10 Essentials for a Fly Fishing Road Trip

FJ Gallatin Canyon

10 Essentials for a Fly Fishing Road Trip

I just wrapped up an extraordinary three-week fly fishing trip, and having put a number of extended angling road trips under my belt, there are several must-haves for packing that stood out over the course of the trip.

1.  Cooler

A big YETI took a prominent place in the back of my truck, yet I didn’t once throw ice in the cooler or use it to keep things cold. Instead, I’ve found a good cooler is great for keeping things from getting too hot. For example, I often buy dozens of protein and nut bars and generally keep a gallon of water (to refill at stops) to save money and eat right on the road. Kept in the cooler, they seem to stay at a reasonable temperature – even if it’s scorching outside. Also, there are times when I might throw my camera or other electronics in there when I expect the car will get hot. (Note: If you are an angler/thief, ignore that last sentence.)

2.  32-ounce water bottle

Hydration is critical, and if you are angling at altitude, you will need to hydrate more frequently than normal. One-use bottles are expensive and wasteful. Save money and “keep it green” by having your own bottle. Also, I often refill at gas stations for free.

3.  Batteries and chargers

How is it that you never use something (such as a flashlight), yet the battery is dead when you go to use it for the first time?! Extra batteries are a nice thing to have when you need them for a flashlight, headlamp, camera, or other product.

4.  Tent, sleeping bag, and pillow

It’s good to be flexible, and being able to sleep outside or in the car can be important if you need your trip to take a different turn (literally). A river can be blown out or a new destination could surface. And of course, weather can always slow down your progress. Even if hotels are your scene, it’s good to be ready to sleep under the stars.

5.  A multi-tool

On this last trip I needed an Allen wrench. Couldn’t have predicted that! I also lost my clippers and needed a wire-cutter. Allen wrench in the glove box was clutch.

6.  A headlamp

Stuff happens. From the car to the campsite, a headlamp can be helpful. In the woods, it can be a lifesaver (and packs easily).

7.  A smart phone or tablet

Most phones are smart phones now, so a phone will likely suffice. Apps are handy for getting everything from a GPS to weather to tide charts. Equally important, it’s great to book hotels from sites like hotels.com on your phone or tablet so you can browse reviews and rates.

8.  Cash

Surprise tolls, cash-only licenses, and tips. Critical.

9.  A spare car key

Being off the grid and locked out of the car is how horror movies start.

10.  AAA membership

My trips are pretty uneventful when it comes to car problems, and until this trip, I’d only called AAA once in my life. On this last trip, I nearly needed it three times, and I in fact had two roadside emergencies twice in one day! (Long story.) AAA pays for itself pretty quickly, especially if you are a traveling angler who treks by truck.


– Tim Harden

3 thoughts

  1. Your list is pretty good covers about everything,I’m sure most of use would like to hear about your trip & maybe the gear you carried

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