Autumn On The EB

Autumn On The EB

Sunday, February 16, 2014

It's A Bad Winter Which Results In : Vests Vs. Packs

Fly fishing has ground to a very slow crawl in central and western Ma. on my favorite rivers. The Millers is frozen over and so has the EB. A Saturday road trip up RT 9 proved that the EB is asleep. So is the Millers. The Swift is still moving along without ice but the water temperature is very low and so is the activity of anything that lives in that water. Last Saturdays experience brought that home. We need a few days in the mid 40 degree range to kick start the next "season". That next season will shrink the snow/ice pack and that is a good thing.

So....what to write about? I hate discussions about rods, reels, lines and leaders. It's all marketing BS. I don't like the pros and con discussions about stuff like rain gear but I have an opinion about vests and packs. Because I have nothing else to write about here it is:

VESTS SUCK - My last vest was worn by me in 1988 and I didn't like it even then. In the cold season it's something that just doesn't fit well over warm garments and in the Summer it's another layer on clothing that I have to deal with. Also, vests over the years came with more pockets which would cause me to fill them and then try to remember where I put weighted nymphs, tiny flies, ants and beetles, soft hackles, streamers, wooley buggers, basic mayfly nymphs, hackled dries, comparaduns and so on..... Things got confusing and complicated and they didn't have to be.

Over the past 20+ years I've used packs exclusively. I've tried many but have come to the realization that most provide what I need: low weight, easy entrance, good capacity without being bulky. They should also feel comfortable.

I have two trout packs. The upper photo is my Swift River pack. It would work on any smaller tailwater/spring creek available. It's loaded with dozens of flies but the flies are small because Swift River insects are small. The containers are slim but carry many flies. No wooley buggers make it to this Swift River pack. Big flies are not needed. If I can't catch trout on the Swift with small flies then I give up. I bought this minimalist pack from Orvis in 2002. It is the perfect minimalist pack. They dumped it a year later. I guess it wasn't big enough to hold more Orvis stuff. Too bad.

The other pack is my EB/Millers pack. Yes, there are some size 20 somethings in this pack but this is where I store the hardware, the bigger (standard) flies and boxes needed for my favorite freestone rivers. You may be able to make out the brand name for this pack. It's not an endorsement. I cut off the useless waist straps and ripped out the "fly holding pad" that only got in the way. I improved this pack by doing the above!!

The Swift River pack stays in my vehicle all year. The freestone pack is in the trunk from April through November. Each has it's own leader supply, floatant, microshot, tweezers, thermometer, micro and the rest of the stuff we just can't seem to do without. My lanyard holds 4x to 8x tippet, micro flashlight and clippers.

I am fully armed!!

Daylight Savings starts March 9th. Short trips after work?? Can hardly wait!!



zerosleep said...

I hear you there ken! I netted 2 and lost one due to frozen guides on Saturday. Next week will warrant a trip to the swift, maybe i will see you there.

Anonymous said...

I'm with you Ken, give me a sling pack or bag of some sort (I used a muzzleloading "possibles" bag for several years prior to discovering sling packs)over a vest any day.

I will admit my current bag of choice is an Orvis I got last spring (replacing a different brand). I will be buying a new one soon, and turning this one into my warm water bag (for bass/pike/walleye/sunfish etc). the new one will be a Veedavoo. I had no idea they are literally based 3 miles from my house (they are in Lancaster MA) and they make awesome gear. Sorry for the brand pimping Ken... I cant help it with them being local!


Anonymous said...

Ron C - that's the one, I spelled it wrong. Vedavoo. Really nice gear and local - built in Lancaster MA.

Kozman said...

I found the fishpond double haul chest/backpack combo as the best compromise for me. It allows me to travel miles into the mountains and not worry about sudden weather. Chest packs, when filled up, can make it hard for you to see your feet...but I usually ditch the backpack part at the bank (or hung in a tree if you got food and in bear country) and wear the chest pack as a sling and it works wonderfully. I've gotten caught in a snowstorm in the middle of the summer more than once out in Montana last summer. This setup has served me well. Hopefully it will be iceout soon for you guys. It will be a few more weeks out here in Montana...but hopefully the fishing will pick up when I'm back in MA visiting in a few weeks.

Millers River Flyfisher said...


Thanks for the info on the local pack maker. If the products are good I would buy from them.


Good to hear from you!!! Your comments on packs are noted. "Ice Out"??? It's snowing here AGAIN and the Swift is a salvation of sorts. The Millers will be ok by May (hopefully).

Ron C - "pimping"??? Not really. Just a plug for the local guy. Anyway, I'll decide that.


John Robinson said...

Bought my first sling pack three years ago, and have never turned back. Regardless of the brand, I find them cavernous, comfortable, and most importantly out of the way but accessible when needed.