Fly chest packs or slings

jayr

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Pack, vest, sling, etc. are all so very subjective. Lots of factors can dictate what works for each person.

Water fished, body type, wading, boat fishing, etc. all come into play.

When I started fly fishing right at 40 years ago, vests were about all we had. No real choice, just whatever vest you could get worked, at least for the most part.

Several years ago after getting back into the game I looked at all of the offerings out there and there are dozens. I have tried a chest pack, vest and neck lanyard. After trying a chest pack I have now gone back to a vest. I really like the Fishpond vests as they have all kinds of pockets and attach points for all of your tools.

I have returned to a Fishpond vest as with a chest pack and the type of fishing I do (primarily bluelines in the GSMNP) I did not like how it blocked my view. I have to be able to see where I am planting my feet in order to not step off in holes or on rattlesnakes.

I do use my lanyard when I am in a boat as I do not need the bulk of a vest, I just want what necessary tools I need handy the rest stay in my bag.

A waist pack would probably not work for me as I wet wade quite a bit and in the deeper streams/tailwaters it would either get wet inside or provide too much buoyancy.

I have looked at sling pack but don't want to have to sling it off to get inside. The vest pretty much has everything I need with easy access.

What works for me might not work for some and vice versa.
 

callihan_44

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simms sling pack most of the year, though I still have a vest...I hate chest packs, and when the vest is loaded down I get back pain after 5hrs of fishing due the front weight pulling me down and forward .... nothing is perfect in every situation
 

sparsegraystubble

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I keep two packs ready at all times, an Umpqua Overlook chest pack w/back pack for most of my trout fishing on foot, and then a Fishpond Waterdance Guide Pack, which is a lumbar pack with a shoulder strap, that I bring along and strap to my seat in the kayak, or I'll wear it when I'm wade fishing for smallmouth and carp locally as I don't need to bring as much stuff.

I like the Umpqua the best out of the two, as I'll often need to wade deeper, walk further and therefore carry more stuff, and that backpack is a huge help. I'll throw a couple bottles of water, some TP, and my streamer box in the back pack, then keep nymphs/dries and all the terminal stuff in the front part. I do love the Fishpond bag too, but it gets swamped often being around my waist rather than up on my chest. Also, I had one zipper issue with the fishpond, and they sent me a brand new bag no questions asked. I also LOVE the net holster on the fishpond. You have to use a magnet system with the Umpqua to carry a net.

Were I to buy a new pack, I believe I'd try one of the new Fishpond Cross Current or Thunderhead chest packs, which have the utility of the Umpqua with the nice net holster on the back. But not sure if they have a back pack option.
Howdy Clouser,

Like you I keep the Umpqua Overlook ready as well as a vest. I also switch off with others including a Fishpond Cross Currents. I really do like that net holster, but there is no pack available that matches up to it like the Umpqua packs have. You might want to take a look at the new version of the Umpqua Overlook because it has two backs that come with it. One is the daypack but now it has the net holster on the back. Take a look at the Umpqua website.

The cross currents front pack is about the same size as the Umpqua. The magnetic pull open front pocket is more convenient than zippers. The front compartment is a bit bigger than the Umpqua so I put an Orvis/Tacky fly box in there in addition to the other stuff. The second pocket in the front pack is a bit smaller than the same pocket on the Umpqua, so it doesn’t hold as many fly boxes. Still adequate however.

Just buy one of everything made like I do and keep switching them up and giving them away. Half the fly guys in Laramie are using my discarded packs, slings, vests and etc.

Don
 

planettrout

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I started fly fishing using a vest from Columbia that lasted a whole lot of years from 1974 on.



The Columbia on the Frying Pan in 1978 ...

I have also used vests from Orvis through the years and had one of their early chest packs that came out in the early 80's...it was uncomfortable and blocked my view of my feet. I have never used a chest pack since. I purchased a Fishpond vest in the early 2000's and it was extremely uncomfortable after a few hours of fishing on the Madison River. I went directly to MRFC and got a Simms vest...

I have stayed with Simms for the last 19 years or so...

I got a Simms G3 for myself and my son when they first came out and both of us have this latest offering. This is on the Firehole in 2019:




I also purchased a Simms Guide vest that I use on occasion because it is lighter and not as stiff as the G3 with it's moulded pockets:




After looking at a number of sling packs, I went with the Patagonia Stealth Atom Sling 8L for Steelhead fishing in the PNW:





PT/TB
 

clouserguyky

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Love seeing the solutions other folks are using!

I forgot to mention, I also use a lanyard quite a bit that has a C&F fly box/dry patch attached to it for short trips or when I'm in the kayak. I keep a small swiss army knife on it and use the tiny scissors instead of nippers, just to have the other utilities of the knife with me (tooth pick, tweezers, file, etc.). I also might have a little bottle opener attached to the lanyard on there for an occasional drift brew.
 

BendFlies

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I like Fishpond sling packs.
I have the Summit, which was recently replaced by the Flathead.
They’re both great but I like the Flathead more.
 

jwbowen

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I use a C&F lanyard with a dyneema pouch attached for just quick outings. I throw a Zimmerman
pack on my back and a patagonia stormfront on my waist for all day wet wading. I have vascilated
trying to find the best system for me. My last outing left the Zimmerman and used a Simms Tri-comp
shirt for the pockets. I have a C&F UL chest pack I use when I am just out and not sure which flies
I want to use. It is compact and light with ample space for flies and nymphs.
 

rfb700

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Depends on where Im going. Walking across the street from my office to fish for Smallmouth and Pike and the occasional Muskie I use an Orvis slingpack.

Hiking in a couple of hours to fish small brookie streams I use a technical daypack thats not fishing specific. I can haul more gear and the load is distributed nicely.

Never liked chest packs for the whole obstructed vision thing.

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sweetandsalt

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I started with a cotton vest back in the 60's and have had numerous vests since. Today the Simms vests are the best and I've gone through three of them. I've tried all the various fanny (always got it wet), slings (I have an Orvis my wife a Patagucci, awkward and unbalanced), chest mounted (OK in the salt if it is very small). Finally I found Umpqua's well built, Nylon back packing construction style strap vest, very open and airy, a rear pocket for rain ware and sometimes a flask, ample secure front pockets for 4 fly boxes and all the ancillaries AND a built in padded lumbar belt so the weight rides on your hips not shoulders. I clip a Fishpond holstered on its side adjustment strap for a plastic water flask and a heavy duty lockable GearKeeper on the back D-ring for my net.

Nothing is prefect and an issue is it is a bit long and I frequently submerge its lower pockets. My tippet spools all have crinkly paper labels and sometimes a tiny dribble of water winds up in a supposedly gasketed fly box, that i don't like. So, when going light with just one or two boxes and the regular necessities, I've gone back to an old shorty vest, light weight, stays dry and everything is right there accusable.

What do I want and don't see? A minimalist, short, strap vest with high vertical pockets for two boxes. I've looked at a few dozen of those bicycle vests but, color aside, have not found a suitable for fishing one. Any ideas on this product, gentlemen?
 

Unknownflyman

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I didn't say it in my last post because it wasn't an option but since someone broke the ice, yes I`m a vest guy as well for fishing other than spey.
 

coug

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I have tried many options over the years for trout. Currently use a filson strap vest. Holds 4 boxes, tippet, my net, and has a back pouch for an extra layer. I tried two brands of chest packs and they are not for me. Also have many other vests that are no longer used. I need to check out slings some time.
Steelhead, just use my wader pockets or rain coat.

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sweetandsalt

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I remember that Patagonia mesh vest and, yes, that is the idea in a strap vest redesign. I'm going to go check their web site and see if they have read my mind. The last time I offered them an unsolicited idea I got an e-mail from their legal department informing that they do not accept design concepts from customers...then, two years latter, they included it in a product...
 

TristianSutton

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Hard to beat a chest pack for me I love my overlook 500 with the backpack, everything is up and out of the way and my gear stays dry when I decide to wade deep, plus I am able to carry everything needed for fishing all day in my pack, my working boxes in the front extra leaders my wallet, keys, phone and a small drink a loon rigging spool or a bar from my orvis dropper box, in the back I'm able to keep a few tier 2 boxes, my pre tied rig box/lindy rigger, drinks, snacks, and spare reel plus the back pack allows me to balance the pack much easier so the pack doesn't wear me down when I wear it on a 7-12 hour fishing trip. Things an amazing pack and allows me to carry way more gear than necessary but that has saved a few trips from being ruined


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wjlapier

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Fishpond Flint Hills vest when I first got serious about fly fishing, then went through various lumbar bags. The Thunderhead Lumbar as really nice but when I had a chance to trade it for the Thunderhead sling bag I jumped at it. I've used it many times this year and have grown to really like it. I wet wade with cargo shorts so that's where my fly box and tippet go. Abel nippers and hemos on a Simms lanyard and I'm happily fishing. I did add a Fishpond wading belt to attach my wading stick when I go in deeper and faster water. I could attach stuff to it but I'm happy with the sling bag as is.
 

original cormorant

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Vest ( on the bank or wading), sling pack or my pocket (for salt water)are my main choices. I've never used a chestpack and have mostly given up a lanyard as it gets in the way.
What I do that I don't see others doing on a boat is to have a couple of retractors permanently on my life vest with nippers and haemostats and be otherwise unencumbered. Life vest on and I'm ready to go (after organising everything else!).
 

fng in ak

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Used an old canvas creel for many years, on PA trout streams, then went to a cotton vest when I moved to OR, in the '80s. Carried too much stuff. When I moved to AK, I thought I needed to carry even more, so I bought a Fishpond modular chest pack/backpack. The backpack was handy but -- like others have mentioned here -- the chest pack obstructed the view of my footing. So I went to a Simms Guide Lumbar Pack, which was very useful -- except when two-handing -- because I could carry it in back, slide it around to the front when needed, then back again. Plus, the shoulder strap allowed me to adjust the height of its "ride", in case I waded deep. It didn't have a net holster, though. Finally, I tried a Fishpond Yampa Guide Lumbar Pack and found it very convenient on the stream and lashed onto my 'toon. Plenty of pockets for gear, two H2O sleeves, and a net holster. Then I lucked into an older Filson strap vest (with cargo pouch), in superb condition, which I use when I'm going to be out longer or farther and need extra food, rain gear, etc. Neither the lumbar pack or strap vest interfere with my inflatable PFD or chest holster, when I wear them. And, since I'm in NC now, neither adds any appreciable insulation. Still, those Simms Guide vests look so cool that I keep fondling them in the stores -- but so far I've had the fortitude to put them back, because I know I'd carry 30 lbs. of unneeded stuff if I ever bought one.
 
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