In any industry, there are a lot of people out to get your money. Fly fishing is no different. It seems like every year there are new products that come on the market, promising to help you land more fish and look sexier as you’re doing it. While we can’t speak for the latter, we can pretty much promise the former is not true—the only accessories that are guaranteed to catch you more fish are time on the water, patience, and some good advice.
But, there are some fly-fishing accessories that have been around for good reasons. And maybe, just maybe, they may help you land some more fish. Either way, they’re helpful, handy, and in some cases, make for a safer and more rewarding experience for both you and the fish.
With that in mind, here are 13 fly-fishing accessories—seven we deemed to be essential, and seven we think are very nice to have. A quick note, however: We didn’t include anything that directly connects to your rod, reel, or fly line, like leaders, flies, tippet, floatant, indicators, etc.
So, if you’re looking to go on a shopping spree, these are the fly-fishing accessories that would be worth spending on (sorry, fly line connectors).
100% Necessary Accessories
There’s no tool more important than your eyeballs when it comes to fly fishing. So, it’s best to make sure you’re setting them up for success when you’re on the river by picking up a pair of polarized shades. The polarization cuts the glare from the water, allowing you to not only spot fish, but more easily sight your line, leader, fly, and indicator if you’re using one. We’d suggest spending at least $40 on shades. There’s no need to spend $250 if you don’t want to, but the gas-station specials tend to have a cheap applied polarized film that simply won’t last.
If you’re trout fishing, we can’t overstate how important a net is for your experience. Salmonids are notoriously squirrely, and if you don’t have a net in-hand, you’re going to lose fish and/or mishandle the fish that you bring in. Once you get the rhythm of netting a fish, it makes for a much more seamless experience. As for the type, we’d recommend going with the silicone net and not the nylon netting, which could scrape off scales and the protective slime on a fish’s skin.
Another item that’s overlooked far too often is footwear. If you’re not comfortable and stable in the water, then it’s going to affect everything from casting and setting strikes to energy levels and safety levels. Get some stable shoes with grip. If you’re fishing in waders, then it’s a no-brainer to get a good pair of wading boots. But even if you’re wet wading, we’d recommend fishing in wading boots or at least a pair of non-slip shoes meant for the water. Please, no Crocs, even if you do put them into four-wheel drive.
If you’re fishing in colder climates, you probably don’t need us to recommend waders to you. They’re an essential piece of gear for many fly anglers, keeping you warm, dry, and comfortable in the water. And, if you’re looking to spend, this would be a good place to do it. Premium waders will last longer, leak less, and over more repairing options as well compared to the budget models. It pays to pay for waders. Oh, and be sure they fit.
Don’t leave the house without a good pair of hemostats. Really, you could stop reading this article now as long as you get this piece of advice. They’re the WD-40 of the fly-fishing world, able to remove deep-set hooks from a fish’s mouth, cut line, debarb hooks, open beers, sharpen hooks, and so much more. Buy it. Use it. Love it.
This one is a simple choice because, well, where are you going to put all this stuff? There are tons of great options out there for holding your equipment, and there’s no real reason to spend a ton of money on a pack or vest if you don’t want to. It needs to hold stuff, that’s about it. The size and style of your pack depends on your type of fishing and personal taste, so whether it’s a sling, vest, or backpack, they’ll all do the job.
This is another fly fishing accessory that you don’t need to spend a ton of money on—the $100+ fly box has always baffled us. We’d recommend spending less and buying more, separating your flies into nymphs, dry flies, streamers, etc. They’re a great way to stay organized on the water and a must-have for any angler.
There are probably a few readers thinking that nippers should be moved to the first category, but you can really get away with a good pair of hemostats. That being said, nippers are more accessible and better at cutting tag ends very close to the knot, so they’re worth picking up.
Particularly for trout fishing, a tippet holder is a great fly-fishing accessory. When you’re rigging up a nymph setup or adding some droppers, it’s incredibly helpful to have your tippet easily accessible where you can select the right size right away.
Fly Fishing Zinger
You can definitely keep all of these accessories in your vest/pack pockets, but they are going to take a dive in the water at some point. It’s inescapable. So, pick up a few zingers to keep them secure and out of the water. We’d recommend zingers for your hemostats and nippers, at the minimum.
Once again, you can slide your net into your vest or pack or even under your wader belt, but a tether is going to ensure you don’t donate it to the anglers downstream. And, when you’re landing a fish, it’s one last thing to worry about managing, which is always an added benefit.
This one is pure convenience, but that’s definitely worth something when you’re trying to get on the water as quickly as possible. There are plenty of options for rod holders, ranging from affordable to down-right insane, but just make sure they’ll keep your rods safe and secure.
As you hone your process and gear, you’ll want to hone your organizational skills as well. Whether you’re picking up a plastic tub from the home improvement store or splurge for a Pelican or YETI, a dedicated place for all of your fly fishing accessories is going to offer some peace of mind in the long run—and prevent you from losing things as well.