Tuesday, June 21, 2011

William Joseph Old School Satchel Review

For years I have had a fishing vest at the ready, and it would have everything I need for trout fishing.  Growing up I would set this vest up in late April or early May right around opening day of trout in PA.  I kept the vest on a hook or a hanger and would grab it as I was running out the door.   In the last few years my attitude toward the vest has changed.  While living in Atlanta and fishing the Chattahoochee I found that a vest was just to hot to wear and ended up putting boxes in my pockets or using a small chest pack.  The problems I ran into with these methods were, I either ran out of room and took too few boxes or I took too many boxes and felt like a baby rattle walking around.  So I started looking in the internet for something different.  I was almost sold on a waist pack when I found this Satchel that is made by William Joseph.

Thanks to Sarah for these great shots of the Satchel.   It was like a little mini photo shoot for it.

At the time I was talking to a representative at William Joseph about the waders that I received to review from Outdoor Blogger Network.  They offered to send me the satchel at a discounted rate in exchange for a field test and review and I could not refuse!  I received the bag before we moved to Massachusetts and have been using it ever since.

These boxes don't even take up half the space in the main compartment.

The William Joseph Old School Satchel was what I settled on and after some extensive testing the verdict is out.  I am tough on my gear and anyone who goes fishing with me can attest to that, so I wanted to give this thing a couple months of testing before a review.  It came in the mail at the end of March and I have been testing and putting this thing through the paces ever since.  I tried very hard to find or take issue with this bag but I have been overly pleased with it.

Under the flap on the front is more storage for extra boxes.

This bag has a vintage look and yet it is anything but vintage.  The satchel has a huge main compartment that I leave open or put my camera in.  This big main space can hold a packable rain jacket, your lunch, bags of rubber worms, or if you have about a dozen extra boxes or flies you will have space for them in the main compartment.  If you are thinking, "Okay, a big bag with a huge open space - so what is great about that Bruce?", that is not all it has.  The satchel has mesh pockets inside that keep everything organized.  Also the outside of the bag has a two pockets for boxes, leaders, tippet spools, or any other tool you can think of.

This is the back of the bag that I keep a stream side note book, a knot book and my licenses.

The deceptions between vintage look and modern function does not stop at the storage compartments.  It continues to the strap system.  There is one main shoulder strap that you can throw over your shoulder like a messenger bag.  This single strap cuts down on sweating that you will have from vests, chest packs and even waist packs that need to rest directly on you.  If you need a little security,  William Joseph put a buckling waist strap to turn this satchel into a waist pack as well.  Now all this strap talk leads me to the bonus feature.

The safety pin and license is an add on by me but it works perfect.

I read a couple reviews about this bag, and no one mentioned this bonus feature but I hope I am not the first to figure it out.  While on my second fishing trip with this bag I found that I needed to tie a blood knot and was kind of far from the bank to go sit down to tie it.  With my old vest I would have put the rod on my rod holder across my chest and tied the knot without the fear of dropping the rod.  I thought that this would be the one big complaint but as I unzipped the bag I found the solutions.  As it turns out when the satchel is opened most rods fit in the space securely and the satchel supports the rod while you tie blood knots, nail knots or even study the water to match the hatch.  

It is hard to show how the whole thing acts as a rod holder but here is my best try.  

Since March I feel like I have given the Old School Satchel plenty of good tests, and it is has scored high marks in every situation I have put it in.  As a bag on small streams it is great because it will carry all the gear you need and more.  On rivers you can put the waist strap up higher on your waist or chest and keep it out of the water, and it is its own rod holder.  I have even used it as a boat bag.  While on a boat and a canoe I put rubber worm bags and a bunch of spin fishing boxes in it (on top of my fly stuff).  So let me say William Joseph hit another home run with this one.   The Old School Satchel is a perfect blend of old and new and I am not sad to say that I think I have hung my vest up for the last time because of it.

This shot was taken a while ago as a teaser to this review.  Since I took this shot I have caught dozens of trout this size and bigger.  The idea of putting this picture last is to show that it's in the same shape as it is now (the pictures above). 


The William Joseph Old School Satchel was given to me at a discounted rate for field testing and a review. The thoughts and opinions above are my own with no outside influences.


  1. Great field report.

    I gave up my vest for a chest pack years ago, and have been happy since.

  2. Really good review, Bruce! I am a very satisfied customer of William Joseph Products. Looks like I may be adding the Satchel to my wish list.

  3. Nice review, Bruce. Looks like a great piece to have on the water. Thanks for posting.