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The Weight

Fly in fishing trip for walleye and pike in Sioux Lookout, Ontario, Canada
The Otter getting loaded with all of our gear. The bigger the plane, the more weight allowed.

Preparation for my groups first fly in trip back in 2014 really stressed me out. It was a good stress, a “man this is going to be epic but what if…” kind of stress that caused me to create multiple variations of the same spreadsheet. Within this spreadsheet there were 3 main tabs, packing, menu, and weight allowances. I think the weight tab was the one that stressed me the most but they are all interrelated so let me explain.

Most if not all fly in fishing outfitters will have a weight disclaimer on their website. Sometimes its right up front, sometimes its in the rates page and sometimes its on the “what to bring” page. Generally it will say something like “Guests are allowed up to 100 lbs. per person. This includes fishing gear, clothes, food, and beverages. Overweight will be charged at $1 per lb. overweight, subject to planes capacity.” I think when our group first contemplated this, we all immediately googled “How much does 24 cans of beer weigh?” Answer, 20 lbs.

In the end our first trip went off like a rocket Our First Fly In and my stress was for naught. We did come up with a few things to help us manage the weight issue and on subsequent trips I would say it became less of a worry to the point that on our last trip in 2020 Root Bay Trip Report there was no weight tab on the spreadsheet. There was still a spreadsheet cause that’s how I roll but weight was no longer a stressor (flying commercial, rental cars, pandemic worries but read the trip report to see). Our groups operating principle is that we are spending a fair amount of $$ on these trips and while I don’t need to bring my hair dryer and foot bath there are certain comforts (beer, rain suit, fish finders etc.) that we are not willing to go without.

Beautiful walleye caught on a fly in fishing trip in Sioux Lookout, Ontario, Canada.
Colin with a beauty. Note the sunglasses, buff, amazing hat and auto inflate lifejacket - all needs for our group.

So how have we managed it? Read on my friends.

1) Talk to your Outfitter

  • I do a lot of the initial check in’s with outfitters we are looking at. Generally I am asking about the facilities within the camp, is the week we are looking at available, can they provide me with any references. I always state that we will be 5 to 6 guys with a minimum of 150 lbs. of gear, Is that a problem? Generally I find the answer is a mix of yes, no and maybe. If a yes my usual follow up is can we get beer and beverages flown in ahead of time? This will greatly cut down the weight for my group. On a maybe I ask for them to explain further. Most times it means that the weight isn’t an issue but we will be charged somewhere between $.5 to $1 per lb. overweight. If an outfitter is strict on the weight allowance and cannot fly beverages in ahead of time our group will usually take a pass. If there is a nominal fee but our gear go’s in with us it’s a yes and obviously if weight is called out as a non-issue then it’s also a yes.

2) Determine needs, wants and desires

  • Most fly in trips what you bring in with you is what you have for the week. There may be a check in flight but with weather being an x factor its never guaranteed. Over the years we have figured out our needs (beer, food, rain gear, rod and reels, tackle, flat of worms) wants (lots of ice, mix, extra batteries for fish finders, plenty of snacks) and desires (minnows, extra jacket, box of wine, homemade brisket). Our goal is to ensure all our needs are met, figure out which wants we can bring and if we know weight is not an issue throw in some desires. If we know that we are going to get charged for extra weight we would typically factor in how much extra we are willing to pay and adjust accordingly. So far, I can’t think of many needs or wants that we have had to go without.

3) Read this Article

4) Don’t Skimp

  • If I had any wisdom to impart it would be to ensure you bring what you need to make the most out of your trip. As mentioned, these trips aren’t cheap to begin with so make sure you have the things that will support you making the most of it. I am not saying bring everything plus your electric trolling motor, merely making the point that some things are worth it. I have mentioned rain suit multiple times because IMO you will want to be on the water as much as possible and a good rain suit is worth its weight in gold. I always try to think of it this way. At $1 a lb. 20 extra lbs. is $20. Let’s say the average cost of a trip is $1200 that means your extra weight is 1.6% of your total budget. Is ensuring you stay dry, have a fish finder that works, have warm dry socks for the fire at night worth 1.6% of your total budget, I think so.

Sunrise on a fly in fishing trip on Sioux Lookout, Ontario, Canada
I took a whole series of sunrise shots using my Iphone on a tripod which was well worth it.

Well that’s my two lbs. on this subject. I was a big weight worrier but now I really don’t sweat it. My group generally does a fly in every two years so with that much anticipation and enjoyment I want to all my needs, a lot of my wants and a few desires with me when I head into the bush.



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