If you’re out fly fishing with nothing but your rod and your fishing vest, you will want to make sure you have everything you need. You don’t want to be caught in the middle of the river without extra flies or a rain coat if it starts pouring. Once you’ve chosen your perfect fishing vest, it’s time to pack it with the right gear. Below we’ll tell you the ten most important items that you should always carry with you in your vest beyond the standard flies.
Don’t Pack Too Much
While you want to make sure that you have the essentials, you don’t want to pack too much into your fishing vest. While the list below can seem like we’re trying to tell you to carry too much, you’ll want most of the items below even if you don’t think they’re necessary immediately.
However, you will want to make sure that you can still wear the vest comfortably all day without it weighing too much. With time you’ll have a better understanding of what fishing gear is truly required for a particular fishing trip.
One way you can avoid carrying too much in your vest is to buy a tackle box and leave it on shore while you go into the stream. This way if you need some extra gear, it’ll only be a short distance away.
10 Things You Should Always Carry in Your Fishing Vest
Clippers are one of those pieces of equipment you don’t think you need until you start cracking your teeth while trying to cut fishing line. They are quite lightweight and can easily loop onto any zipper on your vest. Trust us, you’ll be glad you have one.
Yes, you’ll already be in the water, but that doesn’t mean you can’t keep your upper body dry during a downpour (which is likely to happen on any fishing trip). A cheap poncho is lightweight enough to pack into a pocket on your fishing vest and it won’t take up much space at all.
Forceps are great for removing fishing hooks from fish mouths. These are a great choice for catch-and-release fishermen who want to let the fish go as quickly as possible. They provide a strong grip that lets you easily grasp the hook and keep your hands away from the mouths of fish with sharp teeth.
Chances are you will be spending a good deal of time under the sun while fishing. Even if it’s cloudy you will want to make sure that you are wearing sunscreen since UV rays can still come through the clouds. Anything SPF 30+ and waterproof will do.
5. Spare Car Key
If you don’t bring a spare car key with you, there’s a good chance you’ll wind up losing your key at the bottom of the river. I’ve had this happen to me before and it’s not fun, especially if you’re miles from home. You might want to pack a couple of spare keys and keep them in various places in your vest. You can even get a magnetic key holder so that you can hide a key under your car.
If you own an electronic key and are worried about getting it wet you can keep it in a waterproof case or dry bag. Check out our guide on waterproofing your fishing gear.
6. First Aid Kit
You never know when you’re going to need one of these. You can easily find small first aid kits that will fit inside of your fishing vest. Make sure it has bandages, pain relievers, and gauze. If you’re in an area with lots of poisonous snakes, you may want to consider getting a snake bit kit. If you’re allergic to any sort of insect bites, you’ll also want to make sure you carry any medicine you might need.
If you plan to stay out into the evening, having a flashlight is necessary. You don’t want to be trapped out in the water and not be able to see anything around you. We recommend getting a headlamp type flashlight since this will allow you to keep both hands free while you continue to fish or find your way back to shore.
8. Plastic Garbage Bag
Ok, this may seem like the oddest item on this list, but trust me, you’ll love having it along. If you plan on keeping any fish that you catch, keeping them in a plastic garbage back is a great alternative to having slippery vest pockets. And if all else fails, you can use it as a makeshift raincoat.
Thermometers are great for checking the temperature of the water that you’re fishing in. This will allow you to understand what types of fish might be in the water and which ones might be actively feeding. Most tackle shops have inexpensive thermometers or you can buy a cheap one from Amazon.
10. Insect Repellent
Last but not least you should bring insect repellent with you when you’re fishing. Mosquitoes and other annoying bugs tend to hang around fishing spots (what else would the fish feast on?) so you are sure to need bug spray. Any kind will do, but if you’re close to stagnant water you will want a higher deet level.