Are you planning a fly fishing lodge vacation? Don’t forget the essentials! We’ve put together the ultimate guide to packing and preparing for your fly fishing vacation

Updated July 2023

How do you prepare for a fishing trip?

Thoroughly preparing for fly fishing vacations is essential to having the time of your life. 

For example, taking the time to learn about and even purchase new equipment and clothing for your fly fishing vacation is always a good idea. 

Also taking lessons and developing skills ahead of your trip will boost your confidence, and get you excited for your fly fishing resort.

Regular travelers really stand to benefit from building a systematic approach to packing and preparing for each trip.

It’s time to get your gear in order and develop basic skills before embarking on a big fly fishing vacation!

Person fishing in river

Photo: The Ranch at Rock Creek, Montana USA

What should I bring on a fishing trip?

If you’re wondering what to bring on your fly fishing trip, here’s a handy packing list with all the essential items you’ll need for a fly fishing vacation. 

  1. 5-6 weight rod, reel and fly line
  2. Boots and waders
  3. Fishing pack or vest
  4. Floatant, nippers, forceps
  5. Fishing net
  6. Extra leaders and tippet
  7. Base- and mid-layer clothing
  8. Rain jacket or fishing wading jacket
  9. Fly box with general trout flies
  10. Gear duffel and airport-friendly travel luggage


Rod, reel and line

The sizing for your rod, reel and line varies based on the destination. For example, a saltwater trip will require heavier rods and reels with sealed drags to protect against corrosion. 

For a western trout trip to a fly fishing lodge in Montana, running a 5-6 weight rod is ideal. 

The majority of fishing is done with weight-forward floating lines. If you want to carry a sinking line, purchase a second spool that matches your reel, or a separate reel with a sinking line attached.

Green gloved hand holding fishing rod

Photo: Triple Creek Ranch, Montana USA

Numerous brands offer great options, with some having preassembled packages.

The rod packages are excellent because the rod, reel and line are already matched, and the reel is spooled. 

Shopping for these items for your fly fishing vacation requires attention to detail. Make sure to match a 5-weight rod with a WF5F (weight forward 5 floating) labeled fly line. 

Also choose a reel designed for 4-6 weight rods and spool the reel with backing before adding the line. 

Lastly, connect a tapered leader to the fly line. The leader size also varies based on the destination but 4x will cover most trout fishing destinations.

Consult with a local fly shop when possible, or look to online retail shops to purchase a rod/ree/line outfit. 

Brands like Orvis, Sage, Winston, Scott and Echo make excellent rods.


The best clothing for a fly fishing vacation

Weather is fickle at many destinations, and your clothing should match the environment and seasons

Rain, sleet and snow are possible on many trips, and the fishing can remain productive despite the conditions. C Lazy U Ranch’s fishing season kicks off in April, and there can still be snow and ice at this time.

Spring and fall trips call for multiple layers, while summer is all about sun protection and wading sandals.

Person in hat and sunglasses standing in water casting a fishing rod

Photo: French Creek Sportsmen's Club, Wyoming USA

  • Bring thick socks, long underwear and insulated layers for the shoulder season trips. 
  • Carry a sun shirt with a hood and wear a face covering when the rays are especially bright. 
  • A good hat and quality pair of polarized sunglasses are must-haves for all anglers as well. 
  • A quality wading jacket will block out the moisture while keeping you warm and comfortable. 
  • Wading jackets paired with waders essentially act as a dry suit, making it easy to fish through serious weather conditions. 

Simms, Patagonia and Orvis are common brands with fly fishing-specific apparel.

And don’t forget to double-check the season’s weather  if you’re heading to fly fishing lodges in New Zealand, remember their summer is the U.S.’s winter!


Do I need waders and boots for my fly fishing vacation?

Waders are a big investment and you should first determine if they are necessary, as many lodges and ranches supply waders – call ahead to determine if they carry waders and boots in your size. 

Anglers fishing regularly will, however, want to invest in a quality pair of waders and wading boots as they make it possible to fish comfortably nearly year-round.

July and August trips are often better with only boots or sandals, as the weather is hot, but wet wading on a hot day is refreshing! 


What other fly fishing accessories will I need?

In theory, guests do not need a fishing pack full of gear, as fly fishing lodge guides carry and supply flies while assisting with knot-tying, however traveling anglers who also fish independently will want their own pack with fly boxes, tippet, nippers, forceps, floatant, split shot, and extra tippet and leader materials. Carrying your own net is also an option. 

Also bear in mind that some fly fishing lodges, like The Ranch at Rock Creek, have stores or ‘Mercantile’, where you can pick up any gear you may need when you get there.

Owen River Lodge in New Zealand also proudly boasts a huge range of only the best fly fishing gear to borrow in case you're short on items. 

Person handling box of fly fishing flies

Photo: Big Hole Lodge, Montana USA

How do you transport fishing gear?

The best bags for fly fishing equipment

After assembling all of your gear for your fly fishing lodge vacation, packing becomes the next concern. What’s the best type of bag for a fly fishing vacation you may ask? 

Get a fishing-specific pack to organize and carry it all; backpacks, vests, hip packs, chest packs and sling packs are all specially designed for fly fishing, by brands like Orvis, Fishpond and Simms. 

Look for packs with waterproof designs, plenty of storage and accessory clips. 


How do you fly with fly fishing gear?

Boots, waders and wet gear require special packing systems, especially for air travel. 

Many anglers carry multiple rods and reels, and also will appreciate a system designed to organize fly fishing gear. 

Of course, you can still stuff everything into a regular duffel or rolling suitcase and make it work just fine. 

Several companies make rod and reel carrying systems that stow away multiple outfits along with accessories; Simms actually has one that attaches to a rolling duffel for easy transport through airports. 

New anglers won’t have many issues packing the basics, but regular travelers will eventually want to invest in a coordinated packing system. 

Look to Simms, Orvis, Fishpond and Patagonia for fishing-specific travel solutions.

Take fly fishing lessons before your trip

Two people standing in river

Fly fishing resorts and lodges provide expert instruction, and many anglers can learn the basics on-site.

For those who are just testing the waters, this works great and our network of fly fishing resorts and lodges has excellent fishing opportunities for beginners – guiding and instruction are already included in Brush Creek Ranch and French Creek Sportsmen’s Club’s rates for example, so what better opportunity to have a go!

Taking a lesson and learning to fly fish ahead of your trip is also a great way to prepare in advance, and catch rates are often higher for those who arrive with previous casting skills

This is largely attributed to the time saved by skipping casting instruction, and jumping straight into the rivers and lakes. 

Locate a certified casting instructor in your area through fly shops and outdoor stores – fly shops often offer free or low-cost clinics to get you started as well.


Practise makes perfect

After learning to cast, take a crack at local waters. It doesn’t matter if you live near a world-class trout river or an urban carp pond, any practice will make you better.

Focus on casting, mending line, stripping and making presentations. Work on knots to connect tippet to leaders and flies to the tippet. 

After a few outings, you will notice big improvements in performance and you will also begin making observations while engaging with the aquatic ecosystem.

And don’t forget that once you’ve booked your fly fishing lodge vacation, you can always discuss any gear specifics with our fly fishing experts at the lodges. 

So start researching your fly fishing vacation today! For more fly fishing ranch vacations, take at look at these fantastic ranches with fly fishing, too.

Not sure where to go and when? Check out our top tips for planning an epic fly fishing vacation, all seasons considered! 

Original article written by Freelance Writer and fishing afficionado, Zach Lazzari.

Co-written, edited and created by Kate Hammaren; luxury and adventure travel writer, editor and world traveler.


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