Tag Archives: Joe Butler

When it all Comes Together

Some key descriptors of the perfect fishing vacation on the North Platte River would include:

  • Temperate weather
  • Manageable flows
  • A plethora of bug hatches
  • Plenty of big, hungry trout
  • And of course, great friends

Recently, we drove from Colorado to Wyoming with the intent of enjoying four days of intense fly fishing.  What we experienced characterizes the essence of an ideal fishing trip.  We enjoyed amazing conditions, accessible bodies of public water, millions of flying insects and an incredible number of large, actively feeding trout.   Our mornings were defined by hot woolly bugger action, while the afternoons had rising fish vigorously taking presented emergers.  Landed trout ranged in size (15” to 27”) and in species (giant rainbows and even a big few browns).  Every fisherman on the journey enjoyed over seventy five hook ups a day while landing their share of pigs.

I brought with me a variety of newly purchased equipment that I acquired based on a impulse decision not a defined need.  One of the new items procured was a William Joseph Confluence Chest Pack.  I own a variety of packs/vests and did not need to add another to the collection.  That said, I made the purchase because the product description met a variety of personal requirements.   Here is my review of the William Joseph Confluence Chest Pack.


Getting it Done in Wyoming - 2012
Getting it Done in Wyoming – 2012

Date Purchased

January 15, 2012

Price Paid



Attractive sage and blue; you won’t be embarrassed on the water.

Manufacturer Product Description

William Joseph Confluence Chest Pack will ensure that you get the most from your time on the water. The William Joseph Confluence Chest Pack has the new Willy J AIRTRACK™ suspension, and you will forget you are wearing anything – no matter how much gear you have managed to stuff into it. From its William Joseph tippet dispenser to its voluminous pockets, it is the most organized pack on the water.

Features as Described by the Manufacturer

  • Low profile, super strong grab handle and net loop
  • Rear pack; large enough to hold all your gear. Small enough to keep you quick and agile
  • Daisy chain lash straps for those weird loads
  • Two additional organization pockets
  • Hydration portion of the pack holds a 35 oz. bladder (not included)
  • Perforated, seamless alpine style shoulder straps.
  • Nearly perfect weight distribution and center of gravity
  • Perforated/breathable AIRTRACK Suspension for maximum airflow
  • Excess webbing slot. No more flapping straps.
  • Wide and comfortable side straps for great weight transfer
  • Dual Built in Spectra Retractors
  • Multiple accessory attachment points


  • Comfort: I have donned vests and other packs in the past.  The Confluence is the most comfortable pack I have ever worn.  It is easy to maneuver which I value when layers have to be removed/added.  The AIRTRACK Suspension allows me to totally relax during fishing.
  • Fit: The Confluence has many adjustments that allows the user to easily modify so they can enjoy a custom fit.  The buckles are effortless to tune with the pack on or off.
  • Storage:  The Confluence has a assortment of useful pockets.  I easily store gloves, a hat, a multi-tool and all necessary terminal tackle.  I can venture far from the car without the fear I forgot anything critical to execution.
  • Access: I love the magnets and the workstation!  Getting at my flies, tippet, split shots and tools represent an easy process.  I can work quickly and effortlessly when rigging and re-rigging.  My nippers and forceps are maintained on the pack’s integrated retractors.   My net is effortlessly acquired and reconnected via a magnet cord (not included).
  • Usability: The pack works for me in every way.  It is light and completely stabilized across my shoulders.  My neck and back are never stressed.  When fighting a fish, the platform is unobtrusive, allowing me to shift my hands and rod easily.  If I want to access the rear pockets, I just unbuckle one strap and turn the unit 180 degrees.

What Would Make the Product Perfect

  • Include the bladder as it has been tough for me to purchase at the local fishing store.

Would I Buy the Product Again

  • Absolutely: I own 5 packs/vests. The Willy J Confluence is now my primary pack.





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Fish Hard, Pack Well

Our annual fishing trip to the North Platte River occurred at the end of March.  I am always thrilled to join my friend Chad Butler and his famous father, Joe Butler, on a journey to rainbow trout paradise.  I make certain to bring a good bottle of scotch along with some tasty cigars; key assets that ensure the yearly invitation.

Fly fishing this world class fishery just outside of Casper, Wyoming is the type of vacation you begin dreaming about just hours after you leave the prior year.  We begin planning the journey just before the New Year.  In February, each person purchases 50 flies that replicate the 50 flies you bought the prior year.  The five hour drive to Wyoming from Colorado is spent talking about strategy, fly selection, river flows and the opportunity to hook into a 25”+ fish.  The weather is volatile; sunny and 60 one day, 32 and snowy the next.  The only thing that is consistent is the ever present wind that blows hard from dawn to dusk.  We faced a new challenge in 2011; a river constantly flowing at 3,200 CFS.  This is ten times the normal surge from the dam, and we worried about the impact on the fish and our ability to get to them.

Packing properly is critical when preparing for a multi-day adventure.  We fish all day, every day so you have to be equipped to endure all weather conditions.  For me this includes bringing:

2 pair of Under Armor ColdGear Base Legging
2 pair of Nike Pro Gear Base Layer Shirt
2 pair of  Smartwool OTC Extra-Heavyweight Hunting Socks
1 William Joseph Runoff Jacket
1 Sage Skagit River Softshell Jacket
1 Simms Gore-Tex ExStream Hat
1 William Joseph Access Chest Pack
1 Pair of Orvis River Guard Easy-On Brogue Boots
1 Pair of Cabela’s Gold Medal Dry Plus Waders
1 Pair of Lucky jeans with an assortment of tee shirts, sweatshirts and boxers
2 Elkhorn Rods

  • 1 Joe Butler Series (9 foot, 5 and 6 weight)
  • 1 Traveler Series (9 foot, 5 weight)
2 Elkhorn Reels

  • T2 Series

This year I purchased William Joseph Odyssey travel bag to carry everything listed above.  Here is my review:

Criteria Thoughts
Date Purchased March, 2011
Price Paid $199.95
Manufacturer Description Finding the perfect Honey Hole often requires a fair amount of mobility. The Odyssey is flagship of our new series of “get you anywhere and throw in anything travel bags”. Willy J has now brought carrying your gear to far off destinations easier than ever. The Odyssey has enough room for multiple rods, reels, waders, boots, clothing, etc. Add in a telescopic handle and some wheels and you are rolling- no really.
Looks Not that it matters, but the bag is sharp.  I like the olive and tan colors with the dark grey highlights.  You won’t be embarrassed when the Odyssey works its way around the baggage carrousel.
  • Construction is solid.  Reinforced stitching binding together durable material makes the bag extremely rugged.  This bag will last for years.
  • The telescopic handle, roller wheels and hand straps are useful when lugging around a ton of stuff.
  • There are many zippered compartments that can be utilized to store almost anything, and these pockets allow me to stay organized.
  • There is a lower section that is separate from the main compartment and holds my waders, boots, rods and reels.  I can put wet stuff in this partitioned area, and it will not drench my dry clothing
Would I Buy it Again? Absolutely.  The Odyssey works for me.  I threw 5 days of clothing and gear into the bag then tossed it in the back of my buddy’s truck.  It snowed on the way home, and my stuff stayed dry.  I travel often and can say that the Willy J Odyssey is a great piece of luggage.

The 2011 North Platte fly fishing trip was an unmitigated success.  Apricot and green eggs along with a trailing flashback pheasant tail (or flashback hair’s ear) were the flies of choice.  We all caught a ton of big bows, some 25” and larger.  I can’t wait until next year.

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Fishing Grey Reef – Spring 2010

During the first week of April 2010, I was fortunate to spend 4 days fishing the North Platte River for big rainbow trout. For the most part, the weather for the 4 days was overcast, cold (20 to 40 degrees) and windy. The conditions made it imperative to own and utilize the right equipment. I had purchased a lot of new fishing products over the last year, but I was particularly interested to see how my new Smith Optics Mogul Sunglasses performed. These shades are equipped with polarchromic lenses (definition below).

Smith Optics Polarchromic lens technology combines the benefits of glare obliterating polarization with the advantage of photochromic light sensitivity. Available in either Carbonic or Techlite glass, Smith Optics Polarchromic lenses automatically self-adjust their tint in response to ambient UV light conditions creating a tint level which is perfect at all hours of the day. These lenses retain their photochromic properties indefinitely, certainly outliving the life of the frame itself. Spanning a range of approximately 10%-35% VLT (Visible Light Transmission) Polarchromic lenses need only 10-25 seconds to fully transform from light to dark depending on UV light intensity. The result is a lens tint which is perfect at every moment of the day from dawn to dusk particularly at hours when the benefits of polarized are vital but the lens tint has to be light enough to see.

While I understand the basics of the technology used with these sunglasses, I was not clear on what it would do for me on the river?

I must say that the Mogul’s performed beyond expectations.

First: The thick arms of the frame prohibited any light from penetrating the glasses. I never had to cup my hands around my eyes in order to see my targets in the water.

Second: The lenses are amazing. The gloomy weather (limited sun) provided us a constant struggle to locate fish. I saw a lot fish that others could not see.

Third: My eyes were always relaxed. We fished from 7 am (20 degrees) to 7 pm (40 degrees), and the light conditions frequently changed. The lenses smoothly adjusted to the conditions of the day without distraction.

My only advice to Smith Optics; offer spring hinges in the future. My melon is large, and spring hinges would be more accommodating.

If you are going to invest in fishing sunglasses, I highly recommend the Smith Optics Mogul with polarchromic lenses.

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