The Journal
29th March 2018

11 Simple Bits of Gear Every Fly Fisherman Needs in Their Kit Bag

fly fisherman looking out over the bank

Spring is upon us, and this means that plenty of optimistic fishermen are heading out into the crisp spring weather to try their luck with the pike, carp and roach that inhabit our beautiful British Waterways.

Fishing is an excellent way of relaxing after a tough week. Nothing beats the peaceful contemplation that fishery affords. When Chapman Bags initially began producing bags, we specialised in fishing and shooting bags, so it’s something that is very close to our hearts.

Fly fishing is a profoundly immersive craft; involving skill, science and of course, adventure. This means the kit necessary for this kind of fishing is entirely different to other forms of the sport. However, there a few crucial bits of kit that fly fisherman should never go without – here are the eleven things that we think should always have in your armoury.

Quality Boots

Picture of black redington fly fishing boots in water

The fly fishing industry has been debating what of kind shoes are best for years now. Felt soles were once considered the go-to material for fly fishing boots, but they are known to assist in the transportation of invasive species which can have disastrous impacts on fish spawning zones.

Go for rubber soles, with aluminium or tungsten studs to provide increased traction. Different boots offer different benefits, but for safety purposes, it’s essential to invest in a pair of well-fitting boots that offer support and long-term usage.



When you’re just starting out, there’s nothing wrong with purchasing a cheaper rod, at least just while you learn.

Most will opt for a five-weight, nine-foot rod because they are fantastic all-rounders. They are light enough that they won’t drain your energy and heavy enough that you’ll be able to feel the rod loading.

There are very few poor quality rods available, but as you get better, your skills and technique will begin to naturally match up to the kind of equipment you require. A fly rod is similar to a car in this way. You don’t need anything special when you’re learning, but over time you might want that top-of-the-range Mercedes.


The best quality fly line can make a huge difference and will help you hone the proper technique from the very beginning. When you come to purchase your first rod, reel and line, you’ll probably have a specific budget in mind. 50-80% of that budget should ideally be spent on the line.

That’s how important it is to invest in quality.

Search for a line with more weight up front. This will help you load the rod and line deeply, even at shorter distances.


man fly fishing wading in knee high water


It’s advisable not to order waders online. Tight waders will restrict your movement and can be uncomfortable, whereas loose waders will allow water to leak into them very quickly. Waders that are made to measure will keep you dry and comfortable for much longer.


Once you’ve picked your waders, it’s essential to get your underclothing right for the season in which you’re fishing, but bear in mind you’ll feel hot and unpleasant if you wear jeans or cotton clothing in any weather.

For colder weather, you could try wool blend or synthetic tracksuit bottoms, or even specially designed thermal wear made for fly fishing. For warm weather try thin synthetic bottoms that will keep the moisture away from the skin to prevent uncomfortable itching.


Most nippers aren’t great quality, and they’re very easy to misplace. Abel Nippers are a little bit more expensive but are made with machined aluminium and come with replaceable blades. They can also be paired up with a lanyard, so you know they’re never in danger of going walkabout.

Wading Staff

If you fish in rivers, you’ll need a wading staff. Wading staffs act as a third leg and provide extra assurance and confidence when traversing fast moving water.

Pass the loop over your wrist and ensure that you never lift the staff until you have both feet firmly planted.

There are multiple types of wading staffs available, but the most important thing to remember while purchasing is that it must give you the correct support and safety you need.

Leader & Tippet

the essential elements on a fly fishing rig diagram

When it comes to leader and tippet make sure you aren’t mixing and matching your brands. If you buy the same brand for every spool, you’ll find they stack and store easily.

If you are starting out, don’t be fooled into buying tippet and leader in materials that are more expensive. Nylon monofilament is all you need for now.


Sunglasses are essential for two reasons, firstly because even when the sun is hidden behind clouds, it can still shimmer significantly on the water, which can play havoc with a fisherman’s perception. Secondly, when you’re fishing out in the hot sun, it’s essential to protect your eyes, as prolonged exposure can damage them.


trout being released from a rubber fishing net

Fish are covered in a protective mucus that helps to prevent parasites and attacks from more significant predators. Cotton or nylon nets can sometimes strip the fish of this coating, which may harm or even kill the fish after they’ve been released. Soft rubber mesh will work perfectly.

Lures & Streamers

selection of brightly coloured fly fishing lures and streamers

Lures and streamer flies come in a range of designs and patterns that often resemble fish, flies or other tasty invertebrates. Some don’t resemble anything in particular but are designed to take advantage of the predatory nature of some fish by flashing a rainbow of colours on the surface.

It’s always handy to have a range of lures and streamers at hand because different options work best for different fish and at different times of the day. For example, black baits are perfect for when the sun begins to go down because the dark shape becomes more visible and intense as the light dips into darkness.


Those warm summer days may seem like the ideal time to head out with your rod and waders, but the weather is not always kind.

The warm weather can make fish listless and not particularly interested in feeding. Some fish, such as trout, know that the wind and rain will confuse their pray making them easy pickings and if you’ve prepared with appropriate clothing then you’ll be in a great position to take advantage. Specialist wading jackets like this one from Orvis feature deep pockets and watertight cuffs.


As with any outdoor activity, it’s vital to stay safe and ensure that you’re prepared for any eventuality. This is particularly crucial when it comes to fishing as conditions can change at the drop of a hat and you must be ready to adapt to make the most of your excursion.

At Chapman Bags, we’ve been manufacturing fishing bags since the early ‘80s. We know that fishing bags must be functional and stylish, which is not always something that goes hand-in-hand. However, our many years of experience means that we can create a bespoke solution to suit your fishing technique and the fish you wish to catch.