February 17, 2000


Compared to trout fishing, the well armed saltwater angler’s needs are simple. Quite often, as with all leisure time activities, people tend to over think the task and consequently burdened themselves with gadgets and gizmos that do nothing more than complicate matters.

For example, check out the average cold water fisherman’s vest, it’s crammed with 7 tippet spools, 12 leaders, a leader book to hold the leaders, 6 fly boxes, floatant, sinking agent, bug spray, nippers, pliers, split shot, zingers, forceps, leader straighter, thermometer, strike indicators, spare spools, spare lines, knot tiers, sun glasses, hook remover, hook sharpener, etc., etc., etc. There’s enough stuff there to outfit the entire Regis Philbin fan club.

While the saltwater game remains much more simplified, there are some "wouldn’t be without" items I would consider essential to the sport besides rod, reel and spools. In no particular order of importance:

Sunglasses - My personal passion is sight fishing. To sight fish with any degree of success one must be equipped to see through water under various light conditions… duh. There is absolutely no excuse for not possessing a quality pair of amber tinted sunglasses. The color amber allows for maximum visibility under a variety of conditions from overcast to bright sun.

Pliers - The tool that does it all. Your pliers should be made of stainless steel, to resist rust, and incorporate a cutting blade sharp enough to clip heavy monofilament and .457mm wire. This tool also comes in handy for tightening knots, removing hooks and crimping barbs.

Stripping Basket - I’m am fortunate to have the ability to coil substantial amounts of fly line in my stripping hand and do not use one. Learn how to use one. This tool will make line management far more pleasant, reduce line memory and coiling, as well as add considerable distance to your cast.

Tippet Material - I personally carry four spools when wading. Butt section 33lb Rio, mid section 22lb Rio, and tippet section 13.2lb Rio and 20lb fluorocarbon (similar diameter). I must admit that I have never encountered a situation that I found myself replacing either the butt or mid under field conditions, but it’s good insurance.

Fly Box - See if you can limit yourself to just one modest sized fly box. Even a small box has enough storage capacity to maintain a small army of flies.

Wire - American Fishing Wire produces a product called Surflon-Micro Supreme that is by far the best material on the market. It is conducive to accepting a variety of knots and will come in handy should you encounter toothy critters. I prefer their 26lb (12kg) test.

Stripping Glove - Because of a mild skin disease I will simply no go afield without one. Worn on the rod hand, this glove has a no-slip surface and prevents cuts and abrasions when stripping line. Would a golfer play his favorite links without one? Would Nomar saunter up to the plate absent of his favorite batting glove? I’ve also discovered that "The Stripper" made by the Waterworks Company, also comes in handy for tailing fish in shallow water.

Chest Pack - I hate them. Frankly I find them bulky and restricting but a necessity for storing all this stuff. Personally I wear a lightweight, breathable jacket with oversize pockets that not only offers enough storage area, but serves as a wind breaker, sun shield and rain coat during inclement weather.

There are also obvious clothing and skin care issues to consider when spending a day in the hot sun, but above are the nuts and bolts. And that "is my final answer."


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