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17 Top Fishing Trip Packing List Items for 2024 + What to Wear & NOT to Bring

what to pack fishing
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When it comes to rewarding wilderness experiences, nothing beats casting a line and bringing home a fresh-caught salmon or mahi-mahi. Fishing is a great way to combine spending time outdoors with catching healthy food to share with your friends and family.

Whether you are headed for alpine lakes or the open ocean for your next fishing trip, you’ll need to be prepared with the right equipment. In this article, we’ll cover everything you’ll need to pack for a safe and fun fishing adventure. Below is a packing list of essential items to bring on a fishing trip with links to Amazon for your convenience, plus info on what NOT to bring or wear.

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What to Pack for a Fishing Trip - 17 Essentials

  • 1. Packing Cubes

    All experienced fishermen understand the importance of packing right and that on a fishing trip, organization is everything. These HERO Packing Cubes make it possible to pack your clothes in a much smaller space, which means you can bring more fishing gear. They also make it much easier to find your clothes when you need them.

    Packing Cubes

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  • 2. Fishing Pole

    For most kinds of recreational fishing, the pole is the most important piece of gear. This telescopic fishing rod is perfect for drive or hike-in fishing trips, and it’s an ideal setup for small to medium-sized fish. Remember, different types of fish require different poles, so you’ll need to swap poles for fly fishing or large saltwater fish.

    Fishing Pole

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  • 3. Neck Wallet

    I bring this on all of my international fishing trips. Sometimes, in order to get to the best fishing spots, it’s necessary to travel through dangerous areas. In order to protect my most important belongings from pickpockets, I keep my passport, cash, credit cards, and keys in my HERO Neck Wallet. Since using this neck wallet, I’ve traveled through dozens of countries on five continents and never had a single dollar stolen.

    Neck Wallet

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  • 4. Squid Lures

    These squid lures work like magic for large saltwater fish in tropical areas. In 65,000 miles of sailing all over the world, I’ve tried every lure I could get my hands on. But for tuna and mahi-mahi, I’ve had the best luck with these squid lures. I tow one of these behind my boat almost all the time while sailing offshore.

    Squid Lures

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  • 5. Cooling Towel

    On a fishing trip, your towel has too many uses to count. Of course, it’s great for drying off after a swim, but it can also be used to clean up a mess or protect an injury while someone gets the first aid kit. This towel is perfect for travel, since it packs away to a very small size, and it dries off in minutes.

    cooling towel

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  • 6. Tackle Box

    Every fisherman needs their tackle box. That’s where you’ll keep your extra line, hooks, sinkers, bait, and tools. I found the Flambeau Two Tray Tackle Box to be an ideal size and design for short fishing trips. It’s small and lightweight, yet has enough space to keep plenty of gear for a couple-day adventure. I use this tackle box for short trips and keep a larger one at home with extra gear for longer expeditions.

    Tackle Box

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  • 7. Quick-dry Travel Towel

    If you are like me, you are probably tired of traveling with a towel that takes forever to dry off. I suffered from this problem for ages, until I discovered the HERO Quick Dry Travel Towel. It’s an ideal size for travel and dries out in no time. After taking this towel on a recent trip, I liked it so much that I ordered five more for my fishing buddies.

    travel towel

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  • 8. Heavy Duty Fishing Line

    One of the most common mistakes that beginning saltwater fishermen make is to use fishing line that is too small. If you have done some lake fishing, you are probably used to using line that looks like dental floss. For offshore, you’ll need a much heavier line – like 100 lbs+. This heavy-duty fishing line has worked great for me and has yet to break.

    Heavy Duty Fishing Line

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  • 9. Lifestraw Water Bottle

    Often, I find myself running out of fresh drinking water while fishing, even when I am standing in a lake or stream. The easiest solution is to use a Lifestraw Water Bottle, which has a built-in filter, so you can fill up from any source of freshwater and simply drink. No more worrying about pumping, water tablets, or boiling your drinking water – just fill and go.

    LifeStraw Water Bottle

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  • 10. Lifejacket

    Any time you are fishing from a boat, it’s important to wear your life jacket. The downside is that with a lifejacket on, it’s impractical to wear a fishing vest. This lifejacket was built specifically for fishermen so that you can fish safely and still keep your gear close by for instant access. This is the best lifejacket for recreational fishing I have found yet.


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  • 11. Universal Waterproof Phone Case

    I tend to go fishing to get away from my phone and computer. But sometimes a smartphone is a useful fishing tool for navigation, communication, weather info, or as a camera. In order to keep my phone safe from water damage, I keep it in this Universal Waterproof Phone Case whenever I bring it on a fishing trip.

    Universa Waterproof

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  • 12. Hanging Toiletry Bag

    Toiletries aren’t the first thing that comes to mind when you are packing for a fishing adventure, but every fisherman needs to take care of their personal hygiene, too. I take this Hanging Toiletry Bag with me on all my fishing adventures, and I’ve found it’s perfect for any trip up to two weeks.

    Hanging Toiletry Bag

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  • 13. Floating Wrist Strap

    Over the years, I’ve lost a number of valuable items simply because I dropped them into the water at the wrong time. Offshore, it’s simply too dangerous to try to dive in after a dropped item, no matter how special it is. This Floating Wrist Strap solves the problem by keeping your valuables afloat, so all you have to do is turn the boat around and scoop up the lost item.

    floating strap

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  • 14. Waders

    I’ve waded across enough ice-cold rivers in my jeans to have developed a real appreciation for waders. If you like to go fly fishing or plan on standing in the water for any length of time, they are absolutely necessary. With this set of waders, you can fish all day in freezing water and still return home warm and dry at the end of the day.


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  • 15. Portable Charger

    A couple of trips back, I forgot my portable charger and ended up with a dead cell phone battery and a nervous wife. Now I keep one of these chargers in my fishing vest, one in my day pack, and another in my lifejacket at all times. No matter where I am, I know I’ll get at least one more charge on my phone – just in case I need it.

    Portable Charger

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  • 16. Fishing Daypack

    Like any outdoors person, fishermen need a pack to carry their gear around all day, and yet there are surprisingly few daypacks designed specifically for us. This pack is the exception to the rule, and it’s ideal for day trips to alpine lakes and remote rivers. This pack is versatile and durable, and it has plenty of room for all your gear for a full-day fishing adventure.

    Fishing Daypack

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  • 17. Travel Insurance

    Fishing trips can sometimes be risky endeavors, especially if you like to fish offshore or in remote wilderness areas. In order to be prepared for the worst-case scenario, it’s a good idea to invest in travel insurance. You hope you’ll never need it, but if you do it could be a literal lifesaver.

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What to Wear on a Fishing Trip

The type of clothing you’ll need for a fishing trip depends entirely on where you plan to go, the time of year you’ll be there, and how long you’ll be out fishing. But no matter what fishing trip you are embarking on, you’ll always want to be prepared for anything.

On fishing expeditions, I always tell people to dress for comfort and safety. That means staying warm and dry first and foremost. If you plan to fish from the edge of a river or lake, it’s always a good idea to wear waders, and if you plan to fish from a boat you’ll want to keep your lifejacket on at all times. Remember that the sun can be much more harmful when reflected from the water, so it’s a good idea to use lots of sunscreen and wear a hat and glasses.

What Should Women Wear on a Fishing Trip? - (Click to expand)

Below is a sample women’s clothing list.(All items link to for your convenience).

On a fishing trip, women should dress for the elements. Check out the weather forecast, and dress accordingly. For lake and river fishing, you can’t go wrong with waders, an activewear long sleeve shirt, a fishing vest, and a sunhat. Remember, even on hot days it’s possible to get hypothermia once wet, so keep extra layers close by just in case. Offshore in the tropics, you’ll want to wear shorts and a t-shirt, along with sunglasses and a life jacket.

What Should Men Wear on a Fishing Trip? - (Click to expand)

Below is a sample men’s clothing list.(All items link to for your convenience).

Men should dress for a fishing trip the same way as women – with an emphasis on safety and comfort rather than style. Whenever you are on a fishing trip, focus on how to stay dry and comfortable in the current conditions. If the weather is hot, that may mean shorts and a t-shirt, with plenty of sun protection and a life jacket. If you are ice fishing in the arctic, you may need to dress in several layers of polar fleece under a dry suit. Always keep in mind how you will stay safe and warm even if you fall in the water, and dress appropriately.

Packing for the Seasons for Fishing

SPRING – March, April, May

The weather that you will encounter on your fishing trip depends entirely upon your destination. Since a large number of our readers will be fishing in temperate North America, this section was written with this region in mind. If you plan to fish in another area, you can adjust your outfit accordingly.

In the spring, you can expect to encounter a mix of rain and sun, and there is a chance of getting hit with freezing temperatures early in the season. This time of year, it’s best to dress in layers, so that you can add or remove clothing as necessary to suit the current conditions. Start with a warm base layer and add hiking pants and a long-sleeved shirt. If it’s cold, layer up with a hoodie or sweater, and if you are fishing from a boat, don’t forget to wear your life jacket.

SUMMER – June, July, August

In the summer, you’ll want to be prepared for the sun and heat. It’s always nice to fish in shorts and a t-shirt, but don’t forget to put on plenty of sunscreen and wear a sunhat and glasses. If you are fishing from a boat or near a swift-flowing river, don’t forget to wear your life jacket. Evenings can be cool, so keep your warm layers and rain jacket close by.

Always remember that even in the summertime, hypothermia is a real risk. Most fishing emergencies happen this time of year when it’s least expected. If you are fishing from a boat or in a place where you are likely to fall in the water, it’s a good idea to invest in a dry suit, which will keep you warm even if you fall in the water.

FALL – September, October, November

The fall is one of my favorite times to go on a fishing trip – after the summer crowds have gone home but before the winter cold hits. It’s also the time for fish to spawn on many rivers. If you are after salmon, this is the time to go.

In the fall, dress for a wide variety of conditions. Start with a warm base layer and wear hiking pants or shorts depending on the conditions. Wear activewear shirts, and always keep a hoodie or down jacket ready for use. Late in the fall, be prepared to encounter freezing conditions or even snow.

WINTER – December, January, February

Winter fishing can be surprisingly rewarding if you are prepared for the weather. I’ll never forget my first-time ice fishing from a hole cut in a lake. In the winter, you’ll likely have your favorite fishing spot to yourself.

To fish in the cold season, you’ll need to be dressed for the worst-possible weather. Start with a full set of long underwear and wool socks, then add fleece pants, a sweater, and a down jacket. Cover up with a waterproof coat and pants, and don’t forget your gloves and boots. Keep your head warm with a beanie.

Dressing appropriately for the activity– (Click to expand)

Fishing in Lakes and Rivers: For fishing in lakes and rivers, you’ll probably end up wearing waders much of the time. If the weather is warm, you may only need shorts and a t-shirt underneath, with a sunhat and glasses for sun protection and a fishing vest to keep your lures handy. Keep your hoodie and rain jacket close by in case the weather changes.

Coastal Fishing: While fishing from a boat, safety should always be on your mind, even while close to shore. Whenever the boat is underway, you’ll want to wear your lifejacket. Sunburn can be a serious hazard on the water even when it’s overcast, so you’ll want to remember to wear your sun protection. If it’s windy, throw on a sweater or windbreaker to keep warm.

Deep Water Fishing: The open ocean is one of my favorite places to fish, and I’ve sailed towing a trolling line for tens of thousands of miles. On the ocean, always wear a safety harness so that you are connected to the boat at all times. The weather can turn rough fast offshore, so you’ll want to have a set of foul weather gear close by at all times. Dress in layers underneath your follies and wear waterproof boots to keep your feet dry.

What NOT to Bring on a Fishing Trip

  • 1.DON'T Bring Expensive Electronics

    It’s unwise to bring temperamental electronics anywhere near a body of water as they are likely to get damaged or ruined. Instead, bring a waterproof radio and keep your phone in a waterproof case.

  • 2.DON'T Bring City Clothes

    There is no need for a fancy suit or dinner dress on the river or out at sea. Save your fancy clothing for your triumphant return, and wear your fishing vest or drysuit instead.

  • 3.DON'T Bring Illegal Fishing Devices

    The seas are running out of wild fish, and it’s only fair to give the ones that are left a fair chance of survival. That’s why it’s often illegal to fish with a speargun, a throw net, barbed hooks, or explosives. Keep it legal and leave some fish for the next generation.

  • 4.DON'T Bring Too Much Gear

    Unless you are fishing from your own yacht, it’s likely that you’ll have to haul your gear around under your own muscle power. That’s why it’s best to leave any unnecessary gear behind, especially bulky and heavy items.

  • 5.DON'T Bring Remote Internet Hotspots

    Some people fish to get away from the rat race, others can’t stand to leave it behind. Take it from me that remote internet hot spots will rarely work on a fishing trip.

  • 6.DON'T Bring the Wrong Fishing Setup

    First-time fishermen often bring fly-tying gear to catch tuna or attempt to use a swordfish lure to attract lake trout. Take a few minutes to research the appropriate fishing gear for the type of fish you want to catch, that way you don’t have to improvise out on the water.

What NOT to Wear on a Fishing Trip – (Click to expand)

Just like formal attire has no place on a fishing expedition, the same goes for cotton clothing, which becomes cold once wet and increases your risk of getting hypothermia. Instead, you’ll want to dress in activewear clothing made from synthetic materials or animal hair, like wool. Don’t dress in excessively heavy or bulky clothing, as you’ll need to be agile and fast on your feet to reel in the big one.

FAQs about Fishing Trips

  • 1. Will I need to buy fishing licenses?

    Will I need to buy fishing licenses?

    Sometimes, it’s legal to fish without a license in certain areas, but in 99% of cases, you’ll need to buy a fishing license. The good news is that recreational fishing licenses are usually cheap and easy to obtain. You can find fishing licenses at many general stores, gas stations, or even Walmart. It’s always better to be prepared and have a license because the fine for not having one can be pretty steep.

  • 2. What is the best way to get started as a beginner fisherman?

    If you’ve never fished before, there are many ways to gain experience. You could choose to hire a guide if you like, or maybe you prefer to simply read a book about fishing, buy a pole and tackle box and go. Most people learn best by fishing with friends who have previous experience.

  • 3. Should I charter a boat for coastal or offshore fishing?

    Should I charter a boat for coastal or offshore fishing?

    If you want to fish in the open ocean and don’t have previous experience, it’s a good idea to hire an experienced skipper to take you out and back safely. A professional fishing charter company should be able to take you to places with a good chance of catching a trophy fish, and you won’t have to worry about taking care of the boat.

  • 4. Should I hire a guide?

    If you are new to fishing and want to get advice from an experienced fisherman, hiring a professional guide can be a good way to get started. Others enjoy the challenge of figuring things out by themselves. If you do hire a guide, do your homework to make sure you are really hiring a professional.

  • 5. What should I use for bait?

    What should I use for bait?

    The ideal bait depends entirely on what type of fish you are planning to catch. Some people swear by worms, while others only use squid or minnows. I have had some luck in the tropics using dead flying fish to catch dorado. It’s best to experiment for yourself and find the type of bait that works best for you.

  • 6. How can I go crabbing or shrimping?

    Unlike fishing with a hook and line, crab and shrimp are usually caught in a trap with bait. To try crabbing, buy a pot, float, line, and permit, set it in a good spot with bait, and return several hours later to see if you have caught anything. Shrimp are caught in much deeper water. Ask the locals for the best places to give it a try.

  • 7. Can I fish inside the National Parks?

    Can I fish inside the National Parks?

    That depends. In some national parks, park management makes use of fishermen to help reduce the number of non-native invasive fish. In many cases, you can keep as many introduced fish as you can catch. Native species inside national parks are likely to be protected. Always check the park website for regulations before you travel.

  • 8. How can I find the best places to catch fish?

    Fishing is indeed an art, and it takes many years to get good enough to develop a sense of when and where to find the most fish. But even a beginner can use a few tips to their advantage: fish like to bite around dawn and dusk, they like deep, shady pools in rivers or lakes, and they often bite when it’s raining. You’ll get more adept at spotting the signs each time you go out.

  • 9. How long should a fishing trip last?

    How long should a fishing trip last?

    Some people get burnt out after just a few hours of fishing, others can go at it all day for weeks at a time and never get tired. I would recommend for beginner fishermen start with half-day excursions and slowly work up to the point where they can fish for a whole week and enjoy the entire trip.

  • 10. What about catch and release fishing?

    I have met people who only do catch and release fishing because they don’t want to kill the fish or they are vegetarians. But the sad reality is that most fish that have been caught and released don’t survive long due to their injuries. It’s best to only fish if you plan to kill and eat the fish that you catch.