What, how much and the best way to carry tackle: it's a perennial discussion point in fly fishing. I used to be a rock climber with a rucksack full of rope, slings, carabiners, harness, rock shoes etc. etc. it weighed a lot and often had to carried up steep hillsides for an hour or two. This gets you into the habit of only taking the essentials and leaving out the “just in case” things. I use this approach with my fishing tackle.
How to carry it: Like most of us I started with the ubiquitous vest with its array of pockets. I found this was in itself heavy so it made my neck and shoulders ache and had far more pockets than I needed thus encouraging carrying the “just in case” items”. When I started fishing rivers I also realised that the lower pockets could easily get submerged.
The next step for me was the chest pack. Again the pack itself has weight and the disadvantage that when added to my beer gut I could see even less of the river bottom! I ended up with a Fishpond San Juan pack, their smallest model which is best described as “cute”, it still blocked the view of my feet however. I skipped the shoulder bag option except when trotting in winter and never got further with a sling pack than trying one on in the shop.
Finally I discovered the Orvis Guide Lanyard
and I have used the same one since 2010. The only problems I’ve
had to overcome really are:
- the clip for attaching the lower end to your jacket rusted through but I replaced it with a cable tie and a small carabiner.
- You will need a little loop on your jacket to clip the lanyard on to stop it swinging about or disappearing down your back. I also added two extra attachment points to the front and two short lengths of cord with a loop to the top, one for my hat and one for my landing net.
The lanyard itself weighs next to nothing and hardly affects my view of the river bottom. It actually makes you think about what kit you really need and when it gets deep or starts to rain you can put it inside the top of your waders or inside your jacket. For me it is by far the best solution.
Fly Boxes: I only carry one fly box. I know people who carry 6 boxes but only use about 10 different flies. I myself, with one box, still find I carry far more flies than I actually need.
- My ideal sized box would be the small C&F box with a centre leaf, this holds 540 flies but the clearance is too low and the hackle or wings on dry flies and emergers gets crushed.
- The medium size C&F with a centre leaf hold 752 flies and has sufficient headroom but, again for me, the box is on the big side so not ideal.
Current lightweight solution: a large Wheatley Malvern plastic box with the flat foam replaced by the slit foam from an old large C&F box. This holds 432 flies and fits nicely in my pocket. I have dries and emergers on one side and nymphs and spiders on the other. Of the flies I use most I carry 8 of each size and for the less regularly used I have 4 in each size. For the “just in case” patterns I carry 2 or 3 in each size.
What do I actually carry and where do I put it?
- Fly box (only one, see below) jacket or wader pocket
- Small Orvis leader wallet with spare leader,
- pre-tied droppers and nymphing rigs etc. jacket or wader pocket
- Small camera (sometimes) jacket or wader pock
- Very small basic mobile phone jacket or wader pocke
- Monomaster for waste tippet jacket or wader pocket
- Car keys in waterproof Aquapac inside waders attached to shoulder strap
- 3 spools of mono and 3 of flourocarbon central spindle on lanyard
- Nippers lanyard
- Amadou pad lanyard
- Forceps on C&F curl cord lanyard
- Swimmer’s nose clip box for used flies lanyard
- Orvis mud lanyard
- Frogs Fanny powder lanyard
- Lightweight bamboo landing net top of lanyard
- Folding wading staff waist belt
Jackets: an original Simms soft shell which has 2 big chest pockets and zipped lower pockets. It is wind proof and shower proof, I wash it and reproof it every year. Unfortunately the current model has only one chest pocket so it may be worthwhile shopping around for something similar to the original one.
To carry food, drink and perhaps a lightweight waterproof in winter: I use an old Simms 15 lt. pack, it’s very comfortable to wear but the latest model is bigger and more expensive. If anyone knows of something similar to the original that's still on sale I would be interested! For the rest of the year a light 10 lt. rucksack is adequate but ones designed for adults are hard to find. One day in M&S I spotted a young woman wearing a good looking pack - I actually almost got arrested following her round trying to read the brand name but it turned out to be a Quechua Arpenaz 10 and you can find them on the net. At £2.49 it is a snip and the postage will actually cost more than the bag. I have used one from spring to autumn for 2 years and it is not showing any sign of wear. An even simpler option is a drawstring bag-