How to Pack For a freshwater fly fishing Trip

Author: Neil Turner


Packing for a freshwater fly fishing trip can be just as stressful as a saltwater trip. From waders and boots, heavy down jackets and layering to a wide array of differently weighted rods and reels, it can often be difficult to sift through what is necessary and what should be left at home. Weather, fishing conditions, and even the targeted species are always changing variables that require preparation and forethought. We live by the “it’s better to have it and not need it, than need it and not have it” but lucky for you, we’ve been doing this for a couple years and have compiled a list of the essential items no matter the destination.

All You Need


REELS - Reels should have a quality drag and the ability to hold a full floating fly line plus at least 150-200 yards of 20 pound backing. We recommend the convenience of an additional reel or spool when using multiple fly lines such as a sink tip. 

FLOATING LINES - We recommend a weight forward taper cold water fly line. 

SINK TIP LINES - For large deep rivers, and/or if you plan on fishing streamers, we recommend a sinking or sink tip fly line. 

LINE CLEANER - Fly lines can sticky and dirty after a few days of use. Anglers should bring along some sort of line cleaner to keep your fly line in good working order. 

WADERS - Bring a high quality pair of breathable waders. Make sure your waders do not leak!!

WADING BOOTS - Nothing can be worse than wearing uncomfortable wading boots on an extended fishing trip. Make sure the boots you choose have enough room for medium weight socks, have good ankle support, and have a sturdy felt or rubber sole for extra traction on slippery surfaces. You may consider studs as well in extra slippery locations, but check with your guides first! 

WADING BELT - In the event you fall down in the river your waders will not fill up with water when properly wearing a wading belt.

WADING STAFF - If you are an unsure wader, you may enjoy the added security and confidence a wading staff provides


ROD CARRIER - For anglers who prefer to carry on rods, You should strongly consider investing in a quality rod carrier. These carriers typically will fit up to six rods and 6 reels, plus some storage for leaders and tippet or other accessories. 

LUGGAGE -  We recommend roller style, soft-sided duffel bags for nearly all our travels. Most companies are making these with water resistant material and a quality duffle can last for many years of adventure. 

BOAT BAG - When fishing from a boat, it is a good idea to bring a bag to store any extra gear and tackle, rain jackets, camera equipment, bottled water, snacks, or anything else you don’t want to carry on you while fishing. There are numerous bags that are 100% waterproof and will clip into the frame of a raft or aluminum jet boat. 

FISHING VEST OR HIP / CHEST PACK -  Bring a chest pack or fishing vest that can accommodate everything that you will need on the water. A traditional hip/chest pack seems to be more popular among guides.


LONG UNDERWEAR - Long underwear serves as your base layer of clothing throughout the trip. You will want multiple pairs of both tops and bottoms to rotate throughout the week. The light and mid-weight models are most commonly used, However plan on having a few different weights to adapt to varying temperatures.

INSULATING THERMAL LAYER - Fleece jackets, vests, pullovers, soft shells, and pile jackets are your second major layer of clothing for both your upper and lower body. 

LONG SLEEVE FISHING SHIRTS -  Many anglers will choose to wear a long sleeve fishing shirt on top of long underwear, especially if the weather is sunny and warm.

PANTS - Quick-dry nylon or nylon/cotton blend shorts, pants, or convertible pants are nice to wear around camp and on travel days. 

SOCKS - Anglers should have enough socks to alternate on a daily basis. For a week long trip we recommend three pairs of socks for wearing with waders. 

RAIN JACKET - A rain jacket is the most important piece of clothing! Plan on experiencing some rain on any fishing trip you take.. A high quality breathable rain jacket with a hood is mandatory. 

POLARIZED SUNGLASSES - Polarized glasses are another essential and mandatory item for any type of fly fishing. They eliminate the glare from the water, provide safety, and allow you to see fish, rocks, obstructions and potential entanglements. Its a good idea to have a “full sun” pair of glasses and a low-light pair for cloudy days. A lanyard or “croakie” is also invaluable in order to keep from dropping or losing your glasses.

SHOES & SANDALS - Comfortable hiking boots or tennis shoes are fine for wearing around camp or on travel days. We also recommend you bring some sandals or flip-flops for walking in warmer months. .

GLOVES - A pair of fingerless fleece gloves allow for dexterity tying knots and will keep your hands warm in colder conditions -- especially late in the season. 

HATS - Bring a hat or cap that is relatively waterproof for both rain and sun protection. You should also bring a warm “stocking cap” that can cover your ears in case the weather turns cold.


TOOLS, GADGETS & NETS - Items like nippers, hemostats, and hook hones are necessities in every fishing pack. The tools can be kept on a retractor or on a lanyard.

INSECT REPELLENT - Mosquitoes and tiny black flies called no-see-ums can be a huge irritant anywhere. The best way to avoid being eaten alive is to bring along insect repellent that contains some concentration of DEET. 

SUN PROTECTION - has become fashionable with serious anglers on the trout stream as well as in the tropics. It is a comfortable, lightweight, and breathable garment that functions similar to a bandana and will keep UV rays off of your head, neck, and ears.

LENS CLOTH - It seems glasses are always getting wet when landing unruly fish or on boat runs. This can be quite frustrating if you are not prepared with a quality lens cleaning/drying cloth.


FIRST AID KIT & TOILETRIES - A simple first aid kit with Band-Aids, alcohol wipes, waterproof tape, and Dramamine for motion sickness is always a good thing to have when traveling. Don't forget your toiletries!! 

TRASH BAGS & ZIPLOCS - Always throw in a couple of small trash bags in your bag for packing wet wading boots and gravel guards for the trip home in order to keep mildew from spreading through your clothing.

FLASHLIGHT OR HEADLAMP - A flashlight can be an invaluable item to have for nighttime activities, especially in unfamiliar surroundings.