This was originally located on owljones.com which is now defunct (apparently).
The Next Game Changer?
I first came across the “El Poquito” on Twitter. It’s an interesting and brand new product that seems built along the “K.I.S.S.” principle (“Keep It Simple, Stupid” or “Keep It Stupid Simple”), allowing you to carry a set of hemostats and nippers anywhere you need. Looking at the pictures, it seemed this new product had impeccable timing. Texas has some brutal summers that reach well into the hundreds on a regular basis, which makes even breathable waders highly uncomfortable. It also takes a huge toll on your ‘in-car’ equipment. The extreme heat will break down monofilament tippet, graphite rods, and leaders: which sucks because with my fluctuating schedule, I keep my gear with me so I can fish whenever I get a chance. It also takes its toll on the angler. Wet wading season here is usually early-March through mid/late-November. Being in the water helps to make the near-combustion heat bearable, but lugging around a vest prevents you from wading too deep. With that in mind, I busied myself with research and ideas on how to carry what I needed, in something that would not mind getting submerged. Enter, “El Poquito”.
The two dimensional digital images I spent days devouring in anticipation, led me to believe this was going to be the magical cure to my fishing woes. The website stated that it fit M.O.L.L.E./P.A.L.S. carrying systems, as well as any garment you might wear fishing. Supposedly it has a magnetic closure system that allows you to attach “The Little Bit” anywhere you need ‘stats and nippers handy. If this proved true, I could carry everything I needed for a day of fishing minus the burden of worrying about getting in too deep. This made even the idea of coast fishing seem more promising.
I ordered mine from SmithFly proprietor, Ethan Smith, and it was shipped to my door very quickly. I tore into the packaging with haste, hungry for the prize. My first impressions were a little disappointing; firstly I was hoping for a more OD green than ABU/ACU (Airman Battle Uniform/Army Combat Uniform) green. Secondly, it had a little bit of a homemade or handmade look to it. Thirdly, I had ordered it with the mechanical retractor which seemed a little bulky for the pocket it’s hidden under, and while taking a peek up there I saw that the clip doesn’t quite fit around the integrated ring. That makes it easier to change out, but isn’t as secure as I would prefer. Finally, I suspect the banding around the edge could probably stand double stitching. As I said though, it’s just a suspicion.
The disappointment ended there, however. The backbone is stiff enough to support itself, but has enough flexibility to ride conformed. The retractor surprisingly is non-metallic and seemingly sturdy, along with the materials the Poquito is constructed of. I noticed something else, instead of using a magnet/steel plate combination, the strap and the back of the Poquito both have magnets in them (more magnets = stronger magnetic field). Extra layers in the winter shouldn’t affect the ability to stay secure.
El Poquito holds a standard set of hemostats very securely. There is honestly nothing to add there, it does specifically what it is designed to do and nothing less. The mechanical “zinger” however, held another trick up its sleeve. While I was trying to attach nippers, (okay, nail clippers) the split ring was super tight and giving me trouble putting one through the other. Paying a little closer attention, I saw that the split ring attachment point separates from the main unit, making it much easier to manipulate. I also attached a nail-knot tying tool as well, as that is my go-to knot for just about everything but shoes. Finally came an opportunity to test out the whole assembly, when a fishing trip to the San Antonio River presented itself.
Can I say at this point, I love magnets? They are really freaking handy. Magnets are the bacon of the energy world, they make everything more awesome. Well, except computer files. Having not one, but a pair of magnets on the Poquito is nifty. Really nifty. You can pretty well hang your Poquito anywhere, as promised! One of the magnets alone will support the whole assembly, fully loaded.
I did have one nagging concern as I held it in my hands, envisioning the field test: would my fly line get caught up in it? With the knot tool hanging down, the fingernail clippers, and the hemostats: there is a lot of ruined day lurking about. I am right handed, so out of habit, I stuck it on the right side of my hip. You know, in the knife or holster location and that seems to have fixed the problem. It took all of two seconds to remedy that one little worry. Normally, when I fish, all the tools El Poquito holds take up residence on my chest. It long ago became habit to reach there when a tool was called upon. Transitioning to the new location was a breeze, another benefit of the convenient right-sided placement. Changing flies, tying on new tippet, and releasing little fish: all without the weight of a vest on your shoulder or a lanyard around your neck makes this little bit priceless on that feature alone. The next chance I would have to use it was on my next visit to the Pedernales. [ Editor: Parts 2 and 3 of this great battle with the Pedernales are located HERE! ]
I really haven’t had much luck on this river. In fact, she has effectively shut me down at every attempt to woo her. I’m a glutton for punishment, as evidenced by my romantic history, and my love for this little river. I keep going back, and back, and back for more. This time I had El Poquito with me, and it was put to good use.
Reaching Right: Photo by Amanda Fowler, Edited by Author
One small fly box in the back pocket, one Poquito, and away we went. Several small bass were returned quickly and in the blistering heat I could fish without my vest, thanks to Senor Poquito. Quick disclaimer, El Poquito does wonderful things, but a vest will hide your gut: write that down. It was literally amazing to have everything I needed to fish within easy reach, but without the hindrance of carrying a million dollars and half again in pounds, of fly paraphernalia. The high point of the day was a new species caught on a fly, a Gray Redhorse Sucker.
The Poquito is a personal “game-changer” in respect to my fishing style. This model was not a ‘freebie’ given me to test and I promise you; if it sucked, you would know. The simple fact is this, it is probably the most versatile piece of gear I own. It goes anywhere, fits everywhere, and doesn’t care how it gets used. It’s a sturdy addition that you’ll find is worth every penny. After a handful of trips with it on, I have yet to have a single fly-line hang-up on it. I can’t say that about my vest, or even my shorts! “El Poquito”, “The Little Bit”, “Awesome Redefined”, whatever you want to call it; it is now a must have for me on the water, and I still wear it even if I have my vest on. It is very lightweight and almost completely forgettable, yet it compounds the versatility I can achieve in any fishing trip.
I didn’t want to destroy it in testing (I only bought one), but I imagine it would hold up superbly. The first to go would be the “zinger” and maybe the banding around the edge would be next, but from where I am standing, that could take years. Zingers are a dime-a-dozen anyhow, and the banding could get double stitched or re-sewn.
I look forward to future products hopefully built upon this framework, maybe a bigger cousin that can hold a small flybox? The design wouldn’t even have to change much, if at all. When SmithFly releases the rest of the advertised product line, the “El Poquito” won’t be replaced, as I said it’s M.O.L.L.E. Compatible, but my current vest might be.
MY advice? Get an El Poquito, and soon.