Chestpacks [Archive] - Fly Fishing Forum

: Chestpacks

10-13-2004, 04:57 PM
undefinedundefinedundefined Hi need advice on a chestpack/backpack, for flyfishing the shores for striped bass, I do a lot of walking and need to carry every thing with me. I have flyboxes, tippet matl. 2 ext reel spools,raincoat, water, lunch ect. Iwould appreciate any suggestions. Thankyou JOHN

10-13-2004, 05:41 PM
I bought a chestpack that was big enough to accomodate everything I wanted to carry. Spent the whole winter looking. By the time I filled it I couldn`t see where I was walking, had to crab walk to get around. Totally screwed up my casting, I looked like I`d never done this before. Sold it the next day for half what I paid for it . And now I`m totally pleased with my vest, which holds everything and wears like a second skin, and I carry a lot of s$#^%.

10-13-2004, 07:01 PM
A small hydration pack and the sospenders with pockets works for me. Got the hydration pack at wally world for 20 bucks and the sos vest by sterns is well worth the money as safetey equipment alone.

10-13-2004, 07:10 PM

I simpathize with you brother. I now use a large fanny pack made by some fly gear specialty company. It holds all my leader spools in a large back pocket, about 20 or 30 of them ranging from 3ld to 40lb spools of maxima. There are other pockets with varying size and carry the little "essential" tools of the camera, pliers, poly leaders and tips. I do not wear it around my waste, rather sling it over my chest so when I need something I simply slide it to the front of my chest. As for flies, I picked up a fly wallet from fishpond and it works so far. However, I go through fly wallets like poop through a goose. I don't think there is a perfect fly wallet or case on the market. Hmmmmm, I need to work on that!


10-14-2004, 06:13 PM
Feel the chestpak inhibits my stripping into my stripping basket in the salt. I use a shoulder strap bag.

10-15-2004, 12:35 AM
Let me have a list, if you would, of all the stuff you carry. I can build you a custom system that will accommodate it. How far do you travel walking? Do you base camp (park your stuff) when you get there? Do you ever overnite or all day, take a beach chair ?
P.M me with this and lets talk


10-15-2004, 05:36 AM
I've been using the Patagonia Double-haul lately, a slingtype chest pack with a slim profile. The front compartment is phenomenal and the backpack handy but I find the adjustment not flexible enough for my torso (single shoulder design) and the backpack is not removable.

However it does include a hydration bag holder with thru holes for the hose and is quite comfortable when loaded up with water and gear. The front compartments are thought-out by fishermen and the pack overall gets a thumbs up from my perspective for personal fishing use.

I don't like fanny packs because they get fully submerged when crossing a channel and the full fabric backs on traditional vests get really hot on the flats mid-day while the pockets put all the gear in the way of the arms when rowing or casting.

I find the Patagonia Doublehaul to be a good setup and although I can always find something I would have tweaked I'm glad I bought it.

I use a completely different setup when guiding, homemade combination of chest pack and a waterproof backpack.

BTW - I am working on a line of chest packs with my sister who is a pro fabric designer so you'll be hearing requests for ideas pretty soon. This is her first venture into rugged gear but together we should have some fun with the project. I want this to be designed directly with input from the angler from the ground up so will appreciate your input.

10-15-2004, 08:20 AM
I picked one up made by Filson, they have 2 models which are pretty nice.

One model is made from shelter cloth (an oiled fabric) the oher is just some type of cotton/composite cloth.

They also come in a regular and super size for guys with larger frames. Best 125.00 I ever spent.

10-15-2004, 08:21 AM
As a self proclaimed fly and tackle hoard I find most chest packs too small, especially when guiding. I carry enough stuff to stock a Hunter's catalog then. I use the Orvis pack w/ the backpack attached and find it ok for most applications. However the main compartments hold two boxes each and the smaller zipper compartments are tough to get even your fingers in to. The back compartments are nice. I couple that with the simms G3 waders with the tippet compartments and zinger attachnment and even then go light. I have the same problem with fanny packs about them getting wet in stream crossings.

My steelhead outfit is worse than trout, I have the orvis pack with four flyboxes, terminal tackle and, the backpack w/ another flybox, sandwich and small jacket and 2 extra spools for my reel. my waders, with tippet, zinger and camara and extra sink tips, fanny pack with snacks water bottles and tools and lines to make stream side repairs of fly lines. I need a shurpa to carry extra stuff.

Why all the stuff? Because two miles from the car with steelhead and salmon in the pool is no time be without anything

10-15-2004, 08:54 AM
I use an Abel fanny pack which adjusts to a chest pack. It holds a few fly boxes, has a patch fro drying flies and room for some tippet, pliers etc. It is fairly limited in what it can hold. I have not had any problems hauling with this on, although if it were to become an issue I would raise my cast and haul above my head on the front haul.

Recently purchased a William Joseph pack for when I go equipment. I have not had a chance to test it yet, but looked at quite a few different packs before I opted for this one.

10-15-2004, 03:25 PM
BTW - I am working on a line of chest packs with my sister who is a pro fabric designer so you'll be hearing requests for ideas pretty soon. This is her first venture into rugged gear but together we should have some fun with the project. I want this to be designed directly with input from the angler from the ground up so will appreciate your input.

Been down this road many times. Hate, hate, hate chest packs because they get in the way, block vision, and things tumble out of them far too easily. Fanny packs get wet and also tend to sag if your gut is big than your butt. Over-shoulder bags sometimes fall in front of you at the least opportune time, like when bending over to tail a big fish. Chest packs are especially bad for someone casting a two-hander using the underhand stroke.

So here's what I want. A three point arrangement like an old Sam Brown belt. The fishing stuff is on the shoulder strap and there's loops on the belt for accessories if you want to use them. The shoulder strap is actually two, one over the other. The top strap is actually a slider strap and the bag with the fishing goodies will slide easily on it The bottom strap is wider to both provide a cushion and a sliding surface. The bag has a tab on it that rests on your shoulder when the bag is in the stowed position on your back. When you need stuff in the bag, you pull on the tab and slide the bag over your shoulder into into a chest pack position. You then open the zippered compartments (zippered to keep them closed when stowed) and take out your stuff. When finished, you push it back over you shoulder. The lower section of the slider shoulder strap is sewed to the main shoulder strap at about belly height to act as a stop -- the same on the rear portion. The bottom part of the shoulder strap can have loops to hold nippers, zingers, forceps, etc. The bag can be similarly equipped. The tab section of the bag has a fleece patch or similar device to hold flies temporarily -- like when you're changing them. The bottom of the bag is made of slippery material so it will slide over your clothes easily and not grab on things. A zinger arrangement can also be added to the tab so forceps and nippers are accessible, high on your shoulder, if you so wish. As there are many different body types out there, so the bag should have a number of ways for arranging zingers etc. to cater to these differences.

The belt also acts as a wading belt, eliminating the need for a separate one. The shoulder strap has an adjustment fore and aft to adjust for body length. The bag itself is not overly large, having enough room to one large or two small saltwater fly boxes and separate compartments for tippet, plus a mesh pocket that can hold a small bottle of water. Maybe a small compartment for snacks or a small camera. The size of the bag will be limited by what can be comfortably slid past your ear. the bag could also have a fold-over design so that when you pull it in font of you, you can unfold it, giving better access to the inside. Alternately, the bag can be made in two sections with a fold in the middle. This allows a long bag to ride over the shoulder easily and can be made to have the top compartment sit almost on top of the shoulder.

In the stowed position, the bag will not interfere with casting motions plus it will ride high enough on the back so as not to get wet. It won't slide forward when you bend over as the act of bending will tighten the top strap and prevent the bag from moving. With the bag in front of you, all zippers and pockets should be situated for easy access, plus secure in the stowed position so that nothing falls out.

Finally, the over shoulder belt can be arranged either for a lefty or a righty.

10-16-2004, 06:05 AM
Put me on the list of chest-pack haters. Bought a William Joseph, used it once and gave it away.

10-16-2004, 07:29 AM
I have tried chest packs, shoulder packs, the bandolier style and all of them have their faults. To date my best solution has been to keep flies and anything I need right away in my waders or in my shirt pocket and anything else I might need I keep in a back-pack camel pack which also contains a hydration system. I like to travel light though and try to take what is only absolutely neccessary with me.


10-16-2004, 08:15 AM
traveling light

Same here, last trip to the cape, I had a box of flies and a bottle of water stuffed in the waders, tippet in a shirt pocket, and forceps etc. on a zinger on the front of the waders. We also used a small backpack to carry lunches.

10-16-2004, 08:48 AM
Peter -

Sounds interesting and practical! I tried to sketch as I read but would rather talk to you off line to get a visual. Thanks for the suggestion.

Et. al. -

Based on responses, you either need a chest pack / vest or you don't. If you are a "hater" then you don't and can probably offer little more than an opinionated blurb to the discussion. However, many people do use them, need them and in some cases even love them - and it's those folks who can offer good feedback to this type of discussion.

Some observations FWIW...
Two separate compartments on either side of the chest does not make a chest pack - that's just a fishing vest mounted on chest pack straps. The benefit is weight and ventilation, but it does not offer any clearance for the arms as a center mounted chest pack does (provided it's not too big)
I find a centered compartment of proper size (read: not too big) allows both arms extra freedom which is immediately evident to rowers of rafts, pontoon boats, and two-handed casters who don't cast on the centerline of the body. Compared to a Mae West style (big on both sides) a center pack can potentially provide much more room for armrs to move on either side without rubbing, although this certainly won't be the case for everyone
IMHO, if a chest pack (of reasonable size) is interfering with two-handed casting then it is probably a Mae West style -or- the caster casts off the centerline of the body. If the compartment is well designed in size and shape (Patagonia Double haul for reference) plus the caster keeps his hands on the casting side of the body as is recommended by many instructors (ref: Simon Gawesworth's trick to hold of the sleeve of the upper hand with the bottom hand) then a reasonably sized centered pack should be comfortable (if all of the above is true). Luckily there are many choices since everyone has a preference and there is no right nor wrong per se.

As a flats guide and angler my chest pack is among the most critical tools I use behind my polarized lenses and breathable waders. If I am not shlepping lunches and water, I don't even need a backpack so I like to remove it. The full fabric design of a vest is the last thing I want on my back in the mid-day sun, and having two split compartments in front means both arms are rubbing when I need to make a quick cast without moving the legs to an approaching pod. It keeps my camera high and dry and ready to capture a moment, and snaps off easily when I need to take a break. It swivels around to give access to the backpack even when hip-deep on a good stakeout. It wears inside the raingear, or outside the raingear without much difference.

Chest packs are obviously not for everyone, but if you ask me it's because most of them are just not designed with the angler's discriminating demands in mind. I personally I can't stand most of the ones on the market today. However, there will always be a need to carry stuff in a handy and easily accessible manner, and for those who prioritize ventilation, mobility of the arms, and configurability an angler's apparatus with straps can be worth looking into given a well-thought thru designed from the ground up (or should I say water).

10-16-2004, 10:10 AM

Why not use this fanny pack? It's called the Ebbtide. The North Face site lists it as a waterproof fishing pack but REI wimps out and refers to it as water resistant.

I'm thinking about replacing the standard nylon belt on my Orvis stripping basket with this fanny pack. I'd thread the waist strap all the way through the back of the basket so it clips together to one side. Then, theoretically, you wouldn't need to worry about submerging it. It's a roll top bag just like your typical dry bag.

Just my .02 :)

10-16-2004, 10:25 AM
I agree with Juro here... I have never used a fanny pack because of the potential of soaking everything, the difficulty in removal of things... and finally how it interferes with the manuverability of slidding my stripping basket around...especially when walking and slidding the stripping basket around to my lower back. I own about 5 different chest packs and one of the problems I had to overcome was finding one which would hold all I need and yet not be so big that I was hiking mountain trails with an intended over night. I found several...but finally I found one that was roomy yet not huge.... Here is the pic.... I can hold two water bottles (I don't want a hydration system...don't really need it plus it has more water than I need and takes up valuable packing you have to keep cleaning it out).... I can keep two fly boxes (actually it has room for 2 boxes on each side...but with two, I can keep my GPS and Camera in each side ALONG with the boxes), my binoculars, GPS, Camera, VHS Radio, extra spool, crunched down rain jacket (if necessary), a sandwich and I finally found the Orvis back...which I showed to Fish hawk... it has ample check pack and the back pack is just right...not big ,not small like other back an extra outside pocket for some of the electronics... and a built in bungy..... a;; for about $60 dollars... and my discount..I paid about $40 for is a picture which you can see and then check the orvis Catalog for more details..One important feature is that it can be adjusted to be more of a "center pack"..that is ,the two front packs can be adjusted almost touching each other in front...or.... moved more to the sides to accomodate your casting style.. really a great "day" pack.... and one you can put all you it looks good... and you know how I am about that. :wink: :lildevl:

10-16-2004, 12:51 PM
I will get that Orvis pack . If it's good enough for the Iron Man it's good enough for the FishHawk. :lildevl:

10-16-2004, 03:16 PM
Let me have a list, if you would, of all the stuff you carry. I can build you a custom system that will accommodate it. How far do you travel walking? Do you base camp (park your stuff) when you get there? Do you ever overnite or all day, take a beach chair ?
P.M me with this and lets talk
DEERHAWK, thanks for the suggestion, I carry 2ext spools for my reel, tippet material, 2 flyboxes 41/2x81/2" 2more@ 5x61/2". Also raincoat/ water bottle, lunch, camera, sunsceen. I take day trips fly fishing for stripers,and I do a lot of walking,along the shoreline& out to monomoy,so I like to take everything with me. I would like chestpack that fits high up on my chest, with a packpack attached. I fish 9ft single handed rod@ the atlantis double handed rod, I am righthanded, so I need my casting arms free. Thankyou JOHN.

10-16-2004, 04:15 PM
I'm on it. Do you have a time line for this? If so, let me know. Otherwise I will PM you when I am ready.

10-16-2004, 05:02 PM
Like Striblue, I've got several chest packs. I started with a Filson, but not good for the salt. Used a couple of over-the-shoulder type packs, but not enough space for the stuff I need for an all-day sojourn on the flats. Last year went to a William-Joseph chestpack with a small backpack. It worked well, but the chestpack was bulbous and got in the way of one hand stripping. It was okay if you tucked the rod under your arm and did a two-hand strip.

Alas, this year, I went to a newer model of the William-Joseph. This is similar to the one that Striblue portrayed in the preceding thread. That is, it has two separate compartments in the front that allows unmolested one-hand stripping and will accommodate the two-hand strip under the arm. It also has a good-sized backpack and bungee cords. Well thought out and I think retails for about $110-120.

I'm well satisfied with this pack. I have no problem carrying a rain jacket, water bottle, lunch, extra spool, gps, camera, three large flyboxes, and various tools.


10-16-2004, 05:10 PM
Jim -

Sounds like you went the distance and found a solution. One question - did you find that two compartments helped with one-hand stripping more than a single compartment pack or were you just commenting on the bulbousness factor?

10-16-2004, 05:10 PM
I'm on it. Do you have a time line for this? If so, let me know. Otherwise I will PM you when I am ready.
DEERHAAW. I wiil need by next april 2005. plenty of time thanks johnundefinedundefinedundefined

Ol Rich
10-16-2004, 06:05 PM
I have used a J W Outfitters chest/fanny pack for 6 years. Most of the time as a fanny pack. Don't worry about getting it wet, most of the time in the NW it is getting wet from above. :chuckle: Have looked at a Camelbak with back pack to carry extra spools/reels, etc.


10-16-2004, 06:30 PM
Juro, The use of a two-section front pack with a mid-separation provides more than adequate room for a one-handed strip. Like you, I've done a lot of experimentation with the right setup for my way of fishing. This one does it right. One thing that I have done on this particular pack is to cutoff a couple of loops at the bottom of the pack that are supposedly there to hold your rod. Any loops or obstacles that I can eliminate from a pack are priority. Have you ever got something tangled when a fish is stripping line? I have, and sure you have. I tend to learn my lessons the hard way.


10-17-2004, 03:17 AM
ll bean has a big and a small convertible chest pack / fanny pack that can be combined with either a lightweight back harness or a bacpack harness.

Covers all situations: deep wading, hot weather / flats, lots of gear, traveling light.

I have no bean shares. Live in Netherlands currently and I find this set a good solution for all fishing situations. Obviously carrying 50 lbs in a chest pack is not practical but in case you would want to do that just add the backpack harness.

Cheers, alwin :)

10-17-2004, 05:48 AM
Jim -

My one-handed strip may be different than yours. With single handers I hold my hand with palm upward (like holding a drink tray) at the level of my armpit with the fighting butt resting lightly where my pec joins the shoulder muscle. The rod tip is pointed down almost touching the water. The middle finger grips the line, and I can see my fingernails. Therefore the rod forms a large tip-down angle to provide:

- maximum clearance over basket / max strip length for retrieving
- optimal reduction of line slack from tip to fly
- rapid strip set position for strikes
- extremely low arm fatigue for all-day stripping of flies

When I lower the rod butt from this position, the strip length gets too short and strip setting ability is cramped. I consistently receive positive feedback on this strip technique from clients and believe it's a worthwhile technique.

I assume you may do the same thing (tip down) but put the rod butt in the middle (?) Either way I have no problem with stripping unless the compartments are too big or overloaded, it's the mobility of the arms and rubbing on Mae West style packs during casting that brings me to favor a centered compartment. Too much stuff too close to the arms.

I guess there are a lot of little factors involved in people's preferences. It doesn't take much to sway a person's likes and dislikes when it comes to ergonomics.

Good thing there are many models out there for all of us picky anglers!

10-17-2004, 09:03 AM
Juro, I think we are on the same page. My preferred approach on a single-hander is to touch my sternum with the butt section of the rod, slightly above the armpit, thus the open area in the middle of my chestpack.

I ususally have the tiptop in the water. Cupping the rod with my casting hand and stripping with the middle finger, this gives me adequate clearance for my style of strip without hitting my stripping basket. It is a comfortable and effective approach for me.

Incidentally, keeping the tiptop just below the surface of the water does a couple of things:

- Increases sensitivity for those times when the bite is subtle.
- Reduces line jump on the jerk-type strip that I use most of the time.


Dble Haul
10-18-2004, 08:27 AM
This year I have used the exact same Orvis pack that Striblue has described.

My only complaint is that when both front fly box pouches are full, it's pretty darned difficult to get anything into or out of the zippered compartments on the front of these.

I know that this point has been brought up before in this thread, but I thought that it should be underscored again. Overall, I think that it's a good pack and doesn't interfere with my casting or retrieving (single or double handed).