What's In My Bag?


Hey everyone, it's been awhile since my last blog. Things have been pretty busy on my end as I have been making the  transition from teaching back to being a full time grad student as well as some other exciting developments that I will be writing about in another blog soon. One question I get a fair amount is what do I carry in my fishing bag as well as what is my fishing bag set up. I’ll show you my bag set up first, my rationale behind how I organize things within the bag, and finally I’ll open up my boxes and dive into how their organized.


The foundation of my pack set up is in the Fishpond WestbankWading Belt System.  It is a wading belt with a built in rail system that allows you to attach and rotate various other bags and tools to the wading belt. As an amateur photographer I wanted a separate waterproof bag just for my camera. I chose the Fishpond Thunderhead Chest Pack and removed it from the chest pack portion and attached it to the Westbank system. The Thunderhead Chest Pack holds my Sony A7rII mirrorless camera with a 55mm prime lens with ample room for a larger lens, phones, or keys.  I did buy the belt system in the form of the Switchback belt system which comes with a small lumbar pack, which I did use the smaller pack that comes with the Switchback system for my own personal use but when guide season started I needed a larger bag to store more gear so I bastardized the Switchback (Sorry Fishpond) for my own purposes. I took the original lumbar pack that came with the Switchback off and replaced it with the Simms Freestone Hip Pack. I am in love with the Freestone Hip pack, I think it was one of the most intelligently designed bags on the market and it meshes with my personal fishing/guiding style perfectly. 


My organizational rationale is pretty simple. Water sensitive items in the Thunderhead pack on the left side of my body and fly fishing gear like flies, tackle, tippet, etc in the Freestone pack on my right. As with most waterproof bags on the market, they are just empty space with maybe one sleeve or pouch to store small items in so there isn’t anything crazy going on in that bag. The Freestone however is where the fun comes in. I can carrying four oversized boxes or several flat fly boxes with ease. I try to have the space in the bag filled because I like the rigidity and the nooks and crannies where I can store various things without them moving around in the bag when its full. I lay my 3 large boxes down horizontally in the Freestone with the fourth small dry box being vertical behind their short edge. On the other short edge of the boxes I store my powder desiccant and liquid pretreat floatant. In the mesh organizer I keep one pair of traditional hemostats as well as one that I use to remove large streamer hooks. I also used a small minimalist dry fly box to store and sort out my split shot.


Functionality wise I am in love with this setup. I have never liked chest packs, and have never really enjoyed using a sling pack due to the uneven weight distribution across your back. I have used and own full sized backpacks for backcountry trips or long days on the water. Both packs on my Switchback system stay behind me and out of the way until I need them; the shoulder strap that comes on the Switchback help to carry the weight when I have myself loaded down for guiding. The Freestone Hip pack has enough structure to the pack itself that it is essentially a tool box on my side. The top strap of the Freestone pack is magnetized so after unzipping the pack it will cover the top. I usually keep the pack unzipped for quick access. The magnetized section on the strap also doubles as a fly holder when changing out flies. Last but not least is the built in net holder on the belt, it is very functional and allows for one hand use for pulling the net out as well as putting the net back in after releasing a fish. All of this results in quicker fly changes, more storage, less fumbling around in my pack, and more time fishing.

My fly boxes and their contents vary depending upon the time of the year and where I am fishing. That being said, the boxes and their contents in the photos and this write up are current to when this is being written, Summer of 2018. I have four fly boxes in my bag. A small Tacky box for my dries and terrestrials. I use a small box because I mainly use 5 or 6 different dry patterns in slight color variations so I do not need a lot of them because they work pretty consistently on our small wild water, tailwater dries are another story. The next box is a large Tacky Flydrophobic SD Box which I originally bought as a streamer box but it would not close with my streamers in it. I repurposed the Flydrophobic box to be my stonefly and microstreamer box. I use an Umpqua thin silicone fly box for the majority of my nymphs and confidence flies. I also use a thin compartmentalized box for midges. My favorite box that I carry is a recent addition to my pack, the Plan D Pack Max Articulated Plus box. This box from Plan D holds 40 articulated streamers, sports a one way waterproof vent so your flies don’t rust, and is not too big that it can’t be carried in a lumbar pack. 

That is a basic rundown of my current pack setup as well as the gear I store in it. If you have any questions about any of the gear please feel free to shoot me a message or leave a comment and I’ll try to answer any questions you have. One important thing to note is that I did pay for all of this gear, this is not a product placement that I am benefiting from in the way of free gear or monetary compensation. Hope you enjoyed, tight lines everyone!

Ben WayneComment