It took me a good year and a half and many different versions of chest and hip packs to get comfortable while fly fishing. Luckily we decided on a trip out west to visit the four corner states and I needed to downsize my fishing gear to fly. I ran into the Patagonia sling pack and decided to give it a try. I immediately fell in love with its low profile and the way it sat on my back, away from my arms and hands. Eventually, I moved on to what I now use all the time - the Simms Headwaters Sling (Large) - because it offered more space and comfort. Having fished exclusively with this sling pack all year, I'm fairly confident that my search for the best pack has ended and I'll be fishing with this sling until it falls apart.
Simms offers a normal size, and the large/guide size. I have the guide size and really like it. It has enough space for a full day's worth of provisions: 4 fly boxes, snacks, a small canteen, a journal, and in cold weather enough layers can be stuffed into the back pocket to keep warm all day.
The bottom strap goes across my waist much like a backpack unlike the smaller size where it kinda goes up and under your armpit. I found that the strap dug into my chest after long periods of time. I like this one a lot. Even fully loaded, it rests easy on my back and doesn't weigh heavily on my shoulders. It's super comfortable to cast with and to hike/bushwhack through the woods and brush with. I've put many hours, miles, and casts into this sling and it hasn't even begun to breakdown. The stitching and zippers are quality. The straps are strong and durable, and it takes seconds to unclip the waist band and slide it forward to access your flies, tippets, and beef jerky. It's got a great little "secret" stash pocket to hold your keys, wallet, etc. It also has enough clips for all your zinger and fly net needs.
I would highly recommend this Sling for anyone looking for a pack that can hold a day's worth of gear while sitting comfortably on your back, out of the way for easy casting and wading. Simms did an awesome job with this one.
Our first true winter day came about this weekend. Blustery, cold, and raw. I decided to explore some new water in southern York County, Pennsylvania. Heading downstream, making my way through a landscape of naked trees and scrubby oaks, I met an injured doe and spooked a nice buck. Luckily, rifle season just ended so I didn't run into any hunters, though out of habit my eyes kept scanning the second horizon of the canopy in search of tree stands in use.
With the temperatures dropping, the fish were sliding into their slow, spooky winter state of mind.
This stretch of water runs through some farm fields and wooded pastures. The water was on the lower side, so fishing upstream and far back proved to be most productive. A stealth approach, something I'm in dire need of improving, was needed.
The wild browns were keyed in on flashy stuff: greenie weenies, frenchies, & pink san juan worms drifted low and deep. They hung up at the bottom of pools and tucked in the undercut of the bank.
It's always good to explore new water, to test your knowledge and skill, and to push yourself to get caught in brambles and accidentally step into some sweet holes in order to find new fish and new stories. I'll be heading back to this stretch in the spring, when the water is higher and the top-water action on point.
Every once in a lucky while, a poet, writer, musician, or artist of some kind will come along and speak specifically to you. Thankfully, Jack Gilbert came to me through podcast whispers and secondhand comments and now I can't put his work down.
I haven’t read a poet that has resounded with me so much since Gary Snyder back in late teens and early twenties when I was living out of a backpack doing trail work.
I think what I love most is how Jack speaks about life without making it any more than just life.
"we must unlearn the constellations to see the stars..."
I have found myself lately, much like the protagonist in The Talking Heads’ song “Once in a Lifetime”, in a large automobile, letting the days go by, and the water holding me down. Then Jack came along and spoke clearly about this adult malaise that seems to afflict us at some point.
One day you may wake up old thinking you know it all, seen it all, and exist simply to just put in another day. The eggs are burnt to the pan and the coffee needs some sugar; minor adjustments just to make sure the routine goes smoothly. Maybe that’s what life eventually becomes and maybe that’s what life is, but we don’t have to suffer the knowledge of knowing it all before it happens. Sometimes we need to let our eyes wander over to the trees on the horizon as the sun bakes its last leaves for the day.
But going back toward childhood will not help.
As we grow older, as another day passes, it’s easy for us (maybe it’s a human nature) to begin finding patterns in life, routines. We slowly begin to live these patterns, expecting certain things to happen at certain times, expecting certain people to be nice, others to offhandedly shake us off. Through these expectations and their inevitable disappointment, we end up missing out what is actually there - life. We become blinded by the constellations we project onto our daily existence and lose sight of real moments right in front of us. I think that’s what Jack is trying to tell us here: tear down your preconceived notions and pre-judgements of people and experiences and find the heart of it all.
I highly recommend Jack Gilbert's Collected Poems. It's a collection of pretty much all his work. Often times I'll find myself sitting down after the day is done and flipping through this collection, reading which poems stand out at that time. A poet (or artist of any sort) that speaks to you is worth more than most other things in life, that's for sure. It is imperative that we find those voices that speak to us. Seek them out, listen to them, and then use your own.
“Tear it Down” - Jack Gilbert
We find out the heart only by dismantling what
the heart knows. By redefining the morning,
we find a morning that comes just after darkness.
We can break through marriage into marriage.
By insisting on love we spoil it, get beyond
affection and wade mouth-deep into love.
We must unlearn the constellations to see the stars.
But going back toward childhood will not help.
The village is not better than Pittsburgh.
Only Pittsburgh is more than Pittsburgh.
Rome is better than Rome in the same way the sound
of raccoon tongues licking the inside walls
of the garbage tub is more than the stir
of them in the muck of the garbage. Love is not
enough. We die and are put into the earth forever.
We should insist while there is still time. We must
eat through the wildness of her sweet body already
in our bed to reach the body within that body.
Two things I got sick of: cleaning up all the trash strewn across my passenger side after a fishing trip & having to dangerously reach across and down into the crevices between the seats to find those peanut butter crackers I need to fuel up after a long day on the water. Also, warm drinks that should be cold. So make that three.
Solution: The Stanley 16 QT Adventure Cooler.
What's Great About It: It keeps food & drinks cold. It keeps food fresh even on a hot day. It's easy to load and carry so I don't forget it. It has just the right amount of holding area for a few cans and some snacks & sandwiches for a day trip. I really like the straps on the top which can be used to keep my Stanley Mug or a slim water bottle secure and easy.
My buddy used to always have what he called a "grub box" next to him in his truck. This has become my grub box. An essential component that keeps me fueled up and ready to hit the stream. My box of goodies.
Aesthetically: I love the forest green and slate grey colors. They work as a great background to bolster your sticker collection.
Sketches & scatterings. Rooted in Pennsylvania along the Susquehanna River.