Patagonia’s great Guidewater fly fishing vest does not come with in-built retractors, but with attachment points designed almost in such a way that one would suspect the designer had this famous, strong and functional retractor in mind manufactured by a brand with an unspeakable name that begins with an S.

You can of course buy two of those retractors, dress down the all too obvious S-branding and still have a pair of strong retractors that seem to be an integral part of the Patagonia vest.

Patagonia’s innovations (the hits and the misses) are being discussed in detail in the Way Upstream blog. Here is a short paste on the ongoing retractor theme.

El Pescador (Patagonia’s product development director Steve Stracqualursi) said…
[…] Fly fishing product design seems to demand retractor attachment capability. Do you agree? If so, what kind of retractor do you use (pin back, post, clip)? If not, why? Regardless of your retractor opinions, what tools are mandatory and how do you attach or store your tools of the trade? […] I think you’ll all be happy with some of the new Spring 2008 product development. We have included attachment point needs and tool storage in vest, pack and bag design but in a integral way. The designs work as a whole instead of appearing like a product with whistles and bells stuck on.

Ian said…
Retractors are really a deal breaker for me. If it doesn’t have a retractor built in, I’ve already written off the product before I give it a closer look.

I think Simms is the only company that really has it dialed in with retractors at the moment. The retractor system on the G3 Waders, G3 Jacket, and Classic Guide Jacket tuck out of the way, take up no room, are lightweight, and are easily accessible.

I’m not particularly interested in ‘attachment points’, as I’ve yet to find an after-market zinger that I’m really happy with. Give me built in retractors, two of them at most.

Retractors are very usefull. I use strong diving string-retractors attached to my pontoonboat to hold all necessary gear and instruments securely attached to the boat in de strong saltwater surf.
 On my vests I am more moderate. It depends on the fish I chase after. The vest that is most decorated and therefore most cumbersome in wearing is the one I use for trout fishing in mountain streams. There I have retractors for pliers, nippers, a small torch, very fine pliers, amadou pouch you name it and if it can be on a retractor I do it. I’m no heroe in the strong icy currents of a mountain stream and changing flies or tippets while balancing I find it usefull that all essential gear is secured by a retractor.

I might swear a lot when using the S-word, but I am capable of recognizing a good product when I see one. An essential product.