Category: Gear Review

The other tackle storage bags are not really suitable for use in a kayak.  Most kayak anglers default to using some kind of milk crate or file crate.  Unfortunately the tank well in the Pelican Ultimate 100 SE is too small to fit  a standard sized milk crate or file crate.  A locker crate, which is half the size of a regular file crate fits perfectly lengthwise.  It holds 7 of the medium (3600) size boxes.
  I usually put it in a reusable grocery store bag for ease of transport, especially when I’m doing what I call the relay.  The relay is when I leave my car at the put in and either walk or mountain bike back from the take out.
The locker crate secures in the tank well with a couple of bungees.  I added pad eyes to the kayak to connect them to.  The bungee in the tank well scrunches behind the crate and helps hold it in.  I used elastic straps from Oxygen masks that we throw away at work to secure the boxes and keep them from falling out if I turtle.
The most recent addition came in February of 2014 as a birthday present from my brother.  He didn’t know I try to stick to medium (3600) boxes, but as luck would have it he got me a backpack that uses them.  It came from Academy, which is a common big box sporting goods store in Texas.  We don’t have them up here in Pennsylvania.
The tackle box section opens in front, which is very convenient.  I hve to say this is a more convenient placement than the Cabelas Expedition XPG Deluxe Anglers Backpack.  It holds 4 medium (3600) size boxes, which is one more than the compartment in the Cabelas backpack.
Below that is a cooler.  It’s smaller than the cooler in the Cabelas backpack’s cooler.  It has stiff sides to give it form, but they need to be stiffer.  It opens from the top/front.  When you unzip it the whole backpack has to lean backward to open it which is also not very convenient.
A feature that it has which the Cabelas backpack does not is a rod holder on each side.  The butt of the rod goes into the little fabric cup down at the bottom and the two loops secure the rod.  The butt holder can be stowed away in its own little pocket just above it in the pic.  The only downside tot he rod holders is that your rods stick up above you.  So it’s great for hauling more rods down a beach or pier or other open area, but not good for forests or what the fly guys call bush whacking.
The front flap of the tackle compartment has 2 tool pouches and a mesh pocket.  This is convenient in that it is quick and easy to get to, and inconvenient in that you have to zip it up, closing the box compartment to effectively get to and replace your tools.
There is a front pocket on top and a main compartment behind it.  It is wider than the main compartment on the Cabelas backpack, but doesn’t not go down the full height of the backpack.  These compartments stop at the top of the tackle box compartment.
Unfortunately I didn’t get out much last year or this year, and when I did I was focused on kayak fishing.  So I have not really given the Academy backpack a the workout it deserves.  I hope to do a lot more next year.  However so far it seems very good and i would recommend it.

We shore fished from the bank, or from piers or other structures for a long time. But eventually I began wandering further and further afield. As long as I stayed on the bank the backpack was awesome. Even crossing a creek didn’t bother me. But when I began to get serious about wading it was clear I needed something else. I needed something smaller, lighter, and less obtrusive. Something that didn’t matter if it got submerged, or if I slipped and fell in the water while wearing it. I looked around for a while before I settled on something.

At the time I was on various fly fishing forums, even though I didn’t fly fish yet. But the fly guys knew where the fish were, especially the natives , and if you listened and read between the lines you could figure it out. They were very tight lipped, though, especially if you weren’t a fly guy. But I played by their rules, which usually means catch and release unless it’s stocked, and was always respectful of the fish, the locations and of nature. I did not spot burn.  I put in my time on the ground too and doing other research, looking at maps, and satellite photos.  So I don’t feel bad about poaching their information.

Anyway, from the fly guys I borrowed the idea of the chest pack. I found a Spiderwire hip pack that would hold 3 medium (3600) boxes, the same size as the Cabelas Expedition XPG Deluxe Anglers Backpack. I would wear the Spiderwire hip pack in front, but could slide it around back if I needed to. Sometimes I wore it over a shoulder like a sling pack. That also worked well when I started riding my mountain bike up in Swatara State Park.


It has a smaller compartment in front of the tackle compartment , and several small pockets under a flap in front of that.   On the outside and on the strap there are some rubberized mesh pouches.  I usually use those for a stream temperature thermometer, ruler/scale, clipper and forceps.  All of those are attached by gear keepers or gear retractors, which is another idea I borrowed from the fly guys.


A lot of times I would only take 2 boxes.  When I was using this a lot I was experimenting with different artificials, so I would take a box of whatever I was focusing, and a mixed box with a little bit of everything.  So I might take a box of all Rapalas and then the mixed box which would have a small assortment of everything else.


When I initially got into kayak fishing, before I had modified my kayak or gotten a crate, I used this in the kayak.  I would wear it in front, and wen the top was closed it made a passable work surface.  I have used it for probably 2 or 3 years.  It has held up extremely well, and is still going strong.

Many many years ago after listening to me talk about it and watching me drool over it my wife broke down and got me the Cabelas Expedition XPG Deluxe Anglers Backpack one Christmas.  (This started a very good trend.  She has bought me an awful lot of my fishing gear, usually as gifts.  The biggest upside is that she then expects me to use it)  The backpack was around $100  and it is awesome.  It seems to go in and out of availability.  Here is a screenshot of the stock picture and the description from Cabelas website.
I have used it an abused it heavily and it’s as great today as it was in the beginning.  It has more pockets and pouches than I know what to do with.  I have carried all over the eastern half of Pennsylvania, up and down creeks, over hills, through creeks, sometimes chest deep, through those damn thorn bushes that line every river, creek, and stream here.  It has stood up to it all.
There is side access to the area for holding 3 medium (3600) plano boxes, which it came with.  You can cram a couple of smaller boxes in there on top of the medium boxes if you need to.  This is what started me off on sticking to medium boxes for everything.  That decision has so far served me well.  I don’t think it matters what size boxes you go with, but once you pick a size life is much easier if you stick to it for everything.
As mentioned it does have a cooler.  It is the bottom front compartment.  I only have 2 complaints about the backpack.  The first is that the cooler is soft, with no liner.  So it has nothing to give it form or keep it in shape.  The weight of your tackle and other gears causes it to crumple.  This can potentially crush sandwiches or cardboard or Styrofoam worm containers and also prevents the backpack from standing up.  I solved this by finding a plastic container at Wal Mart that was a snug fit in the cooler.  This also serves another purpose.  It keeps spilled dirt and scum from baits from getting into every nook and cranny in the soft sided cooler.  Trust me, that’s important.  If you spill dirt or nasty liquid in the cooler it is extremely difficult to get it all out.  Other than that the cooler is awesome.  It’s big enough, and conveniently located.  I usually stick a cold pack in there along with food or bait and that will keep things cold all day.
If you don’t use it as a cooler, it can hold 4 more medium (3600) size boxes.  However the edges and anything that sticks out will eventually wear holes in the cooler lining.
It has a hard CD player shaped pocket on the top front for electronics.  It may be waterproof too, but I am not certain.  I keep a couple of cheap walkie talkies and some batteries in there among other junk.
The front of the backpack has horizontal loops and one vertical loop.  I use the horizontal loops for holding my rod holders.  The curly q’s stay in fairly well, but the forks have to be twist tied to the loop or they can slide out.
The vertical loop was for the tool pouch.  This is my 2nd complaint.  The tool pouch was located low enough that the ends of pliers extend below the bottom of the backpack.  If you sat the backpack down the ground would push the pliers up.  There is a strap to hold the pliers in, but then the entire tool pouch gets pushed up off of the backpack.  I have lost it more than once.  Thank goodness I have always found it again.  But one time I lost a large collection of various sized and shaped forceps at Memorial lake when they got pushed out and I didn’t notice, so they got left behind.
The main compartment is big, and goes the full height of the backpack.  It also contains a hydration bladder pocket.  There is an opening in the top for the drinking tube to come out and loops on the backpack straps to secure the tube when not in use.  This could hold a lot of boxes, but I typically use it for other gear.  I have a pasta container I use for my snell holders that goes in there along with rain ponchos, toilet paper, a really long stringer with a rope and other stuff.
On the left, if you are facing the backpack, there are top and bottom pockets with water bottle holders.  I attached the tool pouch to the upper water bottle holder.  There are also assorted D rings and attachment points scattered about.  The yellow thing hanging there is a mini screwdriver.
On the other side you can see the backpack is extremely well padded.  The straps are wide, thick and also very well padded.  It is very comfortable to wear, and I have used it on some long hikes.  I used to regularly hike 4-8 miles each way on fishing excursions.  I have a pair of forceps and a pair of bandage scissors attached to the strap by a gear retracter and water bottle holder attached to the other strap.  There are various loops for holding the hydration bladder tube, and for attaching whatever gear you like.
By having the scissors and forceps attached this way I can use them without removing the backpack.  So I can walk with a rod in my hand and the pack on, making casts, and then use the forceps to unhook fish without taking everything off.
On the right side, facing the backpack, there are upper and lower pockets again.  The lower also has a water bottle holder outside of it like the left side pockets, but the top right pocket does not.  It has a roll top insulated waterproof pouch.
Back to the front, above the cooler and below the electronics pocket there is a small horizontal pocket with 3 internal pouches.  I use it for papers, a small multi tool, a fish scale/ruler, and wet wipes.  I always have wet wipes.  Bears are not the only things that poop in the woods.
 Under that is a hard sided sunglasses case.  Since I wear glasses I usually keep my clip on shades and a strap for my glasses in there.CabelasExpeditionXPGDeluxeAnglerSmallFrontPocketAndHardSunglassesCase
The tags that it came with.  Don’t ask me why I saved them.
I have used this backpack for years.  I can’t remember how many but at least 5 or 6.  I highly recommend it if Cabelas has it or you can find it.  It’s still in service when I shore fish, though since I got the kayak I rarely do anymore.

SUV Rod Racks

Last year, around May or June, I was looking for a better to transport my fishing rods.  The telescoping rods were in a sort of pile in a back corner of the trailblazer.  The longer rods were leaned in a corner and along the sides of the seats.  The longest rod, one of my wife’s, was always whacking her in the head as it arche against the roof of the vehice.  There had to be a better way.

Of course there was.  A lot of online research lead me to some commercially available vehicle rod racks sold at Cabelas and Bass Pro Shops.  They ranged from about $40 for cheap cloth/rope loops to $150 or more for metal rods and plastic holders.  There were also plenty of home made solutions also ranging from cloth/rope loops to PVC.  There are loads of PVC designs.

I don’t have anything against PVC but it wasn’t what I wanted.  I wanted to use the existing grab handles and garment hangers.   I wanted metal bars if at all possible.  After giving it a lot of thought, and thinking about stuff I had seen in stores I figured I could use the commercially made garment hanging bars.  They are designed to go from one garment hook to another, or one grab handle to another and for you to hang a bunch of clothes on coat hangers on them.  They are available at any automotive store for around $10.

Looking around in Dick’s, I saw several types of Berkely rod hlders.  They were designed to be mounted on a garage wall, or boat deck.  But the simple two hole mounting made it look easy to attach to the bars.  A couple of stops, 20 minutes of work, and a dozen zip ties later and voila!

The bars are adjustable to the width of your vehicle. They attach by either a metal rectangle or plastic hook. They can attach to either grab handles or garment hooks.

The rod racks are two pairs of the Berkley Twist Lock 4 Rod Racks. I chose those because of the enclosed circle type holders. That seemed more secure for the rod butts. I just put the rods through the twist lock front portions, but I don’t use the locks. I mounted them on top of the bars instead of hanging to give me more head clearance.

This gives me a capacity of 8 rods, which is more than enoough right now. Especially since 3 of my rods are telescoping and don’t get put in the racks. If we ever need more capacity it will be easy enough to replace the 4 rod racks with 6 rod racks. I could probably squeeze one more in the center, but I wanted to leave some space for other things.

The mounting was zip ties through the screw holes on each end. So far they worked magnificently. Here is a selection to choose from

The pictures are too big for the blog, so click on them for a full view.






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