Kenai Alaska Fishing Gear List

By Jason Noel - Last Updated: June 12, 2018

kenai alaska fishing gear list

I’ve been up to Alaska salmon fishing off and on for the past 15 years. As fishing in Alaska is quite a bit different than here in the lower 48, I thought that I would write a fishing gear list to help out those who haven’t been up there and don’t know what to expect.

What fishing gear to bring to Alaska?

  • Breathable chest high waders
    • Don’t need to bring neoprene
    • Hip waders are ok but the rivers in Alaska are big and have deep pockets.
  • Wading Boots (NO FELT! They are illegal)
  • Fly rod: 8′ – 10′ 7-9 weight for under 20lbs, 10 weight for kings
    • Fly leaders: 6-10lb for trout, 10-16lb for salmon, and 25lb for kings
  • Spin Rod: 7′ – 9′ steelhead rods for 10-20lb line
  • Spinning line: 15 – 20lb monofilament – no braided, see below
  • Pliers or leatherman with pliers
  • Fillet knife
  • Tackle box & long stringer (no 16″ stringers, this is Alaska!)
  • Fishing tackle – don’t need to bring any. Just ask the guys in the fishing shops and buy it when you get there.
  • 48ct Cooler (explained below)
  • Rod Tube – Important tip below on traveling with your rods

Also, the tackle for fishing varies greatly based on the time of year you go and what rivers you fish. So, I would recommend to either call a fishing shop a week prior to ask them what the fish are biting on so that you can get the gear here. Or just wait till you get there to buy tackle because you have to get your fishing license anyway.

Clothing Gear To Bring

  • Waterproof rain jacket with hood
    • Either Gore-Tex or rubber rain jacket is a must
  • Waterproof shoes (look at weather before you go, if it is nice, you won’t need them)
  • Day Backpack
  • Waterproof Backpack cover – Great to keep your gear protected from the elements.
  • Winter socks (for waders)
  • Fleece sweater
  • lightweight down jacket
  • sweat pants / long jons – nice for the waders
  • Zip off pants / hiking pants
  • stocking cap – at night it may get cooler, even in the summer.
  • Baseball style hat
  • Sun glasses
  • Sunblock
  • long sleeve shirt
  • neck gators for sun, wind and insect protection

What not to bring to Alaska for fishing

  • Headlamp – in the summer it’s never dark… I mean never.
  • Waterproof pants – Depends, but I just used my waders

What gear to buy when you get there

  • All food & beverages
  • Mosquito repellant – mandatory! Seriously, there are insane up there!

A tip about fishing rods in Alaska

alaska fishing gearFor the fishing rod, you really don’t need to bring up expensive poles from home. Really! In Alaska, they have Ugly Sticks that you can purchase at any store and that is what everybody uses. They are cheap and extremely durable. In 15 years I have yet to break one salmon fishing. Either bring a cheap one from home or just buy an Ugly Stick when you get there and bring your reels with you.

Braided fishing line

I’m not a huge fan of using braided fishing line like Firewire or something of the sort. Especially when salmon fishing. The reason is because salmon fishing in and around the Kenai and Soldotna will typically have you setup with weights to get the hook down and the weights slide really easily with the braided line. I tried it last year in June and I didn’t like it. I typically love it for fishing in the lower 48, but not Alaska. That’s just my two pesos.

Rod tubes

This is essential for bringing up your rods from the lower 48. However, here’s a little word of warning for traveling to Alaska with your rods. Don’t check them! I’ve checked my rods twice and they got lost both times. Super frustrating! Just bring them on board. Most the time you will have a layover in Seattle and the stewardist will ask if they don’t fit in the overhead compartment to let them know and they will keep it with them. Super sweet

Why bring a cooler fishing in Alaska?

alaska fish transportation box coolerThis is huge! I will typically just pack all of my clothes, fishing gear, and a duffle bag into a cooler and bring that up there with me. I’ll put a strap around the cooler and check it when I get to the airport. This is a fabulous way to go as I typically will need a cooler when I get there for the food (ahem… beer), ok… just for beer 🙂 But, more importantly, for bringing fish back home when I’m done. It’s better to bring a cooler than to pay $50+ for a cooler when you get there.

You can also purchase a CF-60 Box that is airline approved for transporting fresh and frozen fish. See image. This box holds up to 50 lbs and you will only need tape to secure the top.

You can find the CF-60 box at Sportsmans and Fred Meyer.

Here are the most popular fishing gear stores in Kenai, Alaska.


What gear to bring on an Alaska fishing charter?

Warm clothes! Even though it’s summertime, you will be out in the ocean or in the bay, but it will still be cold out there. Check the weather, but every time I’ve been out, it’s always chilly. Remember this, on a fishing charter, you will be cruising for 2-3 hours before you start fishing and it can get cold standing in the wind when it’s only 45-60 degrees out.

  • Daypack
  • Stocking cap
  • fleece sweater
  • waterproof jacket
  • rubber pants
  • waterproof shoes
  • Sun glasses
  • gloves with a fold back flap for fingerless

The charter will always provide the fishing poles and gear for the trip, but check on what food or beverages they provide if any.

If you have any questions, please feel free to comment below and I will respond as soon as I can… as long as I’m not already in Alaska fishing 🙂