5 Fly Fishing Accessories You Cant Go Without

by | Jul 21, 2018 | Fly Fishing | 0 comments

In other articles we’ve covered the big ticket fly fishing items: pole, line, and reel, waders, vests, and hats. But, as you know, there are a few other items that you will absolutely need out there regardless of where or when you’re fly fishing. This article lays out the absolute essentials you’ll want to have with you when heading out, and also a few things we’d highly recommend.

The Essentials:

Leaders and Tippets

If you don’t know what a leader or a tippet is, no problem! At one point, neither did we!

Very simply put, you attach the leader to the end of your fly line, and at the end of your leader is the tippet, which attaches to the fly.

Now that we know what they are, let’s talk about what you’ll want to have with you to be prepared.

There are different types of leaders: tapered, level, solid, braided, furled…but they all have one purpose, connect the fly to the fly line. Do not get too overwhelmed with these to forget that simple fact. They also come in different lengths, which will be addressed below.

When you’re buying leaders and tippets you’ll see that they’re measured in “Xs”. The number preceding the X (3X, 4X, 5X, etc.) refers to the diameter of the narrowest part of the leader. The simple rule to understand with this is the higher the number, the thinner the diameter. The thicker the diameter (so low numbers), will be stronger. Last note here is that depending on the brand you purchase “3X” from one company may not, in fact likely will not, be the same strength as “3X” from another company.

Here are a few quick rules that are generally good to adhere to when looking for a leader and tippet combo that works for you.

  • big fish, big flies, or fast water require heavier tippets (3X or 4X)
  • smaller flies and smoother water, not as heavy (5X or 6X)
  • If you’re floating your line it should typically be longer (around 9 feet) and thinner (5X)
  • If you’re using a sinking line shorter (4-6 feet) and heavier (0X-2X) are more appropriate

Those are basic guidelines, exceptions do exist. That’s why, when you’re heading out to fly fish you probably want to assemble an assortment of leaders and tippets, which can be easily stored in a pocket or two of your fly fishing vest.

Flies and a Fly Box

You’ve got to have flies to go fly fishing, so it should be no surprise to find these items in the essentials category. The tricky thing about this can be trying to decide how many you need to bring with you, what sizes and styles you want to have, and then finding a box that fits comfortably and accessibly in your vest. The guidelines we’d recommend following are accordingly quite straight forward:

  • you don’t want to run out
  • having a variety is recommended
  • buy your vest first, then when you buy your fly box (or boxes) you can easily see how well (or not) they fit and make appropriate selections


A variety of fishing pliers are available out there. For the most part, any of them will do. If your fishing saltwater make sure you get a saltwater pliers. You can get away with a cheap pair of these, and they make a great gift too! If you’ve got the wallet for it there are some really nice pliers out there too.

Polarized Sunglasses For Fly Fishing

Not an absolute necessity, but I can’t recall talking to a fly fisherman who hasn’t recommended at least having a pair nearby when asked. When you are river fishing a pair of polarized glasses are essential.

Landing Net

Probably the least essential item on this list, but it can sure make things easier once the fish is within reach.

If you’re fishing from a boat I wouldn’t go out without one, too much can go wrong otherwise.

If you’re fishing catch and release, we recommend using rubber-coated mesh instead of nylon nets.

There are plenty of nets out there now which are very nice, and also light enough not to get in the way too much. Some anglers have come to value their nets as much their rods or reels, and if asked outright, for most situations, I’d recommend investing in one.