The Perfect Pack for a Day on the River: Fishpond San Juan Pack Review

As the chill of winter sets in and 2018 slinks to an end, I’ve had plenty of time to reflect on an incredible year of fishing. The dry fly days in January, tossing shiny and obnoxious flies into pools deep in the jungle, and landing some hard-hitting Kokanee back home in the mountains—it was indeed a year to remember. As any angler knows, the proper gear can help make or break a day of fishing. Even if it’s your first time holding a fly rod, you’ll want to be prepared. In this entry, I review the Fishpond San Juan Chest Pack—A pack which I believe to be perfect for beginners, travelers and any angler needs a simple and effective system for toting gear out to the water.


The Pack:

It’s no secret that I am a huge fan of Fishpond products; last year I reviewed the encampment lumbar pack and I began fishing with the Arroyo chest pack. The San Juan is different than these two packs because of its vertical strap integration which is convertible to whichever shoulder is more comfortable for you. If you so please, you can ditch the strap and slide a belt through the integrated loop on the back. This system makes carrying the pack comfortable for however you prefer to bring it to the water. If neither of these options suit your fancy, you can clip the pack as an around-the-neck chest pack.

The pack is made of two compartments, a larger main pocket and a smaller sit-flat pocket with a detachable foam insert to hold or dry your flies. The main pocket holds a zipper pouch and an elastic divider to keep your goodies separated. Attached to the smaller pocket is an elastic and mesh front pocket which securely holds any small or flat items you bring along.

The material is classic Fishpond fabric which is not only durable but attractive. I have the Bahama Blue pack and I love the color. The outside of the pack boasts two elastic bands to secure a thermometer or hemostats, and there are two eye tags which can hold pinned zippy pulls. To top it off, two large cord loops are found at the top and front of the pack for dangling more goodies to help you catch more fish. Overall, the pack measures 5”x”4”8.5”.


What I Keep in My San Juan Pack:

I bought this pack to use whenever I’m traveling. So, it was imperative that I stock it with all the tools and gadgets I need to make sure I’m ready to go, wherever I am. I picked up some Rio Suppleflex Leaders in 3x-6x so I can switch out my line to match the size of fish I’m targeting. Alongside the leader, I picked out some matching 3x-6x tippets to extend the length and life of my leaders.

I’m a big dry-fly angler, so I tossed a bottle of Umpqua Shimazaki Dry Shake and Loon Lochsa to keep my flies high and dry in the riffle. Using the Lochsa to prepare the fly and drying it with Shimazaki is the best way I’ve found to keep my flies afloat. Next to these I keep a pair of nippers with a hook eye needle and a pair of forceps/hemostats for easy hook removal.

Perhaps the most important part of my pack is the fly box. I spent a while searching for the right box before I went with the Orvis Posigrip Fly Box in Small. Not only does it fit the front pocket of the pack perfectly, it has ample room for any size fly, from midges to hoppers. The box is currently being filled with whatever monstrosities come out of my fly tying vice.

I finished my pack off with a Fishwest Bottle Opener. No further explanation needed!

Why You Need This Pack:

Whether you’re hitting the river for the first time or need a lighter setup for long hikes into the wilderness, this pack can be tailored to any situation. The large main pocket is perfect for holding larger items you may need for your trip. I love the convertible system which allows me to tote the pack on my back, neck or on my hip. The pack is meant to be modular as its compatible with Fishpond’s Westbank and Switchback Wading Belts.

The construction of the bag is solid and feels extremely durable. I’ll be tossing it in and out of luggage a lot and I feel confident in the pack’s ability to take a beating. The ample space for accessories makes me look like an organized person, which is incredibly hard to do. I appreciate the accessory attachment spots because I love to dangle floatant and tippet outside of my packs for easy retrieval. Overall the Fishpond San Juan Pack is a great option for getting up, getting out, and catching fish.


I hope you have a great holiday season and look forward to seeing more Fishpond-related posts coming to the Fishwest blog in the future.


Fish on, my friends!