The content of the body is different from your head, but lets focus on what you asked in the body.
Depending on how many people & what vocations you are fighting the "optimal" equipment can change.
Usually you want the standard speed set (Tiara of power, swan feather, grasshoppers, orientals w/ imbue, time ring) as it will lessen the effect of paralyze by a lot. Depending on your level you might want/have to change time ring for prismatic / energy ring.
Weapon and shield slot is personal preference really. If you are a druid and you 1v1 in rosh you could avoid using a rod and use a melee weapon with defense modifier. If you do not deal damage deaths are counted as pve deaths thus causing the enemy to lose full blessings.
Lower levels might want to use a shield while on higher levels the bonus magic level will help keep your health up with heals.
In an actual fighting situation it really depends on how comfortable you are with switching EQ. Obvious stuff here. If the target is trapped you switch to ML eq. If you are getting targeted you switch to death/ue protection gear or back to speed set and try to escape.
As you already pointed out yourself, Bone Fiddle and Garlic necklace are very useful. Keep in mind that in harsh situations you can also use a Necklace of the deep to further increase your resistance to life drain. If you are trapped with only a few (3 or 5) and need a quick mana refill throwing in a few stoneskins can also help alot (but don't forget to either put another one or reequip garlic/deep quickly)
For normal hunting you can read Trululus post. Assuming you're not hunting solo your main focus should be on magic level. For imbuements mana leech and crit help alot to a) increase xp/hr and b) prolong the hunt. Solo hunting is not recommended as silencers cut your magic level, but if you insist on doing it physical protection would be your best bet.