Fly Fishing Trip Checklist

This post was last updated on December 22nd, 2015 at 12:52 am

A List of Important things you Might Need for a Trip

Using the 4 way sawyer water filter on a hiking and fishing trip.
The sawyer water filter is a must have for fishing trips. This particular model is a 4 way filter that retails for about $49.95 Its very convenient, because you will always have enough water to drink. As you can see you simply fill it with river water and you are ready to drink.

Each morning before I meet my clients for a guided fly fishing trip, I mentally go through all of the fly fishing things I will need. There are certainly some things I could live without, but there are also some deal breakers. Some items that if I don’t have them will make the day very difficult, not to mention make me look like a bumbling buffoon in front of my customers.  Most of these items are very small and inexpensive, yet extremely important for a day of fly fishing.

Being a fishing guide on the rivers I work on mean I will be using dry flies more often than not. So I will start by saying if you have clients who don’t really false cast hard to dry off the flies, you will be in big trouble without some good fly floatant and a few other essentials listed below.

 Fly Floatant

The  day will be very miserable for everyone in the boat if all the flies are sinking. Sometimes its hard to convince people just how hardUmpqua shimizaki dry shake fly floatant you will need to false cast to properly dry off your flies. So without the crisp snap of your flies they won’t float without some sort of floatant.


These can also make or break your day. Everyone has experienced a day on the river without something to cut line with. I have resorted to burning the line with lighters, rubbing it on a sharp rock and most commonly I will just pull it really hard until it cuts into my fingers or breaks. It is an absolute nightmare to not have something to easily cut line. I know everyone has tried to use their teeth a time or two to cut line. This works really well if you know how to do it. Personally I spent most of my life up until this point cutting line too frequently with my teeth. If I try to use my teeth now to cut fishing line I will experience great pain! Not only is this terrible for your teeth, it also leaves the line flattened, often to the point where it is too wide to fit through the eye of the small hook. Therefore I don’t consider the teeth a cutting tool for fishing line.  Nippers, or even a cheap pair of toe/fingernail clippers can be purchased for about 1$ at nearly any store. Usually I will buy them in bulk and store them in every pocket of my gear bag and every compartment of my boat. You can also buy the real nice ones at any fly shop for around 10$, these will cut the line very clean so you can easily thread it through the eye of even the smallest hooks without any trouble.

Extra Tippet/Leaders

This is very important, its really easy to misplace your whole log of tippet containing every size imaginable. With all of your tippet in one place you could be in big trouble if it ends up floating down stream on you, or just plain vanishes. If you have a small backup supply you will be able to make it through the day. I usually find myself using 2x and 3x more often than any others so I keep a good supply of it in multiple locations in my boat. The same goes for leaders, although these are not as critical because you can make a leader quickly using whatever tippet you have available if needed.

Retractable Zinger or Lanyard

This will help you keep track of all of the above items. Personally I like to use only one little zinger with my nippers right below the collar of my shirt. I am not a fan of the huge lanyards. I find that occasionally if I am rowing really hard I will get blasted in the face by all the bling attached to the lanyard. Another downfall of the big lanyard is it tends to catch your fly line. The less stuff on me that can catch fly line the better.

Lightweight  Rain Jacket

A list of Fly Fishing equipment needs.
A small collection of items that could come in really handy on your next fly fishing trip. Adding simple things like water purification, a rain jacket, flashlight and a lighter to your fly fishing checklist can be a literal lifesaver.

This is a critical item especially out west, where a storm can seemingly erupt right in the middle of a blue sky. The nice rain jackets will pack right into their own pocket into the size of a baseball. They weigh very little and can fit in a small pocket of a backpack, or under your boat seat. You can also just load up on the 99 cent special rain ponchos. These can be a life saver, they are so cheap you can buy a few extras and help out your buddies. Its more important to keep your upper torso warm than your legs so during a storm that 99 cents could be the best money you have ever spent. You should also keep in mind that if your buddies get too cold on the river they will whine and cry and want to leave, so keep them warm and increase your fishing time. Most fisherman will already be wearing waders, so the legs won’t really be exposed during a rain storm anyway. I have some of the best rain pants in existence and they were free. I just cut the feet off an old pair of waders, they slide right on in a hurry and are just as waterproof (obviously) as the best rain pants on the market.

A Flashlight or Headlamp

I won’t give a detailed explanation on why it is a good idea to add a flashlight to your fly fishing checklist. You just never know when you will be out longer than expected. The flashlights on cell phones kill the batteries quick (you might need your phone) so always carry a small light. You can buy them as small as a cigarette for a few dollars and they only take one AAA battery. Headlamps are my personal favorite for tying on flies after dark.

Extra Water or some Iodine Purification Pills

I don’t know why but somehow not bringing enough water is a very common problem, I guess its an easy thing to take for granted. But if you are on a trail of tears hike in to your favorite back country fly fishing location, you could be in big trouble without enough water. The Iodine purification pills come in a small vial and will work well. Another option is to buy a water bottle with the filtering device built into it. These are very convenient, since you know there will always be water around you to drink. The one I use is made by Sawyer and only costs like 50$. It will last 1 million gallons, so it is an obvious great buy in my opinion. I wouldn’t be caught on the river without it.

A Lighter or Waterproof Matches

Another obvious yet easily overlooked item that could save your life if you ever get in to trouble. Bic lighters will last years and will be yet another possible .99 buy that could save you in a pinch.

Sorry some of these seem pretty obvious, but they are commonly overlooked items. If you carry these among other items you will be prepared for whatever mother nature can dish out. This fly fishing list is just some basic stuff, I will be making a more in depth list in the near future.

Even More Things you might need include:

  • Cell phone/charger​
  • Duct tape
  • Whistle
  • Bug repellent
  • Compass or GPS
  • Sunscreen
  • First aid kit
  • Camera/batteries
  • Backpack
  • Sunglasses
  • Swiss army knife
  • Medications
  • Trash bags
  • Coolers and ice
  • Hand sanitizer
  • Swim suit/towel
  • Hat
  • Extra socks/clothing
  • Shoes/boots