So what do I find I need? A rigged up rod and reel (the tenkara boys and girls will have a different view on this), my trusty legionnaire’s hat with a set of flip down magnifiers (yep, age done gone and got the 20-20 vision), clothes for the sake of decency & comfort (I’m a fly fisher, not a worm fisher). I also may wear waders, or I may wade wet.
I may carry the landing net and fish bag ( See https://losthackle.wordpress.com/2012/02/01/diy-landing-net-and-fish-bag/), if I (a) want to keep a fish for the table and (b) remember to take it out of the car. Still spitting chips over that big fish that would have been on that steep bank, if only I hadn’t left the net in the car!
I now carry between 1 and 3 small boxes of flies with me. One box (made from an Altoids tin) contains my go-to flies. These are the flies that have worked for me in a variety of conditions and can be used in all situations. The go-to box is carried all the time. The other two boxes contain flies for more particular occasions.
The Go-to box, spare leader (in a zip lock bag), small spool of tippet material, first aid kit, snacks, and water fits in to a waist pack, the knife fits onto the belt, which keeps my thigh waders up or my chest waders secure. (And for the curious I never wade in water above the gonad line). Car keys and phone are around the neck, the latter in a waterproof case. On a quick small trip, this would be all I would take. (Note to self, I should put the line clippers and a fly patch on this waist pack).
An aside: my fly patches were cut from the wool-lined slipper boots that were heading for the trash (We call them Ugg/Ugh boots, here in Oz). A nappy pin is a useful means of affixing said fly patch.
For fishing the rivers I also carry a small bag (over the shoulder or around the neck). I have thought about clipping it to the waist pack, but I just haven’t bothered. It might be a good way to further “modularise’ the system. (Further note to self: do this!). This bag contains a couple of small fly boxes (soft hackle wets in one and a mix of caddis and mayfly nymphs and dries in the other), tippet material and spare leaders. I have a similar bag for lake fishing. These bags were picked up at the local Charity Shop for a few dollars.
For estuary/saltwater fishing I use a different waist pack, which holds three smallish fly boxes, tippet material and spare leaders, first aid kit and sunscreen. It’s also large enough to pack snacks and a sandwich!
This gives me a simple, light, modular system which can be adapted to the conditions of the waters I am going to fish.
This is the system that works for me on the waters that I currently fish. The principles for making it easier on yourself are to be ruthless about deciding what you really need and work out what you really use in all conditions and make that the core of your system.
For a different view on what you might really need and for good advice see
Good (& simple) fishing!