I was recently fishing a remote pool of my local river. While I was fishing, I noticed the outline of what looked like a pair of sunglasses resting on the bottom of the pool. I was unable to retrieve them, it is much too cold to be taking a dip this time of year. But it got me thinking of all the gear I have lost over the years while fishing.
In this article, I will think back and list the most memorable gear I have lost and hopefully gifted to a needy angler while freshwater fishing. I will also include some of the items I discovered on the river bank.
Fly boxes sink when you want them to float….
Well, fly boxes are almost designed to be lost and I have lost a couple. There are two types of fly boxes, those which float and those that sink. Well, the advantage of the floating boxes is that you can drop in deep still water and they float. Making them easy to recover.
The advantage of the sinking boxes is that you can drop them in moving water and they do not float away downstream.
But Murphy’s Law means more often than not the reverse happens. I once had a beautiful vintage metal fly box with rows of magnets to hold my nymphs. I loved that box and guess what. I dropped it in a deep and fast river mouth with bad visibility. Basically the only part of the river I am not prepared to swim down to recover it.
The answer is to get a floating fly box, well I just happen to drop these at the top of rapids and helplessly watch them wash away downstream out of sight.
The best way to keep fly boxes safe and prevent them from getting lost is to simply attach them to your vest with a lanyard. So simple, but for reasons I can not really justify I hate having too many lanyards cluttering up my vest.
I once lost my car key while fishing!
There must be nothing more annoying than losing your car keys while out on the river. Luckily, I have only lost my car keys once, and I was fortunate enough to find them just minutes before the sunset.
I lost them because I popped out for a quick fish and did not take my vest, so I dropped the keys in the top pocket of my shirt which I did not zip shut.
While out in the middle of the river I bent over to do something (I am going to assume I was releasing a fish but probably freeing a snag) and the keys dropped out.
I was in quite a panic retracing my footsteps, scanning the grass while watching the sun quickly set. I was very lucky to find them again but deep down I knew they were in the middle of the river where I bent over. I was equally lucky that I drove an old truck that still used a physical key and not a fancy electronic fob.
I also find keys from time to time, once when I was swimming a salmon home I discovered someone’s keychain full of keys. Must have been a hassle replacing them all. With no identifying markers, I left them on a prominent rock nearby.
I rarely lose my keys because I store them in two places where they can not be lost. I usually store them in the most secure, inner pocket of my vest which I never open while fishing. So no chance of them dropping out.
Although, when kayaking I often wear a PDF, which has no secure pocket so when no one is watching I secretly hid the keys beneath my car, although that last option does not work with proximity keys.
I also keep all of my keys separate. So I only have to take one key with me to the river and not a whole collection. Replacing one key is easier than replacing a dozen.
Sunglasses – Often lost at the end of the day.
I seem to lose sunglasses quite quickly, and they are not always cheap. I also find them quite frequently at the bottom of pools while swimming. So I know Sunglasses must be one of the most commonly lost items by fishermen.
How are they lost? Well, I usually take them off while tying knots or eating lunch and simply forget about them. Other times I will bend over to release a fish and they will drop off into the current and get washed away. Finally, on the walk home in the evening, I sometimes keep my sunglasses on my hat or clipped into a pocket, sooner or later they bounce off and I realize too late that they are gone.
I did once lose an expensive pair of Smith’s glasses while filming the advance of a river that had just started to flow after a dry summer. I took them off and put them beside me while I filmed the advance. The water level raised a little too quickly and by the time I realized the glasses were disappearing downstream. I did find, the frame and one lens two summers later in a pile of sticks. It only traveled about 300 yards downstream despite several massive floods.
So what are the best ways to keep sunglasses safe? Well, the simplest way is just to attach a strap that wraps around the back of the head. If they drop off, the strap stops the fall, and when not being worn they just hang off your neck. Quite simple really.
Pliers and forceps
I lose these all of the time, and I know exactly when. I always lose my pliers just after releasing a fish.
I want to get the trout back into the water as quickly as possible so I usually drop my pliers or throw them onto the shore. This allows me to concentrate on the fish. The pliers then either get buried in the sediment or I simply get distracted and fail to realize that they are not in my vest pocket before moving on.
Quite strangely, with the exception of a rusty multitool, I have never found any pliers or forceps while out fishing. Maybe I am the only one who keeps losing them.
The best way to keep pliers safe is to attach them to your vest with a lanyard. I also try to buy them in bright colors to make them easier to spot. The black handles of Rapala’s pliers are very difficult to see on a dark night.
Line trimmers and scissors
I do not lose these nearly as often as I do my pliers. Probably because I only use them when tying knots so I am not rushing to get a trout back in the water.
But, they are still very small items that are easy to misplace. I have found several line trimmers over the years that other anglers have left behind.
Fishing rod tip section – Hard to lose but I did it.
This one was quite painful. I once lost the top section of my sage rod.
I spent the day fishing up a rather difficult gorge, so decided to walk back through the forest as a shortcut. There is a track, but it is heavily overgrown and requires pushing through more than one thicket of saplings.
During the walk, my fly kept getting caught on trees, and it must have eventually snapped off and I was too lazy to replace it. If a fishing rod is rigged, it is nearly impossible to lose a section.
Well, once the fly was gone, I guess the guides must have snagged on a sapling and it got separated. I searched that trail over a dozen times and was never able to find that tip. Fortunately Sage sent me a replacement for a reasonable price.
So how to prevent losing part of your rod while other fishing?
The best way not to lose a portion of a rod while fishing is to leave it fully rigged while on the river. The leader and the fly line holds everything together even if one section becomes loose. dismantle it fully and store it back in its tube. Although, I will worry about losing the tube.
Landing nets – For their size they are easy to misplace
Well landing nets are quite easy to lose because we typically carry them hanging off the back of our vest, so we do not notice when the clip or magnet fails and they drop off.
Over the years I have only lost one landing nets, the first was when I was pushing through thick vegetation and it must have been pulled off my pack and lost in the thicket. I spent over an hour searching but it was gone. It is amazing how vegetation can hide an object as big as a net.
At the same time, I was able to find two landing nets. A pretty little wooden model and a large black folding one. I decided to leave both on the riverbank in case the owner decided to look for them.
I have also met several anglers who were looking for nets that they lost earlier in the day.
So what is the best way to keep landing nets safe? The answer again is a lanyard or piece of cord to tie them to your vest or belt.
Summary, and a few bonus items.
Over the years I have lost a lot of fishing gear, but someone has to keep the fishing shops in business.
I am not the only person to lost fishing gear, I have found quite a few knives, a wooden priest, a wading pole, a fancy drinking flask, the spare spool of a fly reel, one wading boot, multiple drowned phones, and even a full tackle box.
Feel free to share any items you have lost in the comments below.