Why I Always Carry a Backup Gear Box

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Cowboy’ing up on the river. Photo By: Louis Cahill

By Kent Klewein

Have you ever made it to the river after a two hour drive and realized when you got there, you had forgot to pack one of your crucial pieces of fishing gear?

I’ll be the first to admit I’ve been that unfortunate angler plenty of times, and it can ruin a day of fishing. A few years back I was forced to spend a day on Depuy’s Creek in MT wading around in a pair of my Justin cowboy boots. It was really ironic because I spent the morning packing all the gear for my virgin fly fishing buddies, and I was the one that ended up leaving my damn wading boots on the front porch. Those Justin boots were surprisingly comfortable wading in but they had zero traction, and I looked like a moron. I’ve never forgot my wading boots on a fishing trip since.

Backup Fly Fishing Gear Box. Photo By: Louis Cahill

These days I always try to keep a box of backup gear in my vehicle at all times when there’s room. This way I’m covered if a piece of gear slips my mind during my packing or if I have gear break down on me on the water. Don’t get carried away with the backup gear box, just pack the essentials. I”m talking about focusing on the gear that will cause you to shout multiple four letter obscenities when you find yourself without them. Below is a short list of gear I carry with me at all times.

Contents of My Back Gear Box

1. Cheap pair of Polarized Sunglasses
2. Old pair of Wading Boots
3. Old pair of waders (It’s all good if they have a small leak or two)
4. Cheap rain jacket
5. Hat
6. Cheap fly rod and reel with fly line
7. Hemostats, Nippers, Fly Floatant
8. Couple spools of tippet and a couple leaders
9. Water Filtration Bottle (Not mandatory but a nice addition, worth its weight in gold)
If you’ve been fly fishing for a while, you’ll probably have enough old gear lying around to put together one of these backup gear boxes. If you’re missing a couple of them, no worries, just carry the back up gear you have on hand and work your way towards a complete box over time. And if you’re one of those perfectionist’s, who insists on it being 100% complete, I’ve just given you a good reason to go out and buy some new fancy gear. You won’t break into this box all that often, but when you do, I promise you’ll be grateful.

Keep it Reel,

Kent Klewein
Gink & Gasoline
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13 thoughts on “Why I Always Carry a Backup Gear Box

  1. Great post. I can now add this to the “off season” to-do list. Thanks for a great site. Reading G&G has became a staple of my morning routine and I look forward to it daily. Keep up the outstanding work guys!

  2. Im really surprised you hadnt mentioned having a box or two of varieties of go-to flies. Nothing worse than missing the box of flies you inevitably need for the day.

  3. I’d add socks, especially if you cold weather fish

    I usually keep rods/reels/sunglasses/tippet in one of those Orvis safe package bags (awesome btw, like a fly shop in your trunk), and a “go bag” that has waders, boots, and a rain jacket so I can just grab and go

    But I forget the damn socks all the time since they are really the only thing that does not go right back in the “go bag” after drying. Sucks cutting a trip short because you cant feel your toes anymore.

  4. May I add to this, having a spare key hidden under your vehicle. Just this past weekend I locked my keys in my truck while 7 miles into a fire road in Shenandoah National Park. What was supposed to be a fun day of of chasing wild Virginia brookies and browns turned into a mental nightmare. No cell service, no one around, no way to get to the nearest town 25 miles away where there might (not likely) be a locksmith willing to drive all the way in to the park to unlock my truck on a Sunday evening. Just a man and his four letter words, cursing himself for hours while trying to get a wire underneath the window pane to hit the unlock button. Hitting the window of your 3 month old truck with a trailer hitch just to get back inside because you’re a dumba$$ will most definitely make you cry, as will the $400 repair bill. Your tears will also freeze to you face while driving back home in a 27 degree rain/sleet/snowstorm with no window to keep you warm.

    Find a way to hide a spare key on the exterior of your vehicle. It’s worth it.


    This fishing guide who hates himself for having a very costly habit of leaving his keys in his locked truck.

    • Ha, I did this once. I had Onstar for my nice new truck in case I got locked out, but I had no way to call Onstar since there was no cell service! I broke the passenger window though, knowing it would be a windy ride home…

      • Me too!
        I now have a hide-a-key so my buddy can get in the car if need be but the best is a spare key on a zinger inside my vest.
        I hated to carry a full set of keys with remote entry and start fobs attached. A window would cost less than replacing them if they took a swim.

  5. Ah the foibles of our adventures!!! Too many to count but we still laugh at the time my buddy and I drove 2 1/2 hours up a logging road to fish one of our favorite trout spots only to find he had packed two left wading boots.

  6. I always bring an extra rod when steelhead fishing. I remember a buddy breaking a rod on a snag about 15 minutes into the day. The best part was watching the pained look on his face as he realized that his day was over because he was 2 hours from home and didn’t have a backup rod. I informed him that I had a backup rod under the seat in my truck and I saved his day. In fact, he landed the only steelhead of the day.

  7. If you fall in a lot as I tend to do, extra shirt, pants and some fleece really come in handy – especially in the winter.

  8. my turn, I had invited Sean O’Bien and his friend Donn to fish my home waters the Bow River in Calgary, Alberta. They made the trip up from Hamilton ,Mt for a 3’day fish.

  9. Don’t forget to check the quality of fishing tools in your box because the broken roads sometimes spoils the trips so don’t forget to keep the extra fishing tools.

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