Sling bags are all the rage right now . Whether you like to pack light or be prepared for anything, we all need to take a decent amount of gear, lines, flies, and accessories out on a fly fishing trip. A fishing sling pack is one of the most practical solutions to do all of that.
We nearly always reach for our fishing sling packs when prepping for a day out on the water, so here’s how you can find the best one for you. Find out what you should look for when choosing a sling-pack, plus our top recommendations for the best fly sling packs around right now.
Do You Need a Special Fly Fishing Sling Pack?
You might be wondering why you can’t just grab any old sling bag and head out? Does it need to be a fly fishing one? The short answer is yes, it does! The reason is that fly fishers really do have quite niche requirements: where else would you need all your flies, hooks, tippet, etc., handy at a second’s notice?
Normal packs won’t have the capacity for all the gear you’ll be lugging with you, from your fly boxes to your lunch, waders, and more items. They have special features like D-rings to attach your fly patches, net and rod holders, and other necessary items, in addition to the main pocket. We’ll dig into the top features to look for in the best fly-fishing packs in the next section.
You just need to know that a generic bag just isn’t going to cut it – you’ll use it once or twice and get so fed up that you’ll never be tempted to take it out on the water again! Go for one of the these from the start, and you’ll be all set.
How To Choose The Best Sling Pack For You
There are many advantages to getting a fly fishing sling pack  but which one is right for you? If you’re new to fly fishing or you’re just not sure what to look for when buying one, not to worry! Here are the most important factors to consider before you buy:
Just how much space do you really need? Well, that’s down to your individual preferences as well as other factors like the weather. Will you need wet weather gear? Do you like to pack minimally or be prepared for every possible eventuality?
Well designed sling bags can carry a good amount of gear and items in the main section, including tackle boxes, extra tippet, and other items. Larger sizes are comparable to a backpack, and even smaller sling packs can fit in more than your average waist or chest bag.
Just make sure you pay careful attention to those dimensions, as the size can vary from small and compact to larger and more generous sling packs.
Pockets and Attachments
A sling bag’s functionality isn’t just purely down to the size of the main pocket, however. The number and size of the pockets are important too, while offering more storage for your items than a waist pack or chest vest can. Most sling bag products generally have one or two larger main sections to hold your bigger items like your tackle box.
But a clever sling pack will also have smaller pockets on the inside and outside in addition to the big pocket, designed to keep all your smaller accessories and items neat and tidy.
You’ll be amazed at how much space a drink bottle holder on the exterior of the bag can save, for example. D-rings and sheaths can also be an excellent solution for your essential items and even your rod, allowing you to both keep your tools close at hand and free up interior space inside your bag.
Fly fishing sling packs need to be able to withstand frequent use and exposure to all sorts of natural elements. You’ll be using your sling bag in all weathers, from harsh sunshine to heavy rain and everything in between. You might even need to hike through thick undergrowth to get to that beautifully remote mountain stream.
That’s why it’s vital to look for a quality fishing pack that is strong, durable, and well constructed. You want something that will last you for a good few years.
Take a close look at the quality of the craftsmanship – check the stitching and seams for any signs of weakness. The fabric should ideally be hard-wearing and not prone to tearing, or it just won’t stand up to regular use as a fishing sling bag. If you go for a hardwearing pack, you’ll save money in the long run.
You also want your pack to be comfortable, so go for one of the sling packs with a padded strap. Try it on first too, if possible.
Whatever type of products you’re shopping for, one of the first factors to consider is price. You want a quality sling pack but it has to fit into your budget. You’ll find a variety of price points for sling packs, so there’s something for everyone.
If you’re on a tight budget, check out the great products at an affordable price. But if you have a little more to spend, you can go for a sling pack with specialized features for fly fishing, which are well worth the price!
Waterproofing Design: Yes or No?
This might sound like a trick question – you’ll be on the water, so waterproofing is a necessity, isn’t it? But it’s not quite as straight-forward as that.
Firstly, you normally wear a sling pack high up on your back with the strap across your chest, keeping your items well out of the way of the water. This means that unless you are wading into very deep water, your sling bag should stay dry for the vast majority of the time, even if it’s not waterproof. So one consideration to think about is how often you like to wade, and how deep you tend to go.
Some of the best sling bags are waterproof, and this can be essential if you like to take your gadgets out with you – your phone or GoPro for example.
One drawback of having a waterproof fishing pack, however, is that you’ll lose some of the external pockets, sections, and attachment options for your items. Most waterproof sling bags have only one or two large pockets, simply down to the waterproof design and the need to keep water out.
The more pockets, zippers, and compartments a pack has, the harder it is to create an effective waterproof seal for a bag. So if you do opt for a waterproof bag, you might have to spend more time rooting around in a large main section looking for your gear.
Another alternative that you can look out for is a sling bag that has some water resistance instead of being waterproof. This can strike a good balance, offering more protection to your gear without losing out on the special features like mesh pockets, D-rings, and different compartments.
The Best Fly Fishing Sling Pack: The Reviews
Now onto our reviews of the best fly fishing sling packs around right now. We’ve checked out a range of sling bags to see how they fare, so you can choose from the best fly fishing sling packs that have been tried and tested!
Orvis Safe Passage Guide
The Orvis Safe Passage sling pack is definitely one of the best bags around. It’s been specially designed to meet every need you might have while fly fishing and also keep you cool and comfortable out on the water. Made from strong, durable, high-quality material, it’s quick and simple to strap on and swing this bag around to your chest whenever you need to.
The bottom layer is reinforced with water-resistant material and you can choose to add a waterproof pocket to keep your gadgets dry. There’s enough capacity in the main pocket for all your supplies, from your fly box, tools, tippet, and gear, to your phone, water bottle, and lunch.
A lot of care has gone into designing this bag to be comfortable enough to wear all day. Even on the hottest days, you shouldn’t feel too sweaty or sticky on your back or chest, thanks to the clever ventilation in the back panel. This makes this sling pack a great choice all year round, even during the hot summer months.
The back panel has also been molded to the contour of your back for increased comfort. The padded shoulder strap should prevent any aches and pains, no matter how long you’re out there casting and hauling in fish.
Orvis has taken the sling pack game to the next level with the minute attention to detail of the Safe Passage features. From the clever magnetic anchor on the forcep sheath to the fly-drying patch and the tool attachment system for your items, it will be hard to find a bag that so effortlessly meets any need an angler might have.
Orvis’ decades of experience in this industry has truly paid off, making the Safe Passage sling a worthy investment for any eager fly fisherman or woman. Orvis products are always high quality and effective. Click below to check the latest price on Amazon!
- Lots of storage capacity
- Comfortable shoulder strap with foam padding
- The back panel is molded to fit you for extra comfort and ventilated so you stay cool
- You can easily add more tools thanks to the unique attachment system
- Easily accessible drink bottle holder without having to pull the whole thing around
- One of the more expensive sling packs at over $100 – a big investment
- High price – $200+
- Not waterproof
Allen Company Cedar Creek
Allen Company has truly created a low-cost, highly functional sling bag for fly fishing. The Cedar Creek pack isn’t flashy, but it’s practical and it will certainly do the job. The price is amazing if you’re on a budget but still want to make the most of your time on the river.
With the Cedar Creek, the main pocket is generously sized, plus you also get D-rings for your accessories, a zippered mesh pocket on the front, and a water bottle pocket too.
It’s been designed to be simple and easy to use out on the water. You’ll find the zip-down work station handy when you need to fiddle with tools, flies, or tying knots. The main section has a large opening, so you can easily pop in your items and there’ll be no struggling to force larger items in.
Allen Company has taken care with the construction of this bag, evident in the neat, strong stitching and sturdy zippers. The nylon fabric is hardwearing and will stand up to everything you can throw at it. The Cedar Creek may look a bit basic, but looks can be deceiving: Inside, you’ll find lots of zippered and mesh pockets to keep all your gear tidy and organized at all times.
With wide, adjustable straps, you’ll be able to wear this comfortably for hours at a time. One of the best-fly-fishing budget packs, the Cedar Creek bag by Allen Company will have no problems meeting the demands of an eager fly angler. Available from Amazon and all good fly shops!
- Affordable low price
- Interior high-viz lining makes it easy to locate items inside your bag
- Includes a zip-down work station with a patch and tippet tender
- Easy to get larger items into the big pocket thanks to the wide opening
- Tricky to reattach net after using it without swinging the bag to the front
- Not as many pockets as other models
FishPond has created both an attractive and functional sling fishing pack that will make any fly angler’s fishing trip go more smoothly. This bag has 3 generous main sections where you can store everything you could need on a day out at the lake or river. The muted colors of this pack won’t spook the fish out on the water, either.
You’ll find plenty of hooks and rings where you can attach your tools and fishing accessories, as well as Velcro and Hypalon attachment points on both the front of the bag and on the shoulder strap for greater usability and versatility. These features are handy, as they save you space in the main pocket.
There’s also a useful net holder and a dedicated drink bottle holder, handy to keep your essentials in easy reach whenever you need them. All these features are available for a reasonable price, in the mid-range for sling packs.
Like most products by FishPond, this hardwearing, high-quality bag is one of the best fishing packs, with the added benefit of being environmentally friendly. When you use this pack constructed from recycled fishing net material, you’ll know you’re giving back to the planet! Check the price on Amazon now!
- Perfect size – not too big or too small
- Eco-friendly – made from nylon recycled fishing net material
- Reasonable price
- Integrated net sleeve
- Water bottle pocket
- Can feel rough on the neck if you need to swing it around often
- Not compatible with the FishPond rod holder
- A bit tight over a winter coat
If you’re after a bag with plenty of pockets, you should definitely check out the SpiderWire Sling Fishing Backpack. The primary pocket is large enough to hold two medium tackle boxes, but that’s not all.
You also get two more zippered pockets, a dedicated sunglasses pocket, a front organizer pocket, plus a tool attachment on the front which you can Velcro closed for extra safety. You’ll have no trouble carrying all your main fishing items, and the tool attachment will save space in the inner pockets.
Designed for the angler who likes to be able to put their hands on any item at a minute’s notice, you’ll love the SpiderWire if the idea of rooting through one large pocket makes you shudder. Don’t want to waste time searching for a tool that’s got buried at the bottom of your bag? The SpiderWire pack is for you!
Made from durable polyester, this quality bag is built to stand up to the elements. It’s strong and hard-wearing with a comfortable chest strap and sturdy zippers. If you’re not into bright colors, the SpiderWire is perfect in its cool black design. Just take note that it’s not one of the waterproof sling packs.
This pack comes at a reasonable price of around $50, and even better, SpiderWire also offers a lifetime warranty on this durable bag. Should you have any issues or problems with it, SpiderWire will repair or replace it for you. This bargain price is ideal for any fly anglers on a tight budget!
- Affordable price – one of the best fly fishing packs on a budget
- Loads of pockets so you can stay organized
- Cool, eye-catching spiderweb design
- You get a medium tackle box included
- You can wear this bag on either shoulder
- Lifetime manufacturer’s warranty!
- Adjustable, padded strap
- Not waterproof
- No pole holders
This rugged outdoor sling bag is ideal for the avid anglers who like to get out and fish in all weathers. Water-resistant, abrasion-resistant, and corrosion-resistant, this bag is made from strong, durable material which can stand up to the elements.
The BLISSWILL Outdoor Tackle Bag offers great versatility and plenty of options in how to wear it. The straps are adjustable so you can wear it over one shoulder, as a backpack or even as in a handbag style depending on your needs. The shoulder pads are specially designed to be wide for extra comfort, although they have less padding than other models around.
There are a lot of pockets on both the front and sides to store all your accessories, as well as lots of places to attach any tools that you need to have near at hand. The Molle system on the front allows you to attach extra tools or even add more pockets for extra storage.
You’ll find plenty of useful extras like a rod holder and a dedicated water bottle holder. All these features for an affordable price makes the BLISSWILL products one of the best fly fishing packs around. Check the price on Amazon now by clicking below!
- 1000D water-resistant fabric makes it one of the best fishing packs, keeping your gear dry in most cases
- Strong, durable fabrics and zippers
- Has a rod holder and handy drink bottle holder
- Another budget price option
- Comes in a range of cool colors including khaki, army green, camo, and black
- Adjustable straps can be worn in 3 different ways: backpack, shoulder bag or handbag style
- If you fill the bag up, it can feel heavy and cumbersome to carry all-day
- Water bottle pocket is too small
- It’s tricky to get into the front pockets
- Shoulder straps have less padding than other fishing bags and can feel diggy after a few hours
Umpqua Steamboat 1200 ZS
The Umpqua Steamboat 1200 ZS is another quality sling pack which is a delight to use as a fly fisher, with a mid-range price. One of the larger models on the market, the Steamboat 1200 ZS offering you plenty of capacity to store everything you could need for a full day out on the water, including your tackle boxes and other items.
You’ll love all the pockets and extras you get with this – the main bag is split into 3 pockets to keep all your gear, snacks, and items neat and easy to find. The middle compartment has a useful divider, and on the outside of the bag, you’ll find two mesh pockets, attachments for your items, and 2 fly patch stations. Keeping track of all your fishing gear has never been easier!
The main downside to the Umpqua Steamboat is that you can’t switch the strap from one shoulder to the other when you begin to feel tired or achy. When you try wearing it on the other shoulder, you’ll find that all the zips are facing the wrong way, making it difficult to access your gear and tools.
This sling pack isn’t a budget price option, but it’s not one of the most expensive, either. We think that the price is well worth the investment for this handy fly fishing sling pack.
If you need a fishing bag that you can wear on either side, check out some of our other recommendations. Otherwise, the Umpqua Steamboat 1200 ZS is an excellent, large-capacity sling bag that is ideal for fly anglers who like to be ready for every situation.
- Cool grey and blue design
- Handy thumb-loop for easy access to your gear whenever you need to
- Useful extras including tool sheaths, fly storage stations and retractor stations
- You can store all your gear, rainwear, lunch, and more
- Another expensive model at $155 – not for anglers on a tight budget
- Not waterproof
- No drink bottle holder
- You can switch shoulders to prevent fatigue
The Wrap Up!
So there you have our complete guide to the best fly fishing sling packs around right now! If you’re after a specialized pack that’s perfectly suited for fly fishing trips, you won’t go wrong with any of our top recommendations. Careful consideration of the specific needs of fly anglers makes these fly-fishing sling packs stand head and shoulders above their competition.
Sling packs are more practical, waterproof, and comfortable than waist packs. Where waist packs will end up soggy and waterlogged, sling packs should stay out of the water. Plus, a good sling pack is less obstructive for casting than a bulky fishing vest.
From a whole range of tool attachment points and unique features to extra padding for comfort all day long, a good fly fishing pack will make your day on the water go much more smoothly!
So all you need to go is buy a sling pack that meets your needs from your local fly shop or online from Amazon. You’ll find a range of price points on the products reviewed above, so you can pick the one that ticks the right boxes for you. (Don’t forget to compare the price of these products online, so you can save some money!) Then get out on the water and catch some fish! You’ll love how practical and handy your new sling pack is.
Let us know what you think of these fly-fishing sling-packs and which you’d recommend in the comments section below! Plus, check out our other reviews of fly fishing gear at Fly Fisher Pro. Happy fly fishing!