Regarding fly fishing, having the right gear is essential for success on the water. While fly fishing requires specific fishing equipment, non-fishing items can be crucial to have on hand during a day on the water. Here are five essential non-fishing things you should always keep in your fly fishing vest or pack.
- Sun Protection: Sunburn is no fun, and prolonged exposure to the sun can increase the risk of skin cancer. Protecting your skin outdoors is essential, especially when you're on the water, where the sun's reflection can intensify its rays. Applying sunscreen or covering yourself with UV-protectant clothing before you head out and reapplying every few hours can help protect your skin from harmful UV rays.
- Insect Repellent: Biting insects like mosquitoes and flies can quickly ruin a day on the water. It's vital to keep insect repellent in your vest or pack, especially if you're fishing in areas where biting insects are prevalent. DEET-based insect repellents are effective at repelling insects, but natural options are also available that use essential oils like citronella or eucalyptus. Be careful with insect repellents around your fishing gear; bug spray can eat your fly lines and gore-tex equipment and deter fish from eating your fly if you get some bug spray on it.
- Water Bottle: Staying hydrated is essential, especially when outdoors in the sun. Keeping a water bottle in your vest or pack can help ensure you access clean drinking water throughout the day. Look for a water bottle that's durable and easy to refill. Bonus points if you get a small portable water filter to bring; that way, you can drink carryless water and have an endless supply as you fish.
- Snacks: Fishing can be physically demanding, and keeping your energy levels up throughout the day is essential. Packing a few high-protein snacks, like jerky or nuts, can help keep hunger at bay and provide the energy you need to cast your line and reel in your catch. Bringing extra snacks for your fishing buddy to head off any hanger at the pass is also a good idea.
- First Aid/Bivy Kit: Accidents can happen, and preparation is essential. A small first aid kit can be a lifesaver in case of a minor injury like a cut or a scrape. Look for a kit with basic supplies like bandages, tape, gloves, antiseptic wipes, and pain relievers. I will also bring a small "bivy kit" on more demanding or backcountry adventures with a small emergency bivy sack, iodine tablets, a lighter, a headlamp, and a Garmin Inreach Communication device. This kit is the basic I would want to have me would for an unplanned night outside or keep someone comfortable until further help could find us.
All in all, while fly fishing gear is essential for success on the water, non-fishing items can be crucial to have on hand during the day. Sunscreen, insect repellent, a water bottle, snacks, and a first aid kit are all items that should be kept in your fly fishing vest or pack. By being prepared and having these essentials, you'll enjoy a safe, comfortable, and successful day on the water.