Zimmerbuilt Tailwater Pack…

I purchased this pack several years ago to use when fishing streams. You can find it on their website http://www.zimmerbuilt.com under “Tenkara Gear.”

Specifications:

-VX-21 fabric

-Capacity: 1300 cu in.

-Height: 19.5 in tall

-Width: 11 in at the top and 10 in at the bottom

-Depth: 6.5 in

-2 external Tenkara rod holders with shock cord retainers up top.

Dual Daisy Chains with Shock Cord.
Simple shoulder straps with sternum strap.
Single zipper, top-loading design.

This is a very well made pack and runs $95.00 on his web store. This is the lightest pack I own for fishing, coming in at 8.75 ounces. Perfect for carrying a rainjacket, water bottle and lunch, as well as some fishing lures or small tackle pouches/boxes. The back is unpadded so I added a piece of half inch closed cell foam to protect my back from sharp objects. It is not waterproof or submersible but rather highly water resistant. I can attest to fishing in light rain for 6 hours and everything stayed dry.

I don’t do Tenkara fishing and have never used the rod holders on the side. Instead, I break my rods down (4-5 piece) and store them inside.

I like to have several options of gear to choose from so I can tailor my needs to the trip.

Fishing “Systems”…

I don’t like my fishing to be overly complicated. Our preference is to break things down into modular components to be incorporated into a bigger System. Furthermore, we prefer to travel light and be efficient with the goals we have set.

Just one example of the concept.

Our Fishing System:

Footwear: wading boots or shoes, neoprene socks, gravel guards etc.

Water Filtration: Hiker Pro, Sawyers or Squeeze bottle

Navigation: map, compass, GPS or none

Packs: sling, shoulder, waist or backpack or just pockets

Rods and Reels: proper choices for intended species

Clothing: seasonal conditions apply, rainwear,hats, polarized glasses etc

Tackle: seasonal and species specific; spoons, jerkbaits, spinners or sometimes just jigheads and plastics stuck in the pockets of our shorts

Camera Gear: GoPro, phone or DSLR

Food: lunch, coffee, tea, snacks etc

Sundries Bag: licenses, knife, cordage, lighter etc

First Aid Kit: small and light…not performing surgery!

When wading streams and walking over rocks and boulders all day, every extra pound carried can equal pain. We try hard to carry no more than 10 pounds and preferably less. There is always a balancing act in our gear between weight and durability. As an example, I tend to carry the Yeti Panga 28 backpack more often. With two straps the weight distribution is better than a sling pack. Yes it is heavier but is by far the most durable pack I own. In the future I will showcase a few other pack options that I have and use.

By traveling light we can move faster and go farther. Not that we are “speed fishing” or anything, but rather, we are not overburdened when hopping across boulders or trying to maintain our balance when crossing current.

Your comfort has to be factored into the System as well. Tennis shoes are a lot lighter than wading boots, however, how will your feet feel at the end of the day? I know from experience that my feet feel trashed after wearing sneakers all day while stream fishing. The beefier yet heavier wading boot has a lot more support and protection. But when factoring comfort into the equation, I’ll deal with the extra weight penalty. Besides, I’m not getting any younger!

And by implementing a modular approach into the system, it is easy to switch between packs to further reduce weight or increase convenience. With thought and planning you can custom tailor your gear to each outing or you can settle on one system and stick with it.

I am not creating anything new here, rather, I am just sharing what we use and the thought process behind our system.

Our Water Filtration Systems…for fishing.

The above photo displays the various methods we use to filter our water while out fishing. Obviously we don’t carry them all at once but rather tailor them to each trip. It depends on how many people are along, what packs we are using and how long the trip will last.

We tend to use this option the most. Scoop up water, screw the filter/cap back on and squeeze.
These are a great option because they’re cheap and effective.

The Sawyer Squeeze and Sawyer Mini filters are compact and screw onto most water bottles. I have used the Squeeze in a homemade gravity filter for large groups. They can be connected to water bladders as well. Some people prefer carrying water bottles but I don’t like toting the extra weight. I tend to reuse plastic water bottles for a long time so one is enough for me. We’ve used the Sawyer filters for years and have never had an issue. And being able to backflush them extends their lifespan.

We use these when base camping.
The Katadyn Hiker Pro.

The Hiker Pro has been our workhorse. It’s simple and fast. The cost is reasonable for what you get. I like the fact that is has quick disconnect fittings. This allows me to hook it directly to a bladder and fill it up.

An original Katadyn/PUR filter.

This filter is HEAVY! It uses a silver impregnated ceramic filter and guarantees that it removes viruses. A big plus if you travel where water supplies are super sketchy. It’s Swiss made with machined aluminum fittings. It is also VERY SLOW and your arms will get a workout.

When space is at a premium, these are a nice bit of kit.

This is not an exhaustive review of the multitude of filters that are available. I’m just sharing what we have, use and carry on a regular basis. I can vouch for each of these models since we’ve had them for multiple years. The only downside to any of these filters is you do NOT want them to freeze. If it’s really cold, I keep them in a jacket pocket or even in my sleeping bag during the night. After each trip we also back flush them and let them dry completely before storing.

Have a great weekend…

Our Re-Supply Arrived…

We had such good luck with the Owner Cultiva JH-85 jigheads that we knew we were definitely going to order more for 2022. Same went for Eurotackle Micro Finesse B-vibe 2 inch soft lures. I can’t recommend the B-vibes enough! We also will being trying the 1/8 oz Tungsten jigheads from Eurotackle as well.

We are off to a good start for 2022 in spite of “supply chain” issues.

Tackle Japans-Manufacturer’s List

I thought I would share this Manufacturer’s List. Lots of interesting stuff all in one place. No affiliation whatsoever on my part: For Informational Purposes Only.

https://www.tacklejapan.com/brand

*Not responsible for any purchases made!

Fishing Gear That I’m Interested In for the 2022 Season…

Right out of the gate I will state that I don’t NEED any new rods or reels. These are purely WANTS/WISHES…(this statement WILL come back to haunt me!) And I am not saying that I will purchase any of these items, I’m just curious about them. I’m sure my wife is biting her fingernails and worrying because she knows I tend to “gear up” during the winter months in preparation for the upcoming season. But these are a few items that have piqued my curiosity…

Daiwa 2021 Presso LT reel

First up is the new Daiwa Presso LT reel. This is the “update” to the Daiwa 2017 Presso LTD series. Unfortunately this reel is no longer made in Japan but has been outsourced to China. I like the idea of the monocoque body and I really like the color scheme of this reel. It seems to be a bit more muted compared to the Presso LTD 1025 that I own. Bearing count (12+1) is the same so it should be smooth. The 2021 Presso LT 1000S-P weighs 145grams(5.1oz) while the Presso LTD 1025 weighs in at 155grams(5.47oz). A 10gram difference. Probably too minor to really notice.

Tenryu Rayz Integral RZI50UL-4

I have a “thing” for multi-piece rods since it suits our style of fishing. I was curious about the next level of these style rods and looked to Tenryu for an option. I own a Tenryu Lunakia 610 and know that they make high quality rods. This Rayz Integral is definitely a contender.

Timon TCC-S62L

I know nothing about Timon rods but this one interested me especially at this price point. I have yet to buy a bad JDM rod. A rod worth considering.

Smith Multiyouse TRMK-504UL

I hear great things about Smith rods so I thought I’d take a look at their offerings. Again, this is obviously a multi-piece rod and seems quite interesting.

NOTE: This is where my wife needs to stop reading this blog post!

If I win the lottery or if money were no object…I would seriously entertain buying this rod. I like the looks. I really like the components, especially the rod guides.

Daiwa Presso LTD SGA SMT 62L. Pie In The Sky!

As I’ve said MANY times before, I am curious by nature. And after owning several mid-tier JDM rods, I am wondering what the next level up would be like. But it’s really hard to justify an expenditure of that size. Safer to just drool…

Our Most Used Lures of 2021…

I took a chance buying these jig heads and soft plastic lures last year. As it turns out, we used them almost exclusively for the entire 2021 fishing season.

The jig heads are from http://www.digitaka.com and are the Owner Cultiva JH-85 Nagare Dama and the JH-86 Cross Head. The weights we used were 2.2grams up to 3.0grams. They have two tie points on them depending on how you want to present them. Keep in mind that the target species was our native smallmouth bass and they don’t reach near the size of the Northern strain smallmouth bass. These hooks were fine for the Neosho strain smallmouth.

For soft plastics we opted for the Eurotackle Micro Finesse B-vibe 2 inch paddle tail swimbait.

Our colors of choice were Green Pumpkin, Bluegill Pro and Black. These were very productive for us and we plan on continuing their use for 2022.

As we tweak our gear and lure selections, we tend to carry less tackle. We continually strive for efficiency to keep from being overburdened and to maximize our time on the water. Food for thought…

My Most Used Fishing Gear of 2021…

I prefer to fish streams so all of my gear is generally tailored for that application. As such, we fish out of backpacks quite often so the rods are usually multi-piece for portability. Also, we specifically target our indigenous smallmouth bass which rarely reach 3 pounds so we don’t need heavier tackle.

The rod I used the most was the Majorcraft Finetail Trekking and Traveler Switch Style FTX-46/505UL.

FTX-46/505UL

My favorite spinning reel of 2021 turned out to be the Shimano Stradic FL 1000S. This reel blew the Vanford 1000 out of the water! Price to performance was exceptional.

Shimano Stradic FL 1000S

The Yeti Panga 28L waterproof and submersible backpack was outstanding. Expensive but extremely durable and useful for my needs. Worth every penny and holds everything I could need for a day or two on the river.

Yeti Panga 28L

My baitcast rod of choice was a tie this year. I used both the Majorcraft Finetail Trekking and Traveler Switch Style FTX-B46/505UL and the Majorcraft Finetail Area Stage FAX-B642UL. Both were great rods.

Majorcraft FTX-B46/505UL
Majorcraft FAX-B642UL
Majorcraft FAX-B642UL

My Baitcast reel of choice was the Shimano Calcutta Conquest BFS-HG Left. An expensive reel, but it worked really well and I had a lot of fun fishing with it.

Shimano Calcutta Conquest BFS-HG Left

We had a great year of fishing and managed to explore some new water. We had arbitrarily stated we wanted to make 25 trips during 2021 and according to my fishing journal we reached 27 trips. We spent a lot of time researching gear and tackle but managed to escape without any duds for the year. Everything worked perfectly for our style of fishing.

I can HIGHLY recommend http://www.digitaka.com for reels and http://www.jdmtackleheaven.com for rods.

Here’s to 2022 possibly being a better year of fishing! Cheers…

Simms Free Salt Wading Boot…

Simms Free Salt Boots

My other wading boots, the Simms Flats Sneakers, were having delamination issues with the soles. I took them to a local cobbler for repair but that didn’t work too well. I have since done my own repair but have not tested them yet.

I opted to get a pair of Free Salt boots for an upcoming trip we have planned. The construction on these boots is burly. My only complaint so far is the lack of a removable insole. The footbox is roomier than expected but I have a wide forefoot so they should work OK.

I opted to use the Simms Guide Guard wading socks with these boots.

3.5mm neoprene bootie with built-in gravel guard.

These boots lace up securely and don’t seem to be too cumbersome or overly bulky. I wear a size 10 but purchased a size 11. They fit with a fingers width from the front of the boot, so walking downhill won’t be an issue. Looking forward to putting these on and wading a river!

UPDATE: The wife and I rented a canoe to fish a 10 mile stretch of the Ouachita River in Arkansas. We stopped often and wade fished the runs and riffles. I wore these boots for 9 hours straight and did not have any issues. They were comfortable (not as comfortable as my Flats Sneakers) and provided great ankle support while wading through sections of riffles. Even portaging a canoe around a low-water bridge, they did fine. Time will tell how they hold up in the long run, but I plan on using them as often as possible.

Yeti Panga 28L Waterproof Backpack…

I thought I’d write a blog post about this backpack since I have used it quite a bit over the past 2 years. I usually carry it when someone else is fishing with me so I can carry their rain jackets, phones, a water filter pump, spare water, lunch etc.

I prefer a pack without a lot of padding when I am wading. I generally don’t carry enough weight to require padding.

The construction of this pack is exemplary so I won’t complain too much about the price tag. In this instance, you DO get what you pay for. And the main selling point for me was that it is waterproof and submersible. I have used it several times as an impromptu flotation device to help get me across deep water.

I like the 3 grab handles on the sides and top. With some velcro strips I can secure rods or rod tubes.
The shoulder strap buckles are metal and heavy-duty.
Comes with a removable waist belt.
The inside has a sleeve, a velcro patch and a zippered pocket. The lighter color on the inside makes locating items easier. It’s the simple things that add up to a nice design.
The pack contents from our recent trip.

I have been very happy with this pack. Zero complaints so far. I rarely notice it when I’m wearing it and fishing a river. The plastic baits on the right are usually carried in the thigh pocket of my shorts along with a few spare jigheads so I don’t have to dig into the pack very often.

I have no affiliation with Yeti and purchased this with my own money. If anything happened to this one…I wouldn’t hesitate to buy another.

Our Camp Kitchen…

Yes, we used Milwaukee Packout Toolboxes for our Camp Kitchen as well. Told you we loved these boxes! Look at the “bright side”, the boxes are red so it’s hard to misplace or leave them behind when packing up to leave!

The top box is for utensils, dish towels, soap and other bits and bobs.
Keeps things neat and organized. The clear lid is a plus.
Everything is labelled.
Sturdy handle makes it easy to carry.
Everything packed inside.
Pots, pans, plates etc.
Our single burner cook stove.
A very quiet stove. Suited our needs perfectly.
Cheap cook set.
Our skillet
Our GSI 2L kettle for boiling water.
Katadyn Hiker Pro in case we need water when off grid camping.
Our in-camp washing setup. I am a big believer in proper hygiene even when camping.
Collapsible
Ready for transport.

We like the fact that these toolboxes can connect to each other in multiple variations. It really helps keep things together both in camp and during transport. In fact, we stacked all of these boxes on top of one another in the gear room so we know where everything is.

Our Camping Fuel Storage Box…

Currently we use the 1 pound Coleman Propane bottles for our camp stove. We are kicking around the idea of getting a small 5 pound propane tank since it’s a cheaper option in the long run.

I had purchased an extra one of these Milwaukee Packout Tool Boxes because I really like the concept behind them. After finishing the Auxiliary Power Supply Box I was sitting there looking at this other box and was wondering if we could store our 1# propane bottles inside. These boxes come with internal dividers so I put them in place and quickly realized that the propane bottles fit perfectly with room to spare.

Camping Fuel Storage Box.
We love these boxes.

As you can see, there is plenty of room for 5 or 6 of the 1# Coleman Propane bottles as well as a few canisters for our backup backpacking stove (Kovea Spider) and a roll of paper towels.

This little experiment worked well for us. And keeping with the modular approach…it’s easy to transport and keeps the bottles from rolling around or creating clutter by stashing them here and there. By keeping our camping system broken down into separate components it made loading and unloading the vehicle easier for both of us. Before, we used a large Rubbermaid Action Packer to store everything and it was a real pain to get everything to fit and became too heavy for one person to lift.

Food for thought!