What Items Are Missing From Your Fly Fishing Vest or Pack?
Fly fishing is a very gear oriented sport. There are times when it seems like there are too many things to stuff into your hip pack or vest. Going the minimalist route is always attractive and can be a fun way to fish but eventually you will run into a situation where something goes wrong and in order to stay on the water, something will need a quick fix. Without the right gear your day may be lost and simply turn into a hike along your favorite trout stream or a boat ride down a river full of rising trout.
Nail Knot Tool
Modern fly lines and leaders hold up well to abuse but eventually they will succumb to too many casts or too much pressure. More than once I have watched an entire leader separate from a fly line or the backing knot fail where it is attached to a fly line. Some anglers can tie a serviceable nail knot by hand but I am not among that group. A nail knot tool can save your day when a welded fly line loop breaks and you need to reattach a leader. They are simple to use and create super strong knots in a matter of a couple minutes. There are also combo tools out there that combine nippers and nail knot tools into one very functional fly fishing gadget.
This is fly fishing’s first cousin of super glue and it has a plethora of potential uses. Seal a cut on your finger. Patch a raft or waders in a pinch. Strengthen nail knot attachments at leader and backing. Beef up the durability of flies when sharp-toothed pike or tough saltwater fish are tearing them up and you only have one or two of the perfect fly left in your fly box. I’ve even reattached loose reel seats with it. Eventually you’ll find yourself on the water in need of some seriously strong glue and Zap-a-Gap will get the job done.
Miscellaneous: Fly Fishing Guide Fix-its
Fly fishing guides spend a lot of time on the water and consequently encounter a lot of challenging problems. Here’s a few things guides are known to have on hand that can save your day.
Duct Tape obviously has a million uses from repairing a damaged fly rod to covering a hole in your rain jacket. Roll up a few feet on the outside of your water bottle and it will be there when you need it.
Wire can also be a quick fix for many things. Lashing a reel to a broken reel seat, temporarily fixing a boat frame or seat, and replacing a broken lace on wader boots are all possibilities. A few feet stashed in the bottom of your boat bag will get used eventually.
When the evening hatch is too good to be missed or you finally get that giant brown to attack a mouse pattern after sunset, Headlamps can make an unplanned river crossing in the dark possible with some degree of safety. I’ve also used them to avoid rowing past the boat ramp after dark. Check the batteries regularly to avoid disappointment.
Lighters can be used to build a lifesaving fire or light a celebratory cigar.
A folding knife with a short 3-inch blade or better yet, a multi-tool, will get used way more than anglers might think. From slicing an apple to freeing your lifejacket strap from a logjam or tightening loose screws or nuts, you’ll be happy you packed one. All whitewater and fly fishing guides carry one for good reason.
It goes without saying that any fly fishing excursion, whether a day trip or week-long vacation, should include a first aid kit. As guides we are required to carry them. You won’t miss it until you need it.
None of these items take up very much space and are worth the little bit of extra weight. Fly boxes and terminal tackle are always the focus of what to keep in your pack, vest or boat bag but sometimes problems arise and anglers who go to the river prepared, carrying fixes for potential problems will be the ones who stay on the water and catch more fish. Just ask the experts and guides at Vail Valley Anglers!
Brody Henderson, Senior Guide and Website Content Writer