Editor’s Note: Thank you to my close friends from Slovenia, John Zerihoun and Luka Hojnik for the use of some of their photographs for this review.
Crossing over into the realm of the minimalist and leaving those items we gear-hoarders deem so ‘essential’ behind for a day on the river is both daunting and leaves one feeling equally unsettled as you leave for the trip. Over the past 12-months the more time I spend on backcountry trout streams, chasing Yellowfish in the Orange-Vaal River System and stalking trophies in Slovenia, the more refined my gear list for a day on the water has become. Granted this trend has been motivated by the need to pack lighter in order to carry more camera equipment, but it is largely influenced by the urge to feel free and unhindered as I manoeuvre through any stream. I cannot recommend it enough, it has fundamentally changed the way I fish and has raised my game by at least 20%. Fishing with doyens of the sport, like Peter Brigg, simply confirms that from years of experience comes a deeper understanding into ‘what fish want’ and directly translates into what you stuff your pockets with.
For a typical day on any river that I fish these days, both local and international, I pack the following:
- Range of Tippet – usually 3 – 7X (3X purely for repairing a leader)
- Two spare leaders
- Additional Weight – either Loon’s Deep Soft Weight or split-shot
- Strike Indicators – small compartment box with 4 colours already pre-cut to size
- Floatant on a caddy for easy access
- RIO Tippet Rings
- Forceps with built-in serrated scissors
- Light Rain jacket – if far from the car/campsite
- Water bottle & Snacks
- Two Fly-Boxes – usually a box with dries and one with nymphs and/or attractors and streamers
Though this list is still relatively long and inclusive, if I had to list what I previously had tucked into every possible vest pocket you will be immensely impressed. In the same breath, what has become paramount in my own stream fishing endeavours is:
- Free up space in front of me to allow my arms to move freely
- Reduce any and all possible line-snags especially when fishing for large fish on whisper-thin tippets
- Less pockets means less unnecessary items being dragged along, but there must always be enough space for the essentials
- Quick easy access, you should be able to reach any and all items without thinking too hard on it or removing your eyes from the water for extended periods of time
Enter the Patagonia’s Stealth Atom Sling; we covered most of the technical attributes and features in our ‘Patagonia Stealth Atom Sling – A superb Stillwater trophy chaser’ article, but testing it in background on rivers and streams, this review is just in time for the Southern Hemisphere’s river season.
Accessing any and all of the tools and paraphernalia is unhindered and can be done with one hand. Dangling tools are kept either on the back or high on the shoulder and out of ‘line’s way’.
What I have found with this particular sling is that it firstly does not skimp on space but at the same time is not overly large; the design is simple and not completely over-engineered and it’s extremely comfortable. True to any product that Patagonia sends out into the market, it is exceptionally well made and no cost has been spared on its construction. Accessing any and all of the tools and paraphernalia is unhindered and can be done with one hand. Dangling tools are kept either on the back or high on the shoulder and out of ‘line’s way’. It is able to comfortably hold each and every item I listed above with space for extras and most certainly covers all my requirements.
The Patagonia Stealth Atom Sling to me offers the perfect cross-over for those wanting to move from the more traditional vest into a more minimalistic approach. It is highly versatile and has more than enough space regardless of the size of river you will be taking on. It allows you to focus on the fishing, move freely and does not obstruct any angle or position you need to get into when targeting spooky fish in crystal clear water. At a very competitive price, you will be hard-pressed to find better value and fishability in a standard sling.
As a side note, during a two-week long holiday in Italy, I took the Patagonia Stealth Atom Sling as my day-pack for passports, maps, cameras etc. and it worked a charm. It is light, well ventilated and extremely comfortable. It also doesn’t hurt that it doesn’t look like a piece of fishing tackle. When we got to areas where there was fishing, I simply packed it with my fishing-essentials and I was good to go within minutes – dual functionality at its best.