Little Fly Fishing Gadgets, Big Impact

Fly fishing gadgets are everywhere. There is no end to the number of little devices you can stuff into or clip onto your fly vest.

Beyond the obvious items like dry fly floatant and nippers, here are a few items which I always carry with me when I’m on the river.


This is a new one for me.

Last summer, I was trying to use my cell phone flashlight to tie on a size #18 Parachute Adams at dusk. It occurred to me that I either needed a third hand or a headlamp. Not surprisingly, the headlamp was a more feasible option. For less than $20, you can purchase a lightweight headlamp that lasts a long time and is hands free.

It works well when hiking into your fishing spot before dawn or walking out in the dark.

Drying powder

Is this truly a gadget? I’m not sure, but I’m calling it one.

Even though I use dry fly floatant, I still find drying powder to be the ticket for drying a dry fly after it’s been water-logged or slimed by a fish. For years I’ve used the Orvis Hy-Flote Shake-N-Float Renew. Or, if you want something with fewer syllables in the title, try Umpqua Bug Dust. Both brands use a combination of crystals and dust. You simply drop your fly in the bottle, close the lid, and shake it for a couple seconds.

It works like magic!

Magnetic net holder

Veterans know about this little gadget, but newbies may not: This item allows quick removal of my net, which hangs off of the back of my fly vest. The best part is re-attachment.

Since one of the magnets is clipped to the D-ring on the collar of my fly vest, I simply have reach behind my head with my net handle. The other magnet is attached to the end of my net handle, so that magnets quickly grab each other. There’s no yoga or gymnastics required to put the net back in place.

Believe it or not, there is a video with over 21,000 views. If you need to see how the gadget works, watch this clip. You can buy the Orvis magnetic net holder for $34 or the Scientific Angler one for $19.95.

Two-way radio

It’s nice to have a friend with two-way radios. That would be my podcast partner, Dave.

I often stuff one of his two-way radios in my vest when we’re fly fishing in more remote areas—like the back-country in Yellowstone National Park. We carry them for safety if we’re fishing different stretches of a river. We’ve also been known to use them to brag about the trout we just caught. You may be surprised at how many places you will have cell phone service. Yet it’s spotty at best in more remote areas, so we like the small two-way radios in case one of us needs help.

There are a million two-way radio brands, ranging from $25 to $300 or more. We like the Motorola brand, but frankly, almost every brand will do the trick.

GPS Tacker

For those of you doing more serious backpacking or fishing, you’ll want a GPS tracker. The major brand in GPS tracking is SPOT GEN3. You’ll want this device when you travel outside the bounds of cell service. With the simple push of a button, should the worst happen, you can alert emergency responders your GPS location. It’s small, pocket-sized, and can fit in your fly vest.

Of course, you can’t stuff everything into your fly vest, satchel, or front pack. Leave the fidget spinner at home. But there are some little items which really help with fly fishing and safety.

What’s in your fly vest?

8 Replies to “Little Fly Fishing Gadgets, Big Impact”

  1. A hand held GPS. Not to find my way back, but sometimes it is easier to climb to a road and get back to my vehicle that way. Unless I have the GPS, I’m guessing where the road is. Climbing through thick underbrush and forrest can be more treacherous than walking a little further or back to where the road comes closest. Dropping a pin if you find a good spot, and finding it again is also a great thing.

    1. Great idea, Allen. Thanks! I wish I had a GPS years ago when I stumbled onto a terrific trout stream in the Rocky Mountains of Colorado. I always wanted to try to locate it later, but I simply couldn’t pinpoint where it was.

  2. Not sure if anyone would call it a gadget but a waterproof camera or waterproof phone case . Is a good addition.

    1. Yes, good idea, David! I just upgraded my cell phone, and the camera on it is outstanding. I was pleased to find out that the phone is waterproof. It can apparently be submerged for 30 minutes without damaging it … although I don’t plan on finding out if this is true 🙂 Anyway, it’s good to know that some of the newer cell phones are waterproof. I always carry small sandwich bags which seal for cell phone, camera (before I switched to using my cell), and wallet (if I’m wet-wading in nylon pants during the summer).

  3. A small aquarium net can help to identify a hatch the trout are keying on. It’s light and flat so does not take up much room.

    1. That’s a terrific idea, Duane! I’ve had a couple of fly fisher friends who have done this. It would fit easily enough in my fly vest, and it’s really light. You’ve convinced me to give it a try!

  4. We carry Garmin 610 (now 700x series) which provide both GPS and two-way radio capabilities. These also have a button that you can push to send your location to whoever you are fishing/hunting/hiking with, great for staying in touch and knowing where your buddies are.

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