May 13, 2012

ZimmerBuilt Strap Pack

For many years I have been trying to carry less and less in the way of gear when I fish. I gave up vests about 10 years ago and went to a chest pack. Over the past 5 years I have changed to a small chest pack which can carry two small C&F fly boxes, a couple of spools of tippet and the assorted accoutrements such as floatant, nippers, and the like.

My trusty old chest pack

I love the freedom of a light chest pack. I have never felt the need to carry 4-5 large boxes of flies with each box holding hundreds of patterns. This is just not me. But recently, with tenkara, I have wanted to carry more than one rod, so I could feel the differences between rods or the change with the water conditions.

The other morning I visited one of the spring creeks on the Ft. Hall Indian Reservation. It is the largest spring creek in what is referred to as the "Ft. Hall bottoms". This is a region of the reservation with semi-wild horses, bison, deer, and other wildlife of an amazing variety. The bison are usual fenced but not always! The water was clear and moderately high and the suckers were in the river getting ready to spawn. This is the time of year in which throwing large heavy streamers works well. The trout can be 20-26 inches in length and hit your streamer with the force of a freight train.

Slow, smooth water means STEALTH!

I however wanted to try my hand at the fat rainbows that follow the spawning suckers upstream. A small pink egg pattern will usual yield a high spirited trout or two. You have to be extra stealthy though, as the trout are amazingly skittish. If you don't wade like a heron then they are gone!

One thing about the bottoms: one never knows what the wind will be like. The bottoms is situated in the Snake River plain and it is generally windy; if it is not when you arrive it will become windy, trust me. So, with that in mind I wanted to carry both my Tenkara USA Amago and my western rod/reel. That way if it got too windy for tenkara I could muscle my way through the wind with the western rod and throw streamers. You can walk miles in the bottoms, so going back to your car to switch gear can be a problem. But, how do I carry everything with just a chest pack? Well, you can't without adding another pack -- back, fanny or whatever. Remember what I said earlier? I usually like to carry two tenkara rods  -- using an Ebira Guide sling. I decided that instead of carrying everything in different packs I would modify my Ebira Guide so to carry all I needed -- Amago, 5wt, reel, tenkara lines, fly boxes, etc. The Ebira Guide is similar to, but has more capacity than, the Ebira Plus, which I have reviewed in the past.

The Ebira Guide is an excellent sling, but the pockets are on the back and a little hard to reach routinely. I needed a pocket on the front to put my main fly box in. So here we come to it.... introducing the ZimmerBuilt Strap Pack! This little pack clips perfectly onto the Ebira Guide's shoulder strap daisy chain giving you extra carrying capacity without overloading or overcoming the "minimalist" theme of tenkara. Now I can attach my nippers, floatant, etc to the shoulder strap along with this neat little pack and have ready access to them without having to always flip the sling around to get to the pockets. Pretty neat!

Strap Pack on Ebira Guide

Zimmerbuilt Strap Pack -- fly patch not included!
Back of Ebira Guide.  I'll soon replace the top pocket with another Strap Pack for better versatility.

ZimmerBuilt also makes other carrying options. They have a Guide Sling designed by the boys at Tenkara Guides LLC. It will carry just about everything you would need, including your lunch! That is too much for me, but very nice anyway. There is also the Chest Pack. I bought one of these as a large pocket accessory for the Ebira Guide. The Chest Pack will also attach to the daisy chain making a much larger pocket for even more carrying capacity. And finally, there is the Micro Pack. It is similar to the Strap Pack but smaller. All of these, Chest pack, Strap pack, Micro Pack, can be used by themselves or with the Ebira slings or Guide Sling. Very, very cleaver! ZimmerBuilt also sells a Lumbar pack for those of you who like fanny packs.

So, now I can carry everything I need, including more that one rod, in one light, convenient sling that does not get in the way of stalking, casting, or fighting fish. I like the Strap Pack so much that I just ordered another one to replace one of the rear pockets on the Ebira Guide, making the Guide even more versatile. I am glad that there are cleaver creative people into tenkara who can make this stuff!

Will this be my last item to carry my gear? Unlikely. I am ever looking for that "perfect" solution to my on-the-go fishing needs, but this solution works great for me right now.

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