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2021 Must Have Fly Fishing Gear

2021 is here and thank goodness after last year. In just a few months all your favorite fishing spots will melt, the sun will come back, and you’ll be ready for an excellent year on the water – but what are you supposed to do until then? How about loading up with all the 2021 must have gear for fly fishing?

We’ve scoured different brands, guides, and used our own expertise to put together a great list of fly-fishing gear and accessories you shouldn’t leave the door without in 2021.

To help navigate we’ve divided the list into two categories, must have gear for your person and gear to make your life easier on or near the water. We’ve also included a couple bonus items for those looking to step up their fly-fishing outfit.

2021 Must Have Fly Fishing Gear

If you can get your hands on this gear, you’ll be more than ready when the fish get hungry in a few short weeks.

The 10 Best Items for Fly Fishing in 2021

Bozeman-based Simms Fishing is a trusted name in fly-fishing and their Challenger jacket is built for the water. The Challenger is a hard-shell coat so while it’s waterproof and windproof – it’s also breathable. This jacket is perfect for anglers with a storm hood for downpours, a kill switch attachment for boats, and chest pockets for quick access to flies and gear. You can wear the Challenger for chilly mornings or as a shell for cold weather fishing. This versatile raincoat does it all and keeps you comfortable while doing it.

Click here to learn more about fly fishing jackets.

If you want one set of waders that does it all, check out the Frogg Toggs Hellbender bootfoot waders. At 3.5 mm thick these Dri2Pore neoprene waders are tough and waterproof but breathable, come with hand-warming pockets, chest pockets for gear, and can handle fishing in the rocks, reeds, or mud. Reinforced knees and a one-year warranty help you get your money’s worth.

Click here to find other tested and approved waders.

Most anglers only need a lightweight and easy vest to tote their angling gear which the Headwaters Pro Mesh Vest provides at a great price point. This versatile Simms fly fishing vest contains twenty different pockets including quick access chest pockets and rod holders to keep your hands free while you tie or adjust your line. A DWR finish makes the pro mesh vest water resistant and tough. To top it off, a padded collar and light mesh fabric keep you comfortable no matter how long you’re tossing your line.

There’s no reason to shell out more than $100 for a great pair of fishing sunglasses. Tomahawk makes affordable but rugged shades, and the entire Ranger Class is polarized to cut down glare on the water while looking great in the classic Wayfarer style. On top of Halcyon+ polarization all Ranger Class are rated as UV 400 to keep your eyes fresh no matter how harsh the sun is.

Must Have Fly Fishing Accessories

A traditional multi-tool is great for many situations but you can’t always use your hands if you’re trying to tie a fly or line. The Gerber Freehander is tailored to one hand use for anglers and comes with exchangeable cutters, a multi-positional respike, tether point, and pivoting line vise. A handy tool if there ever was one.

Click here for the best multi tools for fly fishing.

A headlamp makes every angler’s life easier on the water by providing hands-free light whether you’re taking a pre-dawn walk to your favorite spot or rummaging through your tacklebox in low-light situations. The Streamlight Protac is an excellent all-around rechargeable tactical headlamp with up to 635 lumens to light up your surroundings. The Protac is also water-resistant for light to medium rains and constructed of anodized aluminum to handle drops.

Click here to learn more about flashlights and headlamps.

Every angler needs a great net with plenty of versatility. The Ego S2 Slider goes from 29” to 60” in length making it useful for shore, boat, and wade fishing. Fully extended the net can hold onto 20 lbs. of fish and up to 30 fully retracted. A PVC coated net with measurement markings and a zipper release will have little impact on any fish you wrangle in. Add in Ego’s 2-year warranty and you have a great all-around net for the new year.

Click here for more resources and options for fly fishing nets.

You should never leave home without a trusty multi-tool. You can carry a dozen different tools, or one Leatherman Squirt PS4. The Squirt is outfitted with pliers, wire-cutters, files, snips, and a blade for different uses. At only 2 ounces it’ll barely feel like you’re carrying the Squirt. Like all Leatherman products the Squirt is covered by a 25-year limited warranty.

Click for more info on how to choose the best multi-tools for fly fishing.

Bonus Fly Fishing Gear for 2021

The following two items aren’t musts, but they sure will make your time on water easier or more fun.

While most anglers take day trips close to civilization, others like to get lost in the wilderness. If you’re toting your rod and reel into wilderness territory or other strandable situations you should always carry a Survivor Filter cleanable drinking straw. The Survivor Filter uses a cotton filter, ultra-filter, and carbon mouthpiece to instantly filter water for emergency use. At only $30 bucks the Survival Filter could save your life and is a great addition to your gear setup.

Learn more about water filters for fly fishing.

Alpacka Raft Classic ($875-$1,375)

You can only do so much shore-fishing. If you need to move around and get on top of the fish but don’t have the resources for a full boat- how about an inflatable? Alpacka Rafts makes inflatable fishing rafts that are perfect for anglers. Alpacka Rafts are tough, comfortable, portable, and an affordable way to up your fishing game. Unlike other boats an Alpacka Classic only needs to be inflated instead of launched and can be stored in a compact car, or tired to your backpack for tons of new spots and versatility.

Starting the Year Right

The snow is still falling but in a few short weeks the ice will melt, the water will open up, and the fish will be hungry. Check out the items above to make up a great gear stash or pick your favorites to round out your fly fishing supplies. With these items and a good attitude, you’ll be ready to hit the water soon.