I’ve reached a place in life where I fish from boats far more often then I wade fish. Whether I fish out of my own boats or as a guest in a friends boat, having access to the right fishing gear each day is a crucial aspect of being prepared for the conditions I may face.
For decades, the vest was my best friend, and then I found sling packs, and managed to carry what I needed, although at times I may have looked silly with vests and pack stuffed with more than I really needed, but I was happy and prepared.
Lately, however, my days wade-fishing days have diminished rapidly, and I’ve devoted considerable time to researching and testing so-called “Boat Bags” over this period. I have used boat bags by FishPond, Sage, Umpqua, Simms, and Patagonia too. Every one of these had features I appreciated. Waterproof bags are “generally” waterproof, and all had nice interior and exterior features to accommodate our tendencies to fiddle with gear organization.
I have also at times used aluminum gear boxes and Yeti Coolers in my boat to provide absolute waterproofing and quick access.
My greatest irritation with waterproof gear bags was their zippers. The zipper was never easy to use, but failure to do so left all of the boat bags I used vulnerable to periodic downpours. My white water boating days are behind me, but I routinely fish in high winds and driving wind and hail storms, and more evenings than I would like to admit find me in our cabin removing all my gear to sop up water inside my boat bag, opening fly boxes, and wiping off every piece of my gear. This was all my fault, because I figured that it would be OK to just snug the lid over the bag, instead of taking the time to wrestle with the zipper. If I did the full-zip, my gear was sure to be dry, if not, all bets were off.
My eyes popped when I saw a picture of the new SIMMS Dry Creek Boat Bag a few months ago. I knew, IMMEDIATELY, that this was the bag of my fishing dreams. I ordered one, put it to use and have retired my former favorite gear bags to store tackle in the shed. This new boat bag is everything I had hoped for, and here are a few reasons why.
The lid of the bag overlaps and acts like a neat roof, so no matter how hard it rains, the interior stays dry, without requiring me to zip the zipper to seal out the water.
When I do want to zip the bag, when carrying it into and out of the boat, the zippers are simple to use. Grasp the zipper loops on both sides, pull ‘em forward, and the zippers follow my wishes obediently, with no struggling at all.
I can carry this bag with a handle or use the shoulder strap. these are not features unique to SIMMS, but both are well designed and right-sized.
Now here is another neat feature when I want to move the bag around in the boat: there is a strap on front of the bag with a magnet, and this snaps into a socket to hold the lid on the bag if I grab the handle to lift it, moving the bag around the boat – without needing to zip the bag or carry it in both hands as is required by many boat bags.
SIMMS calls this feature a magnetized catch and release buckle. I call it simple genius.
The lid functions to keep rain out of the bag, and it has a small fly patch and a small depressed (recessed) area that will generally keep little items from rolling off the lid.
Two vertical interior dividers are movable and allow me to decide how wide I want the compartments, but I’ve found no reason to change it from the symmetrical shape it was in when I bought the bag. One large zippered pouch in the lid and a slim elastic pouch on the side of each interior divider let me slide in – hummmmm – “slim” items.
All this passionate droning-on about a boat bag may seem silly but for serious anglers who head out in the worst of weather, it is not trivial. This is the onlybag that measures up to my aluminum boat box and Yeti Cooler in terms of being both waterproof and providing quick access without having to wrestle with a zipper.
My new SIMMS DRY CREEK Boat Bag is lighter, easier to transport, and still keeps my gear close at hand and dry. I carry to Cliffs Bugger Beast Junior fly boxes, two RIO shooting head wallets, three spare fly reels, a fillet knife, plastic bags, three jars of cured eggs, two cartons of sand shrimp, and five vacuum sealed bags of tuna bellies, plus seven Kwikfish and fifteen spare bobbers.
Rain? Bring it on, I’ll be ready and my gear will be dry. Thank you SIMMS, but what took you so darn long anyway?
JN, November 2014