You wouldn’t be caught on the river without sharp nippers and sturdy hemostats. You respect the fish with rubber nets and baby your favorite flies with waterproof cases. Beyond the basics, it’s easy to get overloaded with gear and gadgets, so we recommend these 10 essential tools that every Alaskan fly fisherman should be using.
1. Save Your Eyes With a Fly Threader
Changing out flies in a flash is a snap with a handy fly threader. Shady spots don’t slow you down when you have one of these simple tools, and it really ups production at sunrise and sunset. The basic configuration provides magnetic slots for different fly sizes that let you handle the smallest eye by simply sliding the tippet down a funneled channel.
2. See Better With a Clip-On
Do you need a better bead on that threader? How about a small magnifier that clips on your hat’s brim? This extra eye instantly doubles your visual powers. Most models sport lightweight clips and hinges that secure the magnifier out of the way until you need it. When the job warrants a closer look, you’re ready to stay focused. Just fold the rectangular viewer back over your brim when you’re done.
3. Pouch Your Patterns Dry
This remedy for soaked flies is one of your best Alaskan fly fishing buddies. It works like magic, but the secret ingredients are natural materials that suck up moisture with a firm squeeze and revive drowned flies for immediate action. Most drying pouches measure a compact 2 inches by 3 inches with protective leather covers, and they’re versatile enough for all of your flies.
4. Stay Sharp With a Multi-Tool
Some anglers swear by the trusty Swiss army knife, but you’re better off with a small tool collection designed especially for fly fishing. The best multi-tools sport hook hones, needle-noses, cutters and more. They won’t replace your gear box, but most of these handy, compact kits are just what you need when you’re waders deep in serious fly fishing action.
5. Tool Your Way to Quick-Release
When you’re fly fishing in Alaska, a quality quick-release tool is always essential. It spares fish from extra handling and line tangles, and that ups their chances for quick recovery. Your hands stay dry while flies avoid damage, and that ups quality time on the water. You’ll appreciate a good quick-release tool when you’re catching more than 100 fish a day on the Kvichak River.
6. Handle Them With Landing Gloves
Catch and release rules, but when you have to lay on the hands, do it with care. Landing gloves protect fish with a dual-layer outer mesh that makes it easer to handle even the biggest salmon and trout without causing harm. Hold that fish, smile for the camera, and enjoy knowing that you’re practicing the kind of responsible catch and release that helps preserve one of Alaska’s most important natural resources.
7. Refresh With a Filter
Why not carry a lightweight, compact thermos that doubles as a water filtration system? These handy containers process chemicals, odors and unpleasant tastes out of water in a matter of seconds. Most work with press-style filtration cups that even remove fresh-water bacteria. The average canister processes close to 40 gallons between filter changes, and that adds up to extra mileage out there on the river.
8. Warm Your Soul with Insoles
Technically, heated insoles aren’t tools, but they still belong on your list of Alaskan fly fishing essentials. Stay comfortable on your feet with heated inserts that chase the chill out your favorite footwear. The insoles work inside everything from boots to waders, and they operate on rechargeable batteries powered with remote control. You can adjust foot comfort from cozy to toasty with WiFi ease.
9. Light Up Your Trail
The sun can’t come up fast enough when you’re headed out, but it sure seems to go down in a hurry. A spot headlamp keeps you safe on the trail coming and going, and it extends sundown time on the river too. Fancy models offer adjustable beams, night-vision modes and combination lamp-magnifiers. They all feature LED illumination that really comes in handy when you’re losing daylight.
10. Keep on Track With GPS
Go with the basics, or pack something that rings bells and blows whistles, but never underestimate the value of a solid, hand-held GPS device. If your safety suddenly depends on finding your way through the Alaskan wilderness, this gadget can be a lifesaver. In more than 40 years, we’ve never lost an angler here at No See Um, but we still consider a GPS device one of the most important fly fishing essentials.
Holding this list down to just 10 tools wasn’t easy, so let us know what you think. Fly fishing in Alaska is all about tradition with room for innovation, and there’s always room for you here at No See Um. Plan your next fly fishing trip with us, and find out why we always top everyone’s list of the best fly fishing lodges in Alaska.