Do you have a fly rod rolling around in the trunk of your car, or shoved in between the back seats? How about a small duffle bag packed with tippet, a handful of haggard flies, and some extra leaders? If so, this “car rod” setup has undoubtedly been your saving grace a time or two.
It has happened to me numerous times. I hastily threw my fishing gear into the car, drove all the way to the stream, and then realized I forgot my fly reel on the kitchen counter, or left my fly rod laying on the work bench in the garage. Then, I remember the ill-treated and forgotten “car rod,” that’s been rolling around in the backseat of my vehicle for months. Once again, this poor and neglected rod saves the day!
On one occasion, I was meeting a buddy at a creek that was an hour-long drive from the city. My buddy made it to the creek first. When I pulled up, he was frantically searching through the trunk of his car. Two duffle bags lay open on the ground. Gym shorts, extra socks, and hats were strewn all around his car. My friend managed to pack extra socks, but he forgot his fly reel. Through gritted teeth and curses, he wondered aloud if he should drive all the way back to the city and grab his reel. We pondered this for a while, but then I remembered my spare fly fishing gear in the back of my truck. Our day was saved.
The fly rod that is kept in your vehicle doesn’t have to be anything fancy, in fact, it shouldn’t be. Keep it stored in a rod tube, for some protection, but remember that it is going to live in the backseat of your car where it will surely be mistreated. It will be jumped on by dogs, sat on by humans, and be subjected to all manner of dirt and grime.
My car rod is over a decade old. It was purchased as a rod-reel combo. The 5-weight has seen many years of abuse but it is still going strong. Along with the rod, I also have an old Cabela’s fanny pack that carries the reel, extra tippet, hand-tied leaders, and a fly box. The flies that I keep in the fly box are nothing special, just staples for any warmwater excursion, Clouser minnows, foam beetles, woolly buggers, and a couple of Gallup dungeons.
If you don’t have a car rod, think about grabbing one of the rods that you don’t fish very often and stashing it in your vehicle. You never know when you might have a couple of hours to kill, and a nearby stream might be calling your name.