Seeing the flies half the battle |

Seeing the flies half the battle

Janet Urquhart
Aspen, CO Colorado

Are the flies getting smaller or am I just getting older?

Flyfishing was beginning to look like another sport in which I was not going to age gracefully when I found myself spending more time on the riverbank trying to thread a thin filament of line through the eye of a microscopic hook than I was actually fishing.

I finally broke down and started wearing a pair of drugstore reading glasses on a cord around my neck, where they generally flopped around and got in the way, or became entangled with my sunglasses whenever I attempted to switch from one form of eyewear to the other. Still, the dual glasses thing proved more efficient than keeping the magnifying pair tucked in a pocket and digging them out every time I needed them, which is often, thanks to my talent for losing flies.

I was fairly adept at the squint and stab method of tying on a fly until late last summer, when I had Lasik surgery to improve my distance vision. Suddenly, I could see a fly stuck in a tree branch better than I could when it was pinched between my fingers, two inches from my face.

This spring, I settled on a bit of gear that has improved my visual acuity, if not my luck on the river.

I looked into magnifying lenses made for anglers. Fisherman Eyewear, which makes clip-on polarized sunglasses for vision-challenged anglers, also makes a pair of flip-down magnifying glasses that can be clipped onto the bill of a cap. I tried out a pair in the store, but found the magnifiers, perched way out at the end of my visor, difficult to peer through and focus on the tiny objects in hand.

Then I checked out the fold-away reading glasses made by Gudebrod ($13.50 at a valley flyshop). They, too, clip onto the visor, but they’re designed to bring the lenses closer to the face when they’re flipped down. By my second fly of the day during their inaugural outing, I was threading the fly with line and tying the knot like a 20-year-old. And, they work quite well in tandem with my nonprescription sunglasses, so I don’t have to take the sunglasses off to use the magnifiers.

If anything bothers me, it’s that when they’re flipped up, I still see them in my peripheral vision. However, I suspect they’ll become second nature and I won’t notice them at all.

Sort of like the trout don’t notice my flies.

Janet Urquhart’s e-mail address is