Fly Life Magazine

Zeroing in on fanny packs and the value they provide.

Fishpond image with their multi-piece fanny pack, the Switchback Wading Belt System.

Fanny packs can do it all for a day fly fisher. No need for steamer trunks on shore or a Scottish gillie to aid you

by Skip Clement

It was only a month ago we looked at vests, sling packs, hip packs, backpacks, and boat bags. They all, of course, manage our “while fishing” change-out needs better and more practical than pants and shirt pockets, Army duffle bags, and grandma’s steamer trunks.

Fanny packs are one of the many hybrids that came out or the original knapsack, which itself surely was a hybrid of some other parlance for a carryall, but for sheer worth and never bother you ever, a fanny pack gets the nod. It’s just never in the way, not heavy, no back pain, nothing digging into your skin, no rubbing. More importantly, a good one carries everything I need for a day. No, it doesn’t carry more fly rods, or a fold up deck chair – not even a gallon of water, but it should carry these things, comfortably – not stuffed. I’ll use my pack for an example.

My pack can do all these things without feeling like it overate:

• Two bottles of water with electrolyte pills mixed in. Sometimes Gatorade, but warm it tastes awful.

• Food: Usually an apple and nuts or seeds in ZipLok bag.

Orvis waterproof hip pack. Image from Orvis.

• Camera – Nikon W300 Waterproof Underwater Digital Camera – I have an older model.

• Hand washcloth: Always needed for something. I’ve never not used it.

• Sunscreen: No-Ad Sport Sunscreen Lotion SPF 50, 16.0 0unce, get the smaller size – $10 any drug store.

• Med pills if needed.

• I carry two spare Altoids tins: In them I keep different size band-aids, gauze pads, alcohol wipes – one or two of each and Ibruprophen loose in a small ZipLok bag.

• Lip balm: Any kind.

• Bug spray: Any spray or small bottle with DEET.

• Extra pair of sunglasses: I have two, one amber worn almost all the time and copper if in the Bahamas or in super bright on-water sun glare, both Costa Del Mar and ancient – need a new pair of amber. Many times I leave the copper in the truck.

• Leatherman Signal Topo Multi-Tool: They’re over $100 now, but still worth every penny. It can do everything.

• Lens cloth: Always needed for glasses, phone and camera.

• Hook flies boxed: Slim with good hook holding interior like Montana Fly Co.

• Ready leaders kept in ZipLok bags and ID marked, plus leader spools.

• You could carry a spare fly line, but I don’t unless traveling to a week away destination.

NOTE: I fish a lot of tube flies, so I keep the flies loose in pant’s pocket and hooks in their original packages in another pocket.

Looking in the box. Just give your local fly shop a call. It’s best to test drive

We’ve found, as many of you undoubtedly have, that if it’s a product that hikers, climbers, mountain runners, duck hunters, and campers users  it’s friggin’ good. For example, a climber is not looking for cheap or might be okay anything. He or she can’t afford to fall 1,ooo-feet and live to say, hey, I saved $57.99 and I guessed it would hold up.

Oddly, the products they use are often the same products we use: sling packs, hip packs, and backpacks. Also, many “holdalls” are made/sold by the same companies we’re familiar with: Simms, Orvis, LL Bean, Fishpond,  Patagonia, Eddie Bauer, Bass Pro/Cabela’s (you still may need to link to them individually). Online it’s Amazon, REI, and Gear Junkie – the latter is a particularly interesting search.

Simms’ Dry Creek Fishing Hip Pack – my favorite.

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