Rod and Thumb

Hitchhiking and Self-Guided Fly Fishing Abroad


Below is a list of gear that would be valuable for your trip, assuming that your plans are to fly fish and camp from a backpack. If you have a vehicle to use, you can tweak this list.

A good portion of the gear you need for a year of living out of a backpack

Camping/Backpacking Gear

High quality camping gear is ideal. If you are caught in some nasty weather, it would be a rough nights sleep if your tent leaked during a heavy storm, soaking all of your equipment.

If you are in the USA, it is worth having all your of your camping and fly fishing equipment with you before leaving for your trip. While you can find high quality camping equipment all over the world, it is often more expensive than in the USA.

Leave the travel guide book at home, it is additional weight and if your motivation is fishing, you will find yourself not using it.

Fly Fishing Equipment

It is possible to buy flies, tippet/leaders on the road, but they can be a bit pricey and you may not always be able to find them when you need them. A fishing vest could be useful but it is additional weight to haul. A lanyard is a more lightweight option and is sufficient in keeping track of your tackle while on the water. A fishing net is also an optional item, but it will also add to your pack weight.

Fishing Rods and Reels

The rods that you bring should depend on where you are fishing and the fish you are targeting. The 5 and 6 weight duo is great because you can use a 6 weight line for both rods without issue. Having 2 rods is a safe bet because if one rod breaks, you will have a backup. You could also bring a one handed 5 weight rod and a 7 or 8 weight one handed/switch rod if you want to salt water fish or plan on chasing sea run brown trout, steelhead, or salmon.

4 to 6 piece rods should be used to reduce bulk and weight. The Cabela's Stowaway 6 piece rods are great because of their compact size and reasonable price. It's possible to fit the 6 Piece Cabela's Stowaway rod tubes inside a 50 liter backpack.

You can attach your rod tubes side by side with zip ties or duct tape to keep them together when attached to the outside of your pack.

If you use a 5 and 6 weight rod duo, instead of having two reels, you can instead use one disc drag reel, with a spool for your floating line and another spool for a sinking line. The click and prawl reel is fun to use on still water due to its low drag, but it can be difficult to use if you link up with a sizeable fish on fast moving water.

Wet Wading

When fishing during summer months, some fisherman do without waders and instead opt to wet wade by wearing shorts, leggings and boots. Wet wading can reduce your pack weight, but make sure you know what weather and water conditions to expect before leaving the waders at home. You will have a difficult time if you are fishing glacier fed rivers without waders.

There are some countries where felt-soled wading boots are illegal. Make sure to do your research on this beforehand.


It is easy to bring too many clothes. Only bring what you will use on a regular basis as every item adds more weight. If worse comes to worse, you can buy clothes while on the road. Do not bring jeans: they are too heavy, especially when wet, and they can take a long time to dry.

Footwear after 4 months in Chile/Argentina

Packraft/Float Tube

It is possible to bring a very light weight, ~3 pounds, packraft or float tube to increase your fishing options. A watercraft will provide you with more fishing opportunities.