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Top 5 Must Have’s for Your Fly In Trip

Fly in fishing trip in Northern Ontario, Canada
The view from the Otter on our way to Root Bay

This post may have been better titled as “Top 5 Must Haves for Your Fly In Fishing Trip That May Not be Top of Mind” but it felt like it was getting a bit too wordy. In my opinion packing for an outpost trip is different. Once the plane leaves you alone, well you are truly alone with your group. If you have forgot something you are either S#%t out of luck or you are praying someone in your group brought doubles! Now your outfitter may be able to bring in some extra beer or cigars or even onions (like our last trip) but even that can be shut down by bad weather. Keeping this in mind here are my top 5 things I do not want to be without on my trips (not obvious version)


Seems like a luxury but for me a good pillow is critical. Most outposts do not provide them (nor do I want to share a pillow with the 50 guys who were in the cabin before me!) and most outpost mattresses are quite thin. I know you could make do with a towel or a hoodie or any other jerry rigged pillow but when I am spending 10 plus hours a day in a tin can I want to be comfortable when I sleep. I have a Thermarest foam pillow which is light, packs small and is comfortable. I have used it on many trips and would recommend it Amazon Link A few others have MEC Deluxe Air pillows and are happy with them as well MEC Link

Thermarest Deluxe Pillow
This is the Thermarest pillow I have. Image courtesy of

Backup Line

I have detailed the rod and reels I bring on our trips Rod and Reel Setup and included the fact that braid is my mainline in all cases (using a 6 foot fluoro leader on my jigging setup). On every trip I bring a full spool of 10 LB fluoro, 2 spools of 30 LB braid and a 500 yd spool of mono. Why? Just in case. I remember getting a vicious backlash on our trip to Brennan Harbour and had to cut out about 50% of my line Brennan Harbour Trip Report . Thankfully the lodge sold some line and I was able to respool with mono but if I was on a fly in I would have been in trouble. Our backup spools are communal – meaning they support everyone in the group. We share the cost of the spools and re stock every few years ahead of our trip

60 SPF Sunscreen

As you may have noticed I am a rather pale shade of Scot! I burn pretty easily and often if I am not careful. Sunscreen on our trips is a must for me. Our group brings 1 large bottle of 60 SPF spray per boat and 1 large cream application bottle as back up. We have had trips that we barely needed it and other trips where we had to ration it by the last day! I remember one of our first trips where I got a pretty bad burn on the back of my neck and shoulders, well let me tell you the next two days were hell and ever since I am pretty diligent about packing the sunscreen and applying it liberally

5 Litre Dry Bag

Spend a week on a fly in and I can guarantee one thing – the bottom of the boat will get wet (and typically gross). When you are spending most of your day in the boat the last thing you want is for your snacks, pliers, water bottle, gloves or other handy items sloshing around on the bottom. I made that mistake on our first ever fly in Pickle Lake Report and ruined a good set of gloves. Now we ensure that we have at least 1 dry bag per boat. Generally we load them up as soon as we arrive and they stay in the boat for the trip – super handy, super light and something I would not want to leave at home

Dry bag for fly in fishing trip in Northern Ontario, Canada
Seal Line 5 Litre drybag - lots of options out there. Image courtesy of

Orange Rapala J 13

I wrote about my top 5 lures Top 5 Lures for Walleye a while back and while I would not want to be on a trip with any of them, the Orange J 13 is a must for me. It’s the swiss army knife of lures for walleye and pike. You can troll it, cast it or even set it up on a 3 way rig – it catches fish. And yes, for me it has to be orange (I think the Rapala site calls it red, but dammit its orange!) I have expanded my colour palette over the years and hands down Orange is king. After watching my brother shed a few tears when he lost his on our Ogoki trip I now bring two – just in case!

Rapala J13 - fly in fishing trip lures
One of my favourite lures for pike and walleye on a fly in. Image courtesy of FishUsa

Tylenol (or Advil)

I have yet to be on a trip where someone (typically me) has not bashed a hand, cut a finger, or tweaked some part of their body. Honestly, the older we get, the worse its getting. We also love our campfires along with a few malty beverages so packing some pain relief meds is key. We always bring a comprehensive first aid kit which will include some pain meds Backcountry Safety but we all bring our own. I typically pack 2 pills per day in a small kit along with some other meds. I remember getting a bad infection in my thumb on a trip and really needing a pain killer most days – I hadn’t packed very much but luckily the first aid kit had it covered but after that experience I always bring enough – weighs nothing, easy to store – just makes sense

Man with nice walleye caught on a fly in fishing trip in Northern Ontario, Canada
Packing and planning right can really help you put fish in the boat and have a more comfortable trip

So, there are 5 things I won’t leave at home for my fly in trips. These are maybe not the most top of mind items but they are important. If you are heading out this summer on your first fly in (good for you!) these are some items that I think will go a long way to making your trip more comfortable and productive.



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