It’s official… this Spring my family will be moving west to Northern California, so this is my last official GL tributary season. I’m going to love fishing in the west (I’ve been dreaming of it since I started fly fishing), but I will greatly miss my close friends I have made here in Western NY, and of course the fishing.
Also official… I am currently filming a winter based fly fishing short movie. I’ve been working with a very talented filmmaker and musician named Adam Kryder. Check out our new website www.rawwaterproductions.com for more info!
This winter has been season number two with my William Joseph WST waders, Squall Jacket, and Current chest pack. This setup remains bomb proof, efficient, and comfortable, even after a two-year beating. We have had a mild winter this season so far, but the coldest days were still no match for Willy J.
Finally, I had the pleasure of fishing with Matt Smythe a few times this winter. He put up a nice review of the Exodus pack a while back, and it was great photographing him and the pack on one of the craziest winter days we had all season.
Unless I’m purposely packing light to fish out of my kayak, I always wear a backpack along with a chest pack when I’m wading or fishing out of a boat. Between a thermos of coffee, a couple water bottles, jerky, maybe a sandwich, camera, extra fly boxes and wet/cold weather gear, the chest pack alone doesn’t cut it and I’d rather hump a pack than leave it in the truck and waste time making trips back for short breaks. I do the same thing when I’m out deer or goose hunting. Being self-contained keeps you in the game…after all, that’s where the fur, feathers and fins are. The one down-side is that within a couple hours my lower back is killing me and it won’t loosen up regardless of taking breaks or stretching. I’ve found Bourbon to be the closest solution to-date, but it makes wading difficult pretty quickly.
A few days before we flew for Idaho, a package came in the mail from Paul Swint over at William Joseph. He and I had talked about the trip at the IFTD show in New Orleans a week or so earlier and he thought it worthwhile to send me one of their new packs to try out. What showed up at my door was the Exodus II pack/vest combo in sage (it’s available in blue as well). I’d been fishing a small chest pack of theirs for the last 10 years and had planned to pack my extra gear in my backpack the same way I always do. I was looking forward to changing up that routine and hopefully turning the corner on the sore back thing. Damn, I sound freaking old.
The detachable vest pockets were an immediate plus. Our flight west had two layovers, so I planned on using the back pack as a carry-on in order to keep my reels, flies, accessories, camera, some clothes and flight essentials (food/water) with me. I was able to organize all of my fly boxes and accessories in the vest, unbuckle the two components from the pack and fit them in the main compartment with everything else, essentially river-ready.
On the water, the Exodus (retail price of $169) fit me well with the wide, adjustable shoulder straps and chest buckle. I thought the size would make it heavier out of the package, but it was surprisingly light-weight. Plus, the vented back and shoulder straps allowed for plenty of air circulation, which kept me comfortable even with a few 8 – 10 hour days on the water and consistent temps in the 90′s. The contents I packed in the main compartment were not inordinately heavy, but I was able to fit a sweatshirt, shell and a pair of wading sandals along with the other items I mentioned, and the compression straps on the sides, bottom and back kept the pack low-profile and also kept the weight close to my center of gravity, which completely alleviated my back strain.
The material and stitching was durable enough not to snag, rip or pop when hiking a game trail through woods and thick brush, being dropped on the ground or gravel bar, or thrown in the back of a truck or boat at numerous points during the trip. Speaking of boats, during our two days on the South Fork, it was flawless and stowed easily out from under foot when not being pillaged for flies, tippet or jerky. Plus the rugged handle at the top was a solid, easy grab when reaching for the pack or tossing it back.
The one sticking point for me was the dangling straps at the bottom of back-pack. When wading in waist-deep water, where the line you strip bellies around behind you in the current, the line invariably gets snagged on one or more of the straps when paying out line to cast. I tried tying them up to shorten them, but still had some snags. Rolling/folding them up in rubber bands or elastic might’ve worked, I’ve seen that on other packs, but I didn’t test that hypothesis.
The vest components are very well designed with six generous pockets that hold a lot of gear: 4 fly boxes, 5 containers for my sex-dungeon collection, extra leaders, floatant, strike indicators, split-shot case, my pipe and tobacco and Kodak Play Sport video camera. The two components zip together to hold the pair securely front and center, and when unzipped, swing out of the way if you need less in front of you to, say, untangle major knots.
And they’ve paid attention to detail: the water-tight Zip-No magnetic pocket closure system makes it easy to get at fly boxes and other accessories without the one-handed zipper wrestling match; the two zippered cargo pockets it does have are armed with rubberized tabs for easy gripping; rounded, tube-covered pull tabs give you something substantial – but non line-snagging – to pull open the magnetic pockets; additional webbing straps are included for lashing your tippet dispenser or hemos; a retractable clipper clasp is built into one of the pockets; and the AirTrack suspension allows you the flexibility adjust the fit of the whole rig to wear over more layers or fewer.
Aside from the fish we caught, the pack made a huge difference in the overall trip experience – from flight to fishing. Off the water it was comfortable, spacious and convenient enough to travel with. On the water, I had everything I needed (and then some) and without the nagging lower back, I actually forgot that I had anything more than the chest pack on. I look forward to putting it through further abuse/use back up here in NY chasing salmon and steelhead and hopefully some pike and late season bass. Hell maybe the back pack will see hunting season as well.
• More than enough pockets and room in the backpack and vest
• Water-tight Magnetic Zip-No pocket closure system
• Lightweight, well-balanced and compresses well
• Detachable vest components
• Fully adjustable for good fit in cold or warm weather
• The price is right for the over-all versatility and quality
• Need to find a way to corral straps and avoid line snags
Reviews on this site are my unpaid and unbiased opinion of gear, music, guides, books and other outdoor-related items. In some instances I may be allowed to keep what is sent to me for review, but as of right now I’m not affiliated with any company, manufacturer, publisher, or producer in any other way. I suppose there’s still hope though.
Review by - www.fishingpoet.com
After about a thousand trips over a life time of fishing one would think it would be easy enough to find the dang river…I mean its only a big piece of water draining down a friggen canyon with mountains on either side…it’s not hiding or anything…It’s not like looking for a damn Easter Egg……
On the other hand I guess we have to take into account that the river had been a lot easier to find about 48 hours earlier when it was twice the size it usually is..overflowing the banks, soaking soil and helping to topple a tree or two..If a tree falls and there is no one there to hear it does it smash the Skwala stone flies ? and if so would you be able to hear them scream..? Would Salmon flies scream louder..?
Oh sure go ahead and say I’m weird, Weird because I would waste time wondering about such things…you are right, it is weird….That doesn’t mean it isn’t real…
Wait here I’m going in…..!
The one cool thing about this particular day was trying to find the Trail to the spot I remembered from a couple years ago. I hadn’t been able to get back and as I searched I realized that although the world may be dieing one spoonful at a time there is not a single thing wrong with the Coeur d’Alene Rivers riparian habitat..in all actuality I believe it to be alive, with a twisted conscious, and a nasty sense of humor…
I found the river several times and to my dismay every time I found it, I couldn’t fish it from that bank, angle or dangle. The seam, wind or current was wrong and the needle brush, wild rose, bees, bears and beavers were all ganging up on me……Everything seemed to be working against me, Plotting my demise, bewildered by my bewilderment I pushed on….all alone…..just me and the dangerous elements and deadly wilderness…..and my wife who was taking the pictures…
There is always that ever lasting stubbornness that I believe comes with Scottish Blood, Screaming “I will never Give up untill you pull my intestines out through my navel !” ….That usually gets me in over my head, in to deep, buried and unable to turn around….and that’s usually where i ruin my gear. I break rods, bend reels, rip jackets, tear and stab waders full of holes and even after soaking them in Shoe Goo they still leak..A fly fishing vest is utterly useless when breaking trail !. I will rip everything loose, every gear-head gadget, snagging it all on branches and leaving it for some lucky late season schmuck to find dangling in the brush like Christmas decor…
Giving up is not an option ! If you are going to try and keep up you either have to leave your junk behind or get gear made for the fight. Make sure your stuff can handle the pressure and if it doesn’t say WILLIAM JOSEPH my bet is it will be found where it fell apart anyway….along the stream in the bramble or stubble and stickers..I wonder if WILD OTTERS pee on junk left behind by fishermen who forgot to buy the best….I know I do…
William Joseph developed the most efficient way to carry gear through the havoc that serious fishermen purposely navigate..This is the ONLY way to balance what you need. Keeping everything at your fingertips when you are dialed into the fish, And completely out of the way when attacking tough trails, making serious SPEY and SWITCH CASTS, or picking a fight with a grumpy moose who’s standing in your stream…..
Easily adjusting for lefties, and then back again for those of us that are NORMAL, and use our RIGHT hands….this is an ergonomically interchangeable weather resistant superior suspension gear carrying machine… that you wont even know you have on until you need everything plus the Bear Spray……
I managed my lunch, water, 3 fly boxes, nipper, leaders, hemostats, floatant, skink, shot, 5 guide spools of tippet, a spare spool for my Bauer reel, some indicators, my point-n-shoot camera, 3 power bars, a diet Pepsi, a sock hat, my reading glasses just encase I wanted to read, sun block (which was stupid) a pocket knife for knifing pockets, my net and a politically correct 5 shot 44 magnum with a sweet disposition. All stowed away neatly behind smooth tracking Zippers and extra stitches ! There was no chance of me being hung up in the maze of intertwined thatch that grows along the fishiest runs…and no chance of me leaving anything for the later season yuppies to find in the trees….
After stomping through, over, around, and crawling under an obstacle course of thorny wet slippery stocky stubble, I finally found the run..However it wasn’t the run I was looking for..I think that run must be further on up the river. Here, however, there was the sweetest of all flows… perfect for the eager sweat soaked fly fisherman with an exceptional cast to swing soft hackles… and slay some fish.. ! ! (By slay I mean gently land and release)
After all is said and done the best fishing is saved for the best fisherman..and the best fisherman are the ones who set out to do what others, who don’t dare stray from the roadside pullouts, will never do…
We are the fly fishers that have the best photos, the wildest stories, the audience at the tables, the followers of the spiritual choice that is Fly Fishing..We are the ones you should listen to..the ones who choose to not just get off the beaten path..but the ones who get off trudging far from your beaten paths, adventurers, modern day drifters, VAGABOND BASTARDS one and ALL ! !….And the way we make that work, is in part, by the gear we depend upon.
Listen and Learn….We don’t care about your fancy car, the money you have in the bank or your pretty haircut, We don’t care about your girl who can’t cast, Your imported sweaters or your driving gloves… We will judge you by your connection to the RIVERS, your casting and mending ability and the GREAT GEAR you actually USE and TRUST…Do it right…………….William Joseph . The CREEL DEAL is the REAL DEAL…!
Story Credit- Fishheads Flies N Lore