Fear & Loathing In Packing For Fishing

I hate packing for fishing trips.

Headed to Wisconsin this weekend to do a little Driftless trout fishing, and I figured that I probably should try to get some stuff together for the trip. Did I mention I hate packing for fishing trips? F'n blows.

Most of the stuff in the bin "needs" to go in the suitcase, oh, and four days of clothes too...

In the summer, it's not so bad. Wet wading is rad, and cuts down the number of things that take up space in your bag, suitcase, whatever...  However this early in the year... in the upper Midwest... well, waders and the such are coming along.

But actually, that's the easy part. I only own one pair of waders, so I know what to bring. But they do take up space, along with that jacket, hoodie, or whatever else I need to bring to keep my thin Florida blood from freezing cheese curd semi-solid. I hate being cold more than I hate packing.

Maybe Tenkara Gandalf will let me borrow his robe when I get there...
One less thing to pack!

But really, it's all the other stuff that gets to me. See... I'll admit it, I like a hot shower, I like to feel clean, and wear clean clothes. And while it would make my packing more economical, I don't really want to dirtbag it and wear the same fishing clothes three days in a row... and I especially do not want to wear any when I'm not fishing... because I'm a sweaty, stinky, dude. Pirate baths are only so effective...

So. Ugh. Back to packing. Usually, my trick to cutting down what I bring is to make sure all the clothes are at least fishing appropriate - performance fabrics, no cotton - and wear the clean stuff I wore the day prior when I go fishing the following morning. One outfit, 1.5 days.

When I'm done, I shower, change into clean clothes for the evening, then wear that outfit the next day fishing. And so on, and so on...

Doing so, I figure I eliminate the need for at least one set of clothes... or maybe it's a half set, never was good at math... and then multipurpose top layers (like the aforementioned hoodie) over multiple days. But then I always make sure to pack extra socks and underwear, because my Mom told me to do that when I was younger and good boys always listen to their mothers. And wet socks suck.

A few years ago I went rogue and decided not to pack ANY socks or underwear on a trip to Utah, figuring I'd save space in my pack and buy cheap (read: disposable) substitutes at a local Walmart once I got to my destination. That sorta worked... until the paper-thin boxers like evaporated in my toxic crack (ok, that's my problem) and the sandpaper-cheap cotton socks gave me blisters. So, no, I'm not gonna do that again.

Oh, and all that doesn't even address the gear "situation." I will say that when I travel to primarily go fishing with a tenkara rod, I don't end up bringing quite as much stuff, which I guess is a positive. Yay, tenkara. But I still bring too much. Do I need multiple fly boxes? Aren't I supposed to fish with one fly like the Japanese Samurai? Are three spools of tippet necessary... maybe I need four, never know when I'll need 7X...?  Crap, are they even full spools?

Cam always does a great job of taking those perfect laid out gear photos...
my version of the same would look like elephant diarrhea.
(Photo courtesy of TFM)

And don't even start when I take my rod and reel... despite all the Excel spreadsheets I set up ahead of time to try and mathematically equate what I need to bring, it still ends up an utter disaster once I physically begin the packing deed. Articulated streamers, yup. Extra leaders in multiple sizes, toss em in there. Thingamabobbers, a must have! And the VHS camcorder to document it all! When I get back I find I only end up using about a 1/3 of the stuff I thought was essential. Why did I bring those tarpon flies to Tennessee again?

Anyway, this ramble I'm writing tonight (which you're likely reading tomorrow) is only being written to prolong the inevitable. Cramming all that crap in my fishing duffel... and keeping it under 50 pounds so it can be checked on the plane without an additional luggage fine. Those bastards laugh when they take that extra money from you. Believe me, I know.

Now... where is my semi-collapsible wading staff?


So what am I doing wrong? Yes, part of the above is embellished for the sake of the blog, but what tips or tricks have you learned over the years when it comes to packing for fishing travel? I'd love to further my educaton in the comments below!


  1. This is where I feel like performance clothing is worth it. Exofficio makes great stuff.

    As far as tackle goes, I'm the same way. I feel the need to pack EVERYTHING because what if I need something and don't have it?!?!?!?!?!

    1. Yeah, I need to up my game on the clothing front. I think my problem is a lot of times I live where it's hot, but fish where it's cool/cold. Have been reluctant to spend too much, but probably a good investments.

  2. This might help, if you take away what you didn’t use on your last trip, and apply that to each and every trip, you will see progress and learn to pack only what you need. http://www.tenkarausa.com/tenkara-lifestyle-lightweight-travel-tips/

    1. Thanks Adam, I recalled you outlining your packing on the T-F forum once upon a time, thought it might have been lost.

  3. An award winning story of how to pack for a fishing trip. I'm not sure you need the camping stove and sleeping bag, but, oh wait, that wasn't your picture. I'm sure you'll manage. Have fun fishing the Driftless. I never knew it existed until I was 52 years beyond Wisconsin.

    1. Yeah, some of the above (okay, a lot of the above) was embellished for storytelling, but yeah, like you said, I'll manage. :)

      The Driftless can be really fun.

  4. Michael
    I've learned over the years when packing for a fishing trip, I always forget something that I know I thought I packed. From the looks of the items you've packed I think you will be good---don't forget your fly rod. I've done that a few years ago when fishing one of my favorite tailraces. Looking forward to a report---thanks for sharing

    1. On the plane now... have my rods... I should be good. If not, that's why there's Walmarts!

  5. Definitely don’t need the waders... closed cell neoprene high socks are way better almost year round.

    Also I recommend one outfit for hanging out and one outfit for fishing.

    Then you bring ex officio sports mesh boxer briefs - 3 pairs - one to wear, one to wash each evening in the sink, and one just in case. 3 pairs of merino socks. Don’t get them wet and they last for 3-5 days per pair. Merino doesn’t stink. Gotta get the 80 plus percent merino.

    One light Wright synthetic down style jacket, one rain jacket and a hat.

    This all fits into one carry on bag and half a backpack leaving room to bring stuff back. Done deal :)

    1. Some good suggestions. I need to get a little more serious since this travel thing seems to be a recurring theme.

      I'll have to connect with you on the neoprene socks.

  6. Like John Gierach does...Send your tackle and gear ahead and only carry your clothes on the plane.

    1. Sometimes it's just too easy. That Gierach is a smart guy.

  7. I, too, am also the worst at packing for a fishing trip. Any type of trip for that matter. I always over pack and bring stuff that I don't even use and regret it later that I just burdened myself with all that extra weight.

    1. Yeah, I ended up needing about 1/2 of what I brought. Damn weatherman. Said weather was going to be in the 60s with lows in the 40s, not highs the 80s, so I packed cold weather clothes that were clearly not necessary.


Post a Comment

Popular posts from this blog

The Blessing of the Driftless

Gear Review: Greenerways Organic Bug Spray

A New (Family & Fishing) Fitness Plan

The Driftless Photo Dump