Fly Fishing Trip Packing Uncertainty | Fly Fishing Insider Podcast

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Fly fishing trip packing is full of uncertainty. Even when you are a veteran traveler it can be daunting to take on for a fly fishing trip.  Will my things get there, do I need this, what if it is hot or cold?  These are all questions that pop into the mind.  Next we deal with, should I carry it on, will I be overweight, what if it doesn’t get there? Hopefully, I can help you eliminate a great deal of this uncertainty and bring some peace back to your traveling so you can enjoy it.  Now, before you start overpacking due to uncertainty, pause to consider these questions:

  1. Do I have the capacity for this?

Reflect on whether you can realistically handle, carry, and manage all the extra items you're considering. Sometimes, less is indeed more.

  1. Can I adapt what I already have?

To keep your packing light, think about how you can modify or repurpose existing items with eachother on your fly fishing trip. Often, a simple tweak can make an item useful in a new context.

  1. Am I being rational or emotional?

It’s crucial to maintain a balance between emotion and logic, especially in uncertain situations. For example, packing a heavy sweater for a summer vacation might not make much sense. Do you need waders on this fly fishing trip or is wet wading ok?

  1. What’s my strategy?

Instead of adding items impulsively, plan carefully. A thoughtful approach based on rational decision-making can help alleviate stress and uncertainty.

Remember, you can manage uncertainty without burdening yourself.  Now take these questions and apply them to the areas and advice I have listed below. Each area has significant impact on your packing for a fly fishing trip.

Understand Your Bag Requirements Even if it isn't a Fly Fishing Trip

Checked Bags: What is your max weight capacity. What can a put in it that if it doesn’t make it I will survive and vice versa. Those are the three major questions I ask.  I haven’t had to many misfortunes of lost luggage but it happens.  When it does and you are in remote locations it can be heartbreaking. I tend to think about things like, well, “I can make it on my day shoes” or “I can always buy and extra shirt” or “Todd will let me borrow xyz.”   

Carry On Bags: My carry on is my lifeblood.  I consider that my one piece of luggage that I’m going to ensure gets to where I need to go on each fly fishing trip. I include important items in that bag. Perhaps a reel, one change of clothing, my medications, or special flies. Then I add in the other items I have space for. 

Personal Items: Most airlines you are allowed to carry a personal item.  This is a bag you can put under the seat in front of you. I don’t consider my rod holder to meet this requirement and carry that as well. It’s a risk but I have only run into an issue once. Here I like to have things like camera, computer, items of importance that won’t be taken away. Again, this is another lifeline bag for me. Frankly, many trips that are 5 days or less I can get away with taking a carry on and a personal items bag. My personal bag of choice lately has been the Grunden's waterproof backpack that won editor choice, called the Wayward Roll Top Backpack 38L. The size is big enough that I have room to not pack it to complete expansion and but can push the volume a bit if needed and it still fits well under a flight seat. 

Fly Fishing Personal Item Bag by Grunden's

Rod Holders: Rod holders are interesting.  Some use the standard tubes, larger tubes, cases and or good old cardboard tubes. I personally prefer a larger tube. The cases scare me as they look like a piece of luggage. The large tube is nice, I can typically gingerly fit 4-5 rods in it and a trout reel on the end. I typically attach it to my carry on or personal item so it all looks like I have two complete bagging units vs. three. 

  • Tip: Airlines will let you join early if needed or preferred.  When they call early boarding just tell them that you would like additional time to board due to your inability to load quickly. This way you have extra time for all three items. Load you rod in the back of the overhead with your carry on bag.
  • Tip: If you get flack about your rod tube you can check it at the plan.  Before you do that ask if you can put it in the flight attendant coat closet. Tell them about the uniqueness and expense.  Just don’t get off the plane and forget it!
  • Tip: If you are ever asked to check your carry on or personal items at the plan. Always think through what is in the back and grab your important items.  I once checked my carry on and was nervous the entire time because my medications were in the bag. Being a former cancer survivor that was extremely important to me.
  • Tip: Get your receipts and ask about insurance. Any time you have a hiccup or change with a bag. Ask for a receipt and how it is insured. What if it doesn’t arrive. Ask about the numbers you call and cross your fingers.

Gear Requirements for Fly Fishing Trips

Can you Share: When packing your gear you should always think about sharing.  For example, do I need the extra rod and reel or is the combination of myself in a friend plenty on the boat etc.  What about flies, other gear types. I regularly speak with a traveling partner and we decide what each will bring so we have a team unit of gear. If space is available at the end of the day, someone may bring a non agreed upon item but at the start we know what the bare necessities are. 

Do you Need: Wants and needs are different. Let’s think about extra reels, rods, packs, bags for example. Asking yourself what you’ll need vs. what you want can be huge. It helps me eliminate little things. For example, if I take pliers with a cutter on them. I don’t need nippers or forceps, at that point.  Extra bags can be another. I have my personal item which is a Grunden’s 38L Wayword and I don’t need another backpack. 

  • Tip: Be real with yourself but also keep in mind that you are on vacation. Understand your goals and what the consequences of leaving something behind may be. There is a difference in being a little uncomfortable mentally vs. not being prepared.  

Fly Fishing Trip Clothing Requirements

While I’m There: I make two packing lists for clothing. Clothing while I’m there. I’ll consider, what I’m fishing in daily, what I may want to relax in, or what I may want to go out in and not look or feel like a bum. 

There and Back: Typically, I wear a decent pair of clothing ont he way there to my fly fishing trip and the same clothing back. I also like to double this up with the aforementioned relaxing, and going out clothing. 

Eliminate: Okay, now that I have my clothes pulled out in my two piles, I eliminate. I look at the piles and ask things like. Am really going to change my clothes that much on this fly fishing trip? Do I really need x pair of socks, underwear, shirts, pants, etc? Can’t I sink wash them or get by without having to take so much? It’s amazing how much more room you can make with eliminating a few things when packing for your next fly fishing trip. 

  • Tip: When you do travel. Make note of the items you didn’t use or felt you could have gotten away with. I can recall going to Belize and feeling like I had everything in the kitsch sink only to get back and half the stuff was still untouched and folded in the bottom of my bag.
  • Tip: Pants are a big one. I can wear the same pair of pants for several days without even thinking about it. I may spot clean here and there but I’m fishing and not going to the ballroom. 

Toiletry Requirements

Medical: Medical toiletries are paramount to your health. I for example, need an entire extra packing bag for key medications. I also take a list of my requirements that has an emergency contact number on them. Lastly, I have a business card in the bag in case it gets lost. Now some medications that are over the counter it may be more prohibitive form a space standpoint to pick them up while I’m there. Are those a need or a want?

Necessities: Toothbrush, deodorant, etc. What are necessary?  I take the things I need but I do have an extra kit for travel. I don’t need huge toothpaste tubes, oversized deodorant sticks, lotions, etc. I am picky with this because it is easy to get carried away. 

Electronics Requirements

Electronics: Electronics are sometimes a necessity for us on fly fishing trips. I for example, take photos and I work from home, writing articles, etc. Therefore, it is often important for me to have a phone, laptop, camera(s), storage drive and extra batteries. One thing I certainly do is decide if I need all or a portion of my electronics. I can eliminate things like, lenses, batteries, or entire devices based upon time and location. 

Cords: This is a huge space saving item for me. What I’ve found is to have a separate but small toiletry bag like item to store all my cords and correspondence extra storage cards, etc. Where I made a big dent in size was moving to universal charging cords. I have a universal charging block that can connect a universal octopus cord with various end types to fit all the electronics items I need. I also have European plug adapters etc. that I can add or take away if needed. This all originally went into a small orange Simms storage bag and I've since upgraded to a clear waterproof Simms Dry Creek Gear Pouch after further consideration of the contents. 

Fly Fishing Electronic Carrying Case by Simms


  • Tip: Look at Amazon for universal charger blocks and cords. They are affordable and will make things much easier on you.
  • Tip: Pack your electronics in your personal item if you can. That way you can access them easy in the airport or on a flight to pass time if needed. 

Travel Insurance

I consider travel insurance as part of my packing because it protects so much. I highly suggest that you look at the Global Rescue Insurance packages available for your next fly fishing trip. The peace of mind they provide with reimbursement packages, medical expense, etc. is well worth it. The price is extremely affordable and they are by far the best travel insurance provider available. 


Want to see all kinds of fun things you can do on your next fly fishing trip? Follow me on Instagram. I always take photos and share in the hopes that I can inspire others. There are two channels to follow @flyfishinginsiderpodcast and @dupeafish.

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Christian Bacasa, Host of the Fly Fishing Insider Podcast

By Christian Bacasa
Host of the Fly Fishing Insider Podcast
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