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Handy packs on the flats

Category: Product Reviews | Author: Hans van Klinken

I have used many fly fishing vests since the late seventies, but during the last few years I had seriously problems with a lot of muscle pain in my shoulders and back while practicing our great hobby...


I have used many fly fishing vests since the late seventies, but during the last few years I had seriously problems with a lot of muscle pain in my shoulders and back while practicing our great hobby. Of course I relate that to my aging but sometimes the pain was so bad that I had to quit fishing for a little while. After several years fighting these pains with pills and massages, I start using Marc Petitjeanís fly fishing vest on request by my good friend Leon Links. Leon had similar problems and he highly recommended me to try this completely different vest. He was right, almost immediately it prevent me from getting all these nasty pains, and my fly fishing returned in a totally new dimension again. Fishing without these terrible pains is a completely different world indeed and it made the enjoyment of fly fishing a lot more pleasantly again. Marcís changeable vest also opened the idea for me to start trying more small fly fishing packs and bags instead using the old traditional fly fishing vests.

For my trips to the flats in Cuba I specially had bought a few wading packs that were highly recommending to me and I was very eager and even exciting to try them in the field. I prefer good quality and so I had chosen the Current and Surge packs from the Magnetic Tech series from William Joseph and this is my review.

The William Joseph Current is a small and handy chest pack that perfectly accommodates the most basic essentials tools and equipments needed while wading on the flats. Mainly because previous problems that I had with zip locks in combination with saltwater I specially chose for a chest and waist pack without any zip locks at all. The main compartment, including the smaller front pocket and side pockets all feature William Joseph unique and magnetic Zip No Closure System. To open a certain compartment, you grab and pull one of clear rubber coated string pulls. To close the pockets you simply push the opening back so it can seals itself automatically again by magnetic force. It works extremely fast and I was quite amazed how precise the pockets were closing to each time after time. The magnets are quite strong and hold the pockets locked quite firmly. The Current chest pack also have an extra storage slot behind the main compartment for even more fly boxes or other tools when needed.

The Surge, hip, waist or Fanny pack works exactly the same except the design is quite a bit different and the pack is larger. It has 4 compartments and an extra slot as well but it also has 2 extra water bottle holders and a much better (removable) anatomical padded shoulder strap with webbing loop for lanyard attachment. It is quite handy for those people with a nice big belly but it then prevents the use of twisting the pack from front to backward while wading.

The small front pocket from both packs single folds down to form a little workstation shelf that can be extremely handy in certain moments. Both front compartments comes with a removable foam fly patch to hold a nice set of† flies for changing flies rapidly without the use of a fly box.. I found it extremely handy while fishing for bones and when I needed a few good flies only!

The Current pack larger internal compartment is divided into three sections from which one with zipper for tiny accessories. The Surge big compartment is divided in one large section, two small ones and a zipped part on the backside of the opening section.

The designers from William Joseph knew very well what they were building when they make the packs. I am sure that high quality, efficiency and an extremely durable product must have had their highest priority. As soon you wear the Current on your chest or the Surge around your waist, you feel quality right away and as soon the pack is adjusted to your body well, everything fits on place perfectly. Your hand is used quickly where to grab and open the pockets fast and easy. The neck straps are build with an extra soft cushion that does not irritate your neck at all, not even in extreme hot conditions but I still prefer to wear it over my shirt because it is slightly even more comfortable when you wear it for many hours. I am very sure that nothing was skimped in terms of materials when they build the packs. The inside zippers worked well and even with an open compartment there is very little worry of any items falling out. Because all closures are magnetic, there is a clear and large warning sign advising that people with pacemakers should not use those bags.

I am a big guy and most of the time I have seriously problems to fit in a lot of equipment but I didnít have any problems with both of the packs because the straps for waist and neck were well adjustable. Both straps are very simple to adjust and so it is not really hard to let the pack fits to your body nicely. The neck strap from the Current pack is even so long that you can wear the pack up on your chest or even on your belly whatever you prefer the most.

The Current pack we mainly used for short trips on the flats while we took the Surge when we were wading over longer distances and for several hours. In that case we travelled as a team and one of us wear the Surge or Fanny pack and the other one the Current. I found the smaller Current chest pack absolutely suitable to carry the most essential tools and equipment that a fly fisher needs on the flats. I filled it up with flies, tippet material, spare leaders, hook sharper, clipper, multi-tool, forceps and so on.

The bags are indeed water resistant, which is of course very nice while walking on the flats. However, they are NOT waterproof so you will still need to protect papers or money within a little plastic of waterproof travellerís bag.

Final conclusion

I highly can recommend both packs. They fit nicely, feeling comfortable and they are extremely practical with the unique magnetic closure system. I had a lot of pleasure from them while fishing from boat and wading on the flats. The sizes are handy. While fishing and using them I didnít face anything negatively.

The missing part or some extra words of warning regarding the magnetic powers of the bags I donít wear a pacemaker so that warning isnít relevant for me but I would love to see another warning sign placed clearly together with the bags or inside the manual. Please realise and notice well that the packs are highly magnetic and that means that these bags or packs can affect credit cards, room cards, bank cards, actually any card that has magnetic strips on them. Therefore it is not recommending putting your wallet inside the bags or holding your wallet or any cards close to the bags. I am talking here on lessons learned by own experience and please believe me, even while you know the bags are highly magnetic you easily forget about this. Finally you also have to realise that some airline companies donít accept magnetic items in your luggage.

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