We’ve all been there: fishing on a great fishing boat, but not a great fly fishing boat. Whether it’s your fly line tangling, fly gear storage, or awkward casting positions, some boats that are great for conventional fishing are just not ideal for fly fishing. But worry not, follow these tips to improve your odds on the water!

Duck/Masking Tape to Cover Cleats

As every fly angler knows, fly line has a tendency to get tangled around everything. While most boats are relatively open and tangle-free, there is nothing worse than firing an absolute bomb of a cast only to have it abruptly stopped by your line getting caught on a cleat. Some newer boats are made with recessed cleats, so you can get them out of the way when they aren’t in use, but many boats still don’t have that feature. If your boat doesn’t have the fancy recessed cleats, you can use tape as a quick fix. Just place some tape over the cleat so the pointy bits are covered, and then you have a tangle-free cleat. This is a cheap, easy fix to make your boat much more fly-friendly while still keeping all of the necessary functionality.

Stripping Baskets/Buckets:

This is another line management hack that can really make a difference between missed and made shots. Stripping baskets and buckets really shine when on a flats boat or any boat where you will be fishing in windy conditions. Having a bucket or basket to strip your line into while on a boat ensures that you don’t accidentally step on your line mid-cast or get random wind tangles. These can be made from clothes hampers and plastic bins or purchased online, but either option will get the job done.

(Check out this Strip bucket feed here!)

Fly patches for Your Most-Used Flies:

If you’re like me, you toss a lot of different flies on any given day. Having to dig through gear bags and fly boxes every time you want to switch flies is a total pain, so keeping your most used patterns accessible makes a lot of sense. My favorite way to do this is with a foam fly patch that I have stuck to my center console. This patch makes it easy to swap flies fast and get my line back in the water!

(Check out the Cliff Boat Patch here!)

Photo: Kirk Marks

The Ever-versatile Yeti Cooler:

No, it doesn’t need to be a yeti, but your average cooler might not last if you use it like this. Apart from being used as a cooler, which shouldn’t be taken for granted, cold food and drinks are a very good thing, Yeti’s are incredibly versatile. Positioned on your boat’s bow, a yeti is sturdy enough to serve as a sight fishing platform; plus it will keep your drinks cold when you blow the cast. I’ve used coolers as casting/sighting platforms, fish cleaning stations, tables, diving boards, and just about anything else you can think of, so I consider them to be a very valuable thing to have on a boat.

(Check out the Yeti Tundra 45 here!)

Easy-access Fly Rod Holders:

The common theme of this article seems to be efficiency, and this last item is no exception. Having east-to-access fly rod holders on your boat makes a huge difference. While this may seem obvious, I’ve been fishing on plenty of boats that don’t even have rod holders. The ability to have multiple rods rigged and ready to go at any given moment is a luxury that I’m definitely grateful to have. This allows you to switch tactics altogether without much of a second thought. Also, if you are running and you see a school of breaking fish, you can quickly grab a rod and start casting instead of struggling to find the right setup or trying to quickly re-tie.

(Check out the Bluewater Designs Rod Holder here!)

While these modifications definitely aren’t necessary, they can help out quite a bit. Anything you can do when fly fishing from a boat to manage your line or store your gear more efficiently will create a smoother experience and more successful trip. So, try these out for yourself, and make sure to let us know if we missed anything.


  1. Another hack to the Yeti cooler is turning the lid latches around so they angle in toward the cooler versus outward.

  2. Hello Nate,

    Thank you for the shout on regarding our rodholders. We are a small company based in and manufacturing in the U.S. Our products were developed by fly fishermen and work to secure your rod and reel investment from the damage that is often associated with traditional holders that allow the rod and reel free movement. We also have flyrod holders that fit traditional flush mounted rod holders. Our products are available in marine grade stainless steel and polycarbonate.

    My main reason for reaching out to you is that our websites checkout is currently offline as we transition providers and also go through a physical relocation of operations. If you like our products and are interested reach out through the contacts provided.

    Thank you again!


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