Review of the Wychwood Vuefinder Fly Patch – UPDATE

At the end of my Wychwood Vuefinder fly patch review I stated:

So all in all, I’m very pleased with the Wychwood Vuefinder Fly Patch. It’s well built (issues above not withstanding) and has some really useful features and hold flies – which for a fly box is all you can ask!

That was before I used the fly patch in anger. It’s been a few weeks since I merrily wrote the Wychwood Vuefinder fly patch review above, and I’ve now had chance to experience using it in the field. What follows is an update and a word of caution.

I use an Orvis Safe Passage Tri-Pack to carry all my gear whilst on the river. I used to use an Orvis Lightweight Super Tac-L-Pac, but wanted something more like a back pack to carry a coat, lunch etc in. The Safe Passage Tri-Pack fits the bill nicely. The reason I’m telling you this is so you can picture where I chose to fix the Vuefinder to me – and why my location of choice ended up being a bad one.

Strapping up

The Orvis Safe Passage Tri-Pack has two straps at the front to keep it closed – one just below the chest and one just above the chest. They’re the usual black wedding with black plastic snap closure thingies on them, the webbing being around an inch wide on the lower one, half inch for the upper.

I tried fixing the Vuefinder Fly Patch to a number of places on the Safe Passage Tri-Pack, but ended up going for the lower webbing strap. It mean the Fly Patch was very easy to access, and far enough down my body as not to be under my nose and difficult to access. It looked to be working really well, until the trip sunday gone to Eddys Bridge.

Belly’s going to get ya…

For a good part of the beat downstream of Eddys Bridge you’re negotiating your way over and under various tree branches, bushes, brambles and barbed wire. As you’re all to aware, this will see you contorting your body all over the place to work your way through a gap, all the time trying your very best not to rip your fragile and expensive waders. During one of these back breaking manoeuvres, I ended up crouching down and bending almost double. Just as I started to move under  the branch in front of me I heard a crack and something drop to the floor.

Because the patch was just below my chest,  bending forward resulted in the patch bending too, but the lack of flexibility in the clamp and it’s mounting to the fly box had caused it to only bend a little. After it’d bent all it could the only other option open to it was to snap. And snap it did. On the ground beneath me were the various parts of the clamp, with the box still wedged in my midriff.

I could be the next Mystic Meg

The bracket at the top of the box was still intact. So, a little sooner than I’d anticipated, my prediction of attaching a zinger to the box came true. This worked ok, but as the box is quite heavy (compared to the usual things you suspend from a zinger) it’s constantly got 3 or 4 inches of cord out of the zinger – leaving it dangling and bashing about.

All of this was a little disappointing, but also maybe a little predictable. There really isn’t much sideways/back and forth flex in the clamp on the box – for most people this may not be a problem – I can also accept this wouldn’t have been a problem if I’d worn it high up on the side of my Safe Passage Tri-Pack – but there isn’t a place to fix it to there, and where I chose to fix it was actually really convenient for its use.

No one likes narrow slots

Aside from this issue, I’m also struggling with the distance between each of the fly slots. I know it’s a small box, and Wychwood have tried to get as many flies in as possible, but if you use every slot it’s almost impossible to take one fly out at a time. Parachute hackles overlap quite a bit (even in smaller sizes – 18, 20 etc) and pulling one fly usually ends up with at least one more coming with it. I guess I could remove every other fly to give me more space, but that reduces the capacity, and therefore the usefulness of the Fly Patch.

I think I’ll be going back to the trusty Wheatley boxes for the time being. I might even treat myself to one of his fancy compartment boxes. I’ll let you know if I do, and post a review sometime there after.

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