The best new fishing gear for itinerant fishermen
Traveling to go fishing is supposed to be fun. But with the wrong equipment, it can be miserable. This equipment is intended for travel to places where days can be marred by inadequate equipment. Everything here lends itself to easy storage in hand luggage or small checked baggage, so you can get around the airport and get to your destination quickly. Usually if you are hiring a boat for an adventure like this you just need to bring yourself so we won’t cover rods, reels or tackle. Your only responsibility is to stay comfortable enough not to complain and annoy the captain. But do not take this responsibility lightly. A happy captain means more fish, so prepare yourself accordingly.
1. Bibs and jacket Grundens Bouy X Gore-Tex
I was lucky enough to see how durable this jacket and bibs are when I visited the Gore-Tex factory a few years ago. They tested the fabric for abrasion, extreme cold, and even chemicals like gasoline. He resisted everything. The bibs and jacket are covered with zippered pockets, which is great for keeping electronics and important items like your wallet dry and secure. There are also neoprene cuffs in the sleeves which prevent water from soaking your shirt underneath. If you fish where the wind and rain blow sideways and the waves crash onto the gunwales all day, this is the jacket and bibs for you. I recently brought a Bouy X set on a trip to Southeast Alaska for two days of fishing. In the constant pouring rain, I found them more like a shelter than a garment. For faraway places and fishing near you, these will be the last jackets and bibs you buy.
2. Filson Swiftwater rain sweater
If you don’t expect gusts and white waves, a simple squeezable rain jacket will do just fine. I like the ones that have a carry pocket that the jacket can fold into, and the Swiftwater jacket has a pocket just for that. It’s a sweater, which can be frustrating if you’re wearing a fishing vest. But don’t worry, Filson also offers a zip-up version. As with most Filson gear, this jacket is oversized with taped seams and strong waterproof fabric. Rolled up in its pouch, it makes a good pillow for the plane, which is worth its weight in gold.
3. The classics of Ombraz
Before wearing these glasses I was not sure about them, but wanted to try them on. Now they rarely leave my head or my neck. Ombraz has no arms, just a rope from one side of the frame to the other. To put them on, you wrap the cord around the back of your head and pull it tight. They are good for traveling for two reasons: First, without arms, they are very difficult to break. (Holidays have been the downfall of a lot of my sunglasses.) Second, when they’re in place, they’re strapped to your head, which means they won’t fly off on a boat ride. windy or during intense fish fights. The ombraz are also polarized. I know they are not like other sunglasses, but in many ways they are much better.
4. Filson sports bag
Not having wheels on a carry-on is a bit of a challenge, but it’s something I’m starting to enjoy and prefer. And for carry-on without wheels, this bag is hard to beat. It has a laptop sleeve, hidden backpack straps, and enough pockets to keep your stuff organized, but not too many so your stuff gets lost. It has an expandable side pocket that separates wet and dry gear, making it ideal for a fishing trip. On the first day you won’t use it, but on the fifth day, once your clothes and bibs are covered in fish guts and sweat, it will come in handy. The pocket also works well for sandy wading boots or anything else you don’t want to contaminate your other stuff.
5. LIVSN Flex canvas pants
On the outside, these pants are simple and unpretentious. Under the hood, they’re packed with nifty features. For travel, the hidden zippered pockets are perfect. Important documents are easy to access, but locked. The flexible canvas is comfortable enough to fly and durable enough to take some abuse when you get to where you are going. And for all clam fishermen: when you roll them up, you’ll find a strap and button on the inside of the pant leg to keep the roll in place.
6. Deck-Boss Grundens Boots
The Deck Boss boots look a lot like the Xtratufs, but as one charter boat captain told me, “they are much more comfortable”. My favorite thing about traveling with a pair of boots like this is the lack of laces. When you’re riding in a TSA line and all you have to do is drag those puppies on and off, it’s a good day. If you’d rather not wear them at the airport, they’re short enough to fit in a small bag. They are also very efficient on a boat. The non-marking sole keeps you from getting yelled at and the waterproof part does exactly what it should. I even spilled caustic salts on them, and they still work.
7. Olympus Tough TG-6 digital camera
A cell phone is great for capturing the usual things, but the TG-6 will put your fishing trip photos and videos on top. It is waterproof up to 50 feet, which allows you to shoot images of underwater fish in 4K and take photos in the pouring rain. Best of all, you can transfer images and videos from the camera to your phone via WiFi, making it easy to post whatever you capture in no time. Pair it with a floating camera strap and you’re ready for anything.
8. Waterproof Ultralight Adventure Medical Kits .5
Your captain or guide will likely have a first aid kit. But you never know if they do it for sure or what condition this kit is in. They could have fixed a whole bunch of clients last week, and now all that’s left is a bandage and expired aspirin. Instead of relying on what your guide might have, take a backup. A lightweight basic kit like the Adventure Medical Kits Ultralight is small enough that you won’t notice it in a backpack or fishing vest. It is also water resistant to survive some time in the rain or the surf. Whichever kit you choose, just make sure everything in it is TSA compliant before you run it through the airport x-ray machine.
9. Pelican Ruck case
I can’t think of a better case to take on a boat for little things like a phone, wallet, fishing license, or snacks. The Ruck is a scaled-down version of larger Pelican boxes with a few extra features like a rubberized coating to keep it from slipping, and thoughtful tie-down points that still let you open the box when it’s attached. It is also small enough to fit in a purse. As with all Pelican cases, the Ruck prevents material from being squished or wet, making it ideal for holding a few party cigars.
10. Yeti Hopper M30 Soft Cooler
How are you going to get all this fish home? There is nothing wrong with the waxed box of fish that outfitters give you. It will last 24 hours with no problem. But an unexpected stopover could ruin everything, leaving pounds of hard-earned fillets to thaw on the tarmac. The hopper will keep the frozen fish cool for a few days. And at the very low temperatures at which some charter companies freeze their fish, it could take even longer. The hopper has a new waterproof magnetic seal and can be closed with buckles and straps, so it will stand up to being shaken by baggage handlers.