Must Have Fly Fishing Accessories

So you’ve caught the bug for fly fishing, now you need to get the gear. With that in mind, you’re going to need to know what to look for.  Some fly fishing accessories are simply indispensable while others are just nice to have for convenience sake.

Fly Fishing Atlas brings you our take on the must-have fly fishing accessories.

You will notice that these accessories are not pricey big-ticket items.  They are an inexpensive way to help you succeed and enjoy your time on the water.  Nothing beats affordable tools that will provide for your needs without breaking the bank.

We have found the fly fishing Accessories listed below to be incredibly helpful tools.  You might not find a need for every one of them depending on your particular style of fishing.  But most of them are widely used and are very popular with anglers far and wide.

Fly fishing Accessories To Consider

  • Sunglasses – Expensive polarized sunglasses can be very nice.  But the price tag is decidedly not so nice.  Especially when they still scratch and break just like an inexpensive pair will.  These glasses are comfortable, affordable, and won’t make you howl at the moon when you sit on them by accident.
  • Landing net with magnetic net release – Rubber landing nets are so much better than woven cloth nets.  They’re better for the fish, and they don’t snag your hook like cloth nets will.  And the magnetic net release allows for fast and convenient attachment with one hand.
  • Fly boxes – These boxes have all the attributes of a good fly box at a reasonable price.  Waterproofing, see-through lids, and high capacity put these boxes at the top of our list of fly fishing accessories.
  • Strike Indicators – Strike indicators have a tendency to crimp a mean curl into your leader.  Stick-on indicators just destroy your leader altogether.  These indicators are the answer.
  • Scissor Forceps –  Forceps are another piece of gear that an angler should never be without.  Forceps prevent inflicting damage to your flies and your catch when removing them.  As if forceps weren’t good enough already, some genius realized scissors can be integrated into the forceps design.
  • Fly floatant – Fly floatant gels can be greasy, make an oil slick on the water,  and get all over your gear.  We have been using this floatant for over a decade, and have yet to find anything that performs nearly as well.
  • Dry shake – desiccant  Dry shake is amazing at drying out a water-logged fly.  It is particularly useful immediately after landing a fish.  This dry shake is undoubtedly the most reputable among dry fly anglers.
  • Zingers –  Zingers are perfect for holding certain tools on your chest rig or vest.  This set comes with three zingers that can be configured in any combination you’d like. You can choose if you want to attach with a clip, a safety pin, or a miniature carabiner.
  • Line nippers –  Simply put, nippers are indispensable.  Anglers use them constantly for changing flies and making clean knots by nipping off the tag ends.  An angler with no nippers is like Luke Skywalker with no light saber.
  • Float tube fins – There are some flimsy fin designs on the market.  Sometimes an angler needs to fight back the wind.  These over-the-boot fins get the job done.

Calcutta Rockpile Sunglasses

Calcutta Rockpiles are a terrific pair of polarized glasses for a fair price.  Expensive polarized glasses look nice, but the cost is can be out of reach.  We all wish we paid $25 rather than $200 when they take a dip in the stream and quickly pass out of reach.  And Calcutta glasses allow you to see just as deep as those super pricey high-end shades.

We like the frame style of Calcutta Rockpiles but if you’re looking for some other frame styles and colors we suggest taking a look at Calcutta Catalinas as well.

Polarized sunglasses are absolutely essential for fly fishing.  They help you to see subsurface fish and their behavior, which would be completely missed otherwise.  But there is another huge benefit to glasses.

Think about the safety aspect of wearing sunglasses – while you whip a sharp hook back and forth beside your head.  If that doesn’t provide the unmistakable value of glasses, then you aren’t thinking about it hard enough.

Protecting your eyes from accidental injury is crucial.  You’ll notice that experienced fly anglers always wear glasses, even on cloudy days.  Blue or amber lenses provide good visibility in mixed overcast and sunny conditions.

We recommend Calcutta shades for a number of reasons:

1.)  Excellent clarity – Calcutta shades let you see deep into the water by very effectively cutting the surface glare off the water.  In fact, we think they let you see deeper than some of the high-end glasses.

2.) Tough and comfortable frames – We like the solid polycarbonate frames.  Rubber nose pads and ear pads always fall off and ruin a pair of glasses that might have lasted much longer otherwise.  These glasses fit comfortably, so they don’t need all those goofy rubber pads.

3.) Various lens colors – Calcutta offers a variety of lens colors for different weather conditions.  Some anglers prefer amber, green, or blue lenses for overcast days, and others just like gray lenses.

SF Soft Landing Net

The landing net that we recommend is the Soft Landing Net from SF.  Rubber landing nets simply cannot be beat.  They’re super gentle on the fish and they don’t snag your hook like cloth and nylon nets will.  And this net is made from a clear rubber that won’t rot or spooking the fish.

When that critical moment comes and you are trying to land a great fish, the clear netting virtually disappears under water.  We recommend the larger square head landing net if you plan on landing fish over 16 inches.

The addition of a magnetic net release makes releasing and attaching the landing net convenient and simple.  You’ll be able to connect your landing net with one hand just by placing the magnets near one another.

Bozeman Flyworks Fly Boxes

The fly boxes that we recommend are the Bozeman Flyworks Waterproof Fly Box.  Fly boxes don’t need to be wildly expensive and these boxes get the job done every bit as good as any high-priced fly box, and get it done in style.

The Bozeman double sided boxes sport clear lids which makes it easy to select a fly without opening the box.  The lids seal well and provide good waterproofing because of quality rubber gaskets.  Foam inserts have slits to hold your flies and last longer than solid foam that gets gouged and torn up.

If you’re like us, you’re wondering if these boxes will fit in your chest pack or vest.  The boxes measure 6 x 4 x 2 inches, and seem to play well with most chest packs.  The internal dimensions fit dries, nymphs, and fairly large streamers nicely.

Our one minor criticism is that the boxes do not have a lanyard attachment point for anglers who like that feature.  Aside from that small detail, Bozeman Flyworks Waterproof Fly Boxes do the job and do it with a fair price.

Airflo Airlock Strike Indicators

The strike indicators that we recommend are the Airlock Indicator from Airflo.  Airflo is one of our favorite brands.  Airflo makes amazing products and is incredibly innovative in the world of fly fishing.  The Airlock Indicator builds on that reputation for innovative fly fishing accessories.

Stick-on indicators destroy leaders because they leave a sticky residue.  And they start to sink after they have been in the water for a while.  Other strike indicators connect by looping your leader around them which will eventually weaken or even break lighter lines.  At the very least the connection will crimp a terrible curly-cue into your leader and the indicator won’t stay put.  They slide down the leader when you don’t want them to.  And they can be difficult to move back up or down the leader when the depth of the stream changes.

The Airlock Indicator is an ingenious design because it has a slot that your leader is placed in and then a cap is tightened down on the leader.  The Airlock Indicator stands apart from the rest of the field because the cap locks onto the leader without damaging or curling your line.  And if the stream depth changes you just loosen the cap a bit and slide the indicator to allow your fly to ride at the desired depth.  The Airlock Indicator from Airflo is the best indicator out there, hands down.

Dr. Slick Scissor Forceps

The scissor forceps that we recommend are the Dr. Slick Scissor Clamp.  Dr. Slick has been producing top quality fishing instruments since 1989 with a focus on making the best fishing and fly tying instruments available.  The Dr. Slick Scissor Clamps are ridiculously handy.

Forceps save your flies from getting destroyed when you are removing them from a fish’s mouth.  They also save your fingers if you hook into a particularly toothy critter. And with smaller fish its no problem to slip a set of forceps in and out of a fish’s mouth to prevent damage to a fish that is being released.

The Dr. Slick Scissor Clamps are rugged enough to mash barbs and pull big streamer hooks.  But they also aren’t built like a set of pliers that would destroy small flies.  They really are a super useful and effective tool.  And the integral set of scissors might have MacGyver trading in his Swiss Army Knife for the Dr. Slick Scissor Clamp.   Assuming you don’t drop them in the river, you will not need another pair of forceps.  We suggest you check out the curved tip model.  The unique function and great price of the Dr. Slick Scissor Clamps has made them a highlight of our fly fishing accessories.

Loon Aquel Fly Floatant

The fly floatant that we recommend is Aquel from Loon Outdoors.  Loon outdoors produces high quality fly fishing accessories with a focus on maintaining healthy fisheries.

Aquel is a solvent-free floatant that consists of water-soluble components to avoid polluting the water we fish.  Aquel performs at a higher level than other floatants and for that reason has long been a staple product among our top choices of fly fishing accessories.

Fly floatant is pretty simple stuff.  Ideally, it makes your dry fly float well and doesn’t cause an oil slick on the surface of the water.  Aquel excels at both of those data points and just a tiny bit of Aquel goes a long way.  It is not messy to apply and doesn’t grease up your fingers because it isn’t petroleum based.  As always, the fish are the final judge.  Our experience with Loon Aquel over the past decade has shown that fish approve of Aquel every bit as much as we do.

Frog’s Fanny Dry Shake

The dry shake that we recommend is Frog’s Fanny Dry Fly Powder.  Frog’s Fanny has a super solid reputation among fly anglers.  In fact, Frog’s Fanny is so popular that many anglers mistakenly refer to any brand of dry shake as Frog’s Fanny.

No amount of false casting will dry out a waterlogged fly because the deep moisture stays locked in.  But the desiccant properties of Frog’s Fanny sucks the water out of the core of saturated flies.  When used on nymphs Frog’s Fanny leaves a layer of micro-bubbles that accurately resembles the look of an emerging aquatic insect that is shedding it’s exoskeleton.

Frog’s Fanny lasts a long time and gives your flies a super accurate presentation.  Frog’s Fanny stands out as our hands-down top choice among dry shake desiccants.

SF Zingers

The zingers that we recommend are the SF Fly Fishing Zingers. In contrast to other fly fishing accessories these zingers are particularly nice because they are somewhat customizable.  Most likely you will be attaching these zingers to a chest pack or maybe a full vest in order to carry things like nippers or floatant.  With that in mind, most zingers require specific means of attachment, so what do you do if your chest pack of vest does not provide for that particular means of attachment?

The custom combinations available in the 3-pack of SF Fly Fishing Zingers specifically answer those type of predicaments because the SF Zingers come in any combination of pin-on, clip-on, or with a carabiner clip.  Maybe you only have one loop that you want to connect a carabiner zinger onto, but you still need one or more additional zingers.  The SF Fly Fishing Zingers will provide for pinning an additional one or two zingers anywhere you would like.

Like all fly fishing accessories, zingers wear out in time so its great that the SF Fly Fishing Zingers come in a 3-pack.  And the great price point allows you to put a couple away for the inevitable day when you need another.

Line Nippers

The nippers that we suggest are the stainless steel Line Nippers from Discount Flies.  Nippers are one of the most simple and indispensable of all fly fishing accessories because they keep your leader almost undetectable to picky fish.

Nippers are perfect for cleaning up knots, cutting off flies, or cleaning up that rough cuticle that seems to catch on every little thing.

These nippers stay sharp with repeated use and they won’t get rusty from constant exposure to the elements because they are made from stainless steel.

Classic Accessories Fins

The float tube fins that we recommend are the Classic Accessories Float Tube Fins.  Classic Accessories makes great inflatable boats, float tubes, and tubing gear at terrific prices.  There are really junky float tube fins out there that will not get the job done. The Classic Accessories float tube fins are about a cheap as they come, and they work.

Float tube fins need to be fairly rigid because there is a fair amount of force generated by the angler kicking around the water.  Some float tube fins are too flimsy and just fold over when you kick against the water.  They really don’t have the needed rigidity to propel a float tube very well.  Classic Accessories Fins are pretty stiff so they allow the angler to really put some force into kicking.

The fins we suggest from Classic Accessories are very functional because they are wide enough to accommodate large wading boots.  We have fished with fins that won’t hold a wide boot.  The angler is left with little choice but to either float tube with stocking foot waders, or buy some new fins.  Many wading boots are designed with wide dimensions in order to house thick socks during cold-water wading.  The Classic Accessories Float Tube Fins meet the needs of float tubers due to their great price and great performance.

Quick Gear Carrier

The full-on set up involved with fly fishing can really slow you down.  Its awesome to have something you can grab quickly and hit the water when the evening hatch starts to pop.  The perfect gear carrier for that application is the Cerveza Sidekick from Fishpond.

The Cerveza Sidekick is more than just a beverage carrier, but that is a nice feature.  The main compartment is zippered and could hold a fly box or two depending on the size.  There are interior sleeves for items like leaders and your fishing license.

The exterior has hypalon tabs, D-ring, and gear loops for additional gear or zingers.  Behind the beverage holder is a slot that is perfect for pliers or scissor clamps.

Fishpond includes the padded neck sling which has good range of adjustment for a variety of configurations.  You can wear the sidekick up high like a chest pack or to the side like a sling pack.  Look here for our top picks for chest packs.

You can also hook the Cerveza Sidekick on a raft frame or on your boat.  That is made possible by Fishpond’s four-way attachments for gear straps on the rear of the sidekick.

Magnifying Lenses

OPTX Hydrotac stick-on lenses turn your favorite pair of glasses into magnifying bifocals.  For those of us who no longer have twenty year old eyes, these lenses are a huge help.

Threading that 6x tippet through a size 18 hook isn’t even easy when you have good eyesight.  These can save you a stack of cash.  Instead of dropping serious coin on sunglasses with progressive lenses, just peel and stick on the inside of your glasses.  They are reusable and can be trimmed to fit your glasses however you would like.

Like any bifocal pair of glasses, they have other uses as well.  Hydrotac lenses are a helpful product for anglers and they’re very inexpensive.

Check out our top fishing gear review articles: