The Addict
The Complete Fly Fisherman|December/January 2019/2020
The Addict
Mike Wentzel Comes Clean About His Addiction To Tackle Shops.
Mike Wentzel

I have been called many names in my 50-odd years on this planet, some pleasant, others not so much. However, there was one name that still tickles me pink to this day. It came about some years back while fishing with my brother-in-law up at Goedertrouw Dam in Zululand. Early morning and we had just put the boat on the water when a fellow angler sauntered over to me and peered into the boat. He gazed at my multiple bags and said, “You are a real tackle whore, aren’t you?” Well, needless to say, I was delighted with the veiled insult. A tackle whore. Oh yeah!

I know that a good many of you will be smiling that all-knowing smile at thisstage, as you, too, probably fall into this category. For me, it is simply not possible to travel to a fishing destination, even for just a few days, without taking the mandatory 10,348 flies and seven or eight fly rods. I do this knowing full well that 99.8% of them won’t get wet, let alone see the light of day, but I get a warm and fuzzy feeling knowing that they are there. Just in case. All neatly positioned in their boxes, facing in one direction, colour coded and sized accordingly. Dragons in this one, damsels in that one. One might use the word “redundancy”, but I’m sure the psych students would have a field day analysing this situation. Invariably I will tie on one of my confidence flies and proceed to ignore all else for the rest ofthe day, the others lying forlornly in the plethora of boxes.

As a coke-head finds it difficult to walk past some spilt flour or talcum powder, so do I when it comes to fly boxes. I have an addiction. Wooden ones, aluminium ones, plastic ones, bamboo ones and Flora margarine ones. I find myself hauling them out of one of the numerous tackle bags (the more zips the better) on those crappy Sunday afternoons when the weather gods aren’t playing ball. I rearrange and recategorise flies in every which way possible, including feng shui. I love the smooth warmth of the wood, and the cool silkiness of the Richard Wheatley aluminium ones.

My family look at me sideways as I click open and close the little clear lids on the dry fly boxes. I haven’t tied on a dry fly in a decade, but they are all there, just in case. I hanker for more. I research different types of exotic woods and imagine how they would look in burl Turkish walnut, bird’s-eye maple or cocobolo. Let us be honest, the cheap, plastic Chinese ones will probably do the same job, but it’s not the same, is it? Polycarbonate just doesn’t give you that feeling you get when you caress your cheek with wood (too far?). It’s a bit like sipping a whisky named after a pair of Scotties, or one that has matured on a remote island for 18 years and been labelled with a completely unpronounceable name.

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December/January 2019/2020