What to Pack for Fishing (Other Than a Pole)
Words and Photos: Matt Boileau
When it comes to fishing opportunities, at the Cascade Mountain Tech headquarters we like to think we’re pretty spoiled. The Seattle area boasts numerous fisheries from small mountain trout streams, lakes, summer and winter steelhead runs, and year-round saltwater fishing in the Puget sound. With so many opportunities to get out on the water, it can be hard to know what to pack for a fishing trip.
Before heading out, we need to consider things like what kind of fishing we’ll be doing and what species of fish we’re after. Whether you’re a local or just visiting, always be sure to check with your local fishing shop for tips and advice. Most shops offer guided fishing trips that are great for both experts and beginners. These shops are staffed by anglers who make it their business to know when, where and how to get you on the water and into some fish.
The wide range of fishing gear can be truly daunting for an aspiring angler. And while every trip is different, here are four things that should always be on your fishing packing list – other than your rod and reel of course!
Other than a rod, reel and tackle, the most important piece of fishing equipment an angler can put in their gear bag is a reliable set of waders. Waders are a type of waterproof overall that keeps an angler dry and warm even then they have to wade into cold waters. Typically, waders come in two options – boot-foot and stocking-foot. As their name implies, boot-foot waders have a built-in rubber boot while stocking-foot waders only have a neoprene sock on the foot that specially designed wading boots go over.
There are many wader options on the market, so check with your local fishing or outdoor store for the set that works best for you. I rock a pair of stocking-foot waders and rubber-soled wading boots which I absolutely love. I can layer underneath for the colder days and take just the boots with me on warm summer days where I don’t mind getting wet. I went with rubber-soled wading boots because they offer great traction and can go from trail to river with ease. Some companies offer wading boots with felt soles. One important note about felt-soled wading boots is that although they can provide good traction on slippery rocks, they are hard to clean and are actually illegal in some states and fisheries. Another great reason to check in with the local fishing shop.
Dunkings happen and sooner or later it’s going to happen to you. Most anglers have had the unfortunate luck to lose their footing and go underwater or at least get water over the top of their waders and be waterlogged. When that happens, you’ll appreciate having a dry bag with a change of clothes ready to go. This is especially important on cold winter days, when wet clothes in near-freezing temperatures can be very dangerous. In addition to a second set of clothes, a dry bag lets you confidently carry your cell phone, ID, and fishing license without worrying about them getting wet.
It can be handy to have at least two sizes of dry bags to choose from – a small bag for the summer months when you just need it for your valuables, and a larger bag for cold weather that can carry things like an extra jacket, warm pants, socks and a hat. Like everything when it comes to fishing, there are a lot of options when it comes to dry bags. I prefer simple roll-top dry bags that I toss in my fishing pack or backpack, but there are options ranging from small waterproof cases for your smartphone to full-size waterproof backpacks. Check them out and find the one that works for you!
No packing list could encompass every different type of weather you’re bound to encounter during your fishing adventures. I’ve fished in everything from swim trunks during a 100-degree day to full winter gear including a down jacket and waterproof gloves while chasing steelhead on a chilly morning. But there is one piece of clothing that always seems to have a part to play: a multifunctional neck gaiter called a buff. Buffs are lightweight, extremely packable, and can be used year-round. In the wintertime, buffs can be used as a facemask to block wind and stay warm. During summer months when the sun beats down, buffs can be used for UV protection and can be wet down for an easy way to cool off.
Figuring out the right clothing for a fishing trip can mean the difference between a bad day and a great one. We’ve all driven two hours to our favorite spot only to realize that it’s starting to rain and we left our rain jacket at home. Each fishing trip is different and planning out the perfect packing list can be half the fun. While a buff isn’t going to keep you dry in a rainstorm, it’s a great piece of gear to always keep in your pack.
Every outdoorsperson has their favorite multi-tool or pocketknife that goes with them everywhere, and it’s no different for anglers. A well-designed multi-tool can replace various tools such as knives, nippers, pliers and hook removers. I clip my multi-tool on my fishing pack so it’s close at hand at any moment. Even for something as simple as crimping a barbed hook or cutting the tag of a freshly tied knot, having one tool to turn to can be a huge benefit.
Like many other enthusiasts, fisher-men and women have gained a reputation for being gear obsessed. We load ourselves down with the newest fishing equipment and accessories, even when we know we don’t need them. While new gear is always fun, simplifying your setup has obvious benefits. There is less to worry about – and less to worry about forgetting – which allows us to focus on the water in front of us and the fish underneath it. If you’re new to fishing, a good multi-tool is a convenient way to get the tools you need at a low cost. If you’re a seasoned pro, that same multi-tool might just be a way to break out of the gear cycle and get back to basics.
- Fishing gear such as rod, reel, and tackle
- Rod and reel should be suitable to the type of fishing and species of fish
- Tackle can include extra line, leaders, tackle boxes, and flies/lures
- Appropriate attire depending on season and conditions
- Fishing pack
- Dry bag
- Fishing Net
- Polarized sunglasses
- Suncreen, insect repellant, first aid kit
- Fishing license
- Water and healthy snacks
Whether you’re tossing a line at your local lake for rainbow trout or traveling half-way around to world to in the pursuit of trophy tarpon, fishing is a great way to enjoy the great outdoors. With so many options, everyone can find the fishing adventure that works best for them. Hopefully we’ve presented at least one “a-ha!” item in the above packing list. Next time you’re packing for fishing, pull up this link from your bookmarks and make sure you’ve got everything you need. Did we forget your favorite piece of fishing gear? Let us know in the comments!