Stripping baskets. They’re a necessary evil. Yes, they can be uncomfortable. And yes, some days they seem always in the way. Yet, when the fish are a long cast off, a stripping basket is an absolute godsend.
Stripping baskets were invented, I believe, back in the 1940’s by steelheaders using mono as a running line. The earliest baskets were simply cardboard boxes. Then along came canvas bags. Later, saltwater fly fishermen became devotees of the basket too. By the 1980’s, in the salt chuck, plastic was king, with baskets often fashioned from dishpans and laundry baskets. Today we have manufactured stripping baskets and even folding mesh ones for the peripatetic angler.
A good basket has several attributes. It’s deep enough to keep the line contained, even on a windy day. The belt is easy to adjust and comfortable. The basket also has something in the bottom designed to reduce line tangles. And I prefer a basket that does not allow water to enter from the bottom or sides. And I like light colored ones when fishing at night.
I employ one in the ocean, on salt flats, in lakes, ponds, and even some rivers. Hey, wherever long, smooth casts are needed. And not just when wading, I use them in boats too. Why? With the line in a basket you can zip from port to starboard, or bow to stern, and it prevents the fly line from tangling under foot. Stripping baskets. You gotta love’m. And they have many uses.