Choosing the perfect fly fishing gear can be a bit confusing, especially if you haven't done it much. With time, you'll come to learn the best equipment, gadgets, tools, lines, and accessories that will help you with your fishing and most importantly help you to enjoy your fly fishing outing.
A fly fishing multi-tool by one of the best brands in the space is one of the most important things in an angler’s tackle box or vest. You may not have ever used one or know what exactly they are good for, so we've taken a couple of days to review our top five picks for the best fly fishing multi-tool. Read on and see if one of these is right for you!
In This Guide
- Best Fly Fishing Multi Tool At A Glance
- 1. Best Overall: LEATHERMAN Wave
- 2. Best Runner-Up: Gerber Suspension Multi-Plier
- 3. Best for Versatility: Victorinox SwissTool Spirit Plus Ratchet
- 4. Best Budget: Rapala Fisherman’s Multi-Tool
- 5. Best for Experienced Anglers: Leatherman Wave Plus (Black)
- Factors To Consider When Buying the Best Fly Fishing Multi-Tool
Best Fly Fishing Multi Tool At A Glance
1. Best Overall: LEATHERMAN Wave
The Leatherman Wave is a favorite tool among many experienced anglers, hunters, hikers, campers, and anyone who loves the outdoors. This brand has been around for decades and the popularity for this item has reached unbelievable levels. In fact, I've never seen so many outstanding reviews for gadgets online before.
Year after year, the Leatherman tools have become the ideal stocking stuffers and gift opportunities for people looking to put a smile on their loved ones' faces for Christmas or a birthday.
On the water, you're going to constantly need sharp scissors to cut line on your reel and even to get you out of tangles you snag and bring up from the bottom. While this Leatherman is not designed specifically for fishing alone, it has tools that everyone can use while outdoors or around the house that make it a must-have item for your tacklebox, garage, and vehicle.
We use scissors, knife, flathead screwdriver (micro-size), and pliers the most while we're fishing. We have used the can opener, crimper to crimp barbs, and wire cutters to cut hooks embedded in the skin. This reliable multi-tool is extremely durable. You can't go wrong with this one.
- 18 Tools!
- Flathead Screwdriver
- Leatherman Bit Driver Extender
- Electrical Crimper
- Can Opener
- Diamond-coated File
- Replaceable Wire Cutters
- Needlenose Pliers
What We Like
What We Don't Like
2. Best Runner-Up: Gerber Suspension Multi-Plier
For around half the price and with 12 tools you can use while fishing, this is an affordable fly fishing multi-tool that comes with similar features as the Leatherman above.
Primarily, It’s a lightweight and rugged multi-tool that you can use all day while fishing, hunting, or doing anything outside or inside. The Gerber Suspension Multi-Plier has a cutout design that reduces the overall weight of the tool.
Tools on both sides of the tool lock securely with the Saf.T.Plus locking system to prevent injury while using. This multi-tool can be deployed quickly and easily while fishing and dropped back down to hang from the lanyard.
Gerber is known for producing reliable knife blades primarily. I still have a Gator knife I bought in the early 2000s that has held a good edge to this day! They also get creative in terms of craftsmanship and design.
If you’re looking for a fully-featured multi-tool that is constructed with functionality in mind rather than flashiness, then this is the right multi-tool for you. Don't worry, it looks great too. It comes in a polished titanium style color and will never rust. The spring pliers of this multi-tool are very grippy and will be easy to use, even if you’ve spent a long day on the water.
- 12 Tools
- 3.5" Closed; 6" Open
- Weighs 9 oz.
- Stainless Steel Handle and Tools
- Ballistic Nylon Sheath
- Lifetime Limited Warranty
What We Like
What We Don't Like
3. Best for Versatility: Victorinox SwissTool Spirit Plus Ratchet
If you love planning for fly fishing trips with friends and family, then this multi-tool is a valuable addition to your tackle box. This Victorinox SwissTool Spirit Plus comes with an unbelievable 24 tools to help you while out on the water.
The ratcheting bit driver comes in handy more times than I'd have guessed. The pliers are strong and the lock for tools is quite functional. This unit seems thoughtfully engineered to last a lifetime.
Whether you’re scaling fish, cutting lines, or fixing some broken fishing reels or artificial lures, this multi-tool will help you do it better. The multi-tool also has a screwdriver, wire cutter, reamer, sharp blade, and multiple saws. The craftsmanship is impressive and the design is classic Victorinox.
- 24 Tools
- Screwdriver, Torx, Hex
- Multiple saws
- Fish Scale Scraper
- Lanyard Hole
- Weighs 13.6 oz
What We Like
What We Don't Like
4. Best Budget: Rapala Fisherman’s Multi-Tool
Among the premium multi-tools on our list, this one by Rapala is the most affordable option you can find. Unlike some of the other multi-tools on our list, the Rapala Fisherman’s Multi-Tool is specifically designed to accomplish a few things to help you on fishing outings.
The three main fishing uses for this tool are scissors for cutting line, a jig punch, and a threader (to put lines through hooks/lures, etc., So, if you just want those three features, you should consider this very affordable fishing tool.
Though it has very limited use in comparison with other items on this list, the hole threader alone is worth the price if you need help accomplishing this task on the water (we do!). One of our testers noticed that the tool felt a bit odd during testing, but after subsequent tries, the multi-tool became more user-friendly.
- Retractable Line Scissors
- Line Threader
- Jig Eye Buster (punch)
- Beverage Opener
- Carabiner Clip
- Soft-grip Handle
- Weighs 6.7 oz.
What We Like
What We Don't Like
5. Best for Experienced Anglers: Leatherman Wave Plus (Black)
This is an upgrade to the original Leatherman Wave model. The Leatherman Wave Plus adds replaceable wire cutter blades, and is smaller, and lighter. This ideal fly fishing multi-tool comes with 18 tools that you’ll find very useful during your fly fishing expedition. Four of the 18 are outside tools. There is a stylistic combination of metal file, flat-blade knife, saw, and serrated knife.
A thoughtful touch is that this comes with useful ruler markings on the outer edge of the multi-tool handle. The Plus tool comes in black or silver stainless steel.
- Weighs 8.5 oz. and 4" Closed
- Needlenose and Regular Pliers
- Made in the USA
- Replaceable Wire Cutters
- Serrated knives, files, screwdrivers, wire stripper, scissors, bottle openers, and more
- 25-year warranty
What We Like
What We Don't Like
Factors To Consider When Buying the Best Fly Fishing Multi-Tool
Fly fishing requires you to have more than just a knife and pliers. Fly fishing trips can take you far away from home and to remote places without Walmart. Without Amazon Prime. You'll need to ensure you have everything with you when you leave.
RELATED: Trout Fishing Basics
One way to ensure you have a number of tools that can help you when you get out on the water is to bring a multi-tool that can accomplish many jobs. If you forget it, you're going to be crying the whole trip! The multi-tool you bring with you on your fly fishing trip needs to be carefully chosen and do as much as possible with that little bit of space. Space is at a premium, especially if you're wade fishing and up to your belly in water.
Some of the critical factors to consider when deciding on a fly-fishing multi-tool include the following.
Weight and Size
If weight and space didn't matter, you'd drag a big toolbox out on the water with you and have everything you need – full size and weight. We don't do that because we have compact multi-tools that can get the job done.
It’s important that you decide on a fly-fishing multi-tool that can help you accomplish all you need and do so at a size and weight that makes sense. We're talking about a pound of weight here at the most. The water you take with you will weigh 2.1 lb. per quart. That peanut butter sandwich and apples will add half a pound.
Don't go crazy in saving weight, but get a tool you can live with for the rest of your life. Really, this is a tool that should last a lifetime. There are plenty of stories of the older generation handing their multi-tools down to their kids. Choose the right one for fly fishing. For legacy.
The perfect multi-tool is a compromise between weight and its many features.
If you get a multi-tool to use during fly fishing or any fishing, get one that allows you to use just one hand to operate it. You'll be so glad you did. You can never have enough hands when out in the water in waders. You'll really appreciate a multi-tool you can effortlessly handle and use with one hand.
It’s unfortunate that some fly fishing multi-tools don’t have full scissors but only have blades. While you can use the blade just as you would use scissors for some tasks, it's a bit easier and safer to use scissors when fishing on a rocking boat.
Not to mention, cutting certain kinds of line can be more difficult with a knife. Braided line cuts much better with scissors. Scissors can be great for other jobs like opening your snack packs as you fish. Choose a tool that has spring-action scissors for the best experience while fly fishing.
It’s crucial that your choice of a fly fishing multi-tool be made of durable metal that will last for a decade or more. The ones we list on this page should do that. Brands like Leatherman, Gerber, and Victorinox are some of the best knife and tool makers in the world. You really can't go wrong with one of them. Metal that is corrosion-resistant like high-end stainless steel or even titanium will last forever.
It's easy to get carried away and spend over $100 on a multi-tool. Remember to balance the need for the ultimate tool with your specific needs and budget.
The most useful thing about needlenose pliers while fishing is that they can reach into a fish's mouth and grab the embedded hook and work it out gently, causing as little harm to the fish as possible before you release it. Regular pliers may be too wide and not fit inside a small crappie or trout mouth. Needlenose pliers and scissors are the two most important tools to have while fly fishing.
A fine patterned metal file can help you sharpen hooks after they are bashed on rocks or snagged on something underwater. Snags make your hook points dull and they need freshening up occasionally. If your file is strong enough you can use it to file down barbs in hooks to help release fish unharmed.
The file is probably one of the top 10 tools to have available. Many people fish a lifetime without using one, but then many people don't catch as many fish as they could with sharper hooks either!
Sometimes, you may need a bigger file to fix something like an outboard engine. Your multi-tool is great for on the water, but you should have another toolbox on your vehicle or stored on your boat for other crucial fixes that require it.
Interestingly, some weird and unexpected things can happen while swinging your fly fishing line through the air. For instance, a hook can get lodged in your friend's ear! Sadly, it happens. More often you'll just yank their hat off (or your own), but embedded hooks happen far more often than we expect.
Having wire cutters as part of your plier tool can help to cut an embedded hook and remove it easier. Don't forget about the barbs! If you have barbs in your hook you are probably going to want to have a doctor remove it at the clinic or hospital.
Note - some wire cutters on the Leatherman Multi-Tools have replaceable blades so when they dull you can change them out. That's super smart!
Some comprehensive multi-tools like the Leatherman have saw blades that can be very helpful when you’re out on the water. These can be great for scaling fish when you get back to the dock. Or, if you're ambitious, you can saw some old branches off a tree and start a fire to cook your fresh-caught fish on.
When you are camping and fly fishing someone always forgets the essentials - a bottle opener and a corkscrew. If you do often bring wine to your fishing excursions, it's better to ensure you have a corkscrew on your multi-tool. Using a big hook or a blade from a knife just results in a mess. Corkscrews exist for good reason. Use it!
Most multi-tools don't have a flashlight, but that doesn't mean you can't use one. Sure most of your fly fishing will be done during daylight hours, but what about emergencies when you need a light and it's dark out and you can't find the trail back to your Winnebago? A flashlight is always a good idea. We have a post on the best fishing flashlights here.
Pliers that are spring-loaded are much easier to use. Make sure you get this feature, it helps to enable one-handed operation.
If you want to buy the tools you'll need for fly fishing separately, you can save a lot of money over buying a multi-tool. Honestly, the only multi-tool we'd buy in the list above is one of the Leathermans. They're over $100.
Instead, you could buy ten or so of the tools separately. The problem is, the multi-tool is solving a main problem. Space. Wade fishing or any fishing, you have limited space for tools and gadgets, and essential fishing gear. Where will you put 10-18 separate tools when you're wade fishing? Hang them around your neck? In your hat? There's a good reason people will pay so much money for a tool that will save them space, weight, and aggravation.
Also, keep in mind that the best-made tools will last forever. You're not buying it for a year, two years. You're buying it so your kid has it to give to his/her kids. Now is it worth $100?
You can easily find fishing multi-tools for sale online at dozens of places. There are scams constantly developing to steal money from people shopping online. This is one good reason to use a shopping place you can trust. Credible marketplaces like Amazon give you a safe place to buy and great deals on shipping with Amazon Prime. Check it out if you are considering buying a multi-tool today!
Multi-tool manufacturers that are well established and that create great products are companies like Gerber, Leatherman, and Victorinox. Make sure to read reviews on specific products so you can ascertain whether it's good enough for you or lacking in some areas.
Fly fishing toolbox filled with flies and no room for 'tools'! Just another reason to get a multi-tool on a lanyard.
Fishing gear manufacturers haven't really stepped up to bring us the latest and greatest in multi-tools focused on fishing, have they? Rapala gave it a shot, as you can see above, but to be honest, I am sure me and a couple of friends could design something substantially better than what they came up with.
The good news is, Leatherman puts out the Wave Plus tool that's as good as it gets right now. Many of the tools contained on that gadget will help you while fishing. We can only hope that someday they'll put out a Fishing Multi-Tool that blows us all away, complete with a flashlight, glowing ruler marks, fly-tying vice, wire cutters, scissors, knife, fish scaler, beer opener, file, corkscrew, compass, GPS, and a squeeze bottle of Gulp.
Until then, we'll use what we've got!
Is carrying a multi-tool illegal?
It goes without saying, but we'll say it, you cannot take your multi-tool in a carry-on bag on an aircraft. Pack it up in your checked baggage and hope the baggage handlers don't grab it.
Also, if your multi-tool has a large knife blade or locking knives, it could be illegal to carry it in some states or countries.
The carrying of anything that can be used as a weapon can draw attention. While federal law does not forbid owning multi-tools, the laws in your state or municipality might suggest otherwise. You likely can't get in trouble if you pack your multi-tool in a fly fishing tackle box and can prove that you are going for a fly fishing outing. Be careful about displaying it in public and concealing it to use as a weapon later, this can be illegal.
Why do I need a fly fishing multi-tool?
If you ever go for multi-day fly fishing trips, you will need one of these tools to help you accomplish things on the water. Things like removing hooks from fish, cutting line, cutting wires, cutting through snags, and cutting a hook lodged in someone's chin. There are all kinds of uses.
We've all had experiences of using the wrong tool to accomplish something. A two-minute job can take twenty minutes if we don't have the proper tool. Your multi-tool can help you do many things that would normally take you much longer.
Remember, multi-tools can help not only with fishing, but with hunting, hiking, camping, caving, your vehicle, your bike, your motorcycle, your camper, or any of hundreds of other things.
Remember too, this can be a tool that lasts you a lifetime.
Can I purchase it as a gift for a friend or family member?
Both beginners and seasoned anglers can use multi-tools like those listed above to increase their enjoyment of fishing. No matter the angler’s fishing experience, style, or target species, multi-tools are very important additions to their fishing game.
This is a thoughtful gift that will last a lifetime!
Do fishing multi-tools corrode?
Since your new fly fishing multi-tool will contact the water, and probably often, you will need to ensure it is made of rust proof materials to ensure its longevity. Otherwise, it can corrode, especially with exposure to saltwater.
Stainless steel, titanium, and aluminum are all corrosion-resistant metals that can be used to make these tools.
Companies like Leatherman, Gerber, and Victorinox consistently make high-quality gear that won't rust. You probably should go with a well-known brand when you purchase your multi-tool.
Though your gear shouldn't rust, it can become dysfunctional or have decreased functionality when it gets dirty. Dirt in the bearings or seals can eventually seize the tool up. Keep it clean by following the manufacturer's instructions. At the very least, rinse the saltwater off quickly.
Is a Leatherman a good fly fishing multi-tool?
When it comes to manufacturing the best fly fishing multi-tool, the Leatherman is a leader with decades of experience.
They have made and improved their products over the years and now make the world standard multi-tool. That is why the company gives you an incredible 25 years warranty on their products. They can be confident in their products that they were manufactured with high-end tolerances and to exacting specifications. In short, they know their tools can last a very long time.
They offer a range of models so you can choose whichever model suits your needs. Their tools are extremely sturdy, and durable, and if you consider how long they will last – affordable.
A fly fishing multi-tool is a hard metal rust proof versatile tool that is compact and lightweight that can help you accomplish tasks that typically can take you a toolbox full of tools to handle.
Fly fishing as a hobby is filled with small tasks that are made easier by having a compact tool with many facets to it that can help you resolve problems with your line, reel, rod, lures, and maybe even your boat!
Choosing the best multi-tool on the market will take some research, but we've done that for you with our list above. We strongly recommend the Leatherman multi-tool product, but the Gerber and Victorinox tools are also fantastic products with slightly different features. Those features may more closely match what you need the item for.
If you would like to suggest any other premium fly fishing multi-tools that you have used or seen in use, please consider sharing that information with us in the comment section below. We'd love to look into it because we love gadgets!