It’s summertime and there are fish just waiting to be caught. Get casting (properly outfitted) whether your budget is big or small.
Summer has arrived and brought her long, warm days. Make the most of the season by getting out on the water, and often! While some of your gear will work all four seasons, these are my favorites for fishing the hotter, sunnier season.
Stand Out Tools:
Forceps, line nipper, and a zinger tool are all essential items for your pack. You can pick these items up in any decent fishing store or you can order this cool rainbow trout print kit from Amazon ($28).
Want to get on the water cheap? Here’s a secret — any old nail clippers will work to nip line. Sure, they’re not as handy as their purpose-built brethren, but they also cost about a buck at any Walgreens, which may have inexpensive hemostats, too.
Not Your Brother’s Shorts:
Check out Patagonia’s Barely Baggie Shorts ($50) for a water-repellant pair of shorts, with pockets, elastic waistband, and in a cute cut. Plus, choose from cool prints or classic solids colors
For Men, we’ve tested and love the new Columbia PFG Offshore Boardshort ($60). The shorts are soft, stretchy, quick drying, have a decent sized zip-close pocket and come equipped with a bottle opener/line cutter attached on a lanyard.
These are nice all-around boardshorts for fishing or other summertime water sports.
Carry flies neatly with a nice fly book. My current favorite is a personalized Book of Flies ($20) from Utah-based Rustico. Your choice of leather and personalization with room enough for as many flies as you can fit in there (at least your top 30). Oh yeah, and it’s handmade in the USA, using American leathers.
Catch To Table:
Of course you practice catch-and-release, but it’s often appropriate to keep a fish or two for dinner.
Make quick work of processing your catch with a classic Rapala Fishin’ Fillet Knife ($18-40 at Cabela’s), an iconic design that’s done the job for decades.
For a large filet knife in a smaller package, the Buck Silver Creek ($42) is a nice option that unfolds to reveal a 6.5″ blade. We’ve used one for a couple years and been pleased with the strong feeling lock, non-slip grip and easy-to-sharpen blade.
Stay Dry, My Friends:
Even in the summer, there are streams and days just too darned cold to wet wade for long.
Waders for women are pretty few and far between. Simm’s makes a solid option in the Freestone Wader ($250 at Cabela’s) It was designed in partnership with the best female guides, and they fit well. I love the fleece-lined, reach-through pocket, and the easy conversion from suspender straps to high waisted wader.
Redington also makes three styles of women’s specific waders from $150. GearJunkie tested the Siren wader and found them a good fit with useful pockets and plenty of insulation for frigid Alaskan rivers.
Men have plenty of options, with prices ranging from about $15 for these cheap, non-breathable PVC waders from Cabela’s (they’ll work for women, too), to $500 or more for high end waders that will keep you dry even in hot weather.
Redington’s Sonic Dry Wader has served us well.
Keep your flies dry, too, with a high-quality dry gel floatant. This little bottle of Aquel ($5.50) from Loon Outdoors is an essential item for dry flies. It keeps your human scent away, won’t leave oil behind, oh, and it is the official floatant of Fly Fishing Team USA.
After You Hook ‘Em, You Gotta Net ‘Em:
A good net is essential to most fishing. Important things to consider are size, weight, and handling comfort. If you’re catch-and-release fishing, chose a net with rubber or a very fine mesh as not to hurt fish.
If you’re not in a boat, you need something light and small enough to carry with you. I really like Fishpond’s Nomad Hand Net ($125 at Cabela’s). It is lightweight, durable, and easy to maneuver thanks to the extra-grippy short handle.
But as nice as it is, you can spend much less and still get a completely useful net. Most fishing shops have a range of options, some for as little as $10.
Turns Out Water Is Good For You:
But you have to drink it. Stay hydrated during long days with a Liberty Bottle ($25) artistically featuring classic flies. Lots of options, recycled aluminum, BPA free, and proudly made in America result in one water bottle you’ll hang onto.
Packs Are The New Vests:
Heavy vests can be cumbersome during summer fishing trips. Many anglers are utilizing the growing number of fishing packs available today. Orvis makes a great one-shoulder style in the Safe Passage Sling Pack ($90).
It is a great alternative to your traditional vest. Angers will love how the pack stays completely out of your way while you fish, the padded shoulder strap, easy-access magnetized sheath for your forceps, quick-access water bottle holder at the bottom, and a molded back to keep you comfy and cool during a warm day of fishing.
Of course, don’t feel your pack has to be branded by a fishing company. All the extras are nice, but if you’re on a budget, most any small backpack or lumbar pack will carry the essentials for a day on the stream.
Easy On The Eyes, Easy On The Face:
Reduce glare and have crazy clear vision with a pair of polarized sunglasses. If you’ve never fished with polarized glasses, now is the time to start. I recommend Costa’s Pawleys ($200 at Backcountry.com) model. A wide selection of lens options and frame choices, plus your choice of glass or plastic lenses, and a slightly retro styling make the Pawleys a great all-around pair.
All Costa sunglasses are polarized, feature 100% UV protection, and are backed by a lifetime guarantee.
Looking for a cheaper option? Fisherman Eyewear makes some decent polarized lenses that retail in the $20-$30 range.
Enjoy the sun’s warmth but don’t damage your skin by using a face gaiter. Columbia’s Omni-Freeze Zero ($30) has sweat-activated cooling technology and UPF 50 to keep your face protected and cool. I like it in white.
Land the Big One Without Losing Your Sunglasses:
Losing a good pair of sunglasses can put a damper on your fishing day. Keep them close with a sunglasses strap like Croakies’ Fish Print SuitersAdjustable slider, several fish print patterns, and made in the USA.
A Classic, With a Twist:
Columbia’s PFG fishing shirts are a modern classic for men and women. Add a personal touch with a custom monogram. Bonus, no one will be able to steal your shirt and deny it! Check out this Etsy shop for a wide array of PFG monogram options.
Top it Off:
A good hat is almost as essential as your rod for a day of fishing. I usually prefer wider brimmed hats for superior sun protection such as a cowboy hat or my new favorite Tilley hat.
Tilley hats have a cult following and for good reason: They are well made and guaranteed for life, so they’ll have plenty of time to earn their stripes. Check out the lightweight, waxed cotton Outback ($85).
Don’t want to invest in a high end hat right now? That’s fine, just remember to grab a brimmed hat before you hit the stream — your eyes and face will thank you.
—Bekah Klarr is an enthusiastic outdoorswoman, native Michigander, and proud border collie owner. She can be found fly fishing cold streams up north, deep seas down south, and hunting birds and big game in between.