Want To Try Something Other Than A Fishing Vest?
By Ian Scott
"For the traditionalist a canvas bag is the only method for carrying accoutrements while modern man sees the fishing vest as the answer. Modern man (for the most part) however, hasn't tried this concept raising, waterproof canvas bag."
~ Robert Cochrane
For years, I have used a variety of fishing vests while on the river. I can remember my first one that I purchased when I was 16 years old, trying them all out at the Toronto Sportsman Show. I had to inspect each pocket, counted the number of pockets, and in the end, went with a vest that lasted me a good fifteen years (although as I aged, I also got bigger and the vest didn't fit as well).
Although I liked my vest, there were things I disliked. When it was warm outside, the vest added to my discomfort. If I wanted to take it off while hiking in or out from some body of water, it was not always easy to carry it. My friend from Scotland always carried a wonderful bag, and I wanted one like it. However, I could never find a good quality bag that was "just right" for me. Dave purchased his in Scotland where apparently, carrying a bag over your shoulder is par for the course when fly fishing.
For the past several years, I've been looking for a good quality canvas bag to transport my gear. This past spring, I had occassion to make the acquaintance of Robert Cochrane, a maker of fine sporting cases. While talking with Mr. Cochrane, I discovered that all of his cases were hand made in the old traditions. Everything was cut and stitched by hand, and made to last. I took a look at his website and immediately fell in love with his canvas bag. He agreed to send me one and I thought it a good idea to provide a review after a season of fishing with it.
First, let me warn you that this bag is not for everyone. If you are not into high quality and paying a little extra for something that will probably outlast you, then you need read no further. However, if you are interested in a supurbly crafted piece that will hold your gear comfortably, and last for years, you might want to consider Mr. Cochrane's canvas bag.
Measuring 14" x 12", this bag is made of the absolute best quality materials. The canvas is 15 oz. New Zealand waterproof. The best in the world. It is made with leather trim that is 7 oz weatherproof English bridle leather. Again, the best in the world. The construction is full gusset with leather piping. The stitching is 8 to the inch, and as already mentioned, hand stitched.
Instead of an annoying exterior flap, the bag comes with a removable cowl that covers the heavy duty zipper opening. If it's not raining, you only need to remove the cowl by that is attached to the bag with heavy duty snaps.
The interior of the bag comes with a 10 oz. canvas pouch, that may be custom fitted with the size of your own fly boxes in mind. The interior pouches are also removable should you want to do that. There is enough room in the bag to carry several fly boxes, spare spools, and even your lunch if you want. Yet the bag is small enough to be manageable and you won't be losing things inside either.
Performance wise, the bag has been terrific for me, and it certainly is water proof. I've had it out in some good downpours, and the contents inside the bag stayed dry. It's appearance has kept up like new over the past several months, and I've had a few admiring glances at it while on the river.
The cost of this bag is not the same as something you'd buy at Canadian Tire and imported from China. But of course, it is in no way comparable to anything you'd ever get at even some of the finest fly shops, let alone the junk at Canadian Tire. The retail price of this bag is $340.00US - and when you consider that it is made from the absolute best materials and crafted by hand, it's actually a steal.
If you're seriously interested in something like this, I'd strongly urge you to consider this canvas bag by Robert Cochrane. The art of case and bag making is one that is rapidly becoming unknown and it was due to a chance meeting with a couple of "old timers" that taught Mr. Cochrane their knowledge and skills that he is able to carry on the tradition. But not only is it for the tradition - you'll be a very proud owner of a fine piece to be proud of.
Mr. Cochrane's website is here: Robert Cochrane. He is located in Calgary, Alberta, Canada.