So…What’s in your gear bag?
It doesn’t matter how close I shave the hair on my head, I apparently will never be able to pull off that commercial that Samuel L. Jackson does for Capital One credit cards. You know… the ones where he ends it with, “What’s in your wallet?” Yep, I’m guessing I will never get paid millions to say, “What’s in your gear bag?”
On a totally different note, let’s talk about what is in your gear bag by talking about what is in mine. Now I will be the first to admit that I, in fact, do not have it all figured out but, I am closer than most due to the numbers of days fly fishing over the last three decades. The point is, as a guide and traveling angler I have logged some pretty serious hours on the water both here and afar and have figured a few things out. The first and most important, you should try to be prepared for anything. That is where a great, well provisioned, gear bag can come in handy.
So I called this piece “Your Man Purse” because that is exactly what it is. You see, nothing to me (at least as of this writing) is as important as a day on the water or in the woods. Whether you are a fisherman or a hunter, you need to have all those little things that may make the difference in a successful trip and they will not always fit in your pockets.
Oops… just remembered that some of the fishermen reading this might be of the XX chromosome type, hence lacking the Y chromosome, which incidentally means you are of the female persuasion. I will go back to calling it a gear bag.Sorry, I just have to give a finger to the PC police every now and then.
Anyway, there are a ridiculous number of gear bags to be found out there but it is important to find one that suits your needs and will carry the gear you feel absolutely necessary for a successful and safe trip. Whether fishing the flats of Matagorda or in some remote waters elsewhere, you can customize your bag for each situation that you might encounter.
As regards my personal favorite bags, I have two. I prefer a bag made by Fish Pond for guiding both here and in Florida, and another made by Mangrove (an affiliate of Temple Fork Outfitters) for traveling. Different needs of course.
In the fishing guide category, there are a some things I consider absolute must-have items. First is the Garmin inReach handheld GPS unit; it could literally save your life. Next up is a handheld VHF radio for contacting the Coast Guard and other first responder organizations should things go terribly awry. Believe me folks- it may not happen often but it can damn sure happen.
I always carry spare fishing pliers; Van Staal is my favorite. And while on the subject of pliers, I also like to include a Leatherman Multi-Tool. I also consider a sizeable selection of leader materials essential to match the variety of species and conditions we might encounter during a fishing trip.
Perhaps a bit less essential but still very useful to have along are extra sunscreen and lip balm. And you can never have too many knives in you skiff. Other handy items include spare drink coozies and eating utensils for me and my customers. Headlamps with spare batteries and hook hones are also part of my list.
A couple of other things I cannot live without are my 15-lb Boga Grip and Baker Stainless Hookout tool. Add a few zip-ties and spare pair of gloves and we are getting close. Also, despite the fact that we are snobby fly anglers, we all, just admit it, throw a little light-tackle from time to time. You need to have a stash of the ‘Bubba Stuff’ hidden deep in your gear bag. LOL!
So here are a few other items that you can bury in your bag that may come in handy; ear plugs, band-aids, Neosporin, some hand salve (I like the Burt’s Bees), a wader and jacket repair kit, and reading glasses for knot tying with aging eyes…like mine.
All in and all done, a gear bag is a personal thing, just like a skiff! All I can leave you with is one important lesson- do not ever use a pair of gloves to land a bull red, jack, tarpon or any other fish and then put those gloves back in your gear bag for any longer than 30 seconds. You will regret it for days or even weeks or months.The next piece I do for you all will be a special one. Look forward to hearing from and or seeing you all next month.