Around the world, at any given time, there are people standing around a fly shop, parked near a stream, or relaxing at camp arguing about what constitutes necessary gear while fly fishing. While it's true that each angler can decide for themselves what's necessary, there are a few pieces of gear that we believe should always be brought to the river.
Sunglasses: For more than just looking cool, sunglasses serve two purposes. First, they protect your eyes from the occasional fly that comes a little too close to your face while casting. Ask any old angler and I’m sure they can tell you about a guy they know who knows a guy who hooked their friend’s eyeball with a hook.
Second, in addition to safety, polarized sunglasses cut down glare and allow you to see fish. Being able to see fish gives you a great advantage over Mother Nature. And while you're at it, you may as well invest in some Croakies so your glasses will always be right where you want them, and you won't risk losing them.
Hat: Keep the sun out of your eyes, soak up sweat, and even use it as a place to hold flies while they dry out. There's also something to be said about the power of a lucky hat. Just don't lose it.
Nippers: Save your teeth the excess wear and tear and invest in some nippers. These little clips make it much easier to cut off extra tippet, which will allow your fly to travel through the air (and water) with less resistance.
Hemostats: Getting a deep-set hook out of the lip or throat of a fish can be a real pain, but hemostats will help. Just make sure you put them somewhere easy to access, like in a front shirt pocket, or locked onto the strap of your pack.
Net: Probably the most contentious piece of gear on this list, many anglers don’t feel the need to lug a net around with them. At the end of the day, carrying a net can be worth it, especially when trying to land a large fish.
You can find all of these items at your local fly shop.
Special thanks to John Van Vleet from Scientific Anglers for contributing to this article.