I’ve spoken before regarding fly fishing packs verses fly fishing vests. Both have their own practical features and benefits. Yet for the past 6 years I have moved to a shoulder sling pack and have not looked back. I have been using the Orvis Guide Sling pack and have found this particular piece to be extremely functional and durable. I would recommend this pack in a heartbeat. However, it is time for a new purchase and I’m looking at the three other major players for packs. Simms, Fishpond and Patagonia.
I’m looking for Waterproof materials, accessory loops, storage areas, dividers and of course durability. I do try not to overload my pack but that is much easier said then done. But when I need a certain fly or tool it needs to be easily accessible while I’m waist deep in the rapids on our Ontario Rivers.
There are so many packs and options to choose from that I decided to speak to Rob Cesta who is the owner of The Drift Outfitters and Fly Shop located at 199 Queen St. E. Toronto, Ontario. Rob’s fly shop is packed with everything to accommodate a novice, intermediate or expert fly fisherman. Rob has all the newest and greatest packs the industry has to offer. Here are a few options available that have the Drift Outfitters Fly Shop’s seal of approval:
Simms Dry Creek Z Hip Pack (waterproof)
Fishpond Nimbus Guide Pack (kitchen sink)
Patagonia Stealth Hip Pack (all around use)
Fishpond Flint Hills Lumbar Pack (minimalist)
Simms Dry Creek Z Packpack (Waterproof)
Simms G4 Pro Packpack
Simms Waypoints Dual Chest Pack
Fishpond San Juan Vertical Chest Pack
Every option works well yet I do find the Waist Packs run to low while wading in our Ontario Rivers. There are definitely moments when wading waist deep or more is needed. Chest Packs also are efficient but it would be better to have a smaller pack as they can get in the way. Love the Backpacks but it is an option to bring along for the driftboat or set along the side of the bank while working a run. Again the winner for me is the Sling Pack option. They ride comfortably on your back and stay out of your way while casting. It is a simple quick move to spin the Sling Pack into position when looking for a fly or tippet switch. Pack runs higher so stays out of the water much better. I also use a pack exclusively for Saltwater fun. Either waist deep in the ocean or walking the flats the shoulders can handle the weight easily with the Sling.
The fly fishing pack is an important part of your day for wading on our beautiful Ontario Rivers. Hop down to the Drift Outfitters Fly Shop in Toronto and see which option is best for you.
This year has been an awesome season for Smallmouth Bass here in Ontario. The low warm water has these powerful brutes active and aggressive. As usual, a well placed brown or green Crayfish pattern will most likely trigger a strike. However I’m finding this year that my best producing colour of a fly for the big boys is good ol’ White.
I have in my fly box 4-5 different white patterns at all times. Different sizes and different materials. Not one pattern seems to work for every river system. Smaller flies work for one river while larger flies work for another. But one thing remains the same. White flies produce. Rabbit tail, marabou and synthetics should all be used. Keep these flies near the river bottom with some good mending and some rod tip twitches, making sure you have no or little line slack between your trigger finger and the fly.
My favourite colour of a popper? Yep, White.
Salt water flies work great for Ontario Smallmouth Bass
Unbelievable, but we are approaching August. Many more days for these Smallmouth Bass. Yet as the cooler nights approach we can begin to dream of our powerful Steelhead.
What’s a great colour to have in your fly boxes? You guessed it. White. Among all those beautifully tied purples, pinks, chartreuse, blacks and oranges make sure some white is tucked in with them.
I’ve said it before “if it ain’t white, it ain’t right”.
Should you put more money into a fly fishing rod then putting more money into a fly fishing reel?
The answer to this question seems always to be the same when I think about the fish that we target here on our Ontario streams.
I spend many a day in the spring summer and fall on the grand river here in Fergus Ontario teaching people how to fly fish and the focus always seems to be on the Rod.
While targeting brown trout on the grand River accuracy with your cast is a must. So the focus should be heavily on the rod that suits you better coupled with the best fly fishing line that will get the job done. In fact as we fish the Grand River we do not even use the reel to retrieve and fight our Ontario gems.
Speaking about trophies, Smallmouth Bass here in Ontario is another reason to have a better Flyfishing rod then your reel. The Saugeen River, the Maitland River along with the Grand River in Paris area has some of the most incredible Smallmouth Bass fishing that North America has to offer. Finding the right fishing line and the right fly fishing rod will help you connect with these big bronze backs.
Ontario steelhead are an incredible species to target and of course you need a good reel to bring them to shore. Yet again it is the rod and the fly line that will help you become successful with hooking and landing the silver bullets. As you can see I have not mentioned the reel much here in this blog. Of course you need a good reel with good drag and large arbor for some of the bigger species yet you should spend more of your hard earned dollars on a higher quality rod that is suited for your cast along with a good fly line that will enable you to cast and retrieve our Ontario River inhabitants.
A friend and I had a discussion the other day regarding the pros and cons of wearing a fly vest or wearing a or sling pack.
In my early days as a fly fisherman I would have voted for the vest. Lots of pockets, and hideaway spots to stuff all my favourite fly gear away.
Unfortunately for me that was the problem. The more products that I began to hoard in the multitude of pockets the more my vest began to weigh me down. Sometimes just trying to find that small canister of lucky flies I tied the night before seemed to get lost in what I used to call the “depths of my vest”. The heavier it got the worse my back problems became. Spending 6-8 hours standing and walking in a stream can be quite tiring. Adding a heavy load that pulls your shoulders forward can make your fishing day quite uncomfortable.
As I began to guide I switched over to a sling pack for two reasons.
1. The sling packs are smaller and therefore force you to pack smarter. Pack only what you need for your day. If you are Steel Heading, pack only for that species. It sounds to simple but it is amazing how much gear and accessories we can store that really will never be used. Use the flies that you know work…if the fish are not striking change your method and not the gear.
2. The sling pack is behind you like a back pack when you are fishing. It is out of the way and is pulling your shoulders back. Allowing for better posture and therefore helping to alleviate potential back or neck problems.
So I vote for a Sling Pack. I have been using the Orvis guide sling pack for fresh water and the Orvis Safe Passage Sling Pack for Saltwater. These have served me well and my back is thanking me for it!