First Impressions

If you’re a fly fisherman, you know Umpqua Feather Merchants, one of the industry stalwarts and a leader since the early 1970s. The bulk of their business remains flies, leader and other terminal tackle. But about this time last year, they expanded into the world of soft goods with a line of packs and bags. I had the opportunity to check out a number of their products recently – including the Umpqua Deadline 3500 Duffel – and I am completely impressed.


The most impressive thing about all the Umpqua products is the attention to detail and downright cleverness of the designs. The Deadline 3500 stands as a case in point. Everything about the product was constructed to maximize its versatility.

For instance, the Deadline 3500 isn’t just a duffel. It is, or course, with carry handles on both sides, and top and bottom. But it’s also a backpack with shoulder straps complete with load lifters and a sternum strap. When not in use, the shoulder straps tuck neatly behind the Deadline 3500’s padded back panel.

Another clever feature is the Deadlines two main compartments. They’re zippered at the packs back. The first is for dry gear and clearly labeled as such. It’s plenty large enough for a vest, jacket, fly boxes and more. The second compartment is for wet gear (also labeled) and lined with a waterproof fabric. This presents a perfect place for waders and other items after a day on the water. Both compartments use heavy duty zippers with loop pulls that make opening and closing them a breeze.

Along the sides and top of the Deadline, Umpqua located several pockets. The side pockets are large enough for multiple fly reels. One includes a rollup mat for standing on while you change out of your boots and waders. The top pocket has a lanyard to hold keys.

Fabric: Nylon, tarpaulin
Capacity: 3500 cu in
Weight: 3 lbs, 1 oz

The company also includes compression straps in each corner to cinch down the load, multiple lash points and another clever feature – a flip-out rod pouch capable of handling two rods tied to the side of the pack.


Dynamite. Plenty of storage for multiple days on the water. I packed five reels into a single side pocket. Dropped waders, a trout net and more into the wet storage pocket, and shoved fly boxes, a tub tent, a vest and more into the dry pocket. The exterior fabric shrugs off dirt and moisture too keeping everything safe and sound.

Final Verdict

The Umpqua Deadline 3500 Duffel is one fine piece of gear, maybe the best fly-fishing-specific pack I’ve ever seen. The clever features make it extremely versatile. Pack it for a day trip and strap it on your back. Throw your gear in it and take it on the road or on a plane. It looks great, handles almost any condition thanks to the quality water-resistant construction, and delivers cavernous storage capacity. Get yourself one, seriously. Recommended.