What tools do I need to fly fish?
When we run our intro to fly fishing courses, we get this question a lot. What exactly do you need to spend a day on the water fly fishing? Lets discuss the needs, wants and probably unnecessary tools in fly fishing.
1. Needs - Don't leave home without them
You always need just a few things. First thing is a good set of nippers or line cutters. Whether you're changing flies, cutting off a section of tippet, or cutting out a huge knot in your leader, a good set of nippers goes a long way.
Next, you need something to remove a hook. A good set of Forceps or Pliers go a long way in multiple uses on the water. Whether its getting a fly out of a fishes mouth, hopefully not out of yourself, holding a fly to tie a knot, or removing a barb from a hook, these tools go a long way in getting things done while you're out fishing.
In my opinion that's all you "need". There's lots of other tools out there to help with certain situations but the true needs of the sport are summed up in those 2 tools.
2. Wants - Sure does help to have these
Keep organized. One nice thing to have is a good tippet holder. Once you start carrying more than 2-3 spools of tippet they can get lost, broken, unwound, etc and it sure does make for some headaches. Grab a tippet holder to keep them all together and organized so you know what you have and where it is. Also, if your tippet doesn't come with a band on it, grab a pack of tippet spool tenders to keep your tippet from coming unwound.
Tie good knots. Many people struggle with knots. First off here's a great website to learn a few new fishing knots. It's always good to have a few extras in your back pocket. Knots by Grog If you need some help on the water, grab a tying tool to help get those pesky knots down well. Tying good knots is imperative to being a good fisherman and keeping those fish you worked so hard to hook on the end of your line.
Don't lose your net. Keep that net attached and easy to grab with either a net magnet or net retractor. When you're carrying a net there's nothing worse than getting it tangled up, or it's awkward to carry so you leave it on the bank. Keep it close with one of these 2 options.
Keep looking sharp! You'd be amazed how your hooks get dull after being used throughout the day. Banging off of rocks, hooking a few fish, and hitting all kinds of stuff under the water, those hooks get dull. Freshen them up with a good hook sharpener. You want that hook to work well when you finally hook that monster fish.
3. Probably don't need
There's a ton of tools out there that are probably designed more to catch a fisherman than help you catch a fish. Things like rod holders, leader straighteners, fly holders, drying patches, floatant holders, and so much more. Some of you may have all of these things on you. One main reason I prefer not to have many of these things is I don't want anything else hanging off of me to get my line tangled in. We already have enough trouble with how bad our casts are, we don't need extra hazards with 27 things hanging off of us. Keep it simple and get out there and fish!