Whether you like to pack light or be prepared for anything, every angler needs to take certain gear, tools, and accessories out for a fly fishing trip. A fishing sling pack is one of the most practical solutions: More accessible than a fishing backpack, it won’t get in your way like a chest pack, and it won’t risk getting submerged and waterlogged as we all know waist bags can do.
We nearly always reach for our fishing sling packs when prepping for a day out on the water, so here’s our buying guide to the top fishing sling packs for fly fishers! Find out what you should look for when choosing a fishing sling-pack, plus our top recommendations for the best fly options around right now.
Normal Sling Pack vs. Fly Fishing Sling Packs
You might be wondering why you can’t just grab any old sling bag and head out? Does it need to be a specific fly fishing sling pack? 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 tools, flies, hooks, tippet, etc., handy at a second’s notice?
A normal bag won’t have space for all the gear you’ll be lugging with you, from your fly boxes to your lunch, waders, and more. The best fly fishing sling packs have special features like D-rings to attach your tools, fly patches, net and rod holders, and more. 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!
How To Choose the Best Fishing Sling Pack
If you’re new to fly fishing or you’re just not sure what to look for when buying a fly fishing sling bag, not to worry! Here are the most important factors to consider before you buy to make sure you get one of the top fly fishing sling packs:
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. 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 size, however. The number and size of the pockets are important too. Most sling bags generally have one or two larger compartments to hold your bigger items like your tackle box, but a clever sling pack will also have smaller pockets on the inside and outside to keep all your smaller accessories neat and tidy.
You’ll be amazed at how much space a water bottle pocket on the exterior of the bag can save, for example. D-rings and tool sheaths can also be an excellent solution, allowing you to both keep your tools close at hand and free up 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 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 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.
Waterproofing: 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, keeping them 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. 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 camera, for example.
One drawback of having a waterproof fishing pack, however, is that you’ll lose something of the external pockets, compartments, and attachment options for your tools. Most waterproof sling bags have only one or two main compartments, simply down to the waterproofed design and 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 compartment looking for your gear.
Another alternative that you can look out for is a sling bag that has some water resistance. 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 Sling Pack
The Orvis Safe Passage Guide sling pack is definitely one of the best fly fishing sling packs 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 swing this bag around.
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 plenty of space for all your supplies, from your fly box, tools, 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 thanks to the clever ventilation in the back panel, making it 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 Guide. From the clever magnetic anchor on the forcep sheath to the fly-drying patch and the tool attachment system, 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 Guide sling a worthy investment for any eager fly fisherman or woman.
Umpqua Steamboat 1200 ZS
The Umpqua Steamboat 1200 ZS is another sling pack which is a delight to use as a fly fisher. One of the larger models on the market, the Steamboat 1200 ZS offering you lots of space to store everything you could need for a full day out on the water.
You’ll love all the pockets and extras you get with this – the main bag is split into 3 main compartments to keep all your gear, snacks, and accessories 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, tool attachments, 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 it 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.
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.
SpiderWire Sling Fishing Backpack
If you’re after a bag with plenty of pockets, you should definitely check out the SpiderWire Sling Fishing Backpack. The main compartment 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 holder on the front which you can Velcro closed for extra safety.
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 compartment 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 backpack is for you!
Made from durable polyester, this bag is built to stand up to the elements. It’s strong and hard-wearing with sturdy zippers.
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.
FishPond Summit Sling Fly Fishing Pack
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 compartments where you can store everything you could need on a day out at the lake or river.
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. There’s a useful net holder and a dedicated water bottle pocket, handy to keep your essentials in easy reach whenever you need them.
Like most products by FishPond, this durable, 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!
Allen Company Cedar Creek Sling Pack
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. With the Cedar Creek, you’ll get plenty of space in the main compartment, plus D-rings, 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 compartment has a large opening, so 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 durable 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.
BLISSWILL Fishing Sling Pack
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 pockets galore on both the front and sides 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 this for an affordable price makes the BLISSWILL fishing bag one of the best fly fishing packs around.
The Wrap Up!
So there you have our complete guide to the top fly fishing sling packs around right now! If you’re after a specialized pack that’s perfectly suited for flyfishing 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.
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!
Let us know what you think of these fly-fishing sling-packs and which you’d recommend in the comments section below! Happy flyfishing!