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March 05, 2021 5 min read

Colorado is a land of outdoor adventure. From waking up early to climb a mountain to sitting back and watching the birds sing, the Centennial State has something for every nature enthusiast. For many people, the best outdoor vacations include packing a tackle box and spending a few hours on the water, waiting for that perfect catch. Colorado is home to some of the best trout fishing in the nation. Depending on where you go, you can also find great spots for salmon, carp, and other varieties. No matter what you catch, you know you’ll spend some great moments in the breathtaking Colorado wilderness. However, all grand fishing trips begin with one crucial detail: the packing list. Start your trip off on the right foot with this guide on how to pack for a fishing trip in Colorado.

Make a List

This might be an obvious tip, but it’s worth remembering. The best way to ensure you have everything you need is to make a list. No matter how experienced you are, there’s nothing more frustrating than arriving at your destination and realizing you forgot something. Even worse, if you forgot a crucial piece of gear, you’re going to have to buy one. This can get pricey, especially if you need to purchase from tourist shops or other stores with higher price tags than you would find at home or online. Save yourself the hassle—and the money—by making a thorough list of everything you need before you start packing. As you plan your trip, write down everything you can think to bring. If you’re learning how to pack for a fishing trip in Colorado for the first time, read up on your specific destination. Many parks, retreats, and other locations will have guides or advice forums that let you know what you need. The more extensive your packing list is, the less likely you are to make stressful, last-minute purchases while on your vacation.

Figure Out Your Gear

Let’s talk about the most important thing on your packing list: your fishing gear. The first thing to do is decide whether you want to bring your own gear or rent from somewhere at your destination. If you’re going on a guided tour or staying at a fly-fishing lodge, there will likely be plenty of rental options available. Some tours will even provide equipment for you throughout the trip. This can be useful if you’re going on your first big fishing trip or if you’re unfamiliar with Colorado’s fish, locations, and trends. Renting from your destination allows you to get expert advice and gear that suits your trip perfectly. On the other hand, renting gear for every fishing trip gets expensive quickly. If you plan on using your fishing gear repeatedly, investing in your own equipment is worth it. Just make sure you have the proper gear before you set off for the Colorado waters.

What should be on your checklist of fishing gear? If you plan on bringing your own equipment, make sure you pack your trusty rod and reel. It’s also a good idea to pack a spare rod, especially for longer trips—you don’t want to halt your entire vacation just because one rod breaks. Make sure you bring all the right tackle as well. For a successful Colorado fishing trip, you’ll need your line, leader, tippet, and flies. If you’re not sure what will work best, stop by a local tackle shop once you’re there and talk to the experts. They’ll guide you to the perfect equipment—and possibly the best spots in town, both on and off the water.

Dress for the Occasion

Whenever you take a trip to Colorado, you need to pack for the weather. Pay attention to the time of year, where you are in the state—including what elevation you’ll be at—and what the local forecast predicts for your trip. Keep in mind that fishing requires a lot of standing still in the water. You’re likely going to want warmer clothes. However, the day can get hot when the sun starts beating down on you. That’s why you should pack a few layers so that you can adjust to stay comfortable throughout the day. Your cozy Colorado hoodie can keep you warm during those chilly mornings, but a lighter, moisture-wicking base layer will allow you to cool off as the day grows warmer.

Don’t Forget Accessories

When you spend all day fishing by the water, you’re going to want two things: protection from the sun, and protection from the water. Make sure you pack waders and wading boots to keep you warm and dry while in the cool Colorado waters. Pay attention to the grip of your boots as well, as some of our mountain rivers can be difficult to navigate if you’re not careful. As for sun protection, a wide-brimmed hat can keep your neck cool and free from sunburn. It’s also a good idea to wear a long-sleeve base layer so that you always have protection from the sun’s rays, even if you take off your outer layers. Be sure to pack sunglasses and sunscreen as well.

Safety Gear Is Crucial

Fishing in Colorado is a full-fledged adventure. Just like any other outdoor trip, you must pack the right safety gear. Make sure you leave room for a first aid kit in your fishing gear. Bandages, antibiotic spray, bug spray, and painkillers are just a few of the essentials that you should always have with you on an outdoor excursion. Hydration is also a key part of staying safe, so make sure you pack plenty of water. A large, sturdy, reusable water bottle is great for keeping clean water with you at all times. Sunscreen and lip balm will also help keep your skin from drying out and taking damage in the sunny skies and dry air of Colorado.

Pack for Other Recreation

You can spend days in Colorado enjoying the view from the edge of the water. And while fly-fishing is a great reason to visit, it’s not the only thing you can do here. Take advantage of your trip to the Centennial State by planning—and packing—for other activities. There's a good chance your fishing trip will include a hike through some of Colorado’s stunning landscapes, so make sure you have comfortable hiking boots and other gear to arrive at the water safely. After a satisfying day, you might want to put on nicer clothes and enjoy some of the famous delicious local restaurants and breweries. Finally, it’s always a good idea to pack for a backup plan. If bad weather or other mishaps keep you from the fish, having a plan B will help you still make the most of your trip to Colorado.

How To Pack for a Fishing Trip in Colorado

Paige Pesko
Paige Pesko


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