In December 2020, my car was broken into on the street adjacent to my apartment complex. I had gotten complacent about car safety despite knowing about the possibility of a break in. I am an avid outdoorsman and it had become normal for me to have my vehicle prepared for outings and emergencies. I had slowly amassed quite a number of things in the car. Sunscreen, water, multitool, petty cash, folding chair, quart of motor oil and some larger fishing and camping equipment I was too lazy to bring inside. Unfortunately, my laziness saw me leaving my entire fly-fishing pack in the car. In an instant, I lost most of my fly-fishing gear and 10 years of amassing my collection of flies. Monetarily, the damage was in the thousands, but most damaging to me was that I had no record of the flies I had acquired over 10+ years. I have fished a huge variety of locations and conditions: from the mountains in California, rivers in Colorado, alpine lakes to the open ocean of Cabo San Lucas, the surf in San Diego and even the Atlantic Ocean around Puerto Rico. My fly section was as varied as the locations I fished. I had flies bought from Alaska, California, Montana, Cabo San Lucas; flies tied by close fishing friends and even some from friends that had passed on. I had no log of them. I had no idea of what I had lost. That was truly the worst feeling.
Of course, hindsight is 20/20. I was dumb to leave my priceless fly-fishing pack in my car. Everything else that was stolen was not important; it was all stuff that was easily replaced by a few clicks on Amazon or a visit to an outdoor store.
After coming to terms with the situation – that I needed to replace my flies. That is where I truly wished I had created an inventory. I was relying upon memory and that is never accurate. It would have been extremely useful to have known where I bought each fly, or who gifted it to me, what conditions/locations I fished it in and how effective it was. How did I feel about that fly? Was it worth keeping in my box? Did I want to spend money replacing it or time tying it myself? None of these questions are easily answered without an inventory log.
I have since repopulated my fly box and replaced all the flies I can remember. This is nowhere near what I had, and I doubt I can ever truly replace my original collection. This time, however, I have a log of my flies in their specific size and patterns. I hope I never have to refer to this list, but at least I have it for the future.