Fly-fishing Essentials

What to Pack

What basics should you make sure to pack for a backpacking fly-fishing trip? What you carry will be your home away from home, but you don't want to take everything (including the kitchen sink). For more in-depth information, you should read a good primer on backpacking, such as Victoria Logue's Backpacking in the 90s, published by Menasha Ridge Press, but the following will get you started.


What you wear depends a lot on the weather. For warmer weather, I bring along a comfortable pair of pants, a pair with a lot of pockets (to hold chapstick, licenses, etc.), plenty of leg room (to prevent chafing), and zip-off legs which turn the pants into shorts. This way, if it gets too hot, I am already wearing my shorts.

I wear my fishing shirt, so I bring only one extra shirt. My backpacking clothes tend to be earth colors, because I don't want to take any chances that bright colors scare trout. This controversy has never been proven one way or another, but why take chances?

I recommend packing warm clothes on almost any trip, for just about any place in the country can experience a nasty bout of frigid weather, even in the dead of summer. Definitely bring warm clothes if you plan to hike in higher elevations. Also pack rain gear. In most mountain country, rain is an everyday occurrence. If you are wet, you'll soon be miserable and cold. For this reason, many backpackers choose to wear synthetic materials instead of cotton. Synthetics insulate better than cotton (which is worthless against the cold when wet) and they are much lighter. They do cost more, but in the long run are worth it. Many old hands still prefer wool, which does retain heat when wet, but I see fewer and fewer anglers still wearing wool. I do swear by my wool gloves when fishing cold water.

Regardless of the season or locale, I always carry a pair of warm gloves, a skull cap, a hat to fend off rain and sun, a fleece pullover, a rain poncho and rain pants. I have no time to be freezing cold when I could be fishing. I also wear wick-dry socks that dry quickly, and tuck one pair into my pack.

Layer your clothes to regulate your body temperature. Layering allows you to carry fewer garments. As the day (or you) warms up, shed one or more layer of clothes. As things cool down, put more on.

Published: 29 Apr 2002 | Last Updated: 15 Sep 2010
Details mentioned in this article were accurate at the time of publication


Sign up to Away's Travel Insider

Preview newsletter »