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  • Writer's pictureAllen Crater

Gear Review: Simms Dry Creek Z Sling

Updated: Jun 15

fly fisherman wearing a hat by a river


When it comes to carrying gear while fly fishing, I've tried it all: vests, chest packs, hip packs, and sling packs. Regular versions and waterproof. And each have had their advantages and drawbacks.

I started with, and then quickly moved past, the vest, realizing it just wasn't enough for what I liked to carry (I typically will bring at least two rod set ups – dry fly and streamers, a rain jacket, several fly boxes, leader and tippet, fly goop, hemos, headlamp, landing net, and a variety of other this-and-thats) and, if I'm being honest, a vest felt a little old-man-ish; not the category I wanted to count myself in.

I moved to a chest pack, which was extremely handy, easy to access, and fit nicely out of the way. Unfortunately it offered even less room for carrying gear, which quickly became a frustration. Next I tried a hip pack. It definitely offered more storage but it often got wet while wading deeper runs and it just wasn't comfortable, often sliding down, due to what some might call "underdeveloped glutes" (I believe the proper name for the condition is Noassatall).

And then I moved to a sling pack. This solution best solved my needs: plenty of room, comfortable fit, and out of the way yet still easy to access as needed. But it still left me with a dilemma. My normal sling was great, offering lots of room and plenty of organization but when wading deep, or when I would get caught in weather, the gear inside would get wet - substantially wet – and that wreaked havoc on headlamps, snacks, and other items inside. The waterproof sling I picked up solved the "wet" problem, but it left me with another: lack of organization. It was essentially one large compartment and left me feeling like I was carrying around a water-tight shoe box on my back.

And then I came across the Dry Creek Sling from Simms, which had been grabbing attention and earning accolades at the IFTD show in 2023. It seemed to check all the boxes. Waterproof/submersible (an important distinction from water-resistant), ample storage, internal organization, net carrier, exterior water-resistant pocket, hydrophobic back panel, exterior lash points for attaching a rod tube or piece of outerwear, and a shoulder strap with fly patch and tool attachment. It retailed for around $230.

So, I snatched one up and have been putting it to the test this season - wading the deep holes of my home waters, bushwhacking backcountry locations in Canada, and it's even seen time as a boat bag on all-day floats in torrential downpours.

Here's what I found.

man wearing waders and sling pack fly fishing on a river

What I Like:

Comfort. Probably my biggest reason for moving to a sling in the first place was comfort. I like how sling packs fit, stay out of the way when casting and landing fish, and offer easy access to gear with a quick unbuckle and flip. And the Dry Creek excels at all of those. It is very comfortable to wear.

Waterproof/Submersible. This was the main reason I made the switch to this pack from my previous sling, the fact that it would keep the contents dry even in foul weather or plunging through deep holes. And the Dry Creek delivered. While I haven't given it the "full submersion" test (and hope not to) the sling has seen a lot of water and I've never had a drop get inside. - the unique TRU® Zip waterproof self-healing zipper does its job as advertised.

Organization. With a water-resistant exterior pocket for quick-access items (that can get damp) and waterproof internal organization that includes one large pocket and two stretch mesh pockets with a key clip, the Dry Creek solved much of my "waterproof-shoebox" frustrations, providing tidy spots for my leaders, fly goop, indicators, spool of fluoro, small fly boxes, phone, keys, and headlamp.

Net Sleeve. The Dry Creek features an Integrated net sleeve with D-ring on the front face and I found that this worked really well with my longer-handled net. Conveniently out of the way, but easy to access when needed.

Fly fisherman in camo hat and sling pack netting a trout in a river

What I Don’t Like:

Net Sleeve. While the sleeve worked well for my longer net, with my shorter-handled net I did find it a bit challenging, both in terms of my net staying put (it tended to push up), and also being somewhat difficult to access. I tried using my Fishpond confluence net holder on the D ring, without using the sleeve for my shorter net, but, from that spot, it hung pretty low and became an annoyance. Also, when using the sleeve, the basket of the net (any net) does protrude fairly high, which can be a pain when pushing through thick tangles - but that's true of most any net-carrying option when bushwhacking, so I wouldn't hold it against the Dry Creek specifically.

More Organization. As I mentioned, I really appreciated the organization the Dry Creek afforded over my previous waterproof sling. That being said, the main compartment is still fairly large/roomy and I would love even more internal pockets. What can I say, I'm a sucker for pockets.

Fly Patch Location. It might be how it fit me specifically but the fly patch on the shoulder strap seemed to ride just a little high for my taste. But now I'm truly picking the fly shit out of the pepper, and it was never an issue worth fussing about.

Fly fisherman wearing a camo hat, sunglasses, sling pack and waders holding a steelhead

Perfect For: The Simms Dry Creek Sling is perfect for the angler that wants to bring a decent amount of equipment along and keep it completely dry, organized, and out of the way. The Dry Creek is incredibly comfortable to wear and, with a 12-liter capacity, can gobble up a lot of gear (including a second rod) for those, like me, that prefer to overpack.

Rating: 4.5/5


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