What To Put In Your Fly Fishing Vest
What do I have in my fishing vest or chest pack today
by Hans van Klinken
Forceps or multi-tool is mostly used to squeeze the barb of my fly hooks closed, which makes it possible to unhook a fish much more easily at times when they took the fly a little deeper then expected. I use forceps with the claw mouth in a 45% angle.
Good quality clipper: to save my teeth and cut nylon.
Retractors: usually the forceps and clippers will be connected to a retractor. The retractor is just an awesome device and makes locating and using your tools much easier and quicker.
Hook sharpener: I always have two hook sharpeners with me. One for small hooks, and the other one for larger hooks. Wherever you fish with stones and pebbles around, you will need them.
Fly pad: I use mostly 2 self-made fly-pads, one on each top pocket, and replace them every year. I use them to dry my flies.
Pocket lamp: I always have a small waterproof MagLite with me. It can be very helpful when I fish longer then expected. It’s quite handy when you still have a long and dark forest hike remaining before reaching your accommodations or car.
Whistle: A highly underestimated attribute. I added this to my vest after I heard a story about a man who broke his leg while fly fishing, and ran out of voice while shouting for help. The whistle saved his life.
Matches / lighter: I always have some matches or a lighter with me. I put them in a tiny waterproof bag. They have often helped me out after I slipped in the water, and used them to make a big campfire to dry my stuff. (oh do not tell me you never fall in!!)
Tippet material: Depends on the type of fishing, but on my holidays I usually have six spools of different size tippet material with me. Three spools for salmon fishing and three spools for trout. For real big salmon I use strengths of 10lbs, for rivers where I can hook salmon or grilse I use 8lbs, and for rivers with grilse only I use 6lbs. For all my salmon fishing, I use exclusively Maxima. For trout I mainly use tippet material in strength between 2 and 4lbs
Fly boxes: I have several boxes with nymphs, dry flies and other required patterns for the type of fish I am after that day.
Floatant to use on my dry flies to keep them floating longer
Leader wallet contents: spare leaders, a few special needles to make my own leaders, waterproof Super Glue to secure my leader on my fly line, a small scissor, a little bobbin with thread, and some braided monofilament and backing for attaching my leader to my fly line, and for emergency repairs on a fly line. In the wilderness, I often have used my Super Glue as a perfect replacement for plasters, and also during serious first aid situations as well. In many circumstances, it works perfectly when you have cut your skin, and it actually needs to be stitched. (imagine you are at a fly-in lodge)
Bug spray and bug net are essential in buggy areas or Mosquito Heaven!
Measuring tape is required to measure a good size fish so you are sure that you don’t make a fool of yourself.
A little diary or notebook, I keep it with a pencil in a little waterproof bag to make essential notes about insects, hatches, weather conditions, water temperatures, air temperatures, fish behaviour, and when I change a certain fly pattern, or just in case I suddenly get any good idea.
Leader stretcher: I don’t use one. I prefer to tie on a new tippet instead.
Fly line cleaner patch (very tiny) to clean and protect my floating lines from sinking
Thermometer: I have one with me to complete important notes in my diary
Small pocket camera for a lucky shot or nice fish
Polaroid glasses are indispensable when sunny
A knife is very handy for all kinds of things and making a fire as well
Retrieving protection is essential when fishing techniques requires a lot of fly action below the surface. It will protect my fingers while stripping or retrieving.
A special glove to tail slippery fish, I take this with me when I fish for slippery fish species. Very handy to tail salmon as well.
License: Indispensable… we don’t want to fish illegally!
Toilet paper: you never know
Rain jacket will be in the back of my vest
Inflatable life jacket: I personally don’t use it, but I always recommend one to everybody else in my workshops and classes, just for safety reasons.