Wading staff. If you fish in rivers, you need a staff. The problem with most retractable staffs is that they are a nuisance to set up and take down. The Black Diamond Z-Pole wading staff deploys quickly with an internal silicone cord, and is easy to pack away. I have used my hiking staff on the river. Best to get the right type if you can.
Nippers. Your dentist tells you never to bite your fishing line, but most nippers are worthless, and you constantly lose them. Abel Nippers are machined aluminum with sharp replaceable blades. Get the lanyard that goes with it and you’ll never misplace your nippers again.
Boots. Some people will debate this issue with me, but my advice is to avoid felt soles. The material is not durable, and will not last the life of the boots. And while felt provides excellent traction on smooth, mossy river rocks, it has lousy traction hiking to and from the river, on snow, wet, grassy riverbanks, and mud and clay river bottoms. Felt is also difficult to clean and travel with, and can also carry aquatic nuisances in the wet material.
Get boots with rubber soles, and add aluminum or tungsten carbide studs for extra traction. Aluminum sticks best on clean boulders that are annually scoured by ice and floods
Vests. There was a time when everyone wore a vest. Now you’ll see about 50 percent of fly fishers wearing vests, and everyone else with alternatives like chest, sling, or lumbar packs. If you are considering a vest, there’s a modern version from L.L. Bean called the Kennebec Boundary Chest Pack that has vacuum-molded pockets for your boxes, Boa-adjustable straps for exacting comfort, and a built-in tippet management system.
■ Jackets Good outerwear keeps you fishing in cool, rainy weather when trout and steelhead fishing is often best. A specialized wading jacket has deep pockets for fly boxes, watertight cuffs, and a hood you can wear over a baseball cap. I sometimes will use a sweatshirt which works great. It’s not all about how good you look on the water, but is you are warm and safe.
Waders Don’t Internet-order your waders. Only if you know your size and know the manufacturer. If you must order online, please take careful measurements and pay attention to the manufacturer’s sizing charts. The “best” waders are the ones that properly fit you, so it’s best to try several pairs before you buy. Many waders that I have worn fit differently with different manufactures. Tight waders restrict your movement and are uncomfortable. Always allow for some room, remember if you are needing to wear thermos wear underneath. Loose waders with a baggy crotch and “elephant knees” will chafe and leak prematurely. You’ll find that waders with a precise and comfortable fit will keep you dry much longer.
Reels The longer you fly fish, the more fly lines you’ll accumulate. You’ll buy floating lines, sinking lines, and lines for specific species, and of course different lines for different rod weights.