Backing Color and Line Weights

Hatch Reel Spools

Have you ever had problems trying to identify what line size you have on a spool?

You may know the situation.

Over time you’ve collected fly lines you like in different weights and spooled them up. Then one day you open your drawer (or wherever you keep them), and while you may recognize the fly line – you can’t recall what line weight it is. This is particularly an issue where you have one reel serving up different weight lines and where you have many spools to fit the reel.

I have a solution that works for me.

Given I use a relatively small number of fly lines (Rio Outbound – both short and regular) and line weights for saltwater, I use different color backing for different weight lines.

For my 5-weight lines, I use 20-pound chartreuse.

For my 6-weight lines, I use 20-pound orange.

And for my 8-weight lines, I use white Hatch Premium 65-pound backing.

This is a simple system that tells me instantly with a quick glance what weight line I have on any reel. Even with different reel sizes it makes it easy.

I think it’s superior to either putting dots and dashes on line (no need to unwind the front end of a fly line) or the line information some fly-line manufacturers are starting to put on their lines (no need to pull out the magnifying glass to read the information).

Give it a try. It might work for you too.

Commencement Speech

I don’t know anyone graduating this year from college (or for that matter high school), but given this is the season of commencement speeches, I thought I’d address a few thoughts of my own for the thousands of faceless graduates beginning their new journeys across the land.

Graduates, congratulations and welcome to the adult world.

You’ve already heard – no doubt – the sage words of notable speakers from business, entertainment, or government. By now, your asses are sore and your minds are weary from the funny anecdotes, soaring rhetoric, and too-long advice and reflections from those who have already achieved incomparable success. You’re now thinking give me the damned diploma; I have family and friends to see and a party to attend.

Before that, may I add several thoughts of my own? I promise to be relatively brief.

Might I suggest that the inspiring words of the eminent commencement speakers related to the unlimited opportunities and possibilities you all have is just so much bullshit?

Listening to someone who defied the odds and achieved so much success – generally, that means obscene amounts of money – isn’t going to be a template or a direction for most, if not all, of you.

Remember, I just welcomed you to the adult world. Adults acknowledge reality.

The truth is many of you have limited opportunities – and I won’t even talk of the debt load you now carry that will limit your choices for a number of years; for some, maybe your entire working life.

I will add I do hope we as a country get smart, and recalling the Book of Leviticus, declare a Jubilee year for all your college debts. You need to get on with your lives as previous generations did: be able to establish your own household and the peonage that comes from a mortgage; get married and raise a family – and all the other things television taught you is part of being a grownup.

And to be completely honest, it will allow you to pay your taxes to keep Social Security going to take care of your parents and grandparents as they move out of the work force.

Now back to reality and what opportunities you really have.

You may not have thought about it, but you already limited yourself by your choice of the major degree you just received. At least for right now, it will define your salary, your choices as to where you will live and where you will work, and who you will know. It may even affect who you can – or can’t – marry.

Now you may not see it that way.

You are at an age where you may think your life will go on forever and you can decide to do anything, so most decisions and choices are of little consequence as you can make up for them later.

But life will happen, and as much as you dread or deny it now, you will become just like your parents by being first caught up in the distractions and temptations of your twenties (not that there’s anything wrong with that) until you move into your more mature thirties and become loaded down with diapers, daycare, parent-teacher conferences, and soccer.

One day you will look up and realize you haven’t lived the life you planned or dreamed of when you were sitting where you are now. It’s not necessarily going to be worse – or better. But it will be different. For most of you, that will mean making peace with the choices and compromises you made. For a very few, that will lead to dramatic changes or unfortunate outcomes.

As I said earlier, adults acknowledge reality.

So here’s some reality-based advice.

Stay awake to what your life is and where it’s headed starting right now. Associate only with people who have integrity and love in their hearts.

Be open to what life offers.

Nearly everyone when they’re your age has something offered to them; be it a new opportunity; a job in a new location; a blind date; or a chance to meet someone. These are doors to be walked through. Most of you will find a number of those over the next few years.

But unless your family name is Bush or Clinton these opportunities will only come for a brief period. Sooner than you think, everyone will see the wide-eyed look you have now will have been replaced by the slightly glazed look that comes from having a job and responsibilities – a life that has few parties, no final exams, no year abroad, and no semester or summer breaks.

So when a door opens, if it feels right in your gut, take the chance and walk through it. It won’t always be what you hoped; it may not work out. But you won’t know unless you try.

And as means of encouragement, you may have heard of the 80/20 rule. It’s actually called the Pareto Principle, which states 80 percent of the effects comes from 20 percent of the causes.

So if you try enough times and take enough chances you’ll get most of what you want. We’re all adults here now, right? So most doesn’t mean all.

But for the majority of you, that will still give you an extraordinary life filled with people you love and who love you, and with a sense of personal worth.

Talk to someone older; they will invariably say their biggest regrets come from the things they didn’t pursue when they were younger. You don’t want to be them.

The other piece of advice I offer is don’t accept at face value the words of anyone in a position of authority in business, government, or religion. They represent institutions that work for their own interests, and they will use you up – and maybe kill you – in the process. And they all lie all the time.

Think for yourself, and given the seductive messages and sophisticated controls in place through the mass media, think everything through again.

Now, I do have one request. Be the generation that takes action on climate change.

Older generations failed you in this. The Pepsi Generation didn’t bring about the Age of Aquarius or realize the dreams of the original Earth Day. Like the Greatest Generation, it did both good and bad. And it will, as all previous generations have, fade into the past and become dust.

And it looks to me at this point that Generation X isn’t doing much better. So that leaves you Millennials.

Be the leaders humanity needs.

Congratulations. Now get busy.

Of Secret Beaches and the Value of Privacy

An acquaintance, and patient of my wife, who is becoming a family friend, let us in on a location known to be a great fishing beach. He cautioned us that while “all the guides know about it” it was not widely known; suggesting the guides keep it to themselves.

We went to check it out last Sunday morning during a moderate incoming tide. While the beach was empty except for us, the water was not: fish were jumping frequently – at least for the 90 minutes. During that time I got one hit and landed one seven-inch Sea Run Cutthroat Trout. As the tide slacked, the fish moved on and fishing became casting practice.

Later in the day we were at a fly-fishing shop to pick up some flies and tippet and one of the owners asked where we had gone after our response to his question about our last time out. He’s also a guide and I thought he probably would know the beach if we had told him – but I felt a need to respect the shared secret we had been given. So I made mention of the general geographic area without being specific.

In addition to it being just the thing a fly fisher would ask another, I knew another reason for his asking.

All the local fly shops are very good about giving recommendations about where to go fishing. So feedback from those who’ve been out fishing add to the reports they receive from their guides.

Beaches such as at Kopachuck State Park, Narrows Park, Olalla, and Purdy are popular with a lot of anglers and represent good destinations for anyone looking for a recommendation. We would have happily told him which beach if we had been at any of those – or some of the other well-known locations in Puget Sound or Hood Canal.

But giving away a “secret” in response to a general question didn’t seem to be an exchange of value.

It’s always amazed me about how people give intimate details of their lives almost without thought; intimate being used here to mean the private and personal. Doubt that? Just visit Facebook.

Outrage about the surveillance revelations concerning the National Security Agency (NSA) and other government agencies appears to have dissipated, if it ever existed, among the general populace. While I’m offended and scared by the scope of the surveillance, it appears there are few concerns among the majority of the citizens. In an enlightened society, the pitchforks should have been brought out with a demand for Congressional action.

One could argue, I suppose, that the exchange of value here is that people will give up their privacy for more safety from the people labeled terrorists. I’d argue, however, that all we get is more fear – which may be precisely the point.

If anything, the NSA revelations should have reminded us that the most profound thing we have as members of a human community is our right to privacy – in how we live, what we believe, or who we know. But in a world of Facebook and the ever-present “terrorists”, that may be a fading value, at least in the indispensable nation.

So maybe holding back the location of a beach on Puget Sound doesn’t rise to the level about concerns about surveillance of cell-phone conversations. But it is a reminder that we should consciously decide what, and when, we choose to reveal because we are giving up something of value when we do.

And I have no doubt that, at some time when I’m in the same fly shop and the owner and I are just talking and we discuss good places to fish, I will bring up the beach I mentioned earlier. Last year when he and I were talking he had told me about a little discussed beach that was good for finding chum salmon.

I valued the information shared at the time and I want to return the value with the same respect. And that’s not something that comes out of the equivalent of a Facebook post or a stolen telephone conversation.