By John O’ Bryan
Dream Crusher calls me a hoarder, but I like to think of myself more of a collector… of really cool things. I may collect more cool things than most and often have multiples of the same cool things, but the term hoarder is so last century and so I just ignore her judgie pleas to get me to stop buying stuff. I don’t really have a problem; I just like to be prepared, and how is it even possible to know when I’m going to need one of my cool things?
In fact, just the other day a friend of mine called and said he was trying to replace a guide on one of his fly rods and wondered if I had any guide wrap, any color would do. I sent him a picture of a tacklebox filled with guide wrap from Japan, the Netherlands, the UK, and the US. I had the exact color and brand he needed. It’s a gift I tell Dream Crusher and I was really happy to be able to help someone in need. I’m like the Good Samaritan, I told her and that gives me a really good feeling. “So, you spent hundreds of dollars on string so a friend could have fifty cents worth?” It doesn’t sound as cool when she puts it that way.
Due to my “hoarding” issues, I tend to over-prepare and over-pack. I never know when I might need something and not have it. When I fish I wear a fishing vest, a fanny pack, and a chest pack filled with four reels, eight fly boxes, multiple leaders, tippets, weights, thingamabobbers, pinch on strike indicators, nail knot tool, clippers, nippers, bungee cords, lunch, snacks, water bottle, two cameras, and a collapsible second rod. Fishing has become a death slog to the river and a prayer that I don’t fall in because if I did I would never get out again. By the time I make my first cast I am so tired I have to sit on the bank to catch my breath as I watch my fly drift by. I may be exaggerating a bit, but not by much.
I love my fishing vest because it’s absolutely loaded with hidden places to cram gear, but I hate it as well because I am never really able to find what I’m looking for as I stand waist deep in the river, and besides, wearing it makes me feel like I am in a 1950s Herter’s Catalog advertisement – the only thing missing to complete the picture is a briar pipe, Aqua Velva and tube of Brill Cream. My vest is also so last century that I always feel a little awkward wearing it around the ultra-cool, hip, twenty-something-fisherpersons with their skin-tight Patagonia waders and Tenkara collapsible rods. It was time for an upgrade.
I like to buy stuff and was really excited when I found the perfect solution. I added it to my AvidMax shopping cart and the deed was done. When I opened the package my best friend (the delivery driver) left on my doorstep, I was very skeptical that the Orvis Sling Pack I had ordered would be able to hold all my stuff. And to be completely honest, it doesn’t, because well, I was bringing too much stuff. After a long talk with Richard, my 77 year old fishing partner, I pared my list down to an extra reel, a small case of dry flies, a small case of wet flies, a few extra leaders, two strike indicators, gink, a light snack and a bottle of water and it turns out that The Orvis Sling Pack fits all of that and more. It’s going to be a struggle for me not to fill in the extra spaces with more stuff, but I am going to fight the urge.
The tippet holder in front is very tight, which is a good thing, but made it a bit difficult to open to put the spools on, but once they were in place there was no way they were going anywhere. There is a place for a bottle of water (or adult beverage), multiple spots to clip hemostats, GPS device (I always have this on me), carabiners, and a spot for the magnetic net release.
The pack stays in place and feels totally secure as I wade through water or tall grass. When I need something from the inside, I unleash a snap and it spins around easily creating a nice little table that I can set fly boxes on as I try to decide what the fish are eating. The access to all pockets is really good and without having to search too hard I can find everything I need – when I need it – if I need it – which most of the time I don’t.
It comes in multiple colors, but I thought the brown trout Fishewear pattern was the right choice for me since I’m such a colorful guy. Dream Crusher says it matches my eyes when I start thinking about fishing, which I’ll take as a compliment.
The only thing I struggled with initially was how to actually put it on and I spent a good ten minutes putting it on and taking it off until I found the right way to make it work. You are probably laughing at this old man not knowing how to wear a sling pack, since everyone knows how to put on a sling pack, but it wasn’t intuitive to me. Once I figured it out, I saw how easy it really should have been.
Walking to the water the first time with this I felt a little underdressed, though exceptionally cool at the same time, kinda like the feeling one gets when wearing a speedo to a family reunion. After fishing for a days with it and realizing that I wasn’t exhausted or frustrated by the time I got back to the truck, I knew I had found my forever pack. It’s sleek and easy to use, comfortable and no fuss, exactly like a pair speedos… well, probably more like a pair of really nice-fitting stretchy wading shorts and I’m okay with that.
Welcome to the new era of fly fishing, old man.