How much stuff do you haul with you when you fish? Most trout folks wear a fishing vest that has a number of different pockets. I found that the vest approach does work for me as it does not provide the room I need to carry all the stuff required when you hike in.
In particular, on a hot day, I like to carry 4 or 5 waters. In addition, since I will hike away from the truck, I will pack my lunch with me. The typical vest is not made for that, so I wear a day pack to store those large items and my survival gear. The pack will not work with a vest since the straps and the pack itself cover many of the pockets on a vest, rendering them useless or uncomfortable.
So while the pack allows me to move many of the bulky items out of a fishing bag, I still need to have fishing lures and other common supplies available for instant access which drives me to use some kind of a bag. As you can see from the pictures, I have evolved the type of bag over the years since I started trout fishing as a 8 year old kid in Norway. In general, I found the commercially available bags are too small since I usually carry two plastic boxes with lures, extra spools of line, pocket knife and other small tools.
Driven by that requirement, I pressed canvas computer bags I received as giveaways at various classes or conventions into trout service. I prefer the brown one shown over the blue (see below) because I do not like having to flip the flap on the blue one to get at the stuff inside. The only advantage to the blue one is that the flap does provide even more space as well as a layer of protection for the contents inside.
Recently, I discovered the Redhead series of configurable packs offered by Bass Pro Shops. I grabbed the butt pack and two of the pouches, assembled them and was happy to discover my critical fishing supplies all fit just fine. While it needs additional field testing, I think this will be the winning solution.
When hiking into the stream, I wear the Bass Pro system as designed; with the butt pack in the back. Once I get to the stream where I am going to fish, I slide the whole thing around and wear the butt pack in the front where I have easy access to everything.
My first trout bag – circa 1960 and puchased in Norway. One big pocket on the outside
The strap also gives me a place to hang my camera and bear spray. It rides just right against the day pack when hiking and is not in the way when repositioned The first time I fished with this rig, I discovered that the clips that attach the pouches to the strap are not robust enough. The pouches would twist and fall off. I solved this by gluing them to the attachment points with epoxy.
What you carry is driven by your personal preference as well as where you are fishing. If you fish where you can cycle back to your vehicle easily, you do not need to carry as much. However, if you are more like me and typically walk in a mile or so to get to clean water, you need to be prepared for more problems and have enough of a variety of lures to deal with the fishing situation.
Bottom Line: The standard commercial bag is a non-starter for me. I like my big brown bag, but the Redhead configurable pouch version has promise.
Typical commercially available trout bag. Kind of small, fits a limited amount of stuff. Same as the 1960 version except it adds multiple pockets on the outside.
Bag given away as a laptop bag by IBM and converted to fishing use. This thing is pretty good – large, durable canvas. One large zipper pocket on the outside
As you can see from the inside, there is plenty of room for everything you need to carry while fishing. Multiple pockets/slots on the inside – includes compartments
Added some grommets to the bag that will allow the bag to drain when dipped in the river while wading. Without these, it retains water.
Here’s another version of the same thing. Given away by IBM at some event. This version has a flap over the top that adds additional pockets on the flap
It holds even more stuff – the choice will be how much you want to carry rather than what you need – more inside compartments. Downside is that you need to open the flap before you can get to the bulk of your stuff
Here’s another idea – use a butt pack with attachments like this one from Bass Pro shops. This is targeted at hunters as part of their ensemble that includes a backpack. The side pouches come in different configurations.
Assembled – smaller than the big bag, yet big enough to hold your key items
Unless stated otherwise, this article was authored by Steve Moore