What to Pack for a Backpack Fly Fishing Trip

hiking along the river with fishing gear

Backpacking is a great way to re-familiarize yourself with the often-elusive feeling of spare time. With a little extra planning, you can turn a backpacking trip into a fly-fishing trip. We asked Sage Elite Pro and backcountry fishing expert Seth Blackamore about what he packs for a minimalist backcountry fishing kit.

What to pack:

  • Fishing License: Carry it with you at all times and do your research on area regulations.
  • Rod/Reel combo: A standard 9’ 5 weight rod is great for alpine lakes, and alternatively a 7.5’ 3 weight is good for small streams and confined areas. Your reel should be matched to the size of your rod.
  • Flies: Pack a good assortment of barbless flies in a small fly box. It doesn’t hurt to ask a local fly shop for suggestions, but here’s a general selection for alpine lakes in the Western U.S.
    Dry flies: Adams, Royal Wulff, Elk Hair Caddis, Mosquito,Grasshoppers
    Wet flies: Soft Hair Hackle, Bead-head Pheasant Tail, Hares Ear, Zebra Midge, Wooly Bugger
  • Extra Leader and Tippet: 4X-6X leader is a good place to start. Make sure to match the tippet to the size leader.
  • Snippers and Forceps: These key tools help with changing flies and working with small hooks, and they weigh almost nothing, so there’s no reason to leave them behind.
  • Polarized Sunglasses: Polarized lenses make it easier to see into the water and glasses protect your eyes from the occasional wind-blown fly.
  • Dry Floatant: Keeps your flies floating on the water.
  • Microtrash Container: Be sure to manage your trash in the backcountry and leave it as you found it.
  • Drybag: Keep your tools and flies handy when you’re away from basecamp and a good place to keep your phone when you’re on the water.