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!