The best thing about fly fishing is traveling light. You are full-on ‘commando’ mode with your gear all to hand around you.
But what to do with those smaller tools?
Well, there is a solution to save time and keep you fishing. The best fly fishing zingers allow you to store your gear but give you the freedom of movement to use it as you wish.
I’m going to look at how to use a fly fishing zinger and offer some great ideas as to which are the best!
Read on and get organized!
Table of Contents
- Fly Fishing Zinger Buyer’s Guide
- Top 5 Best Fly Fishing Zingers & Retractors 2024
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Fly Fishing Zinger Buyer’s Guide
Right, so first thing’s first…
What is a zinger in fly fishing?
Think of a zinger, or as it is sometimes called, a fly fishing retractor, like a portable keychain for small pieces of fishing equipment. It normally consists of a few things:
- A clip or Karabiner: This is what you will use to attach your tools to the zinger.
- A chord: This extends to allow you to use the tools that you have clipped to the zinger.
- A spool: This is a small storage area containing a spring. It holds the chord when it isn’t in use and winds the chord back automatically when you have finished using the tool.
- A pin or another Karabiner: This is used to attach the zinger to the outside of your fishing vest or fishing pack.
All make sense? Zingers aren’t particularly complex pieces of gear. If you pick the right one, they will become something that you never want to be without.
Here are some great tips on choosing the best fly fishing retractor.
Look at the Clip
Ok, for me, there is no option when it comes to the best fly fishing retractor. Hands down, a Karabiner wins. They are so easy to attach to your tools. Whether that is something so small as fly fishing nippers or something larger like my favorite fly fishing multi tools, a karabiner will be strong and substantial enough to hold it.
They are really easy to open, too, as they normally have a one-way latch that lets you snap gear on quickly.
There’s a choice to be made…
You might find split rings too. While these are ok, they can be cumbersome if your hands are cold or wet or your tool has a user-unfriendly attachment.
Pick a Strong Chord on Your Zinger
Chord strength is key to the best zingers. The chord is all that is keeping your tools from dropping into the deep. If you’ve seen my list of fly fishing nippers, even they can be expensive if you pick something high quality. To drop it would be a disaster.
Trust me, I’ve done it.
The chord is going to be whizzing in and out of your zinger often and is subject to a substantial amount of wear and tear. Once it has failed, your fly fishing zinger will become useless. They do break occasionally, but this should be a rare occurrence, not something that happens regularly.
Fly Fishing Zinger Spools
Think of the spool like an ‘engine’ for your zinger. It is actually the part that does the most work. When the tools are not being used, they must have a strong enough spring to prevent the chord from paying out.
I don’t know about you, but when I put a tool somewhere, I like it to stay there.
However, when it comes to using whatever tool you have attached, you want the chord to pay out smoothly and quickly without too much resistance.
Is that it?
No, not quite. Once you have finished using your gear, you want to be able to let it go and the zinger to do its thing and retract, taking the chord and tool back up. It can be a bit of a balancing act when it comes to spool strength.
Is there an ideal solution?
Some fly fishing retractors feature a sort of magnet in the spool. This keeps your tools nice and secure, but you can apply enough resistance to ‘break away’ and have free use when it is time to use them.
Construction and Materials
Ok, let’s be upfront.
Your zinger is going to be getting wet. It’s a fact of life, like the day following night, or me catching fish (yeah, right).
The material that your zinger is made from will ultimately dictate how long it lasts. I love metal zingers, but only the best metal zingers. Look for materials that won’t rust or begin to corrode, especially when they get wet.
Plastic can actually be a good choice provided you don’t go too cheap.
Pick a cheap zinger at your peril. If the spool breaks, you are literally left with a $5 piece of chord.
How is your zinger going to fix to your vest?
Is it a pin?
Is it a karabiner?
And most importantly (if it is a karabiner), do you have a spare loop on your vest? If not, it might be time to change tactics. I’ve got loops for days on my fly fishing vests right here.
It’s no good if your zinger doesn’t stay put either in use or when it’s stowed. I tried one with a simple crocodile clip once…
I loved those pliers…
Luckily there are other great ones out there, like these.
What Can You Hold with a Zinger?
Now there’s a question…
The answer is practically anything. Some guys I know use them for holding the little things, like, say, nippers or perhaps a small pair of scissors.
I say go big or go home. I use one on my back to hold my landing net (it is pretty lightweight…).
Essentially you can hold anything with a zinger provided you pick on strong enough!
Alright alright! Here’s what I have mounted on my zinger at one time or another. Seriously look how handy it is:
- Landing net
- A fly patch
- Fly Floatant
- A Multi-tool
Hell, if you were feeling brave, you could even use it for your mobile phone!
Alright, so you know about zingers… let’s see if I can practice what I preach while I show you some great examples of good fly fishing retractors.
Top 5 Best Fly Fishing Zingers & Retractors 2024
You’ll know when you’ve found the best fly fishing zinger, as you’ll wonder what you did before you had it!
There’s a fair choice there. From heavy-duty to lightweight and fine, you’ll find something perfect, I’m sure.
If you are looking for gear, why not check out my essential list to ensure you are covered?
What do you hang on your zinger? Let me know in the comments.