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My LONG journey to find the right fishing backpack - bank, kayak and jon boat fishing

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For the past year or more, I've been trying to find the ideal fishing backpack.  I thought I'd share my journey here in case others found this useful.
 

Step 1: Tackle Box
15-20 years ago I bought a huge monstrosity of a tackle box and at the time, as a kid, I loved it.  I would STRONGLY recommend against this for bank fishing as it greatly hinders your mobility.


Step 2: Jansport
This was my leftover backpack from college.  This was a huge step forward and served my needs for more than a year. Ultimately I got frustrated with the lack of organization since mine had a single large pouch.


Step 3: Spiderwire Fishing Tackle Backpack and Cabelas Advanced Angler Backpack
After realizing I needed an upgrade from the Jansport, I did hours and hours of research into backpacks and ultimately landed on these two.  Luckily I was able to find both locally and could try them in person.  My personal preference is for the Spiderwire as I feel it has better build quality and comfort than the Cabelas bag.  I also did NOT like the waist strap / fanny pack on the Cabelas bag, I felt dumb wearing it - sure this is a stupid thing to say but ultimately I knew I wasn't going to be happy. 

As a side note, I gave the rod holders a shot and was pleasantly surprised that they worked great!  I definitely look goofy with a 7' rod sticking straight out of my backpack but this allows me to bring a spinning rod/reel (Ned Rig for the win!) and a casting rod/reel to park lakes and stay mobile.  You certainly can't walk through trees and brush with a rod in the rod holder so this will depend on the ponds you are fishing.  I also found success with using this backpack instead of a crate in my kayak.  It's probably not the best solution but it worked pretty well for me.


Side Step!  Spiderwire Sling Backpack
You idiot!  You already found your backpack, why did you buy another?  Well let me tell you a story.  The big Spiderwire bag carries a LOT of tackle and while it is very comfortable, it became very heavy on a particular August day in which I was walking miles around a series of lakes/ponds.  I found this sling bag on sale at Dicks Sporting Goods for a great price ($20-$25) and decided it made sense to me to have a lightweight pond hopping bag.  
 

Step 4: Hiking Backpack    
You moron, you already have 2 bags, what more do you need?  Great question!  Over the winter I got some ants in my pants and really started prepping for the warmer weather.  I realized that I wasn't happy with my tackle organization in my big Spiderwire bag. After hours and hours of research, I realized the problem wasn't the bag, it was that it only held 3600 sized boxes.  Compared to various types of boxes available in the 3700 size, it's slim pickings when you are limited to 3600.  I tried a hiking backpack and while I got a great deal on it (ultimately sold it for a profit on eBay), I realized I simply didn't like it.  Part of this was how high it sat on my back (may limit casting while wearing it) and part of this was the waist belt.  


Step 5: Tackle Warehouse Backpack    
My current solution.  This bag can fit 2-3 3700 boxes and has plenty of room for soft plastics.  I would guess that the total capacity is similar to the Spiderwire bag but the difference is it happily fits 3700 boxes which allow me options.  It's not as comfortable as the Spiderwire bag (mostly due to the padding in the straps and overall shape of the bag) but it's not bad.  I like the rod holders better on the Spiderwire bag as the rod butts sit lower and therefore the rods don't stick up as far but again, this bag is decent.  I still need to put this bag through it's paces and I still haven't 100% decided if I will stick with this or go back to the Spiderwire but for now this is my bag.
    
Summary    
If you are a new angler, re-use an old backpack if you can or buy one on the cheap.  Don't bring a tackle box if you are bass fishing from the bank as you need to be more mobile than that will allow. 

 

I do really like the Spiderwire Sling backpack and would recommend it to anyone.  If you can wait, you may be able to find a deal and it will have it's niche uses.  If you pack light, this may be large enough for you.  The biggest reason this doesn't work for me is that I use my backpack whenever I rent a jon boat and I want to bring tackle for a full day trip, the sling back simply doesn't have enough room.

 

When it comes to Spiderwire Tackle Backpack vs Tackle Warehouse Backpack - you cannot go wrong with either bag.  I love both of these bags.  I think the biggest difference is whether or not you must have 3700 Plano boxes.  If you are happy with 3600 boxes, I would recommend the Spiderwire.  If you must have 3700, go for the Tackle Warehouse bag.
 

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Currently I use the spiderwire sling backpack and it works great. I carry one 3700, one 3600, and one 3500. Works pretty well, weighs around 20 pounds which isnt too bad. Overall pretty happy with it.

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Sometimes I feel like my wife and all her purses, given how many bags / boxes I have tried :).

 

Tried the traditional tackle box, hated it. Tried a sling bag off ebay, not bad but small. Went to a bass pro backpack, that's not bad but has a lot of stuff I don't use. Recently went to a Plano weekender 3600 bag and it's decent for what I need. The bigger sling bag sounds interesting, may have to check it out. 

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I use a small sling (Fishpond Summit) or a hiking daypack (Osprey Talon 11) depending on how far from my car I am going.  I will take comfort over easy tackle-access for anything longer then a mile or three.

 

I am looking for a hippack to replace the sling as I think my back would prefer it and I have realized that I should carry more water then I can with my sling. 

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Speaking of purses, back in the day when I was a meat fishing bush hippie, I didn't have a back pack or tackle box for fishing.  I had a "fishing bag".  I went to Goodwill and spent $1 and got a big beat up women purse.  It didn't hurt that it was neon green/black tiger stripes.  It held enough 3500 size boxes for my needs and a dozen or so jars of pork frogs and other stuff.  I could carry it anywhere and not care about scuffing it up on thorns & branches.   I could set it down anywhere and not care how dirty it got.  If you're looking for a budget option, there you go.

 

I did end up replacing the handles several times using brass grommets and 3/8" braided rope.

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7 hours ago, Fishes in trees said:

I went to Goodwill and spent $1 and got a big beat up women purse. 

@twigss, PLEASE LISTEN TO ME, DO NOT BUY ONE OF THESE. 😂

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In SoCal, there is a local chain, Turners, that carries a nice fishing backpack.  Comes with 4 3600 boxes that fit in the bottom (with a zippered opening on the back so you access them directly), a big open section on top that's bigger than a six pack and lots of side pockets.  Since they aren't a national chain, I thought they just rebranded somebody else's backpack, but I haven't found anything like it on the web.  A little on the heavy side, but it stands upright without any boxes in the bottom, so it's sturdy.

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8 hours ago, EGbassing said:

@twigss, PLEASE LISTEN TO ME, DO NOT BUY ONE OF THESE. 😂

I can't promise anything.... #thejourneycontinues

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Pockets of your cargo shorts. Anything more than that your wishful thinking..

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I got an old overnight duffel bag I stuff 4-5 3600 boxes in. Works pretty well. Has a shoulder strap. Occasionally I’ll throw my boxes in my camo deer hunting daypack. It works well too. 

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Great write up. I read it all as I am still on the hunt for the perfect tackle bag.

 

There is no perfect bag for all occasions so I have bags for pond hopping, boat trips, kayak trips, vacations, etc.

 

The ones I find myself using the most is my Plano weekender 3500 or 3600 size. They have  pliers holster, a front pocket and 2 side pockets and hold 4 tackle trays. They also have mesh pockets on the sides and back for quick external storage. perfect for a walk or hike to a pond. I wear it sling style until I get to a nice spot I then take it off and set it on the ground near me. the mesh pockets hold anything I might need quickly like scissors and fish gripper.

 

I tried backpacks but I always felt hindered by the straps while casting. They also don't stand nicely if you need to place them on uneven ground. The sling one looked interesting to me. I see DSG carries a new one from Samurai Tactical Fish. Same design as the Spiderwire and Ugly Stick versions but all black with no web design. Even has Molle straps on the front. I might get one of those.

 

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There's something to be said for the simplicity of the sack pack. It doesn't get any lighter than that and they can be had for as cheap as $5.

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I've got a Spiderwire tackle bag that fits 4 or 5 3700 size boxes and I'm not fond of it. This year I plan on being a bit more specific, in effort to improve some techniques and I want to go away with the big bag. I have a handmedown plano weekender that holds a couple of 3600 boxes, which is great but the strap is garbage but it works great when I'm on the yak.

 

I was thinking of just using my Thule backpack for bank fishing outings but I found this new Cabela's bag that might take over bank duties and help limit what I bring on the boat. Thoughts?

 

 

CABELAS EXTREME.JPG

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1 minute ago, Dangerfield said:

I was thinking of just using my Thule backpack for bank fishing outings but I found this new Cabela's bag that might take over bank duties and help limit what I bring on the boat. Thoughts?

I went with the Cabelas Advanced Angler Tackle bag. Holds 6-3600 size boxes in the main compartment and one more in the front-zip compartment. Will also hold a 3500 in each of the side compartments. The shoulder strap seems well made and should hold up for a long time.

It's the one on the left in the pic.

IMG_0029-1.JPG.4d242c2d82e807c110a64b830b7d6286.JPG

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3 minutes ago, Dangerfield said:

I've got a Spiderwire tackle bag that fits 4 or 5 3700 size boxes and I'm not fond of it. This year I plan on being a bit more specific, in effort to improve some techniques and I want to go away with the big bag. I have a handmedown plano weekender that holds a couple of 3600 boxes, which is great but the strap is garbage but it works great when I'm on the yak.

 

I was thinking of just using my Thule backpack for bank fishing outings but I found this new Cabela's bag that might take over bank duties and help limit what I bring on the boat. Thoughts?

 

 

CABELAS EXTREME.JPG

Looks interesting. Don't know if I like the inline aspect, seems like if the bag is not stiff enough the tackle trays might shift. I also like some external mesh pocket storage, especially in the Yak. Nothing like placing my pliers down and having them slide behind the seat.

 

I like the built in bait binder.

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1 hour ago, NYWayfarer said:

I also like some external mesh pocket storage, especially in the Yak. Nothing like placing my pliers down and having them slide behind the seat.

 

I like the built in bait binder.

My buddies have high end plano bags with the dedicated plier pocket. I like them but I hate the idea of lugging around 30lbs of tackle. I like the built in bait bag too. I think i might pick up one of those z-man double wide bags for fishing from the bank - I tend to leave the reaction baits at home.

 

The TW backpack looks good but as the OP stated, the straps are that comfortable. The Daiwa digital camo backpack looks cool but haven't seen much reviews on it.

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I have learned that I only use about 1/3 of my tackle any given time I go fishing.  If I'm on the bank I only carry two rods, and lugging all that tackle around is a no-go.

 

  I bought an oversized camo fanny pack at Cabelas a couple of weeks ago and just wear the waist strap around my chest.  It holds several bags of plastic, a small Plano box for terminal tackle, and more reaction baits than I know I'll use if I'm being honest.

 

When I'm walking the bank, mobility trumps all.

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4 hours ago, LionHeart said:

I have learned that I only use about 1/3 of my tackle any given time I go fishing.  If I'm on the bank I only carry two rods, and lugging all that tackle around is a no-go.

 

When I'm walking the bank, mobility trumps all.

My thoughts exactly. Less is more. 

 

I found I enjoy my trip more without lugging around everything I own.

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I just bought some military style backpacks off Amazon and put some plano boxes in them. They are fairly inexpensive and I have different colored backpacks with different tackle in them hanging in my garage. So if I am

taking my kids smallmouth fishing at the little river by our house, I grab the OD Green bag. If we

are going to a little private lake to fish out of a jon boat, I grab the black one, etc.

 

I added them to my Amazon page so you can see them faster. BagwellFishing Amazon page

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Circular needle storage -- comes with zipped sleeves... and only ~$7 from Bass Pro Shops® Extreme® Worm Binders - Large | Bass Pro Shops

 

when bank fishing, this is all i take with me with 2 rods.... 1 bc ... 1 spinning ... i like the KISS method and have a lot of confidence in plastics .... especially worms ....

 

good fishing ...

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I've had this Okuma bag for probably 15-20 years. It can hold more than I probably need to take at once and has held up pretty well. Pretty sure I got it from Walmart for way less than the TW price. Haven't had a good enough reason to look for anything else yet.

 

https://www.tacklewarehouse.com/Okuma_Backpack/descpage-OKBP.html

 

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I have been using a WFS tactical bag for while on the bank and kayak for the past year and like it. Holds three 3700 boxes and has plenty of room for plastics. When full it weighs in at usually 14-16lbs. I have found I like it more than the Plano A series backback though it holds roughly the same amount of tackle but with 3700 sized boxes not 3600.

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This is what I have been using since last year.......  I have gone through about 3 other backpacks and maybe 4 tackle boxes and this thing has improved my fishing a ton. 

 

 

image.png.40adafee60ab1d223334a4147de3fc39.png

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I've been itching to try one of the Wild River backpacks but the price is a bit rich. On the plus side they're made by an outfit that has been producing commercial duty tool bags forever so they know how to build for durability which should translate to a bag that lasts forever. They even have a model with a built in solar charging panel to power whatever! 

 

 

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12 hours ago, matbellon3 said:

I have been using a WFS tactical bag for while on the bank and kayak for the past year and like it. Holds three 3700 boxes and has plenty of room for plastics. When full it weighs in at usually 14-16lbs. I have found I like it more than the Plano A series backback though it holds roughly the same amount of tackle but with 3700 sized boxes not 3600.

I did a minor search on these bags.  Detailed pictures, particularly the bag with the compartments open were tough to find.  Was pretty disappointed in WFS's site.  Volumetric measurements, I think were in quarts, don't tell me a whole lot.  I appreciate you saying it will hold 3-3700 boxes.  Do you carry anything else in it?

 

I'm looking for a backpack for wading for smallmouth and using in my kayak.

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