Posted by John Berry on August 9th, 2012
On a guide trip the other day, I noted that I was having a substantial amount of trouble threading my 6X tippet through the eye of a size 22 parachute Adams dry fly. I was fishing the Norfork with a couple of clients that wanted to fish dries. There was a substantial midge hatch coming off and there was a sparse hatch of small may flies mixed in with them. We had carefully studied the situation and noted that the Adams was definitely the obvious choice.
The problem was that the fly was just too darn small for me to tie on. For my entire fly fishing career I have been fishing with a pair of polarized bifocals. I have a stout strap on them and just pull them off and let them dangle while I do any rigging or untangle knots. By the way, the reason they are attached to a stout cord is that I have lost no less than three pairs of glasses on canoe or fishing trip mishaps in the past. I have always been able to thread the small flies with my bare eyes as the magnifying portion of my bifocals is not very strong.
This day was different. The skies were overcast and there was little light. I tried all of my tricks. I used the sharp needle point on my fly fishing nippers to make sure that there was not a bit of glue in the hook eye. It was clear. Next I cut my 6X tippet on a bias to create a sharp point on the tag end of the tippet in the hope that it would go through the hook eye easily. I turned this way and that way in an effort to get the right light to see what I was doing. Nothing worked. My client offered to let me borrow his reading glasses. After five minutes of struggling, I finally relented and used them. The fly went on easily.
I am no stranger to reading glasses. I have been wearing bifocals since my early thirties. My previous professional career as a CPA was a severe strain on my eyes. I tried wearing contact lenses but still had to acquire a pair of reading glasses for close work. I finally gave up on that experiment because I could see better with bifocals. I kept the reading glasses and found that they were perfect for tying flies. I did have to replace them last winter when I bumped up the power a notch and noted that they worked even better.
I have had to make other compromises in my life to accommodate my failing eyesight. I had to acquire a much larger computer monitor to accomodate my writing. I always use a large font (18) and double space to make my writing easier for me to read. Last year, when I was watching the University of Memphis (my alma mater) play basketball, I could not read the scores on my thirty two inch flat screen television. The next day I went out and bought a forty two inch model (the largest one that would fit in my home office). It worked.
It was all too obvious to me that I needed some more optic fire power, when I was on stream. My wife, Lori, and I went to Branson to celebrate her birthday. We do this every year. We don’t go to the various shows. Instead, we go shopping. While we buy most of our fishing clothing and equipment on line, there are just some things that Lori wants to shop for. I must admit that I am not much of a shopper but I do enjoy spending time with her. I found myself in Target near the optical department. I immediately walked over to the selection of reading glasses. I tried on several pairs until I found one that fit well and offered the magnification that I wanted. At six dollars they were a bargain.
When we got home, I put them into my fishing vest where I can easily get to them when needed. It was only a matter of days, when I got the chance to try them out. I was back on the Norfork, when another midge hatch began coming off. I decided to fish a size 22 Dan’s turkey tail emerger and used my new specs to tie on the small fly. I threaded the eye of the hook on the first attempt. Mission accomplished!
As we age, we sometimes have to make small accommodations in order to continue doing what we enjoy. This one was fairly painless and inexpensive.
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