Essential Tools for Your Fly Vest

by Mike Wilson, February 02, 2004

If I had to label one area where fly fisherman spend too much money it would have to be on all the tools, knick knacks and gizmo’s we stuff our vests with. We simply buy too many things that we don’t really need. When you are hiking around all day on a river or are kicking around in your float tube, you learn to appreciate that less is more which is the point of this article.

So what exactly are the must have items in your fly vest and what can you do without? Here is what you will find in my vest on a typical day.

Fingernail clippers tied to my vest with old fly line so I don’t lose them for the hundredth time.

Tippet material in sizes 0x (Steelhead), 3x, 5x and sometimes 7x.

Strike Indicators.

Dry Fly floatent.

1 medium size fly box in the lower left pocket with my dry fly selection.

1 medium size fly box in the lower right pocket with my nymph’s and wet fly’s.

If I am fishing with a sinking line I carry my reel with the floating line on it and vise versa in case I need to change over to better match the hatch.

Split shot in usually 2-3 sizes.

Emergency kit including thermal blanket, water proof matches, bandages. If I am hiking in a remote area I also include some high energy food to last me the night in case I have an emergency and a bottle of water. If I am going totally remote then I pack a lot more survival gear but that is a separate article in its own.

That is about it. I know a lot of fisherman use a hemostat for hook removal. I had some once but I think they are at the bottom of Lake Lenore and I never bothered to replace them. I just make it a habit to use barbless hooks all the time. If the fly is lodged too deep then I cut the line and keep the fish or if I am forced to release the fish in catch and release waters I do. The hook usually falls out within a couple of days.

One tool that I recently added and am finding useful is one of the micro multi tool systems. Leatherman Tools started this craze a few years ago and now several companies offer them. I picked up a compact little unit for $5.00 that include scissors, several knives, a screwdriver or two and pliers on the end for pinching down barbs. I like all the tools at hand but dislike having to get the scissors out every time I want to cut something. It is also a bit bulky compared to the clippers but I think I will get used to them over time.

Until next time, keep fishing!



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