A list of the essential fly fishing accessories

3rd of December 2022

In the world of fly fishing, there’s an astounding array of accessories available. Some on-the-water fly fishing tools are must-have items while others have limited utility. In this article, we’ll look at fourteen of the most commonly used fly fishing accessories and offer tips on why and how to use each one. Let’s accessorize!  

Chest Pack or Sling Pack

You need access to your gear while fishing. A chest pack that’s made for fly fishing solves that — just look down and there’s your gear! Alternatively, a sling pack can be great because it keeps your gear behind you while you’re fishing and lets you swing the pack around to your chest when you need access.


Having a sharp pair of nippers is crucial when you’re fly fishing—you’ll reach for them every time you replace your fly. When preparing to tie on a fly, use nippers to trim the tippet at a 45-degree angle so it will slide through the hook eye and knot loops more easily.


One fly fishing accessory that every angler needs are locking forceps (also called hemostats). This versatile tool is used for three hugely important fly fishing tasks: holding a fly while you tie on, attaching split shot to your tippet, and removing hooks from fish. 


Zingers are retractable reels that you can attach to the outside of your pack for quick access to your most used tools. When you’re fishing a productive run and need to replace your fly, sharpen your hook, or add split shot, that’s no time to fumble in your pack for tools! A few well-placed zingers mean you can stay on that hotspot and get your fly back in the water fast.

Tippet holder

When the fish are active, you want to avoid wasting time fumbling in your pack for a tippet spool. A tippet holder lets you carry multiple tippet spools, mostly from four up to ten, in a compact stack. A fly fisher carrying multiple fluorocarbon spools for subsurface presentations plus multiple monofilament spools for use with dry flies will be equipped to handle many angling scenarios.


When fishing dry flies, it’s important to have two types of floatant on hand. For a fly that’s still bone dry, use a liquid or gel floatant to create a water-resistant coating on the feathers, hair, and other fibers. Even with this treatment, after a few submersions, the fly will get waterlogged and stop floating correctly. That’s where the second type of floatant comes in—a dry desiccant power. After squeezing out excess moisture, drop your fly in the desiccant container and shake it up—you’ll pull out a fly that’s dry, buoyant, and ready to fish.


For gear minimalists, a fly fishing lanyard can be nearly as useful as a full-featured chest pack. Lanyards are a piece of string that you wear as a necklace and typically come with four or to eight attachment points so anglers can have all the basics—tippet, forceps, and nippers—close at hand. Use extra attachment points for a micro fly box or floatant.

Strike Indicator

When presenting a nymph in even moderately deep water, it can be difficult to detect when a fish hits your fly. A small strike indicator attached to your leader gives you immediate feedback and allows you to set the hook at just the right moment. Water depth will dictate the placement of your indicator, but generally, it should be somewhere on the top third of your leader.

Wading Staff

Rule Number 1 for wading anglers is “don’t fall” and a wading staff is great at keeping you on your feet.  It’s not about staying dry as much as avoiding serious injury. Twisting a limb during a fall or landing on a rock the wrong way can end your fishing day, lay you up till next season, or worse. No matter how nimble you are in streams, you should consider adding a wading staff to your accessories list.

Landing Net

Anglers should never allow a fish to dangle from the line or drag it onto land to gain control. Fishing with a landing net helps you catch and release fish conscientiously. After guiding a fish into the net, you can safely remove the hook, allow the fish to recover, and admire your catch.

Hook sharpener

A hook sharpener can help you freshen up the point of your hook. When you’re presenting nymphs and streamers effectively, your fly will contact the bottom, and after a while, the hook point won’t be as sharp as it should be. If you have a hook sharpener handy, a few careful strokes will restore the point and get you fishing again in no time.

Polarized sunglasses

Sight-fishing and fly fishing go hand-in-hand and polarized sunglasses can give anglers a near-superhuman ability to see underwater. When choosing a pair of fishing sunglasses, remember, it’s the polarization, not the tint, that matters. For use on cloudy days and shady streams, consider getting polarized sunglasses with a lighter tint than your everyday shades.

Brimmed Hat

Whether you’re sporting sunglasses or not, a ball cap or other style of brimmed hat will do wonders for your ability to see fish. Cutting out the glare is what it’s all about, and a good hat will do that. In bright sunshine, experienced anglers on the lookout for shallow fish will often use cupped hands under the brim of their cap to temporarily eliminate side glare.


Water temperature plays a role in determining where fish hold in streams and rivers, and the temperature can vary greatly based on structure, shade, and the time of day. The ability to take a quick reading can help you pinpoint prime locations and avoid water that’s outside the optimal temperature range.

To conclude

We hope this brief rundown of fly fishing accessories has been helpful. There’s a lot of stream-side gear available—try not to over-pack! Too often we bring all the accessories we can carry, regardless of the likelihood that we’ll need them. Instead, our tip is to enjoy the freedom that comes with carrying only your must-have fishing tools!

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