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“Scaling Down”

by Robert Morselli

“Most of the changes in older fishing are toward simplification. I must own twenty-five trout rods but only use two. I think I know where they are….”   Jim Harrison

My father is the person responsible for my love of fishing.

I remember him having many, many rods, as well as a half-dozen beautifully machined, gloss-black Mitchell reels, and all of the other necessary doodads that could be crammed into two or three large tackle boxes. But he was no gear junkie. All of that gear was essential—he had obtained a rod and reel for each member of the family.

The number of occasions that we fished as an entire family (five members total), could be counted on one hand, but according to my dad, you had to have the gear so we could all fish, simultaneously, if we wanted to.  Can’t fault that logic.

I, on the other hand, am a dedicated gear junkie, or at least used to be until very recently. I love to fish, and equally love trying out new fishing implements. I anticipate (and savor!), every press release issued by rod manufacturers, reel manufacturers.  Heck, I get a kick out of reading about newly designed tippet spools. I don’t suspect that that part of me will ever change: just like a kid, I’m always interested in new toys.

What has changed is that I’ve realized that I—like our friend Jim Harrison—always return to the same two or three rods (out of a small collection). Every one of them is fine product, but as always and with nearly everything else in life, you end up with favorites.

Add to this that I have to put up with a pesky day job, which really cuts in to my fly fishing time, and you can quickly begin to see that I don’t have enough time to play with all of my toys.

Some of my fly rods and reels would have a thick layer of dust on them if they weren’t in their protective tubes and pouches.

Recently, and on a whim, I reduced my toy box by a full one-third. Doing this felt right. And it felt good. After all, people should be using stuff that’s meant to be used.  Beyond this, I’m a minimalist at heart, but certainly not in practice.  And paring down somehow brings me a step closer to that ideal person that I want to be.

I suspect that sometime in the future another third of my now very modest collection will get the chop. And this doesn’t faze me one bit.

If you’re sitting on a collection of fishing rods, reels (etc.) that haven’t seen the light of day in a long while, consider putting that gear into the hands of someone who will get some mileage—and some fishing fun—out of it.

MidCurrent Fly Fishing
Robert Morselli is the research director for the internationally syndicated television show "How It's Made."
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  • Robert Moore

    Agree, I’ve given away more rods/reels than I can count, but still have way too many……

  • Pablo Perugorria

    I really enjoyed reading, very sensitive article.
    My first fishing article read ever! Lovely one Robert.
    Thanks for sharing this.

  • aw#5

    Agree 100%. Having too much stuff is endemic to fishing in general. It’s good to pare down every so often.

  • @flyfishingjeffc

    I appreciate the minimalist in you…still hoping that one day I cruze into a garage sell and their within find a collection of rods and reels…sitting in a bucket, still in their cases with a sign that reads, “5$- your choice”…I grab the bucket and go running towards a pair of gals attending the money box and quickly throw several twenties at them!

  • Bugs

    Great piece! I could hear my wife grumbling in my ear while reading it. Aside from the actual fishing gear, as a fly tier, the amount of “required” stuff that I “must have” to fuel my passion for fly fishing is quickly reaching a point of critical mass.

  • Paul

    I used a slightly different approach to scale down. About 4 years ago I decided that I should fund any new rod or reel purchases by selling gear on eBay. This meant that I needed to sell 2 or 3 items of underused gear to buy a new toy and it’s amazing how quickly the reel drawer and rod rack shrank. Then sadly just before Christmas a robbery cleared every single reel and most rods but now, as I rebuild, I’m definitely choosing a 4 or a 5 weight and a 9 or a 10 weight instead of both . Similarly I’ve stopped being lazy and buying a single reel without spare spools and just changing the lines as needed. Just sorry for the tackle manufacturers and dealers 🙂

  • Arthur Strauss, MD

    You can donate fly fishing gear to your local chapter of Healing Waters and feel good at the same time about “simplifying” your closet!

    • 3weight

      Brilliant suggestion, Arthur.

      Also: fishing tournament prizes – ball caps & T-shirts are always appreciated, but a reel or rod (as a top prize) really stirs up the competition!

      PS, thanks to all for the kind words!


  • VAFlyguy

    Thank goodness! I thought it was just me! I’ve only been fly fishing for 6 yrs. and have 5 fly rods. What makes it worse, at almost any given time I can think of at least 2 more rods I want to buy. Likewise, since I started tying, I find I always “need” something I don’t have. Is there a cure for this madness!

  • Nymphermaniac

    Nicely written. We ( donate our extra gear to the club’s annual auction. The proceeds fund our charitable activities which include Healing Waters Project for veterans. It is amazing what some will bid for that stuff! you didn’t think you needed any longer!

  • TexasFlyCaster

    I always cringe when companies talk about new “versions” of existing products. How did software lexicon invade fly fishing? And why are we the guinea pigs for testing and debugging these new versions? That’s my version of things.