, most often, it’s a lot better.

There’s something different about absinthe for sure. Over time, my wife and I discovered that a one or two drink limit serves best. Anything more is overkill and a waste of a very expensive product. So, next time you’re floating down the river, or better yet, as you take off, have a single absinthe before dinner and ride it out for the night while relating the day’s events to your friends. Trust me, you’ll enjoy the ride.”

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