I have tried everything! Waistcoats, too numerous to mention, sling packs, other chest packs and I have even tried stuffing what I need into wader/jacket pockets. Every angler knows what suits him and I have pretty much settled on a chest pack, but I also carry a small day sack with my camera and a bottle of water. This can be a bit of a pain in the backside as you have to keep going back to pick it up. Some days I have forgotten it and found myself having to walk some distance to retrieve it. When comp fishing I was down to a small pouch that would hold a C&F fly box and this was adequate for a short three to four hour session. But for the whole day you may, I do need a bit more kit.
I had been using the Orvis Safe Passage Vertical chest pack and carrying the accompanying daysack. It was adequate but it did have a few short comings, because it is very narrow it protrudes from the body a little further than I would like. This can be problematic in a fast flowing river where you have to be able to see where your feet are going.
Anyway enough of my ho hum issues with luggage what about this new chest rig from Wychwood? I bought mine from Fishers in Edinburgh, but they can be purchased from any Wychwood stockist. The recommended retail for this piece of kit is £64.99 but it can be found on Ebay for £58.49. Like anything else it pays to shop around. This is what the manufacturers say about the product.
“The Wychwood Short Haul pack is comfortable, portable and features enough space so that you can fit in in all those fishing essentials. Constructed from two hard-wearing fabrics, 150D polyester and 600D polyester, both featuring a PVC coating, the dual colour blends in well when fishing and the adjustable straps make for a very comfortable day out.
Comfortable, lightweight padding in specific areas ensure that the pack’s straps don’t cut in, even when it’s full and weighed down with all your gear. As well as the many pockets and pouches, other features include, anodised hook and lock zingers, tool stations, ripple foam fly deck.
- Multiple storage compartments
- Strong and reliable Duraflex Buckles
- Removable EVA ripple foam fly patch
- Black anodised, hook and lock zingers
- Internal pocket carabiner, Internal and external mesh pockets
- Solid work deck
- Padded and adjustable shoulder straps - featuring mini ‘D’ rings - for extra comfortable fit and weight distribution
- Hard wearing, extendable tool clips
- Moulded Wychwood zip pullers
- Front and back panels feature small rippled foam for additional comfort and fit
- Rear ‘D’ ring for net attachment
- Large front and rear pockets for impressive storage capacity”
Right let’s get down to it, I have used this on four outings to the river and on the whole have found it very well thought out. I would expect nothing less as it was designed by an angler. I have enjoyed the extra storage at the front of the pack and really like the large foam deck for making quick fly changes. The zingers are of a good quality and there are two available, I use one for snips and the other for forceps. Currently I am using a combination of different fly boxes from slim line nymph boxes to the tacky boxes and the pack can take several of these. There is also plenty room for all your other bits such as floatant, mud and multiple tippets. This all fits in without bulking out the front of the pouch.
On the back is a reasonable sized pouch that can be used for a number of things, a waterproof jacket or a bit of lunch. However, I have found it ideal for storing my camera which is just a little too big for stuffing into a pocket. So once it is loaded up and you have it on your body it is surprisingly comfortable. A gripe with previous systems has been the strap cutting into the back of my neck. All the weight is taken across the shoulders and is well distributed. The material seems hard wearing and is akin to the material used by the Army for webbing.
My one grumble with the pack is where the net attaches. I have mostly used a magnet on the rim of my net with another magnet attached to the neck strap. This allows me to put my hand directly on the handle to net fish. With this system the D ring sits too low on my back so when trying to re-engage the magnets requires no small feat of contortion. This was somewhat annoying and even after my second trip it was a bit of a show stopper! The solution was to attach the net to a strong zinger on the D ring by the handle and the last couple of trips this has worked well. It took a little bit of getting used to but it is starting to feel more natural.
On the whole I am very pleased with the product, the price point is probably on the money and other similar packs can be purchased around the same price. Mostly though I have found other packs just protrude too far out from the body or don’t have the required storage space. I will carry on using this system and if any other thoughts come to me I will add to this review. I hope it has been of some use.