Being prepared and on point while fishing for esox is paramount. Over the years here is a list of essential items that I keep accessible and ready at all times while fishing for Tiger Musky.
William Joseph Hemocuts – Great for cutting leader, tightening knots and removing hooks.
Fluorocarbon and Hard Mason (or Hard Mono) – Fluoro for leaders and bite-guards, I usually have 20 – 80 LB on hand. Mason for use as a breaking section in your leaders, I use 20 and 25 LB. My typical leader set up is 60lb fluoro butt section of 2′, 20 lb section of hard mason of 2′ and 2′ of 40-80 LB bite-guard. Since hard mason is much thicker, 20-25 lb can easily be tied to 40-80 fluoro, resulting in a powerful leader that can turn over large flies easily.
Jaw Spreaders – Having two on hand for difficult hook removals is always a good idea.
Large Landing Cradle Or Net – I usually tail most of the fish I land but having one of the two is always nice to have as a option. Which ever one you decide to use make sure it’s rubber or has a coating since traditional nets with knots can seriously damage a fishes fins and eyes.
Rising Lippa – Great for lipping a fish when needed and does not damage fish like a Boga Grip. It’s also a good idea to tie a strap with a float to the handle because eventually you will drop it in to the water.
Long Nose Pliers and Berkley Hook Remover – I always have 10” long nose pliers and a pistol style grip hook remover on hand for hook removal. I use the the Berkley hook remover mostly since it’s easy to use and is gentler on flies.
Super Glue, Scissors and Markers – I often color, enforce, trim and repair flies on the water. Sometimes a trim and color job can make all the difference in the world.
A Pliable Tape Measure – Easier to handle and on the fish in addition to measuring the girth of the fish more accurately.
Hooks Cutters – Sometimes the best choice is to cut the hook instead of removing it. Make sure you have something strong enough to go through heavy gage hooks.
Two Small Bags – One bag for all your retying and rigging items and one for all of your handling and releasing tools.