It’s been hot and dry on the South Island of New Zealand this February. Fishing has been good but rain is needed badly to revive many of the streams and rivers that seem to be getting lower by the day.
Depending upon the river, we have been walking a fair bit between sections of river that have enough water to hold fish. So far the new Ultralight Wading shoe from Patagonia has been outstanding. It’s rigid outer protects the foot when boulder hopping yet it’s light and padded upper allows for excellent movement and comfort. The sticky sole is perfect for rivers in New Zealand and is grabbing well despite low water and more slimy rocks than normal. In terms of actual weight the boot is as light or lighter than the original Riverwalker boot from Patagonia. Stay tuned for another update as I put some more miles on these boots.
I have always been a big fan of the “sling/waist pack” for wade fishing and have clung to my ancient Patagonia flats style pack for years. Like an old vest your favorite sling pack is hard to give up. In comes the new series of packs and bags from Umpqua. Not known for gear bags I was a bit skeptical until I saw them in person. Without a doubt the designers put in some serious effort and so far my experience in the field with the Ledges 500 and the Surveyor 1100 Backpack confirms my initial response.
Both the Ledges Waist Pack and Surveyor Backpack have aluminum stays to balance the loaded pack when fastened to the body. Over the course of the day this balanced load distribution makes a big difference. All of the Umpqua packs and bags have over sized zippers and pull tags on them. This sounds cool and works well in the shop for sure, but it makes an even bigger difference when the packs are loaded with gear and you need to get in and out of them frequently.
I have been using the Ledges 500 Waist Pack the most. Initially I wavered on the 500 or the larger 650 version. You can never have enough gear with you right? Thus far 500 has been just perfect for me. Four medium sized fly boxes in the main compartment, tippet, floatant, leaders in the front zippered compartment, a really cool tool pocket in between the front and main zippered compartment that holds a 6″ hemostat or barb smasher really well and plenty of attachment points for zingers, nippers etc…. The 500 is going to be perfect for the flats as well.
The Surveyor Backpack is really light and is not a huge backpack. I would call it more of a “day pack plus” in the sense that you can carry plenty of gear and for a long walk but to not a multi-day trip when sleeping gear is involved. I removed the padded laptop sleeve that is large enough for a 17″ machine to give me a bit more room in the main compartment. Lunch, rain gear, extra insulating jacket, camera gear, bug repellent, sun screen, water bottles, extra shades, extra hat, are all held with ease. The area between the mesh backer that sits closes to you and the main compartment is perfect to stuff a jacket in for even quicker access. Hidden rod tube side pockets are cool when you want to pack another rod in it’s case. One possible draw back with the Surveyor is the waist strap. The thin and not very long strap is less impressive than a more padded waist strap like the Ledges Waist Pack. So far the pack has been perfect for my day excursions.