It used to be a fly fishing vest was all you needed to keep your fly fishing gear organized and at the ready while fishing. But then along came "the packs." A well-designed pack keeps only the necessary goodies right where you want them, no more playing the guessing game from vest pocket to pocket in search of that necessary item. Only problem is, there are now just too darn many pack options for you to consider. Same is true for fishing luggage. Don't you worry, as we at Leland, have taken the guess work out. We picked our proven favorites below.
Your guide reaches around to side of his fanny pack for a drink of water. It is time for a quick break after all, but how are you going to get to the back pocket of your vest? You surely can’t put the rod down in the water like some kind of “greenhorn” and you know the guide is tired of digging into that pocket for you after the hundred other times you’ve had to ask him. Just about the time you “figure it out” and get your vest off, so that you can access that pocket, you hear…”bonefish coming straight at us, 9 o’clock, start your cast”. Now what? If you drop your vest everything in it is toast…hmmm, maybe it would have been better if you’d had something like the , with it’s two easily accessible water bottle holders. Yeah…
If you are heading out to the bonefish flats for a week long trip, or preparing your gear for a few yearly striper outings, chances are you might not want to haul along a fully loaded vest. Modern tackle packs now offer the organizational power of the vest in a concentrated storage unit. When you don’t need every piece of gear in your collection (and let’s face it-you rarely do), pick up a tackle pack for all of the benefits of a vest without the unnecessary extras.
Smaller, Lighter Chest and Waist Packs
For the minimalist in all of us, these smaller, lighter packs almost force… the gear hog in all of us, if you will… to narrow down our arsenal of fly boxes, leaders, spools of tippet, tools and other odds and ends to only the most essential, important pieces, which many times, can be a very good thing. You’ll know right away what we’re talking about if you’ve ever floundered inside a bloated, overfilled vest on a hot day. Uh huh. The chest and lumbar packs that would fall into this category store exactly what you need for a day trip or a specialized expedition to the waters of your choice. And don’t think that these smaller packs designed by our partner companies aren’t highly functional or don’t have plenty of features, because they do…and they are. We’re not trying to sell you ziplock sandwich baggies with string for straps here.
Tough little packs like the Sage Destination X Lumbar Pack or the Fishpond Windwalker Chest/ Pack have more features than you can shake a stick at. Water bottle holders and/or hydration systems, specialized tippet pockets, built in retractors, die cut foam fly drying inserts, and surprisingly high storage capacities are only some of them. Your biggest problem could simply be deciding whether you want to carry the now substantially lighter load across your shoulders or around your waist. Because we’ve got packs that do both.
Heavier Duty/”Outfitter”/”Guide” Type Packs
If you’re looking for something more substantial in terms of tackle storage, don’t think you have to lug around some kind of carpet bag duffle or the like. Nowadays, you’ve got options. Many of the larger capacity packs are simply crossover combinations of day/back packs and chest packs that can be worn together, or separately, like the Fishpond Shooting Star Chest/Back Pack, which gives you everything you need to hit the water prepared to fish, and then some.
Finally after several long blistering runs you coax the 10-pound bonefish into the guide’s gentle hands. You’re happy, the guide is happy, and you know your buddies back at the lodge are going to be somewhat happy (probably just jealous though) when they see the photo on the view screen of your digital camera. So out comes the little camera, which seems a little…damp? You turn it on, only to hear it sizzle, then pop. Ooooo… remember that deep hole you stepped in and sunk into up past the bellows pockets on your vest? Yep. You wonder if a chest pack would have kept everything up high enough. Well you won’t know because you didn’t try one. Too trendy, you said. “I’ll just stick with my old vest.” Now maybe next time you will try one, and then you’ll be coming back with photos of that 10 pound bone instead of just stories too. Won’t that be worth it?