There are a lot of knick-knacks in fly fishing. Some things you need, others you don't. Specifically with striper fishing here in New England - here are a few absolute essential items that could make up a sort of "if stranded on a (New England) deserted island" kit for striped bass. You got your rod, reel, line, and favorite fly...now...
- (Bugstopper) Sungaiter/Sungloves - Sungaiters/buffs and gloves have become increasingly popular these days and for good reason. They provide not only protection from the sun (in the highest sun-hit areas), but keep stripping fingers less torn up, keep you warm in a cold breeze, and keep insects away. Specifically these Simms Bugstopper Sungaiters + Gloves mix the best of both worlds. Sun protection with added bug shielding. These are the best friend of striper anglers especially fishing the marsh + rivers a lot! (Think mosquitos, green heads...)
- 20 or 25lb Fluorocarbon - Some people argue lighter, others heavier. But 20 or 25lb fluoro can function as good striped bass leader/tippet material for fishing patterns from clousers/deceivers to deep water crabs. It provides plenty of strength for big fish, abrasion resistance for barnacles/rocks/teeth/etc, and is stiff enough to turn over essentially any striper fly. Some 20lb fluorocarbon, connected with good knots, can really be all you need for a season of Maine stripers.
- 20 or 25lb Monofilament (Tapered) Leaders - When fishing top-water or shallow water, I like to use monofiliament (see our guide on monofilament vs fluorocarbon). So a pack of 20lb mono leaders is always in my bag or jacket. It's enough to turn over those big wind resistant poppers and bring in a heavy bass off the surface.
- Wading Boots - A good pair of wading boots can be vastly under appreciated. I see a lot of anglers with very worn out boots that barely give any ankle support and little to no grip on rocks. I have used the Simms Vapor Salt boots not only fishing here in Maine, but also flats fishing in Belize on hard coral flats. They provide great durability + protection, ankle support, and Vibram soles plus the ability to add in metal cleats. The lacing hardware is non corrosive too so they are ideal for long term saltwater use where most, even high end Simms boots, will eventually start to rust.
- Stripping Basket - "You don't need a stripping basket, but after your first time out you will really want one." That's my response when someone is here at the shop asking about the necessity of a stripping basket. After one outing with your line tangling on rocks, in marsh grass, or swept away by waves you will certainly see the convenience of them. Trying to cast flies into New England wind along the ocean is hard enough, give yourself a little advantage...
- Pliers - A pair of good pliers is on the hip, pack, or in the pocket of every hardcore saltwater fisherman. Finding a pair that are durable, provide good jaws, are corrosion proof/resistant, and have sharp cutters can be tough. I've been using these Dr. Slick Typhoon Pliers for a couple years with good success. They come with replacement jaws and cutters too.
- Waterproof Fly Box - Saltwater damages everything, and needless to say, when your hooks get rusty, well...
There you go! If I were to leave the house and not have one of these items, I might feel "lost." There isn't a lot you can bet on when fly fishing for stripers, but you can bet these are "bare essentials!"
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