Fly Fishing Gear Review: The Tough and Waterproof Fishpond Thunderhead Sling

Fishpond Thunderhead sling

Those who know me often see me with a waterproof sling strapped on. I love these packs. And when meeting with the crew at fishpond last summer at ICAST/IFTD in Orlando, my eyes kept straying from the conversation I was having and instead repeatedly kept gazing over to the new fishpond Thunderhead Sling that was hanging on the display wall. Two weeks later, after taking photographs at the fishpond headquarters in Denver, I discovered that a ridiculous number of the photos I took were of one product in particular: the Thunderhead Sling.

The fishpond Thunderhead Sling satisfies every demand I have for slings:

  1. It is waterproof.
    The essentials that go into my pack every day include food, flies (fish food), and a camera. Often times, my wallet and cell phone go in there as well. These are all items that simply cannot get wet over the course of the day. And whether it is raining or I am wading deep water, I can fish with confidence knowing that all of those items (in the main storage area) will be perfectly dry when I get off the water. Of course, this is the result of design. The Thunderhead sling is built tough with welded fabric and a TIZIP® submersible zipper for the main storage area. When pulled tight, this pack is truly waterproof. I might even go for a swim with my camera, wallet, and cell phone inside.
  2. It is balanced.
    I fished for a while with a different pack and found that my left trap muscle was frequently sore. Like a backpack, balance is key — even with a small sling. If your pack or sling is off-balance, discomfort is almost inevitable. This sling feels comfortable after hours of wear.
  3. It is low-profile but also spacious.
    The Thunderhead Sling was with me on a steelheading trip in a rainforest. The sling was comfortable through hours of hiking and waterproof in the pouring rain. Just as important, I often forgot it was there. The last thing I want to get between me and that glorious chrome is gear. In many cases, that might mean line getting caught on a vest, sling, or pack mid-cast. With this low-profile sling, I am able to keep a large camera, flies, leader, tippet, a little food, a water bottle, and a folded jacket all behind me without material bulk extending behind my torso and possibly getting in the way of fishing. Excellent.

Beyond these expectations, the Thunderhead Sling has additional attractive features. Of particular interest, the Thunderhead Sling features “Hypalon® tabs and reinforced cord loops.” While slings attract minimalist anglers, unfortunately, many slings on the market are too minimalist and lack such loops and tabs that allow anglers to attach the accessories and tools they want to easily access without opening the bag (especially in a downpour). The Thunderhead Sling is not at all deficient in this regard, and in fact, the built-tougher tabs and loops should be able to withstand more over time and take more abuse  than standard loops and tabs.

And when I thought I was impressed enough, the sling also has a slot on the backside to carry a small net. In addition, the Thunderhead Sling has a ventilated strap and back panel. This is huge. Depending on the climate, it often takes several days for the cloth on my waterproof packs, bags, and slings to dry. It is always somewhat disappointing to travel home after a trip with dry gear (from inside the pack) but have a wet shirt because the (not waterproof exterior) cloth takes some time to dry. Fishpond deliberately designed the Thunderhead Sling to dry faster but also be more breathable. For tough hikes on hot days, this feature will make this sling my go-to.

Finally, as an angler that desires an ecological ethic from industry manufacturers, I am pleased that the Thunderhead Sling won the 2015 Eco-Friendly Product award at IFTD last summer. With the Thunderhead Sling, fishpond uses a recycled fabric called CYCLEPOND® which is made from recycled commercial fishing nets. Very cool. In fact, this sling impressed many anglers, and when getting the run-down from a member of the fishpond team, I remarked, “Wow. They make your job pretty easy.” Indeed the Thunderhead Sling is easy to praise.

To check out more about the fishpond Thunderhead Sling, please click here.


– Tim Harden


Disclosure: fishpond is in a professional relationship with the Fly Fishing Guide Directory, LLC and the Venturing Angler. Though potentially benefiting from this relationship, we do not post what we do not believe to be true. To read more, click here.

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