Fisherman’s Checklist: What to Bring on Your First Fly Fishing Trip

Every summer, a group of men sign up to attend a unique fly fishing experience at my ranch in Montana. Aptly called The Wild Adventure, this is a great opportunity for the group to explore 1,100 acres of wilderness, fish on the Upper Madison, and participating in authentic conversations about life’s big issues. TWA welcomes every one, from experienced fishermen to beginners.

Fly fishing is more than just a leisurely activity to enjoy on a beautiful Saturday morning. It is an intricate sport that requires patience, technique, and an appreciation of the sciences involved. Yet, it is also unique in the sense that it gives participants an opportunity to immerse themselves in nature for hours at a time, it is also an introspective hobby that surrenders itself to skill and contemplation. I not only love the hobby for this reason, but it is very similar to my background as a serial entrepreneur and my experience as the founder, funder, and chairman of CAbi.

I, personally, developed an interest in fly fishing dating back over 36 years now; a passion that has entangled itself into my personal life. The adventurous side of fly fishing was initially appealing, but it cultivated into something more meaningful – influencing my inner walk.

The Wild Adventure’s entire mission centers inner reflection around the ruminating activity of fly fishing. Over the course of TWA’s life, we have welcomed experienced fly fishermen to the group, while also introducing new participants to the sport. Immediately after signing up for a trip, beginning fisherman will always reach out to ask me what items they need to bring in order to be adequately prepared for their first endeavor.

This is the fly fishing checklist I always send to them:

Rods, Reels, & Flies

Beginners get overwhelmed at the number of rods, reels, and flies available on the market. Just like any sport, the prices of these items can run the gamut, from reasonably-priced to needlessly expensive. My opinion? There are only a small number of “bad” rods, reels, and flies out there. Purchase moderately-priced items first and as you become more experienced, you will develop a preference on what works better for you.

Keep in mind, however, that because TWA is a pre-planned excursion, our guides come equipped with spare fishing gear, including extra rods, reels, and flies. If you do not own any of these items and would rather wait to purchase them after the trip, you are welcome to use ours!


If you are going to pre-purchase waders, I would suggest doing so in person. If your waders are too tight, moving will be difficult; too loose, there could be unwanted leakage. If you don’t own waders, you can rent them from Beartooth Outfitters, which is located in close proximity to the ranch.

Polarized Sunglasses

Since we will be outside for most of the day, sunglasses become a necessity. I always recommend polarized sunglasses because they not only help cut glare, fishermen swear by them because they make spotting fish in the water easier.

Long-sleeved Shirt

Even during beautiful, warm days, it’s important to protect yourself from the rays of the sun by covering as much of your exposed skin as possible. Even the most experienced fishermen will pack a long-sleeved shirt with them every time they go out on the water. This shirt can be of a lightweight material to ensure you don’t get overheated.


Serving a similar purpose as a long-sleeved shirt, a hat will guard you against the glare of the sun. Popular types of hats include baseball caps or bucket hats, but you can bring anything from home that has a front bill or rim.


Montana weather is notorious for fluctuating throughout the day. A jacket might not be needed initially, but cold weather can strike out of nowhere, warranting the need for an extra layer. Fleece is my preferred material of choice, but feel free to bring along a jacket you already own. Changes in weather could also bring unexpected storms so it would be in your favor to bring along a rain jacket as well. In the event of inclement weather, a rain jacket would aid in a more enjoyable fly fishing experience.

Montana Fish & Wildlife License

We will reach out to the Beartooth Fly Fishing Shop prior to your scheduled TWA trip and communicate with them the type of license you will need. This license will be available for you on the first day of the fishing trip. The price for your 2×2 day license will be $50.

For a more extensive packing list, or for fishermen who already own a substantial amount of fly fishing gear, our checklist outlines everything you’ll need for a TWA adventure. These outings fill up fast, so check out our upcoming trips through the rest of the summer.

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *