Years ago I decided I didn’t want anything hanging off my shoulders besides the dreadful burden of catching fish. So I shed the vest in favor of a waist pack, caught more fish, and consumed more 7-11 Big Bites (which are a great dawn patrol breakfast treat, until you try wiping the dribbled mustard off your shirt while hauling down an elk-strewn road in the pitch black). Soon after I wondered why my pack’s waist straps started shrinking.
Back and forth I went, vest to pack, pack to vest, until I found what I thought was the ultimate fly-fishing accoutrement storage, the ole’ Mountainsmith Tour. I ran with it, touting its utility, relishing in its capacity…while secretly pissing and moaning about all the straps dangling from it, and finally settling on it being perpetually slung over my shoulder because it was so difficult to spin around for access when lashed over my hips. Yes, purpose defeated.
What did I really want in a fly-fishing waist pack? Lots of capacity…lots! And the fewer compartments the better – one biggie accessible from the top would be supreme. Ace the custom features otherwise designed for holding floatant, dry shake, and pliers – all the things that either wind up in a shirt pocket or don’t get carried in at all. Easy in/out access for big C&F boxes, and wide hip padding so I didn’t have to split myself in two to keep the loaded pack from hitting my ankles. Go minimal “strappage” (otherwise designed for Everest expedition participants). Let’s also throw in excess room, after the stones, terrestrials, dries, nymphs and beads extra dries, for a can of bear spray Guinness.
I queried the innermost reaches of my feeble mind for clues as to why the fly-fishing industry couldn’t produce such an accessory, and concluded they just didn’t listen, just didn’t care, were focused on the almighty dollar, and that I was the sole anal retentive in a world of magnanimous, wholly satisfied anglers. Then one day early last fall I woke up a package arrived on my doorstep. Contained within was suspension of disbelief, and I immediately checked the gear closet for electronic surveillance devices. Would this thing actually go to market, or was it just a cruel joke? My suspicions were unfounded – it was real, and the answer to my prayers – the zombie antidote I ordered online after watching Resident Evil too many times Fishpond Nimbus Guide Pack.
Measuring in at a grand 579 cubic inches of capacity, this 12.5″ x 11″ x 4″ gift from beyond the farthest reaches of the Milky Way (via Silverthorne, CO) is everything the fly angler needs for a precision-prepared (read: carrying everything but the kitchen sink) day on the water. What do I stuff comfortably in this pack? Make that four large waterproof C&F boxes, a small Meiko box full of weight, floatant, dry shake, and a Hell’s Bay Neptune half-dozen packages of tapered leaders. In the external pouches, otherwise designed for pony kegs water bottles but re-purposed as quick access storage, sits seven spools of tippet, a waterproof point-and-shoot, and a Lippa4Life. Two Hypalon tabs are stitched into the upper-front part of the pack – I’ve run keyrings through the pre-punched, reinforced holes, and attached the Lippa cord to one and a zinger (holding clamps and nippers and that lovely gal I met who was way into S&M) to the other. Everything sits tight to the pack, hence out of the way, until I need it.
The finest feature of all, however, is the waist strap/hip pad combination, which is also coming on smaller packs such as Fishpond’s new Cirrus. As I alluded to earlier, waist packs, when cinched tight, are a royal pain in the butt to spin around for access, especially without constantly loosening and then re-tightening them each time you need to relieve yourself after a moose encounter get to your flies. Fishpond has solved this problem by constructing the hip and lumbar padding sections out of what they call Air LTE. It’s a fancy term for very light and breathable, but the interior of the padding is a fine plastic mesh that makes moving the pack front and center a breeze even if it is cranked down so tight the circulation in your lower extremities is non-existent.
Despite the size, the pack remains featherweight. Add extra beefy nylon zippers (salt friendly), a slot between the lumbar support and the pack for your net handle, and a thick, single carry strap up top which is perfect for grabbing and then slinging all your gear straight into the river during a fit of rage immediately after the fish-of-a-lifetime breaks your 5X tippet (a.k.a. fool’s line), and you have not just a sufficient pack, a really decent pack, or even a great pack…
You have one the most thoughtfully designed pieces of fishing equipment I have ever used. And that wouldn’t be saying much except for the fact that I have been through enough vests and packs in my day that I once considered started a business doing nothing but selling my own used vests and packs.
The Fishpond Nimbus Guide Pack gets a 12 out of 10 in my book, meaning it’s kinda sorta better than perfect. It also means I already recommended this pack to several folks, waited for them to gush over it like I just did, thereby hedging against a visit to Guantanamo at the hands of the Federal Trade Commission.
MG signing off (because I’ll never need another pack, and I do hear Cuba is a fine place to fish)
FTC Disclosure: I didn’t pay for this pack, but I didn’t have any obligation, legal or otherwise, to say a word about it either.