MontBell Fishing Bag

MontBell Fishing Bag

I've always fished out of a bag, since the 80's and that's a long time. I remember each one I used and they all had one thing in common.

They weren’t a vest.

I'm not alone in this.

I've meet many other fishers that do not wear a vest, hear and in Japan.

Within tenkara-fisher you will see other pieces I've done on the different bags I use, this is just the latest. I have one bag that has not changed in years and it's idea is the core of every bag I use.

Actually, besides the description of my latest bag, this is a story about a friend. His name is John Sachen and we have been friends for a long time. I meet him in a back yard pool skateboarding some time in the 70’s.

We are old friends.

A few years ago John contacted me, I can't remember the details. He was either in Tokyo and I was too and supposed to meet him or something like that. John and I lost touch during our young adult years and at that time, he was living in Hawaii and then in Japan. John is a guy like me, same age, family man, a fisherman but really, he is a Japanese guy inside (like me) too. In Tokyo, he knew I was fishing a Japanese style, he didn't fish but wanted to help me navigate Japan..

Long story short, I came home to Phoenix and taught John to fish tenkara and John has been teaching me how to be Japanese. It's a nice arraignment, I know about Japanese culture but not like John and I know Japanese tenkara and he doesn't know fishing.

He does now.

He reads Japanese and he has gone through my old Japanese tenkara library.

He has become quite good at it. He out fishes me now and then and I genuinely like that. The student has become better (at times) than the teacher.

John and I went through a period where I've been busy pack rafting, work and family, John has been busy with fishing and a lot of it. I get out a couple of times a month, John goes a lot more than that.

Anyway, to make a long story short, the last time we went fishing, John has built a really cool system. One he worked out with a MontBell travel bag.

I really like it and this is the story of my mine and how it came to be along with it's contents.

As I said, I've been using many types of fishing bags over the years because they are not vests. I have nothing against vests, I've owned one and have a single picture of myself wearing it and I looked very uncomfortable in it. I've used a few Army issue bags, an M3, M5, M7, a Musette bag, a House of Hardy Brook bag, a JW satchel, a few Orvis chest packs, and the lot from Zimmerbuilt (Micro and Strap Pack) as well as the Kaizen Bag that I designed and continue to return to in all of my tenkara.

I'm friends (social media) with a few hundred Japanese fisherman, most of them fly and kebari and many of them use a fishing bag, especially the headwaters (sawanobori) fishermen. I can't think of how many discussions I've had with these guys about all the different bags they use. It seems we all like to talk about gear. Many also use a re-purposed pouch or bag of some time.

Which brings me back to this bag and John.

John uses a bag and the one he has now has really created a ruckus with me. As you can see, I'm going through all of my bags and this is the most fun I've had setting up one.

Generally I set up a bag for the type of fishing that I do. If it's a long day hike, I carry a backpack, laughing, I carry the Kaizen too but all my long day hike stuff goes in the backpack, the Kaizen gets the fishing gear only. There is hardly room in that bag for a Cliff Bar. But in the backpack I can carry all my stuff.

When I fish with John, I'm fishing with someone that takes his approach at fishing tenkara seriously. Lately, we drive, fish, hike, get back in the Toyota and drive some more, fish and hike. We are in and out of the car but we could be fishing for miles as well.

As I've said, John has taught me the finer points of being Japanese and his bag could be on the shoulder of ANY Japanese angler. I guess mine could be too, my Kaizen bag but damn, it's really minimal. More so than anyone that I've meet. Not by design but by necessity for me.

In order for me to improve my equipment and do that effectively, I've figured out how I can minimize and maximize my equipment to exactly what I need and nothing more. I didn't know I had that in me until Anthony Naples asked me to write a bit about tenkara for his web site. Without going too much into detail, you can find it here.

So John has this MontBell bag, it's not a fishing bag but it is. John saw the potential in this bag and set it up for himself. When we go fishing, he didn't know I was looking it over. He didn't know I was watching him use it. How many times he used it and how he used it. I asked him on a ride to the next fishing spot, "Hey, can I take a look in your bag?" "Sure adam." and I brought it up in the front seat and glanced through the contents.

"Yup, makes sense to me."

I went home and found it on the MontBell web site and tried to improve on John's idea. I decided on the smaller one and once I got it, I tried to stuff my stuff in it.

Tooo small (insert explicative)

I threw it next to the mirror in my bedroom and didn't look at it.

Next trip John asks me, "Hey, where is your bag?"

I forgot what I told him but it was probably something like it was too small.

We did our usual exploring and I watched John again use his bag. I had my belt and Nalgene bottle with my Tamo stuck in the belt and my Kaizen bag hung cross shoulder. I was exhausted at the bottom of the canyon and I sure could have used a few things I needed but didn’t have. 

I'm pretty sure John had them in his bag...

So I got home and ordered my bag with some custom zipper pulls and other bits from MontBell USA.

I made my list as I always do and I filled the bag step by step as I collected my stuff, all the comforts of my stuff.

(click on the item to take you to a page that you can read and order)
  1. MontBell M Travel Bag
  2. C&F Designs box
  3. Seaguar Grand Max FX .6 Tippet 60m spool (so expensive, if you find it cheap, let me know)
  4. Spare main line on spool
  5. Net
  6. Nippers
  7. Derf Needle Driver
  8. Temperature Gauge
  9. Water bottle
  10. Bento box
  11. Chopsticks
  12. Size A battery Flashlight
  13. E-Candle
  14. E-blanket
  15. Whistle
  16. Cord
  17. Lighter
  18. Tinder
  19. Knife
  20. Incense
  21. Sunscreen
  22. Lip balm
  23. Ibuprofen
This bag is not a backpack, no need for a chair or stove, not that kind of bag. This one is for a shore lunch in a cool spot. The bag holds my net and water bottle so no need for a belt. It has room for my bento box and a emergency blanket with some cord as well as a little tin container candle. When I'm sitting on a rock, resting, talking, what ever, I like a little incense, Nag Champa temple cones are my favorite for forest bathing.

The sun is intense here so sunscreen and lip balm really make things nice. I get sore sometimes from hiking on uneven rocks, ibuprofen for the win. I fish often into the evening so a little flashlight is in the bag.

The bento box was really a hassle to find but man, when I found it, I found exactly what I was looking for. My chopsticks were stolen out of my backpack, I'll have to remember to get another pair or rob my MontBell bag of them.

On stream, often I wonder what the water temp is, got my thermometer off the bench. I should probably add in a little notebook and pen to scratch some notes. Note to self.

I also carry an emergency blanket and cord. Man I hope to never use that but IF I need to, I know what to do. The little candle goes with that.

I was a combat medic. I lived in the field with very little. I made "hooches" out of a poncho and passed time under there. Next to a stream? broken ankle? I'm going to do that in relative style with just a couple of things till my wife finds me.

I love my bag, it has been one of my favorite pieces of kit to set up. I really like that I can utilize the nets that I designed. I like this style too, it is very much like a lot of my Japanese western fly fish friends nets. As a matter of fact, the whole bag is...

Like John's.

But it’s mine too. For those of you that are new to tenkara or fishing bags, you don’t have to use a MontBell. You can use any bag you like. Just list the things you use and find a bag you like.

That’s what John and I do.

Other Fishing Bags on Tenkara-Fisher

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