Hi, in the last couple of years I was being more aware on the “secondary” equipment while being out fly fishing the places I usually fish (the northern part of Chile – Atacama Region) and I think that I have nailed it down to the “secondary” equipment that suits my needs.
I began to try to make more enjoyable my days out on the rivers I fish, specially because the morning and late evenings here can be very cold, throwing in the mix that it also can get very hot in between. Add to that the need for food and water and sometimes the occasional rain.
I started fishing with a hip pack, then a medium backpack and a hip pack, then I went through with a smaller backpack and the hip pack, then the same smaller backpack and a chest pack, then a bigger backpack and the chest pack until I finally found the William Joseph Confluence pack, buy it and give it a try.
Before reviewing the WJ Confluence, I’m gonna go through some of the advantages of the previous tries, this can help more than one reader before they take a decision and spend the hard earned money to buy one of these systems and also to prevent the gear accumulation that some of us go through, also this is important if your starting in the sport and want to invest wisely on your first fly fishing gear.
The hip pack is a good choice in places where a bottle of water and some snacks are required, you don’t need to have lots of layers of clothes to keep in there and the overall landscape of the river/lake doesn’t change much as to be fitted with lots of reels, spools and fly boxes. The hip pack is lightweight (if you don’t stuff it with lots of gear), easy to carry, it doesn’t get in the way and gives plenty of mobility to hop from boulder to boulder and trek in and out of your fishing place. It can also be a good alternative for a couple of hours fishing, although you would prefer something smaller like a chest pack with just the essentials (a box of flies, tippet, hemostat, thermometer, some spare leaders and maybe a P&S camera).
Hip Pack+ medium backpack
This combo is adequate when you require extra layers to carry, more than a bottle of water (usually through a bladder that the backpack can accommodate). I do not have pictures showing this combination in action because at that time I was usually fishing alone. The drawback to this system is the uncomfortable access to the hip pack, because almost always the backpack gets in the way. If you don’t have another alternative you can live with it trying to adjust the backpack higher on your back, I couldn’t stand it anymore so I keep up my quest to find a better suited alternative to a whole day fishing without coming back to the car to store or put on a layer of cloth, besides where I fish going back to the car can take you between an hour or half an hour just one way.
There’s also another advantage to carry a backpack, you can carry your rod in its tube while you walk in to your fishing spot, beware to the backpack syndrome… the more you put things in the heavier it gets and at the end of the day you notice it.
Smaller backpack and a chest pack
As you can see in this picture at the end I still carry the hip pack, this system has the same advantages an disadvantages of using a medium backpack and the hip pack but to avoid adding the hip pack you must change your mind set as not to bring everything with you for that just in case scenario that psychologically we put ourselves in.
Bigger backpack and a chest pack
With a bigger backpack I finally get rid of the hip pack, I don’t have pictures either. It has all the advantages of a smaller backpack and a chest pack without having to add the hip pack. But because it is a bigger backpack you end with a lot of stuff in there that after 60 to 90 minutes walking with it it becomes a PITA.
William Joseph Confluence Chest pack/backpack
As the brief explanation of what I’ve already try to get the most when out in the wilderness was spoken out, now I’m gonna do a full review of this new system that after a couple of years using it have prove to be, at least to me, the better one. As you can see in the picture bellow it’s a good sized chest pack with a small backpack in the back.
The backpack portion of the system holds a 1lt bladder which is good enough for a full day out there. It has 3 pockets with zippers, the main one also has a hidden hole on both sides to bring the hose of the bladder out. On that main pocket it has a mesh separator to hold the bladder against your back, with the bladder on you still have room for some items like a head lamp, wool hat, a small multitool, a reel, your shades and a packable jacket along with some sandwiches. On the other two pockets you can accommodate your leader wallet, a small swiss knife, waders repair kit, paper towels, sunscreen and the like. On the bottom of the backpack portion of this system there are 2 straps where you can put a light rain jacket.
Below you can see where I put the rain jacket:
Here are some pictures of all three backpack pockets from the smallest one to the largest
As you can see it isn’t to large not to small either. Lets take a look now to the chest pack portion of this system.
The chest pack portion of this system has two lateral pockets with zippers, two singers to hang what fit you most. I like to have the nipper on one side and a leader trash known as monomaster. It also have a main compartment and a smaller one which are closed using an innovative magnet system that I love, no more messing around with zippers the pocket you use most. Last but not least it has some sort of tool placement near the chest, there I put a pair of hemostats and the thermometer it can also hold a Ketchum release but I seldom use it so I don’t bring it with me anymore.
What can be fit in the chest pack: 2 small fly boxes, cigarettes, lighter, tippet, some candy (tic-tac), monocular, hemostat, thermometer, camera, floatant (powder and silicon paste), tungsten putty and/or split shots, lip balm, a small rag to dry your flies, a small mesh to seine bugs from the water… to name a few. To this day I wasn’t able to find a better solution for my needs, your mileage may vary.
It also has an elastic strap inside the main compartment to hold your fly floatant that I seldom use. I rather use the small front pocket to do so.
Another good thing with this system is that I don’t need to take it off to access the back pack portion of it, I simply take off the lateral straps and turn it around over my shoulders.
Some pictures of the different pockets on the chest pack portion of this system
Finally some features I haven’t talked about: it has a good adjustable support system to fit large and small guys/gals, it has side straps to cinch it to your body. The mesh fabric used on the back and front side in direct contact with your body has good ventilation. The chest pack also features some small straps in front of the lateral pockets, I use them to hold a folding knife in one side and a small towel on the other.
I hope you enjoy the review as much as I enjoy writing it, if you have any question don’t hesitate to ask on the comments section of this blog entry. I have also done a video review, beware that the video is in Spanish.