What to Bring When You Go Fly Fishing

They say all good outfits are properly accessorized, which is a rule you can apply to fishermen as well. We all know we need a rod, reel, line, and a fly on the end to catch some fish, but there are many other items you should bring with you on the water. Here's a few items and tips to help you be better prepared on stream.

1. Fly Fishing Accessories You'll Use

As you begin your day, there are several items you'll use with each cast. Make sure you have plenty of these items before you leave.

Stuff that Floats

Items that float on the water are vital, especially when you're fishing with dry flies.

  • Floatant: If you're fishing with dry flies, use gels and liquids on your fly before you start casting it (don't underestimate putting some on about a foot of your leader too). Additionally, use powder to help get the moisture off after fishing a dry for a while or after catching a fish.
  • Indicators: Though there are other types of indicators, having a few different styles can help on those times when you need a little bit of visual help to see that strike.

Stuff that Sinks

Adding weight to your flies when you tie them is a great start, but you may also want to add weight for different holes you fish. Split shot, with or without wings, and more modern items like tungsten putty are essential in getting the flies down to where the fish are. Carry many different sizes because you do lose them. If you don't have any, that may be the biggest difference between catching and not catching any fish that day. 

A side note on not catching any fish, adjust your indicator and your weight on your line first before changing flies.  

Other Tools

One key tool you should bring is a net. Not everyone needs or wants one, but if you're going to handle many fish safely and return them back to the water, a net helps significantly. Wet your hands before handling any fish and keep them safe in the net (and still in the water if you can) while taking the hook out and even snapping a picture or two.  Also be sure to attach that net with a net magnet.  Not only is it a great help in keeping the net out of the way until you need it, but that magnet is super helpful if you ever drop some flies on the ground to help find them a little bit quicker.

Don't forget your nippers and hemostats.  These are always needed to cut line and remove hooks. Check out our comprehensive guide to fly fishing tools to make sure your tool kit is fully stocked.

2. Fly Fishing Accessories You'll Wear

Just like any sport, fly fishermen have an unofficial uniform that makes us stand out. Make sure you wear the following items for comfort and efficiency.

  • Sunglasses: Sunglasses are one of the most important items I feel I see often forgotten. Polarized glasses are a huge help in seeing fish by taking the glare off the water, structure for lies fish may be holding in, and for watching your step while wading.
  • Wading staff: I can honestly say I've only used on a very few amount of times, but those times I am grateful that I had one. Sticks and stones can break your bones so keep a wading staff handy.
  • Headlamp: For those that fish early or late into the day, a headlamp is a must have. I prefer one that has both white and red light to help see around when I'm on the stream and walking back to the car.

3. Things to Bring from Home

A good fly fishing experience includes catching a fish (or two) and coming back with great stories instead of sunburn or angry rangers. Though you don't need to carry these items, bring these items with you to ensure you have a smooth trip.

  • Sun protection: The last thing you want is to return from your trip looking like a lobster, especially if you're playing hooky from work or your spouse. Use sunscreen, hats, sunglasses, head and arm buffs, spf clothing, and other types of sun protection.
  • An extra copy of your fishing license: Your fishing license is the last thing you want to lose, so make a copy of it and keep it somewhere safe.
  • A change of clothes: Whether you're sweaty or wet and shivering, a set of dry, clean clothes makes a world of difference for your drive home.
  • Backup equipment: It's a good idea to bring extra rods, reels, lines, leaders, and even waders to make sure accidents don't disrupt your day.


Ramblings by:

Ryan Gouldsbarry

Owner of Risen Fly


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