Essential Fishing Gear for the Backcountry

Six items that will keep you fishing, no matter how far in you hike in

You know the backcountry when you see it. The pavement ends, the footpath disappears, and the game trail dissolves into swamp. Your cell signal cuts out as you push deeper into forest, but that doesn’t matter—no one could find you here if they tried. Climbing the next ridge, you hear water, then see it—miles of tight creek all to yourself. Gone are the empty night-crawler containers on the bank, the rusted Panther Martins dangling in the trees. It’s just you and the smallmouths now. Or brown trout. Or, hopefully, both.

Backcountry fishing can be a crapshoot, but spend enough time exploring water that other people don’t want to work for and you’ll find your hands covered in fish slime more often than not. And while the most important tools for the journey are a trailblazer’s attitude and a gambler’s heart, the following gear will help too.

1. Fishpond High-E Hoodie

FishPond High-E Hoodie FishPond

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This is my outer layer for weeklong canoe loops. It features high-crimp, ultra-­insulating wool and a breathable, water-resistant exterior that makes all-day exploration efficient and comfortable. It’s cut extra-long in the sleeves and bottom, so your wrist and belly won’t get exposed no matter how far you stretch. ($229)

2. Buff Neck Gaiter

Buff Neck Gaiter Buff

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Space and weight are at a premium in the backcountry, so you want to regulate your temperature in the most efficient way possible: focusing on your neck and head. For cool temps, I carry a Merino wool Buff to keep warm on the water and in the tent. For warmer weather, a UV Buff keeps the sun off and bugs out. ($24 UV; $32 wool)

3. Simms Intruders

Simms Intruders
Simms Intruders Simms Intruders

I like wet-wading boots for deep-country exploration because I can go anywhere I need to—wet, dry, or somewhere in between—and make good time doing it. These Simms Intruders give you good traction, they protect your ankles, and the tight cuffs around the top make it harder to get that annoying rock in your shoe. ($135)

4. Scientific Angler amplitude Infinity Taper Fly Line

Scientific Angler Amplitude Infinity Taper Fly Line Scientific Angler

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This is a floating line with a long belly, which means you can control it with delicacy from a distance. But it also features an aggressive head, which means you can throw big flies with ease. It’s a great line for any situation, and in the backcountry, gear that multitasks is a must. ($100)

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5. Safari Innova

Safari Innova
Safari Innova Safari

I love this ultralight, ultra-tough kayak for paddling into the unknown. Portages are a nonissue; just hop out and push it over a beaver dam, or one-arm it as you take a shortcut through the woods. There’s also plenty of storage for stashing an ultralight tent and sleeping bag too, if you want to extend your stay in the backcountry. ($699)

6. Murdich Minnow

Murdich Minnow Klph & John Studio

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If it swims in the backcountry, it’ll eat this fly, which is great because Murdichs are easy to tie and cast effortlessly. Better yet, they are a cinch to customize in a wide range of sizes to target anything from panfish and brook trout to big browns and smallies to pike and muskies. ($7)