A First Aid Kit for the Flyfisher
by Paul Bennetts *
It is easy to get hurt out on the stream. Each time out we subject ourselves to the potential for cuts, scratches, bruises, insect bites and burns. And, when we are off the beaten track in search of the new species for our life list the risk is even greater. Here are a few tips for a kit that will allow you to treat most minor injuries in the field and keep you from ending your fishing trip prematurely.
Almost any fishing trip takes you away from the crowds and often well away from civilization and a local hospital emergency room. With that in mind, my first, and strongest, recommendation is that you take a good basic course in first aid. It is not if, but when you will need first aid. It will be much easier applying a bandage or treating an injury if you already know how to do it rather than trying to read the first aid manual as you to clean and dress the laceration you got from preparing a freshly caught fish for dinner.
The second tip is to carry a well thought out first aid kit. How many first aid supplies you carry with you will be determined by the length of your trip and the distance you travel away from the medical establishment. When I backpack in the wilderness, I have a much more sophisticated kit I take then when I spend a day at on a stream with other fly fishers nearby. More than one of my fishing partners has watched me sew up a laceration and then keep right on fishing, but I don’t recommend that for everyone. I only do it because I know how.
Basic first aid kits can be purchased already made up, or you can save a few bucks by purchasing some supplies separately and making your own. A basic kit should contain the following items:
- Band-aids of assorted sizes (several of each size)
- Triple Antibiotic ointment
- Gauze pads 4 inches square, (several)
- Gauze roll 3 inches wide
- Medical tape, 1 inch wide
- Needle for removing splinters or opening blisters
- Moleskin or Molefoam for treating blisters
- Small bottle of disinfectant soap or Cleansing towlettes
- Razor blade or small folding scissors
- Dental floss
- Large bandana to use for a sling
I pack all these things in a clear Ziploc bag so I can see what I need in a hurry. In addition to these, I also carry some other safety items with me on my fishing excursions. These include:
- Thermal “Space Blanket”
- Vaseline soaked cotton balls (make great fire starters)
- Whistle and small mirror for signaling
- Waterproof matches in a waterproof container
- Chapstick and sunscreen
- Super glue
It is reasonable to also think about taking some basic medications, especially on an extended back country adventure. Obviously, an ample supply of any prescription medications currently being taken by the fly fisher are a must. In addition, I always take with me:
- Analgesics (Ibuprofen and Acetaminophen)
- An antihistamine (Benadryl for bites, poison ivy etc.)
- Antacid (over-the-counter variety)
On backpacking trips where I will be drinking filtered water, I always obtain a prescription for a broad spectrum antibiotic like Cipro from my family practitioner. Most physicians will write a prescription for you if you tell them you will be traveling in the wilderness for several days. These can be taken as prescribed for severe gastrointestinal problems caused by microorganisms in contaminated water, should you be unfortunate enough to experience this problem.
There is one other thing to consider in your first aid planning. Make sure that someone knows were you are going to be, when you are scheduled to return and they have a phone number for the resource management agency or emergency responders in the area. If something serious happens, the required help will get to you in time.
Paul Bennetts lives in Olathe, Kansas and works as a Nurse Anesthetist. He grew up and spent the first 45+ years of his life as a spin cast fisherman, but became a converted fly fisher several years ago. He is a member of the Heart of America Fly Fishers Club and serves as the treasurer. Among his favorite places to fish have been the mountain lakes and streams of Wyoming.