Recently I have helped prepare quite a few people who are getting ready for trips in the coming months as well as myself for a trip to Belize. So I thought it would be a great time to talk about being prepared for a trip. With all that I see in the outfitter, hear on the telephone, and experience on the water I feel pretty confident that I will supply some good insight toward your travel.
Fly fishing trips, especially those out of the country, are unlike a trip to the in-laws or out of town for a few days with the wife. To have a successful fishing trip there is a great deal of thought and preparation for so many reasons. I think the first of those reasons is because when you are there you want to take full advantage of the situations you are in. Another reason is that these trips are expensive. They are expensive enough that many will pay for trip insurance and yet wait until the last few days to prepare. Often this results in people leaving out enough of something or forgetting it all together. Running out of the flies that have been working, not having a spool of 8lbs test fluorocarbon when fish are extremely spooky, or not having a higher weight rod for windy days are all things that could make or break many of the shots you will have at fish. In other words don't ruin an expensive trip because you don't have the right tools once you get there.
For my upcoming trip I will have one carry on bag that fits six, four piece, rods in their rod socks. Inside this bag I am carrying four rods, 7wt - 10wt, the 7 for Bones on calm days, 8 on not so calm days the 9 mostly as a backup and the 10 as a permit and tarpon rod. I have the corresponding reels for each rod as well, while fishing the 7 or 8 I plan to have the 9 and/or 10 rigged for the right species so they are ready to fire. I also have a change of underwear, t-shirt, hat, leaders and a box of flies incase my checked luggage does not make it I will have the essentials. Finally on an outside pocket I have the TSA webpage on fishing and hunting printed so if I get questioned about flies then I can present their own words in defense. Click for that page.
Preparation that is just as important is to practice before you come. I am not saying you need to be able to put a fly out 80 feet into a coffee cup with a stiff wind on only one back cast but I am saying that no matter how good or poor a fly caster you are practice will always serve you well. I feel it is important to practice in a few different ways according to the time you have before the trip. A few weeks or more out is the time to work on the parts of your cast, your acceleration and stop, the angle of your arm, where your elbow is, not opening or breaking your wrist, tight loops, and so on. As you get closer to time stop practicing the parts and practice fishing. Focus on targets and cast to them from the ready position as if you were on a boat, also walk around and pick targets as if you were wading. Finally continue to practice fishing but do so with minimal false casts. In most resects practicing fishing and practicing fly casting are two different things. Those that do something well in the heat of the moment use the muscle memory they have because if they stop and think about the details they are more likely to falter.
There are going to be quite a few different things that you can't prepare for but all the more reason that if you are going on a trip in the first place you should plan for every feasible thing you can.