I like routine.
Knowing right where something should be and being able to access it easily makes life just a little nicer. I have plenty of systems in my fishing (and tying). These systems I have in place really help a lot in my fishing, as it provides you an extra edge by making you more efficient. As I once heard someone say, "There's fish in efficiency." It's a corny saying, but it's true.
When I am out fishing for trout I know I will need access to a few pieces of gear: hemostats, split shot, tippet, flotant, indicators, and of course, flies. Accessing those few things has always been a chore. Before I had a system in place, they would always go to random places of my vest, bag, or box. I constantly struggled with losing gear. Dropped or lost hemostats, missing leaders, and misplaced spools of tippet all led to me refining my own "system." It all started with the question: What should go where? Then: Why should it go there?
When I was younger, I wore a gear-packed vest. It was filled with a near endless supply of forgotten goodies and left-behind candy wrappers. I used it until about 3 years ago when I actually thought about how much it slowed my fishing down. It wasn't a good quality vest, so the edges of the pockets always grabbed my fly line (or my flies). The flies would get stuck in odd places due to my mis-care, it couldn't hold the majority of my fly boxes because the pockets were too small, and I don't even want to mention the everlasting search for the 6x flurocarbon tippet spool in the seemingly 1,000 pockets. That spool seems to have fallen into the black hole in the back of the vest.
After wanting to refine my fishing, I ditched the vest. I saw a guy using a sling pack, and after thinking about it, I realized that would be a great alternative for my fishing style. A sling pack helped keep everything out of my way behind me!
It was not the complete solution though, as the only way I could access gear was by taking the time to swing the bag around. Then I had to remove the Velcro or un zip the zipper and dig around for quite a while. This took a lot of additional time I did't want to spend when trying to quickly unhook a fish with hemostats, or put fresh tippet on.
Using only the sling slowed me down.
One day, I got new waders with several front pockets on them. These medium-sized front pockets were a game changer. I could keep my essentials right on my chest all in two different pockets, and access them easily without having to sling my pack around (which is now even more difficult since it holds my long-handled net). Best of all, with these waders I can zip the pockets up so no fly line or tippet can get snagged and snared by my tools.
MY CURRENT SYSTEM
"Essential" Gear Storage
I keep hemostats in easy access on my sling strap. Flotant, indicators, and split shot in my front pocket, and tippet, flies, and a knife in the back pocket. Both zip up perfectly (when I feel like it) and create a tangle-less system that gives me easy access to every tool I regularly use.
In regard to my fly storage, I recently began using a new system with flies - My sling pack is the mother ship, but on each outing I think through what I will probably be using most and gather a series of varying nymphs, dries, and streamers in a small fly box that pins to the outside of my jacket or shirt. This is the place my flies dry out after use as well.
I keep a small magnet attached to the front of my waders. This has proved over the past year to be incredibly helpful. When nymphing with a two-fly setup, I can attach one of the flies to the magnet so it doesn't get all tangled around the indicator, the fly line, or anything else flies tend to find themselves on. This magnet also helps when I am doing a quick fly change. I can put the new fly on the little magnet, and it holds securely until I need to tie it on!
This holds the mother load of my flies, extra leaders, extra tippet spools, a whistle, tippet rings, other indicator systems, streamer rigs all ready to go on foam spools, and it often holds my lunch and camera. I typically like to bring enough gear to supply me for a few years out on the water just in case.
I use the Orvis Safe Passage Guide Sling, and it is amazing. It can hold enough gear to make a grown man joyfully weep. It's light weight. Fairly waterproof (but not completely), and it's really durable. I've been using it for about year now in the rain and shine, and have no regrets. Before the Orvis Sling, I used a smaller sling pack from a different company. I liked the other one, but 1) it wasn't big enough, and 2) it dumped all of it's contents (my flies, leaders, split shot, wallet, etc.) into the river twice due to me not latching the Velcro perfectly. After the second dump I gathered all of my soaking wet supplies and left the river to buy the Orvis bag. It was definitely worth the money. I have never had to worry about my DSLR camera getting washed away, or if I was bringing too much gear. The sling pack fits all the fly boxes you should ever carry, a DSLR camera and one or two extra lenses, lunch, a jacket, AND there's still more room for more supplies! Obviously, you can tell I like this bag.
Keep in mind, this system I have just described is just my trout system. I have a different one for small stream fishing, for boat angling, musky stuff, and any other style I may dabble in. To maximize my success I change and adapt to the differing scenarios I find myself in. I firmly believe adapting has greatly increased my success and enjoyment in fly angling.
The great thing about my system is, it works for me! Other guys I've fished with use totally different systems that work for them. They don't care about fly line tangling up in their vest so they use it! They don't care about keeping an indicator system in their front pocket - so they don't! They want to have flotant and a desiccant in easy reach - that works for them! They like a lanyard to hold everything in easy reach - great for them!
My recommendation is, find a system that works for you and is efficient. Time is limited on the water, and no one wants to be searching for one particular fly in your pack for 30 minutes while fish rise all around. Know your system, know your routine, and you will find your time on the water to be a little bit more enjoyable.