Overlooked Gems #3: Zip Ties

Ah, the humble zip tie. Originally invented in 1958 as a cable harness on airplanes (according to Wikipedia, anyway), the zip tie is useful for everything from fixing your kid’s bike to exploring Mars. Zip ties have applications in fly-fishing, too.
A friend of mine from Arkansas used zip ties clamped around twin pairs of holes in the bottom of a Rubbermaid bucket to make “fingers” for a very passable shooting basket. This same friend suggested using zip ties to fix my broken boot grommets.
Over time, some commercial metal boot eyelets or grommets can weaken and fail, but often the boot has many years of hard work left. Rather than running the laces through the naked cloth eyelet, make a small zip-tie loop instead, then run your laces through that. It’ll decrease the stress on the fabric while still giving you enough slipperiness to cinch the boot. In fact, my favorite pair of wading boots has very few eyelets left, and I’d swear they’re more reliable with their zip-tie replacements.
Do you know of a creative use for zip ties–or other household goods–in fly fishing? Share it with us in the Comments section!

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  • Excellent tip! I had never thought of zip ties for such a thing. I’ll be keeping my eyes open for other uses.

  • Brian

    Three things I never go near the water without – parachute cord, duct tape and zip ties.
    I once saw a guy use a large heavy duty zip tie to make an emergency oar lock – ran the zip tie through the oar lock mount and around the oar, tightened it down and proceeded to row himself back to shore. It was awkward, but it worked.
    I’ve seen more than one aluminum or plastic hull boat with duct tape repairs.
    Parachute cord just has too many uses to list; replacement boot laces, dummy cord for eyeglasses, forceps, nippers, etc., emergency safety line, etc.
    Don’t leave home without ’em!

  • Bryan Whiting

    This one is so obvious it must be commonly used by traveling anglers. Given that TSA will break open any locks on your luggage and a friend I have who works for Frontier, says that they, TSA, and many, many people have the master keys for TSA approved locks, either of those routes aren’t too effective. TSA personnel in Denver told me if one puts zip locks on all locking areas, if they choose to inspect your luggage, they will clip them off, inspect and then replace your zip lock with theirs. Two good results; there is at least some sort of lock on your luggage and you will know the TSA did inspect your luggage.

  • Rick

    Try Gorilla Tape. It is stronger and has more stick.

  • john egbert

    Lost or forgot a fin or both fins. Find a hardware, grocery, or big box store for Gorilla or duct tape, plus cheap plastic dust pan(s). Tape the “pans” to your boots, reef shoes, or sneakers. The new units will look like those wide receiver or defensive back tapped shoes in the NFL. Tape over and under. Tape generously and tightly. Employ the new fins once you are in the water as you would your regular fins. Perhaps a fishing physicist can enlighten us on advantages and disadvantages of the open or closed face or closed face up or down. I chose the dustpan’s bottom side turned up or over, the opposite of how we would use one at home. Don’t let it happen to you!

  • Mike G

    Most important for fishermen, a zip tie with a split ring makes a great temporary hook holder on your rod. Run a small tie through a appropriate sized ring and clinch it on your rod just above the grip. Clip off the excess. Temporary? Maybe it is permanent I have been using it on some rods for years since I just never get around to wrapping on a permanent hook holder.