If you've been fishing for any length of time, you've probably done it. Wake up nice and early, choke down that breakfast burrito extra fast, and drive like the wind to get to your favorite hole, only to find out you left your fly boxes behind or that your favorite spool of tippet had 4 inches left. It happens, even to the best of us.
But with a little planning ahead, and just a few bucks, you can make sure that the day doesn't have to end by turning around and heading home right then and there: make yourself one of these little "emergency" fly kits.
No matter how you go about this, the idea should be the same for all anglers: A small package of various things you just can’t go without while on the water. Another thing I suggest is to NOT keep this in your vest. Keep it in your glove box. It won’t do you much good in your vest if you've forgotten the vest to begin with, and you don't want to be tempted to dip in to it while on the water if you really don't have to.
What it contains can and will vary from angler to angler, but the principle should be the same. You'll want it to contain the things you just can’t go without on the water, with perhaps a few extras.
In my case, mine contains a leader, a spool of tippet, a small fly box, nippers, and superglue.
For a fly box, a simple selection of your favorite few patterns is the way to go. Make sure you have at least one pattern that will work during any given season. This fly kit is to be stored in your vehicle and basically forgotten about, so don't get stuck having to fall back to it in the dead of winter if you've only stocked it with springtime flies. At the same time, you don't need a huge assortment in a pinch. I have 6 different patterns in mine, three flies of each. It would be enough to get me through a day in a pinch. If you fish multiple bodies of water, consider stocking a few suggestive attractor patterns rather than specific bug copies, as you never know where you'll be when you need it.
The next two are pretty self-explanatory: a fly leader and a spool of tippet. Pretty hard to do much fishing without either.
I also included a set of nippers. While maybe not absolutely mandatory, to me, they sure make life a lot easier. Today’s flouro and even mono are a lot tougher than they used to be, and getting in there with your teeth can be a real pain. This is a backup emergency kit, so no need for Abel's here, the $2 wally world nippers are just fine.
I also included a tube of super glue in mine. Can be used in a pinch for repairing a fishing reel, rod, that last of your favorite pattern of fly, pinholes in waders, and can even substitute for stitches if you get a good cut in a pinch.
So, while your kit and needs may differ, you may want to strongly consider putting one of these "kits" together to save a day the next time you get stuck without something. Mine fits easily in a sandwich bag, and I just leave it in my glove box.