As fishermen, we worry so much about bringing the right rod, reel, or fishing lure each time we go out. In order to not drive ourselves crazy, we tend to overpack and bring just about everything we own. Over the years, I’ve learned that I tend to only use only few of the many things that I drag along with me on each trip. These days, I pack a single large bag for each trip and there are ten tools and accessories that I have found to be invaluable and have a permanent spot in my bag.
The Ten Essential Fishing Tools and Accessories You Can’t Live Without
Durable Waterproof Fishing Bag
A quality bag is essential for keeping your gear dry and organized. One of the most critical features to look for in a bag is waterproof construction. Your fishing gear bag should be constructed of durable and waterproof material with taped seams and quality zippers. Another nice feature to have in a bag is a hard formed bottom, which will help support all the gear you put inside. I tend to store most of my gear in Plano boxes, so I like a large bag that can accommodate holding a decent number of boxes, with some room to spare for other loose items.
Our choice in this category is the Mustad Tackle Direct 40 Liter Dry Bag. This bag features waterproof PVC material, a flap to conceal and protect zippers, and a hard molded bottom for extra support. This bag is on the larger side (24” x 12” x 12”) and it has plenty of room to store a full-day’s worth of fishing supplies, as well as some personal items like keys, cell phones, and extra clothing. Perhaps the best part about this bag is it’s price. Normally $49.99, you can usually snag it on sale for $29.99 at Tackle Direct.
Plano Style Storage Boxes
As you start collecting more and more fishing gear, and especially lures, you’re going to need a way to neatly organize your tackle. One of the best ways we’ve found to do this is by lure type and/or species. A really simple way to do this is by getting your hands on a few milk crates, some plano style boxes, and a Sharpie marker. Organize your gear, label the plano boxes with the Sharpie, and drop the plano boxes into milk crates that you can easily toss in your car or truck to take to the boat.
A Good Pair of Pliers
Whether you’re just getting started or you’re a veteran fisherman, one thing you can’t skimp on is your pliers. This single tool can cut braid or monofilament line, remove a hook from the mouth of a fish (or your skin, if you’re unlucky!), crush barbs, aid in tying knots, and much more.
When purchasing, look for quality construction out of a corrosion resistant material like titanium, stainless steel or aluminum. Be aware that aluminum is a soft metal, so look for something that also has jaw inserts made of a tougher, but still corrosion resistant, material. A lanyard is a nice to have feature since wet hands and pliers don’t mix, as I’ve finally learned after sacrificing a few pairs to the bottom of the sea.
Boga Grip – The Best Lip Gripper and Scale
There are countless knock-offs and cheap imitations, but nothing can compare to the original Boga Grip. This best-in-class fish lipper and scale is built to withstand the harshest saltwater conditions. This is a great tool for landing fish, weighing your catch, or safely swimming and releasing that trophy fish. This stainless steel tool can accurately weigh fish up to 15, 30, or even 60 lbs depending on which model you purchase.
You can purchase this tool with confidence, knowing it will last for many years. I can attest to the longevity, having abused mine for the last 10 years and it still looks and works like new. You will want to consider purchasing a Boga Float, to protect your investment from sinking to the depths below.
One of my favorite tools to use when the fishing is fast and furious is a dehooker. This tool will let you safely and cleanly release a fish without even bringing the fish in the boat. It’s a time saver for you and it helps to promote healthy catch and release habits.
The ARC Dehooker is one of the most popular models and does a great job of quickly and safely releasing fish.
First Aid Kit
One of the last things on your mind while fishing is your first aid kit, but it’s one of the most important items to keep on board. A first aid kit could be the thing that saves your trip when you or one of your fishing buddies inevitably gets hurt while on the fishing grounds. Make sure your kit has all the usual items, but also pack it with things like tylenol for headaches or pain relief, and Bonine or Dramamine for sea-sickness. Whatever you buy, be sure to store it in a waterproof container so your first aid items don’t get ruined by water damage.
In this category, we like the Orion Blue Water Emergency Medical Kit.
I find myself always searching for a rag while I’m on the boat. Whether it’s to clean the dew off the seat on an early morning trip, to clean up the coffee that I seem to spill on just about every trip, or to wipe my hands after releasing a fish – there seems to be an endless supply of uses for the lowly rag. The best type I’ve found for maximum absorption and reusability are the microfiber towels that you usually see in the car detailing section of your local auto parts store. Although they are on the more expensive side, they can be washed and reused over and over again.
Whether it’s coiling up leaders, rigging baits like ballyhoo, setting up flatlines, setting an outrigger line, or simply adding weight to a rig, a rubber band can prove to be an invaluable asset on a fishing boat. This versatile tool comes in handy on every single fishing trip for me, and I wouldn’t leave the dock without a small bag full. You’ll want #64 and #32 sizes to cover most situations.
A proper pair of polarized sunglasses are essential for a day of fishing. True polarized glasses will cut surface glare, reduce UV exposure, and help you to see that fish cruising the flats or hanging under that weedline.
Our choice in this category is Costa Del Mar. With many different styles and lenses to choose from, and an unbeatable warranty program, these pricey sunglasses are hard to beat.
Whether you use an app or old school pen and paper, a log book is an extremely important tool to have in your fishing arsenal. A log book is only as good as the details it contains. You’ll want to capture things like the date, the time of day, the atmospheric conditions, the water temperature, sea state, location, number of fish caught, and lures or bait used. A single log may not be of much use to you, and it’s difficult to discipline yourself to be consistent, but months and years of logging will teach you the patterns and the “secret” of where and when to fish.
I use a simple Google spreadsheet to capture my data, but there are many products out there including a fantastic tool by famous northeast angler John Skinner called Fishers Log (http://www.fisherslog.com/).
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