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DIY Fly Fishing Lanyard

Updated: Jan 15, 2022

In an outdoor culture that is shifting more towards ultralight gear (for example, ultralight backpacking and saddle hunting) it seems like an obvious progression for fly fishing gear to follow suit. While the traditional method of carrying flies and other commonly used tools via vests and packs remains relevant, there are certain use applications where a lighter and less bulky gear has its advantages. When I'm looking to go light and carry only the bare essentials I turn to a lanyard setup.

Lanyards can be a very useful system for carrying your fly fishing gear. Wearing my most commonly used tools around my neck is a great way to keep them close at hand so they are accessible at a moments notice. Because I can only fit so much onto a lanyard, it also forces me to only carry the bare essentials and leave everything else at home (or in a boat bag - I'll get to that in a moment).

While I tend to prefer carrying my gear in a pack, there are two situations where I tend to reach for my lanyard before hitting the water:

  • When I'm looking to go lightweight such as backpacking or just a quick outing.

  • When I am fishing out of a boat and can keep the majority of my gear in a boat bag.

I prefer to use a lanyard for my most commonly used tools when fishing from a boat.

Over the past few years of using a lanyard I have customized my layout to exactly what best suits my fishing style. From the time I first started using a lanyard in 2017 to the present day (2021), my lanyard setup has changed significantly and I believe that I've fine-tuned the layout of my lanyard to my preferred specifications.

I've based the design on several inputs and don't claim that these ideas are purely my own. I first started fine tuning my design after reading George Daniel's book Nymph Fishing. George uses Golden Trout Lanyards out of California, which has been the model behind my DIY creation. While Golden Trout Lanyards and other lanyard manufacturers would most-certainly produce something of higher quality than what I'm capable of, the price-point is just a bit too high for me at the moment. Someday however, I would like to get my hands on one of these lanyards to test out and do a review, which I will eventually post to our site and YouTube Channel.

The purpose of this article is to give a quick rundown of how I've build my lanyard in hopes of providing ideas to others on how they might develop a custom lanyard that works best for them. I also would like to make the comments section of this post into an interactive forum where others can post their ideas and share what works best for them. Please comment below, and lets get this conversation started!

DIY Lanyard Construction

With regards to my lanyard, I use 330 paracord as the foundation that I mount my tools and other accessories off of. I find that the smaller diameter of 330 paracord (as opposed to 550 cord) works better with the mounting hardware and beads that I use as spacers.

I use HDPE plastic as the mounting piece for my C&F Design fly box as well as a place to attach S-hook carabiners for additional gear attachment points.

I attach the fly box using adhesive hook and loop (Velcro) strips. Loop side on the box and hook side on the HDPE plastic.

Several of my accessories are attached to S-hooks.

As a way to carry pre-rigged dropper's or extra leaders, I very often use rigging foam. In my lanyard I added an adhesive magnet to the front of my C&F Design box and glued two small magnets to the rigging foam for easy removal.

Rigging foam allows me to carry pre-rigged dropper's, double nymph rigs, and extra leaders.

I attach the rigging foam to the fly box using magnets.

To avoid adding any unnecessary weight, I prefer to use spring loaded cord locks/buttons as spacers as opposed to beads. This allows for more adjustability as well without having to disassemble the lanyard to remove beads. The spacers can be moved up or down the paracord to space out various tools or tippet on the lanyard.

I like to carry a variety of tippet on my person when I'm on the water. As a DIY hack for carrying tippet, I use a gutted Bic pen with some paracord through the center and a swivel on each side to attach it to the lanyard. I like to mount my tippet on spacers just above my fly box.

A tippet holder made out of a Bic pen, 330 paracord, and random keychain parts.

As some large fly / small streamer storage, I drilled a hole down through the center of two synthetic wine corks (one for each side) and place them above my tippet. I like the use of synthetic corks as they seem to hold up a bit better with time and the constant addition and removal of hooks.

The synthetic wine corks work as a great way to store small streamers.

Close up of the way I attach the spring loaded cord locks, tippet, and wine corks.

To add some additional comfort, I used 3/8" fuel line as neck padding. I cut an approximately 8"section of tube and punched a hole in the center. To finish off the lanyard, insert the paracord into both ends of the hose and bring them both out in the hole that was punched in the center. As a last piece of adjustability, I added another spacer button that both ends of the paracord are inserted through so the size/length of the lanyard can be adjusted.

Fuel line for the neck padding.

Customizing your own setup

In my opinion, constructing DIY gear can be a blast. Aside from just having a good time, making or modifying your unique fishing setup can help you to customize things to whatever best fits your style or use case. I find myself modifying my fly fishing gear often to better fit the way that I like to fish and I hope that this article gives you some ideas on how you might be able to do the same.

Material List:

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