Jay’s Baja Fishing Gear Check-List

Jay Nicholas Skipjack

This list might help folks prepare for a week-long venture to Gary Bullla’s destination fishing camp in Baja. It pretty much captures what I felt that I needed after reviewing my week long fishing trip in late May 2017.  So for what it is worth, here is the list I will review when embarking on my next trip. My thanks to Jim and Gui for helping me prepare for this trip.

Jay’s Baja trip list.

Personal documents: Passport, one credit card (notify issuer of your trip), cash for host, captain’s daily tips, bait boat daily tips, cook tip at end of week, maid tip at end of week, fee for transportation to/from airport to destination, cash for incidentals (clothing, drinks, etc). You will need to pay for carry on luggage at the flight check-in and a credit card works well for any items at the airport. I should remind folks that Airport food is expensive and (hummmmmmm) interesting.

Roller bag (checked luggage)
Rod tube for 4 rods (carry on if allowed)
Sling pack (carry on)

Rods: 8, 9, 10, & 12 wt rods (three anglers broke rods on this trip)
Good choices:
* Sage Salt,
Echo EPR,
* Echo 3 SW,
* Winston Saltwater B 3 X,
* Scott Meridian,
* Beulah Opal SW,

Reels: 4 each with at least 200 – 300 yds backing
Good reel choices:
* Hatch Finatic 9 – 11,
* Nautilus Monster,
* Bauer,
* Tibor

Spare fly lines (I broke two fly lines in a week and several other anglers broke or damaged fly lines also); this is a vital need because you can not count on purchasing fly lines locally):
* spare sinkers (two lines – one 450 gr and one 500 gr),
* spare floaters (two lines – one 9 wt and one 10 wt),
* spare intermediates (two lines – one 9 wt and one 10 wt).

Spare backing. Yes, although it is unlikely you will need this, there is none for sale at the destination, so be prepared just in case. Cortland Rio and Hatch are convenient options and you should have a good 300 yards with you.

How to load your lines on your rods:
* 12 wt rod: I initially lined my 12 wt rod with a 450 gr sinking line. I had a fish run into a cave in the reef and cut off about five feet (plus leader) of one sink tip. For the rest of this day I tied on my leader using a figure 8 knot just like when I was a teenager trout fishing. Our panga captain inspected my knot carefully, shrugged his shoulders, and let it pass. Back at Baja Joe’s, I spooled on one of my spare sinking lines for the next day.

*10wt rod: I lined this rod with a 10 wt intermediate tip fly line. When this line broke during the trip, I replaced it with another Intermediate line.

*9 wt rod: I lined this on alternate days with a floater and an intermediate line, in an effort to see if one was more successful than the other. I thought it was a toss-up but conditions changed so much from day to day that I was not sure.

*8 wt rod: I lined this with a floater equivalent to a 9 wt. I found that slightly overloading this Echo EPR rod was entirely effective for my casting style and the need to make casts from close quarters to long bombs with minimum false casting and wind.

Although I took an 8 wt rod with me, I did not load any 8 wt lines on reels and I did not take 8 wt lines as spares either. Sounds weird, perhaps, but I fished my 8 wt with a 9 wt line. All of my spare floating and intermediate lines were 9 and 10 wts.

Good line choices: Rio Tropical Outbound short; Airflo Bruce Chard; Hatch; Cortland Precision Compact, Scientific Anglers Sonar Sink warm water and Airflo big game depth finder.

Remember, you can over-line a rod but don’t count on underlining a rod and still being able to cast. The sinking line option is essential at certain times of the day depending on the fish behavior. Floating and Intermediate fly lines may be interchangeable most days.

Leaders: 9- 12 ft fluorocarbon leaders typically 50 lb, 35 lb, 25 lb. Be prepared to tie tippets of 20 and 30 lb.
Spare leader spools: 50, 35, 30, 25, 20 – all fluorocarbon material by Hatch or Rio.
Wire – 30 – 40 lb bite wire

Flies and/or fly tying materials: try to have an assortment and be prepared to tie something new to adapt for local conditions. Alternately, you may be able to purchase flies before you depart or purchase flies at your destination. Best figure this one out before you head to the airport!

* pliers on holster;
* Polaroid glasses; spare glasses; sunscreen;
* Buff gear
*  Buff gloves;
* small hip pack for wade fishing or to carry gear in boat;
* Omni spools for all spare fly lines;
* fly line lube and cleaner;
* Camera with spare memory cards;

Clothing (wear one pair pants, shirt, shoes etc)
* Tropical pants long (2)
* Tropical sun hoodie (1)
* Ball cap (1)
* Underwear/socks: one per day
* Nice shirt for evening after fishing wear (1-2)
* Nylon belt for pants and pliers holster (1)
* Flats booties (1) in case you wade fish
8 Deck shoes (1) for airport, casual, and boat

* waterproof tape for line cuts and blisters;
* sunscreen;
* ibuprofen;
* personal medications;
* cell phone; charger, ear-buds (you can plug in your charger in Baja, and you will want a cable and earbuds to recharge and listen to music or watch movies aboard the plane.
* There is weak internet at Baja Joe’s to get email.
*I kept my phone of airplane mode all the time I was in Mexico, because I was told my phone would work but I would be charged huge fees by the minute for calls and cellular data use.
* personal toiletries;
* passport,
* ballpoint pen for filling out customs forms.

Camera, charger, spare memory card(s).

Special notes:
1. Mexico generally will NOT allow more than 3-4 fly rods and reels into the country without paying a fee.
2. The allowed number of rods and reels should be 4 but we were questioned about exceeding 3!
3. Fishing pliers, spools of flurocarbon leader, spools of wire, and saltwater hooks, flies, and fly tying tools are NOT ALLOWED in carry-on luggage. These must be packed on your checked baggage.
4. International medical evacuation insurance costs about 120$ for a week and is a good idea.
5. You can probably purchase additional tropical T-Shirts, Technical sun hoodies, and ball caps at your destination lodge.
6. You will NOT be able to carry rods on the plane when flying from Mexico to the US. Be prepared.

I hope this helps, the staff at the Caddis Fly Shop (and I) would be happy to answer any questions you may have.

Jay Nicholas Baja Gear List

Jay Nicholas – late spring & early summer 2017

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4 Responses to Jay’s Baja Fishing Gear Check-List

  1. Clint says:

    Regarding comment #6 in the last section, “you will not be allowed to carry rods from Mexico to the US”. I have had experience to the contrary, could you list where you were fly from and if that was a TSA rule or an airline rule?
    Clint Brumitt

  2. Oregon Fly Fishing Blog says:

    I flew from CBO TO LAX. I was on United/Alaska but they were preventing carry on of fishing rods for all carriers. I do not know the origin of the rule or if it is permanent. Sorry I do not know more, you may call me if you have questions JN

  3. Chad Slyngstad says:

    I was able to carry rods on from the US to Cabo and thought nothing of it. However….on the return trip from Cabo home the refused to let me carry rods. Was a big issue for me because I didn’t have any luggage big enough to put rods on. Moral of the story….have a backup plan to check rods.

  4. Gary Bulla says:

    It has been a hard rule that 4 rods and reels are the allowed limit to enter. And it is true that you cannot carry on rods or reels on your return flight. They claim it is a TSA rule, but obviously untrue. Yes bring a luggage bag that your rods can be stashed. Patagonia has an excellent new roll for protecting four rods in your checked bag.
    I try to have a limited amount of extra lines and tippet available at the lodge.

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