Trip Tips

Fishing Float Trips: Checklist

River Float Check List: Some items are obviously optional, some are absolutely essential in our view ( those bolded). On our river trips we generally bring along both fly and spinning gear (sorry to all you purists out there). A long trip can be tiring if one is fly casting all day.

The person running the boat will find it far easier to spin cast while operating the craft. The craft operator only has a few precious seconds (if any) to fire a cast at a prime target – missed or overlooked by the bowman. This is far easier to accomplish with spinning gear. You then have time to quickly reel up and grab the paddle to steer.

It is customary for the stern and bow to switch periodically, if possible. This should be discussed ahead of time and of course is dependent on the relative skill of the canoeists.

At times, fish will hit sub-surface hardware, plugs, and subsurface flies better during the early and middle portions of the day. The surface flies take over late in the day – into the evening. We think it prudent to “save your arm” for the 2-3 hours in the late afternoon when the fish start ”looking up”!

Items presented in no particular order of importance, items bolded are considered essential:

  • Registered watercraft
  • Fishing license
  • Map
  • Paddles, Oars, (motor-gas?)
  • Rods and Reels – (Include Spinning?)
  • Flies
    • Poppers
    • Hoppers
    • Sliders & Divers
    • Streamers
    • Nymphs
    • Large hackled trout flies (Mayfly or Caddis imitations size 14-10)
  • Leader and tippet material
  • Extra leaders
  • Spin Fishing
    • In-line spinners
    • Small spinner baits
    • Buzz baits
    • Plugs – shallow running
    • Jigs and plastic/synthetic bodies
    • Snaps, swivels, lead weight sinkers
    • Bobbers?
  • Flotation devices: wearable and throwable (check local regulations)
  • Canoe seat chairs or seat cushions – The small ones can strap on and some have backrest built in.
  • Back rests optional but very important on a longer trip!
  • Anchor – five to ten pound (store bought) or mesh bag to fill with river rocks.
  • Anchor rope
  • Tie down rope – used to connect everything in the boat to the boat or canoe.
  • Fish stringer – can double as a connector rope, esp., the plastic “clip- type” stringer. We usually use them as the later since they provide a convenient way to attach odds and ends to the boat.
  • Waterproof stuff bag or gear bag.
  • Small cooler – with food, beverages, etc.- in sealable plastic bags.
  • Measuring devices – tape measure or scale inscribed somewhere on the craft for quick measurement.
  • Camera in waterproof container/bag.
  • Bug repellent
  • Pliers or hook-out device
    • Hemostat – straight or curved (I love the big curved ones!)
  • Cutting devices – a small metal cutter will double as a line cutter and can save the day if a hook lands in the wrong spot! Again, we’re speaking from experience!
    • Line cutter
    • Metal cutter – pliers style or snipper style. Small ones like this work great and are less bulky than the larger size. (Buy several cutters cheap at the hardware store discount bin)
    • Folding knife – a small folding knife can be very handy for a ton of reasons.
  • Filet knife
  • Plastic Ziploc-type bags
  • Zip-Ties
  • Duct tape
  • Headnet (seasonal)
  • Rain gear
  • Finger-less wool gloves (seasonal)
  • Extra hat (waterproof? )
  • Foot wear
  • Warm water – wading sandals, tennis shoes, flats booties, etc.
  • Cold water – Hip boots, wading boots with neoprene inner, chest waders with waist belt, etc.
  • Polarized sunglasses
  • Sunscreen and lip balm
  • Medications:
    • Aspirin and/or ibuprofen or other painkiller
    • OTC indigestion medication (eg., Pepsid AC, Zantac, etc)
    • Prescription medications such as heart meds, etc.
  • Toilet paper
  • Cell phone (on silent mode, please)
  • Lighter or matches – never know when you need fire


  • Make sure someone knows where you are going and when you are expected back.
  • Tie/clip everything to the craft you don’t want to lose.
  • Anchors are extremely useful on a river or stream.
  • Metal cutters can turn a disaster into a slight inconvenience.
  • Pain and indigestion medication can really save the day.
  • Long pants and long sleeved shirt will protect you from bugs (in light colors) and sun.