Heading out on your first fly-fishing trip? What gear do you really need? In this post, you’ll learn about some basics that you should take in your fly fishing gear bag. This gear list will set you up for a great season.
Fly Fishing Gear Bag: What To Include?
Nearly every fly fishing novice or experienced angler alike has the voraciousness of an excited piranha when it comes to wanting the right gear. This usually ends in a bit of a spending spree.
With the vast range of rods, reels, lines, flies, and accessories out there it can also be a bit overwhelming so the chances of buying extras you don’t really need can be quite high.
Add to that the lingo, and those new to the sport are likely to be swimming in a sea of confusion.
I mean honestly, hands up those that knew the difference between a leader and tippet when they first heard it? Not very many, so don’t feel silly. We’ve got you covered with this list of gear for your fly fishing bag.
Now, each and every fisherman is as different as the tides with what they prefer and even then, it’s constantly changing as they gain more experience so the key is to find the gear that feels right to you.
Of course, we recommend talking to your local specialty shop for some guidance and helpful explanations which should put you on the right track with gear needed for the areas and conditions you will be fishing in.
Things to consider are: climate, season, river or saltwater and the type of fish you are going after. There’s a big difference between a slow nearly comatose winter trout and a feisty summer trout looking for food.
With this in mind, we’ve compiled a list to help you on your way with the basics that every angler needs no matter the season or type of fish being sought.
15 Basics for Your Fly Fishing Gear Bag
1. Fly Fishing Rods
When choosing a fly-fishing rod there are no solid rules. Whichever you choose it all comes down to personal preference and the fishing trip you are embarking on.
The main considerations no matter which rod you choose are: construction, weight, action and length. Rods are most commonly constructed of graphite, fiberglass and bamboo with graphite being the most popular.
The most common lengths are between 7-9ft, all you have to do is choose the one that feels right.
M Maximum Catch have an excellent fly rod being among the top-rated in its price range. Smooth action and lightweight durable carbon fiber make this a delight to use while having a stiff enough back to be able to handle heavier fish with no problems.
Handy alignment dots make for an easy and quick setup in low light conditions for all those early birds on a sunrise fish, or if the fish are biting hard and you arrived late to the party as the sun goes down.
Improved casting accuracy comes with the half-well cork handle which helps reduce fatigue during those long days. Packed in a sturdy travel case means it’s easily transported to even the most prime remote locations.
2. Fly Fishing Reels
There are thousands of reels specializing in all categories of fishing so the main things to consider when choosing your fly fishing reel are weight, price, amount of line it will hold and manufacturing. A well-machined reel, with a little TLC can last a lifetime so is worth spending a little more.
The Piscifun Sword Fly Fishing Reel is a great little reel coming in a variety of weights and colors. Piscifun is an established brand and is loved by fly fishers.
Within a modest price range, this corrosion-resistant reel is also cold-forged for strength. With a smooth drag rated by existing owners to be as high as the top brands, it is essential for those lightning-quick strikes and long blistery runs of the big fish.
3. Fly Fishing Gear Bag
Gear bags come in a multitude of sizes, designs, and holding capacities. Lightweight chest bags, waist-worn fanny packs that look like Batman’s utility belt on steroids, and the good ol faithful gear bag.
Once again, you choose what’s right for your style of fishing. As long as it holds everything you need (everything on this list) then you are good to go.
MaxCatch makes this fly fishing vest pack with slip strap. The sling design allows access to gear and supplies without taking off the pack.
A multitude of storage pockets both interior and exterior means there is a place for every bit of kit, making this the ideal bag for every angler.
4. Lightweight Chest Waders (100% Waterproof)
These nylon/PVC lightweight waders (35% lighter than rubber) will easily fit into your pack. And because of the lighter weight material, they are less tiring that the traditional waders.
Something to remember about rubber boots: if you wear thick socks, it’s best to order one size larger than normal.
There is nothing worse than tight boots that feel like a rock python slowly squeezing the life out of your lower appendages.
5 and 6. Fly Fishing Line, Leaders & Tippets
With line in fly fishing you want something that floats well while still being heavy enough to beat the wind and shoot well when it’s cast. Nice even tapered thickness’ ensure energy transference to your leaders making for a long and accurate cast.
Leaders and tippets are best when tapered and easily connected to your line for smooth casts, maximum energy transference and performance.
- Fly Fishing Line: Piscifun Sword Weighted Forward Line ticks all the boxes with diameter, welded loop making leader attachment easier and integrated slickness additive providing maximum performance and distance when casting. Great for first-timers and experienced trout chasers alike.
- Leaders & Tippets: Maxcatch Fly Fishing Tapered Leader (5 pack) 9ft: Fly Fishing Tapered Leaders come in a variety of sizes to fit most lines. Easily connected with loops and easily straightened, these earn their spot in the gear bag.
7. Fly Boxes
As the saying goes “there is no greater fan of fly fishing than the worm”. Dry flies, wet flies, lures and all that big stuff trout love – your fly box has to hold it all. Pre-tied or self-made, every fly fisherman stands by the saying that you can never have too many flies.
This fly fishing box by FishingSir has 100pcs, including handmade fly fishing lures, dry/wet flies, streamer, nymph, and emerger in a waterproof box.
As the name suggests it has a wide range of flies for any occasion, all in a box small enough to fit in your vest or pocket. 100% waterproof, it’s all you will need to get started.
8. Floats & Strike Indicators
Great bobbers that are easy to see and use are pretty important. Particularly when they don’t come off the line, move around, kink the leader, are easily adjustable and highly visible.
Airflow Airlock Indicator – 3 pack does just the trick. Highly buoyant and visible they are easily adjustable and don’t kink so you can stop losing your leaders!
9 and 10. Fly Fishing Tools
Clippers, forceps, pliers, a knife, and a leatherman/ multi-tool is everything you need for a fishing trip, even in the most remote locations. These few tools will get you out of trouble, and repair any bit of kit making your day that much better.
- Booms Fishing H1 Fishing Pliers Tool are a great little tool with everything rolled into one. Hook removal, leader line cutters, fishing line cutter, a shot split lead crimper and split ring opener are features of these easily stowed pliers complete with pouch. Wear it on your vest or attached to your belt complete with lanyard so you don’t lose them in one of those ‘oopsie’ moments with slippery fingers while handling fish.
- A small knife is always practical to carry to get you out of trouble in any fishing gear emergency. You only need a small one to attach to your pocket or vest like the MTech USA Ballistic MT-A705 Series Spring Assist Folding Knife, 4.5-inch closed. With easy-to-open spring-assist meaning a rapid one-hand deployment, it’s ideal for fishing, and let’s not forget it holds another very important fishing tool … a bottle opener!
11. Fly Fishing Landing Net
“Let em go and let em grow” is a popular saying amongst fly fisherman so a wide-mouthed landing net will hopefully be one of the most used pieces of equipment you have (here’s hoping).
SF Fly Fishing Landing Net (Soft Rubber Mesh Catch and Release Net) sums up perfectly everything a net should be. Soft on the fish, anti-tangle and safe from mildew and rot.
The clear rubberized net virtually disappears underwater so the fish don’t get spooked and fight, allowing you to ease them into the wide-mouthed square head and safely remove hooks with minimal stress before releasing them to fight another day.
12. First Aid Kit
Something every angler should have stowed away is a first aid kit to handle any emergency you may come across while out enjoying nature.
From digging a fly out of a nearby fisherman’s face after he gets too close or an unlucky snake bite, it’s best to be prepared when it may take a little longer for help to reach you.
Swiss Safe 2-in-1 First Aid Kit (120 pieces) is superb value for money weighing only 1.2 pounds and fully stocked with everything you might need, it’s easy to slip into your gear bag and have peace of mind knowing you are prepared if something should happen.
Polarized Glasses, Hat, Sunscreen, and Insect Repellent
A hat, sunscreen, and bug spray form the essentials of fly fishing but it’s also a good idea to have a backup pair of polarized sunglasses stowed away in your gear bag.
Slipping on rocks in a river has led to more lost glasses than any angler would care to admit so carrying them along with your hat and sunscreen safely tucked away is just smart fishing, plain and simple.
Duduma Polarized Sports Sunglasses with their wrap-around super lightweight frame are virtually unbreakable and backed by a lifetime guarantee to prove it.
Polarized lenses with UV400 protective coating eliminate reflected light from the water making them perfect for fishing.
13. Water & Snacks
A full water bottle is easily tucked into the outer pocket of your gear bag for easy access.
Nuts, granola bars, or some other snacks that won’t melt are also easy to carry, lightweight, and an absolute lifesaver when the fish are biting and you just don’t want to leave.
Nalgene’s Tritan 32oz water bottle is easy to drink from, fill and wash. The screw-top lid ensures no leakage while you are carrying it or during transport and the loop top is easily attached to your vest, belt or bag making this an excellent water bottle for your fishing adventures.
More reading: How much water should I drink?
14. Rain Jacket/ Poncho (for emergencies)
Being prepared with a lightweight rain jacket or poncho is just good sense and helps when the weather turns unexpectedly.
Even if you have a rain jacket, many a fisherman have a lightweight poncho tucked away for a rainy day as it makes access to their fly vests easier than wearing a jacket.
Columbia Men’s Watertight II Jacket excels all expectations and is perfect to take on fishing trips. Lightweight, windproof, and truly waterproof you can rest assured your cell phone will be safe if the weather turns.
The generous hood reaches far enough forward to shield your face making it easy to cut down on wind penetration by tightening both the hood and hem drawstrings to lock in warmth if the weather gets really bad.
15. GoPro Camera (Waterproof)
Nearly every fisherman has a “one that got away” story and it usually gets bigger with each retelling providing a great laugh for his fishing buddies.
So, when you truly hook a big one and want the bragging rights, a compact preferably waterproof camera is an essential item in your gear bag.
A camera and video recorder in one, there is no excuse not to capture the moment with a great quality photo or video with the GoPro Hero11 Black action camera.
Waterproof, super wide-angle (just in case it’s a real whopper), touchscreen for easy use, and Wi-Fi with remote control! If you are thinking about a GoPro, Storyteller Tech (our sister site) can help. I even wrote a post there about using a GoPro for fishing adventures.
Equipped with all of this you could go fishing just about anywhere and still be fully prepared for any situation to ensure your day or week-long fishing trip is a success.
What is your favorite piece of gear? And what’s on your wish list? Join me in the comments!
- About the Author
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Bryan Haines is a co-founder and blogger on GudGear – and is working to make it the best resource for outdoor gear and guides.
He loves the outdoors and has hiked the Andes, kayaked the Galapagos, and biked and camped around Nova Scotia, Canada.
He is a travel blogger at Storyteller Travel and blogs about photography at Storyteller Tech. He is also co-founder of Storyteller Media, a company he started with his wife, Dena.
Tuesday 25th of June 2019
You possibly may have forgotten or maybe just not mentioned waders. I would put these up there as fly fishing will usually mean you are in the river/ stream to have good access to all fish taking.
Wednesday 26th of June 2019
Hey Dan - good point. I'm kind of embarrassed that I missed waders... I just added them to the post.
Tuesday 14th of August 2018
A stream thermometer!!
Wednesday 15th of August 2018
Hey Ron - absolutely. Thanks for your suggestion. An accurate stream thermometer sure beats the trial and error approach. Here's a great option in a metal housing.
Monday 23rd of July 2018
Experienced angler who recently purchased my first fly rod (9', 5w, MF). Excellent read & Thank You for sharing. I'm looking to purchase extra tippet & leader. Any suggestions?
Friday 18th of May 2018
Hey Bryan! Will you please highlight on climate! As I'am a newbie, little bit confuse about that!!
Friday 18th of May 2018
You bet - we'll cover that in an upcoming post!