FORUM Exclusive - custom designs! [Archive] - Fly Fishing Forum

: FORUM Exclusive - custom designs!

08-07-2009, 05:41 AM
Hey I need everyone's enthusiastic participation on this exciting project! I've been talking to a start-up outdoor accessory company who wants to tap into the collective knowledge of the Forum to design the most "dialed-in" stuff with/for us, starting with a chest pack for instance.

Why a chest pack?

Most flyfishing scenarios require that the angler is "self-contained" meaning you everything you need you have on hand. For instance - wading flats, kayaking, etc. We don't carry tackle boxes or lunch coolers.

Vests don't work for those who row, wade the flats, or fish in hot weather.

Chest packs are not designed well today. They can be heavy on the "show" with fancy looking curves and logos that make bass-master sponsored shirts look subtle but light on the usefulness.

Some make big bulky daypacks swung around to the front. When you can't see where your next step is going the chest pack is too big.

I have owned exactly one chest pack out of dozens that I actually liked - made by a small company in Montana catering to river guides that went out of business. All the rest have a feature here or there that is nice but overall suck.

It's time to come together to design the chest pack we actually need, love and will use!

Please participate in this unique opportunity with me in the days to come!

Dble Haul
08-07-2009, 06:38 PM
The most important factor to me is comfort. If the pack has economy of space, utility, and comfort, I will use it.

The Fishpond pack comes closest, but is pretty pricey for what you get.

08-07-2009, 07:23 PM
I don't know what market these guys are after. I guess that it is more geared for the salt folks because of this forum.

Anyway, I haven't worn a vest for 20 years. They are useless. I used "packs" for years but disliked them for all of your reasons. Two years ago I was in an EMS store and found what I wanted: a LARGE fanny pack (yup). It has a low profile (not bulky) and plenty of storage room which included room for fly boxes, leaders, clippers, flashlight and a lot more. I could wear it high or low or over my shoulder and it was almost non-existent as far as it's presence. Ok, it couldn't hold water bottles, spare spools (how often do you need that) or a lot of junk that I NEVER USE. The key was that it had DEPTH but not WIDTH which always seems to the the culprit with packs.

There you go,


08-08-2009, 03:21 PM
After trying a myriad of chest packs over the years, I've settled on Patagonia's sling approach to a chest/back pack. It has a single, padded shoulder strap that can be slung over either shoulder to accommodate left or right-handed casters without interference. Both packs are water resistant with nylong zippers with flaps. Both front and back packs are not huge, but larger enough for all but gear junkies. Thanks to Dave Kopij (Dave17) for putting me onto this pack.

Some features that are mandatory on a chest pack include water resistant fabric, nylon zippers, dividers in each pack, padded shoulder strap(s), and avoid making it too large to see where you are stepping. Also, insure the pack is a neutral color and doesn't fall apart after a couple of seasons.

08-08-2009, 09:00 PM
Like many, I have several chest packs as the result of the search for the perfect one. I have also found that some which work well with single hand rods, interfere with the two-hand underhand tug.
My spec at this point would include:
*Large enough pockets for a Cliff Bugger box
*closures (velcro or zipper) that can truly be opened and closed one-handed
*padded support strap(s)
* doesn't block your vision of your feet
* doesn't swing out when you lean forward/bend at the waist
*doesn't interfere with a small drybag backpack
*As waterproof as possible, but not at the expense of making the zippers require two hand operation

My best liked are a slightly modified Patagonia Sling Pack and a very small Watermark chest pack.

Having said that, I'm happiest when conditions allow me to wet wade using just shirt chest pockets or force me to wear a wading jacket with chest pockets. These plus a lanyard and I'm good to go.

08-09-2009, 04:54 AM
I always try to take as little as possible with me so that it all fits into pockets. All of the things I take are also small.
Small spool of tippet, small fly box, small pliers, small camera.

08-09-2009, 11:37 AM
You've peaked my interest as I've yet to find a useful chest pack. Looking forward to participating and learning.

08-09-2009, 04:30 PM
I have tried several packs too and have yet to find one that meets my needs. If I am going out for an hour or so, then almost any small chest pack can work. I currently use one from LL Bean that works well for those limited excursions. But if I am going out for a day of fishing in a place like Monomoy/Brewster flats, I need a bigger pack. I don't like a back pack because if I am standing in hip deep water and dry land is long way off, I can't reach the things I need easily. Nor do I like a fanny pack because it doesn't work well with a stripping basket. I need a pack that is light, comfortable, and doesn't get in the way of casting. The sling pack idea seems like the best idea, but the ones I have tried are cumbersome and are either too big or too small. Along with making tools easily accessible, I need a pack that can hold the following items:

bugger box
spare reel/spool
small camera
cell phone
rain jacket (on those days of questionable weather)
water bottle

I believe Jim (flydoc) has one that meets those needs, but I don't remember who manufacturered it or if it is still available.


08-10-2009, 03:14 AM
A way to secure and manage all external tools (forceps, snips, etc) with no snag points. Adjustable straps are great as well but have too many snag points. Some type of cover that eliminates these.

Nothing worse than casting to a sighted fish and having your line snag your gear.

Two models, left or right retrieve, so the pack is situated to allow you to use your chest when fighting larger fish.

I like the Patagonia sling the best but it has two major drawbacks. The first is too many snag points and the second is that being centered in your chest makes it hard to fight larger fish.

08-10-2009, 07:16 AM
Another option can be taken from the conventional gear types. Many use a bag that can slung diagonally across the body, and out of the way. If its deep, cinch up the strap.

08-10-2009, 10:01 AM
A way to secure and manage all external tools (forceps, snips, etc) with no snag points. Adjustable straps are great as well but have too many snag points. Some type of cover that eliminates these.

Nothing worse than casting to a sighted fish and having your line snag your gear.

Two models, left or right retrieve, so the pack is situated to allow you to use your chest when fighting larger fish.

I like the Patagonia sling the best but it has two major drawbacks. The first is too many snag points and the second is that being centered in your chest makes it hard to fight larger fish.

08-11-2009, 08:46 AM
I think some one needs to try something completely different than what is out there. It's hard to pin down one version that would work for every situation but in general I think being minimalist is important. When fishing the salt (or rivers for that matter) I'm usually fishing one or two types of water not several. I'm usually either on a flat, or in an estuary, or on the beach. Not all three in one outing. That being said I would think about what you need, and it's not much...couple of fly boxes, tippet, some tools, maybe some water, sunscreen and a spare spool.

I always use a stripping basket so I don't want something near my waist because I like to spin my basket around when climbing on rocks or bending over to land fish. I also don't want something on my chest until I need it because that is where I'm using my hands to strip line and work the fly. If I want a long fast strip then the chest pack is in the way. It's also in the way if I catch a large and want to mount the fighting butt some where around my rib cage. I think a radical design would be something that sits high on the torso and has the ability to swing the pouches over each shoulder to your chest for easy access and can then be swung back over your shoulder so that it rests on your upper back/shoulder blades and out of the way of your front torso and waist.

08-11-2009, 08:59 AM
This conversation completely confirms that we need to do this, and also that the FORUM is the place to collect wisdom and drive such initiatives to market, for ourselves if nothing else!

I have always had some ideas in this area and this project will bring our ideas to fruition with a little luck.

A few more from my wishlist:

- corrosion-proof zippers: patagonia has adopted these in their lightweight deep wading jacket after everyone I know had them rust off

- minimal strappage, maximum comfort: I had the sling for several years and although it's got some nice features it's uncomfortable, uneven, and the straps are strange. Some of them I've seem might as well be vests because they cover so much area and are sweaty as hell on the flats or while rowing when you need a chest pack most.

- modularity: some days you need a backpack, some days you don't. Some days a small pack works, others you need a rolled-up rainjacket back there. I used to keep a freshwater kit and saltwater kit that could be exchanged in that old Montana ma and pa pack, so easy and convenient.

08-13-2009, 10:01 AM
I have never liked to wear chest packs. I will put stuff in my pockets or use a small waist pack if I am not going to be away from the boat for more than a few hours. The times I have needed a pack I prefer a back pack. I have a small one made by REI that fits around your waist and has just one strap over your shoulder. I don't think its disigned for this but when you need to you can slide it around, so its mostly in front of you, to get what you need rather than having to take it off. I think a back pack thats designed for fishing and designed to slide around to the front would be a good idea. I would invest in one.

08-13-2009, 11:56 AM
The ability to add a hydration bladder would be a big benefit in my opinion. I prefer them over water bottles as they are less prone to snagging as well as more convenient to actually drink from. I'm often out all day and the ability to have enough water easily accessable is a huge plus.

08-16-2009, 09:52 AM
I think the company should send us protypes for the Forum to test . Just my suggestion. I've settled on the Patagonia pack vest which I like very much. Corrsion free zippers would be a plus. Another vest for them to consider would be a mini vest for use in a kayak . FishHawk

08-18-2009, 10:45 AM
I have an off the back shoulder bag that works perfect, it has a waist strap that locks it it place until I need it .It is contoured to fit over the back of my left shoulder. I found it in a cut rate store ,I'm sure it wasn't designed for fishing, it's made out of nylon I think, it maybe a woman's large pocket book for all I know:hihi: .It is large enough to hold several large fly boxes,extra spools or reel,a sandwich, drink and other essentials.I've had it for a couple of years now and it's starting to show wear at the seams, I'd like to see it designed to be durable for the wear and tear we tend to inflict upon our equipment.

08-19-2009, 07:26 PM
Has anyone used the William Joseph Equinox sling pack? It's being sold on Sierra Trading Post for $54, down from $89? Pro's? Con's?


08-20-2009, 09:16 AM
Steve -

I own the patagucci sling which I think is the best sling out there, personal preferences notwithstanding, but... my experience with them over the last several years has made me really miss my long lost ma/pa company chest pack with symmetric straps and removable compartments.

The sling approach never exerts an even pressure on the shoulders and doesn't 'seat' well on the body. It feels different depending on what you put in it, and the one-sided design requires a lot more surface area against the body than I like and it's a diagonal swath which doesn't feel as good to me on long hot days on the flats.

I use the sling, but honestly I don't like it compared to what I used to have. I hope to reproduce and exceed the design in this new venture.

All - please keep the discussion going!

09-29-2009, 12:38 PM
I am interested in participating.

But I did not see any reference to wearing an inflatable PFD.
I cannot wear a sling because it would have to be on top of the PFD and would be a disaster if I had to deploy the PFD.
The PFD has to be the last thing I put on.
I need a narrow pack that will protrude from inbetween the two PFD tubes on my chest. It can't stick out too far so I can see where I step.

I wade deep so a fanny pack does not work - I tried. even the Simms water proof was no good.

Wm Joseph had an old model that had one compartment that fits between the PFD tubes - but that's about it.

I have tried them all:
Fishpond, Wm Jos, Simms.

01-17-2010, 05:25 PM
Any progress on the new design?

After getting home from Belize and fishing what I had I'm certainly interested in a more user friendly fishing pack!

01-18-2010, 05:05 AM
juro- One of my biggest gripes with the packs for FF'ing has been the use of zippers. Metal and salt makes them useless after several seasons. I'd like to see a sling type bag that's waterproof with the velcro closure like the tackle bags used by surf fishermen. Just my $.02 rel1

01-21-2010, 07:36 AM
Apart from on Monomoy when I have a pack With survival stuff, I don't use one.

Clippers spools tyger wire go in the waders pocket, drink goes down right wader to keep cool, and flies are in a finsport wallet under my left armpit.

For bonefishing I use a short mesh vest.

That said , a small pack that attached to either the front or the back of my waders via Velcro would be useful. And you could have a holster wrap for it so it could be worn separately



01-21-2010, 09:57 AM
Thanks and keep this going... this feedback "from the street" is really savvy... no one knows better than we do if you think about it.

These comments are right on target and common sentiments among fly anglers particularly those who like to wade. Corrosion proof zippers are a *must*. Flexibility for use in one situation verses another is also key. It's been the plan all along to get the prototypes in to the hands of Forum anglers to co-develop the best design, and not rest on our laurels but refine the design with each passing year's improvements.

I have been talking to a provider, and hope to get the first models made before the snow piles melt in my part of the globe.

01-21-2010, 06:45 PM
Count me in on any field test (I'd cheerfully put up the bux if you need help on this)! I would love to wade for bonefish but have had only limited opportunities. I'll be doing more tropical fishing as the clock ticks down on my physical ability to do so and a could carry-all system would be most welcome.



01-22-2010, 12:45 PM
Its nice to see that this idea has legs. I'd love to see, heck use any new prototype. Since the conversation last summer, I purchased a Blue River over the shoulder gear bag by fishpond. Although it doesn't meet all my needs, it is pretty good. I did some modifications to make it suit my needs. I cut off the waist straps, took out the fly bench insert and replaced it with the insert from a finsport wallet to hold my flies. It was the perfect size and with velco it stays put. The compartments have enough room to fit my cell phone, digital camera, bugger barn, extra reel, assorted tools, sandwich, and using the compartment that once contained the useless waist straps is now for my water bottle. The one thing it can't do is hold a rain jacket. I do like the over shoulder strap. It is comfortable and the pack rides on my hip and does not interfere with my cast. So all in all.....not to bad. But not perfect!!


01-23-2010, 09:14 AM

Very good suggestions overall from the Forum troops.

I abandoned use of chest packs and slings after years of finding them to be more cumbersome than helpful. First I tried a William Joseph sling. It was awkward. Then I started carrying a Patagonia Stormfront back pack which was good for carrying gear to the water and then leaving it stashed hidden somewhere when you stopped walking and found a place that you wanted to fish. But the zippers on the old pack sucked (waterproof and eventually zipper proof, as in they do not close). Finally, for a backpack, I went with a Simms waterproof backpack with a roll top closure like a dry bag. It is basically a dry bag with straps, and I love it. While it is not good for wading (it is bulky) it is OK. I also like that I can use it as a dry bag and throw it on top of my kayak.

FYI that I kayak fish a fair amount, and I would never wear a chest pack while in the yak. Fly fishing from a yak is hard enough and bulky enough with a life vest on your chest. I keep essential gear in a waterproof pelican case and the rest in my Simms pack.

In the end, I want whatever pack I carry to be waterproof, or a partial section to be waterproof. So if I were going to carry another chest pack I would look for a portion of the storage in the pack to be waterproof. I would want to hold keys, a small camera, and a spare fly reel spool in the waterproof section. I will never again soak and lose a camera or my car key clicker in the salt. And I hate carrying a spool in a non-waterproof pack because I do not want to have to rinse it if I did not use it and happened to soak my pack (which I do a lot)!

Also, zippers that will not corrode are essential! And I like a phone cord like zinger but please do a better job than William Joseph did when they had a zinger with a plastic clip on it where the clip was attached to the phone cord like zinger with a bead of glue. Totally lame and ineffective. Glue joint broke within the 1st 10 uses.

My $0.02.


02-23-2010, 07:01 PM
I've been playing with this a fair amount. Mid-Nov Rotator Cuff surgery has made this the winter of no fishing, no skiing, no ice-boating, no skating, no climbing.

Reading can go just so far. So, to retain some measure of sanity, I've been experimenting with my own build of the ultimate (for me) pack. I started by collecting every sling, chest, waist, lumbar, back, dry-bag, etc. pack that I had accumulated over the years. After thinking about what aspects of each I liked best and least (keeping in mind my spec from previous post), I took out thread cutters, scissors, sail repair kit and went at it.

This is a work in progress... the current status:

Shoulder sling is a William Joseph Equinox, but I cut off the half-cantulope chest pocket travesty on the front and have replaced the main(back)pack with that from the Patagonia sling pack (better zipper and fit my fly boxes better). I may change out the Patagonia part with a small dry-bag from Sage Brush Dry Goods that has not arrived yet. On the front sling strap, which is empty after taking off the chest pocket, I had a friends sail loft stitch on full coverage velcro loop fabric. I plan to try a lot of different options with stick-on tools, tippets, whatever...this will be an ongoing trial.

02-23-2010, 07:45 PM
I like wearing a small hydration pack with pockets and wear a 60# test mono lanyard for the tippets and minimal tools. I hate having anything in front of my chest and in the way of the reel and butt section. If I'm walking a very long distance I'll carry more in a back pack and hide it in a location I won't forget. Extra clothing, food and HO in the backpack. I use a small fanny pack sometimes.

Most of the time I water up before I leave the car and bring only a few flies in my pocket in a waxed paper bag only if I know the patterns are working well. New spots I pack the fly boxes.

02-25-2010, 05:14 AM
what's the status on this project?

04-05-2010, 07:25 PM
Any updates on the progressing design? Getting close to carp time and ready to demo the flatswalker.

05-04-2010, 07:20 PM
Getting back to my sling-pack attempts. About a month ago I got the small waterproof backpack I had ordered from Sagebrush Drygoods. It is well made and has a German made zipper that closes a bit differently and requires two-hand operation. Things were busy and I put it aside. Recently I tried various attachment schemes to fit it to my sling, and found some that would function but were not ideal. Yesterday, I gave it a water test: hosed it with a garden hose for 15 minutes from various angles, then submerged it and swashed it around for several minutes. The test item (roll of TP) came out bone dry. Next test is some Cape sand added to the mix. If it passes that, it will go back to Sagebrush with markings for positioning a diagonal series of belt-loops.

05-06-2010, 08:22 AM
I've tried shoulder bags (the old U.K. standard), vests, chest packs, fanny packs and probably a couple of things I now forget after 50 years of flyfishing.
What I have finally(?) settled on is a sling pack. I have two of different sizes made by an outdoors co-op store here in Canada. They aren't made for fishing and it would be nice to have a few of the doodads that come with fishing specific models but they were cheap to buy and serve me very well as they are out of the way when slung to the back and when I swing them to the front the zipper is up and I can open them without everything falling out. They have a pocket for a water bottle but I would agree that a hydration bladder would be nice as it would have a larger capacity and is easier to drink from.
They keep everything up out of the water when wading (I once immersed a camera in a fannypack - luckily it was water resistant) and the larger pack even has water resistant zippers.

So; my wish list would be for a sling pack with a few added sleeves for tools - perhaps a couple of built in retractors and the option of a hydration bladder.

01-17-2011, 10:47 PM
Really hoping this pack project is progressing as I am desperate for a flats pack that works! Just returned from two weeks on the flats fighting a shoulder sling thinking about this project and it's development. I for one would welcome something that works.

03-26-2011, 05:04 PM
Bringing this thread back to the top in an attempt to keep this project alive.

03-27-2011, 12:33 AM
Hear! Hear!

03-27-2011, 07:30 PM
I ordered a Nook Sack from Recycled Waders, it appears to be about right for what I need, we shall see. I'll report on my level of satisfaction in June.

03-28-2011, 03:28 PM
Didn't a past post of two years or so ago bring up the same question with a marketing company that wanted input? After decades of vests and packs I know one thing: I'll overstuff everything and forget what section it's in. Most packs work if we know what's in them and where it's at.


03-28-2011, 04:21 PM
Miller, agreed... the real test is to wear the vest.... drive into a high crime a street corner frequented by armed drug dealers...... Place the keys, blindfolded ,in one of the many pockets... Then roll down the window ...being say 100 yards away... flip them the bird...shout that they are wimps and a disgrace to society... then... you try and find the keys as fast as you can...:lildevl:

03-28-2011, 05:18 PM
OK my bad.. I'll get back on this now that another season is arriving and I still don't like the options.

John hahah let me know how the field test goes :)

03-28-2011, 08:21 PM
Thanks Juro!

It's going to be a GREAT finished product when everything is said and done I'm sure. Can't wait.

03-29-2011, 02:00 PM
What do all of you guys carry on the flats that you really need a pack? I don't use a pack at all, just wear pants with a bunch of pockets. I carry:
Fly box
Extra leaders
Bug spray