Monday, December 31, 2012

Dreaming of the New Year

Ever since I went to Cleveland the week of my birthday, December 15, my fishing experience has worsened. Then again, this is because of the weather not allowing me to do anything except tie flies. This isn't a problem of course but it has been very discouraging because I have had a major writing block for the past few weeks which really stinks. Well, now all I am waiting on is my new rotary fly vise that should be coming in soon and that will give me an opportunity to tie more flies as well as the materials that are coming in to tie some crayfish pattern that I discovered.

Well, what happened on my birthday was this: I went to Cleveland for the steelhead run which was going strong on the Chagrin and other major rivers in Cleveland and the surrounding areas. I was pumped. I got all geared up with my new backpack and fly rods and took off. I was planning on spending literally all day fishing. My fishing trip turned into a flop and I then proceeded to help my grandpa with projects around his house. Fun? Eh...It would have been a lot better if I would have known that I was going to be skunked for the 3 days I was fishing. I literally fished lakes, ponds, and the rivers but with nothing on my line. I even went out of my way 40 miles to go to some places to catch some rainbow trout. This is when all my memories of successful fishing trips set in. I was missing my small pond in Sylvania, Ohio near the Meijer where I go often and catch some decent bluegill and see many 12" and even 16" bass. I have been day dreaming of carp fishing in the spring and summer and wonderful bluegill fishing in Lake La Su An on the far western part of Ohio near the Indiana and Michigan borders. I am really looking forward to spring when the spring run steelhead come in and I can go drift fishing with nymphs and egg clusters. *sigh* But alas, I am stuck at home, dreaming of spring, summer, and fall or even warmer weather that there is no ice on the lakes that I can fish deep pockets for big bluegill or at least kayak to the warm water discharges of Lake Erie.

So, as the year comes to a close, and my fly collection begins to grow, I will be anticipating at least a warm spell in the weather to permit me to fish some local ponds to hold me off until the warmer weather comes in. It just gets a bit depressing seeing the beautiful fish I've caught however it is something to look forward to as 2012 comes to a close and 2013 begins. I can sense it's going to be a great year for fishing. I am sincerely hoping and praying for a lot of rain to bring Lake Erie back to normal and fill all the streams, rivers, and lakes with more fresh water.

Until then, we'll talk next year.

Thursday, December 6, 2012

Fishpond Tundra Tech Pack Review

All right, so a few weeks ago, I was privileged to pick up the Tundra Tech Pack from Fishpond USA. The price tag retail was quite hefty so I checked out eBay and sure enough I found a used one. Funny story, I was going to get the little brother, the Piney Creek Tech Pack but after seeing I could get the Tundra for less than the Piney Creek, used mind you, I nabbed the Tundra.

I have no clue where I saw the pack in the first place. Possibly I ran into it searching for fly fishing solutions where I could hang my tools on my bag and stumbled across the brand but I know that they make their products here in the good old US of A. I knew they were going to be expensive but I never expected the quality.

When I received the pack, I was astounded to see that even after being heavily used for a season in Colorado, it looked very very good! The pack itself comes with the backpack and also a chestpack. The backpack is a 25 liter pack so it would be good for a 2-3 day trip in the backwoods if you want to sleep under the stars. 

What first attracted me to it was that it a) had a chest pack for storing tools and flies and b) it had 2 4 piece rod tube holders. It was perfect for my needs! It fits very well and Fishpond even took the time to notice the little things. They have velcro straps so you can keep your extra straps that hang by your legs nice and rolled up so they aren't in your way, they have places for every single tool and places for your tool retractor. You can see in the picture there is a place for your wading rod, too! How handy! I really appreciate the pockets on the side of the waist belt. Seriously, there's a bazillion pockets! It's great! I have yet to test it on the field and will give an update later on the backpack. As far as the chestpack goes, it is wonderful! It can be detached and worn around the neck for standalone travel, worn on the back of the pack for travel, or worn on the front of the backpack for fishing moments on to fly (pun intended). : )

Overall, even though I just tested the chestpack and this is not a full review, I will say this: it is very comfortable. It is well fitting, the straps are well placed, the volume of the pack is big enough for my needs, and it was well worth the price I paid for it. I would definitely recommend this to a friend. In fact, if I find another one for the same price I paid for it, I would buy one for my fishing buddy, Mark! I'll update my review after a few test runs.

December 17 update:

So, after spending 3 days in the river hiking up and down several lakes and rivers in NE Ohio, I must say, this has been one of the most amazing purchases ever. I wore the backpack with the chest pack attached in front and it was so very comfortable. I was wearing a lot of layers and this did not hinder the performance of the pack whatsoever. In the past, my back has hurt because of layers and backpacks but the added cushion and support on the back of the backpack really made it very comfortable. I was able to store extra reels and 3 rods in the pack for backups. My only complaint, which is more of an understandable annoyance if you will, is when wearing the chest pack, it is frustrating to unbuckle the chest pack and then unbuckle the back pack to get into the back pack. It took a bit getting used to but it really was my only complaint about the pack overall.

The wading staff holder worked as expected. It really came in handy especially since I was hiking along the Chagrin which became very swift in parts especially for my hip waders so the staff came in handy and was very nice to keep it stored outside the pack. The hydration bladder pocket performed as expected as well. It came in handy so I didn't have to take the pack off to get a water bottle hence the design of the bladder and pack.

The mesh net pocket was unused this trip, sadly, because I didn't even get a hook up on the Chagrin or anywhere else! Of course, the day I decided not to go, everyone was getting fish on.

The side pockets on the waist buckle were extremely helpful. They were surprisingly roomy for being very small which helped me keep snacks and much needed tools in the pocket for quick access.

Overall, like I said, this is highly recommended. The chest pack alone is fantastic and paired with the back pack is great for day hikes of fishing and trekking. I keep discovering more things about the pack and more uses for the smallest of things. Even though my fishing experience was a flop, the Tundra Tech pack really made the experience of carrying a lot of gear around a breeze.

May 20, 2013 update

So, I have taken the chest pack and the backpack on several outings including several kayaking trips. It has held all the gear I have ever needed including reels, rods, snacks, clothes, safety gear, and other key essentials while kayaking and hiking in medium terrain. It has been very comfortable on long walks and hikes through the woods and streams. I added the Fishpond swivel retractor to three of the spots on the chest pack holding my nail knot tie took with nippers, hemostats, and a ty-rite fly holder. Overall, it's been a wonderful experience. The pack is comfortable, it holds up to abuse that I've put on it, the rod tube holders are quite nice, and the pockets are well placed to hold everything a fly fisherman would ever need. I also really like the small pockets on the side as I mentioned before as they were useful to hold the extra small fly boxes holding small flies for carp and panfish as well as snacks. I look forward to another year with this pack as it's been great so far and I know I'll get even more use out of it as the days roll on.