It was a warm spring night and the sun had just set. I was in Northern MI in the midst of the elusive hex (Hexagenia Limbata) mayfly hatch. The trout had just begun eating these large flies on the surface, and I had pinpointed a particularly large sounding trout on the far bank near a logjam. Against my better judgment I decided to wear a lanyard to keep all my tools handy during the full night of fishing.
I dropped my fly about 10 feet upstream of the large trout, and within 5 seconds I was setting the hook. I could instantly tell it was much larger than an average brown the moment my rod was fully lifted. It was pushing 10 lbs and was a fish I really wanted to land. As I set the hook, I pulled my line down and away with my left hand as I lifted the rod with my right bringing my line straight across my chest and into the danger zone on my lanyard. Within seconds I could tell it was a tangled in a mess in the lanyard. Even though I was using 14ish# test (probably 0-x tippet) I knew I had to let the fish run. He was pulling hard and in the dark, he managed to tie a pretty advanced knot around my fly floatant and nippers. As the fish continued pulling hard I could only think of one thing to do, and that was to start running upstream with him. It was pitch black and and the deep river was filled with logjams. I didn’t really care if I waded into extremely deep water, because I wasn’t wearing waders, but I didn’t want to face plant into a log either. Within 5 steps I had tripped and was totally underwater laying flat as I felt one last burst of the trout pull on the lanyard until the pressure stopped.
There is no doubt that numerous profanities came out of my mouth that night followed by the word lanyard. I have spent more time as a fishing guide untangling line from lanyards than I care to admit. However most of these lanyards weren’t mine. When I pick people up in the morning I usually do a brief overview of the gear they are bringing. If I see a lanyard filled with tools and nick nacks, I can tell it might be a long day. I always try to get them to put the lanyards into a bag or something (basically as far away from any type of flyline as possible), but usually they persist they might need it. The most common place for them to hang it is on the side of the knee brace in the boat. This is right in the line of fire, and where all of their fly line will inevitably end up hanging. So the first time I notice their line caught in it, I move it towards my side, so if they do need it, I can easily hand it to them. Usually within 15 minutes someones line finds it again and they begin using the same profanities towards their lanyards that I am so fond of using.
In case you can’t tell I am not really a fan of fly fishing lanyards. As soon as they make one that line won’t get caught in I might decide to use one, but Until then I will stick with my old shoelace and my fingernail clippers. Fly line has a way of finding anything possible to hang up on at the worst possible moments. It could be the velcro of a sandal, or even the back of your sunglasses hanging off your ear (ripping the glasses off your head and into the river). My motto is to not complicate things that don’t need to be complicated.
Do You Really Need a Nail Knot Tool and Lip Balm Around Your Neck?
How often do you use all that crap on a lanyard anyway? I can understand fly floatants and nippers, but anything else is overkill in my opinion. Come on dude, lip balm around your neck? I have seen less decorated Christmas trees than many fly fisherman on the river. If you really need all that stuff put it in a pocket of your vest or in a small backpack. I can understand being ready for any circumstance, but leave your charm necklace at home and you will find life a lot easier on the river.
In Summary: This has basically just been a slight rant, but fly fishing lanyards have their purpose and they work well to keep all the tools handy when you need them. If you want to use them it’s none of my business and you should enjoy them, just keep your line out of them or they will cost you some fish! This is strictly my opinion, so take it with a grain of salt.
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