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Fly fishing is an amazing sport. As you grow you’ll find yourself casting while standing in a river (sometimes under), on lakes, in boats or even in the sea. Having a fishing vest ensures you have all the tools and gear you need, right in front of you when you’re out on the water. Plus, it gives you a platform to work on for fly tying etc. A vest is a great alternative to a backpack for easy access to your tools.
Vests that are made from the durable material will serve you for a long time. I had my last fishing vest for over 5 seasons before it had to go into retirement. So choose wisely. We’ve put together the 5 best fishing vests for every type of angler to help you make the right choice, as an alternative to a backpack.
You’ve heard us talk time and time again that quality is everything when selecting fly fishing gear. So if you can afford to spend that little bit extra for quality, you won’t regret it. It’s better to have, and love, a few great pieces of gear than be sitting atop a mountain of junk!
Before we get started let’s learn a bit about fishing vests in our detailed guide.
What are the advantages of Fly Vests?
These vests keep the weight off your neck and help you improve your posture  while casting your fly rod. The higher-end vests have pockets on the front and back. Therefore, the weight of the tools you are carrying is distributed around your body just like a backpack, helping with balance when you’re out in the water.
With the many pockets fly vests come with, you have storage space for all your tools and gear other than your rod. When there is a pocket for each fishing gear, you can easily find what you are looking for when fishing.
The best fishing vests ensure there is no interference when you are swinging your rod. Your range of motion is not limited as your hands and arms are free to move. You don’t have to keep holding equipment you are no longer using, as there is a pocket for it. Plus, many fishing vests have mesh areas to keep you cool, even on warm days.
Because there are many pockets, no pocket will be stuffed with gear. When you have that fish of a lifetime on the line and you need your knife, you’d better know where it is! Fly fishing vests enable to keep your gear dry as you wade through the water too, something pockets or even a backpack isn’t so good at doing!
Things to look for in a Fishing Vest
In this section of our guide, we’ll look at what you need to look for in a functional fishing vest before purchasing.
First off in our guide to the important factors in a fishing vest, the number of pockets should be the number one factor you consider. Base this on the equipment and gear you usually take when you go fishing. Ensuring that every tool has its pocket helps you know where things are.
You need a fishing vest that can hold everything you need, so you have your hands free for your rod. But you need to get the balance just right. Don’t go for a vest that is too big and can hold everything, if you end up taking stuff you don’t use. It’s better to go for a vest that can hold exactly what you need, rather than extra stuff which will weigh you down unnecessarily.
Having too many pockets in your vest could also be a problem. Sometimes a simple solution is better. You’ll know the type of person you are and whether you prefer to look like inspector gadget out on the water, or just have a few extra pockets for the essential gear.
Durability And Fabric
The fabric used to make vests should also be considered as it determines the quality of the product. You can choose from nylon, cotton, polyester, or mesh fabric among other options. Water-resistant fabric is a brilliant idea if you’re fishing in rainy weather to keep your gear dry.
Go with nylon if you are fishing in the summer and cotton or polyester fabric if you are fishing in a much cooler climate. Mesh is also a great option for summer fishing trips.
Sizes also matter when you are purchasing a vest. Ensure you purchase products from manufacturers who make vests that are tried and tested for a good fit. Consider purchasing a vest with variable waist and shoulders straps, so it fits perfectly. You don’t want something bulky that will get in the way of your rod.
Number of Pockets
A fishing vest is the ultimate fly fishing accessory as it allows you to carry all the tools you’ll need and have them within reach when you’re in the water. The less time you spend rummaging through your backpack the more successful you’ll be. I always remembered the saying: “you can’t catch fish if your line’s not wet!”.
A functional vest allows you to organise all your tools so that you don’t dig through a heap of items trying to find one thing. How much gear you usually carry as you go fishing should determine the kind of fish vest you purchase.
The best fishing vests are designed to have enough space to accommodate all your tools and gear. Vests with pockets that are strategically placed for proper organisation offers you convenience so that you focus on having a good time while you are out in the water, chucking bugs for fish. Mesh pockets are also handy, as you can see your tools through the mesh and locate them quickly.
Comfort and Weight
A trout fishing vest also needs to be lightweight so that it doesn’t weigh down your shoulders  when you’re fishing all day. Consider shopping at online shops that also have women’s fishing vest. You want it to stay comfortable around your waist and across your shoulders, especially when loaded up with gear.
It is possible to get a waterproof vest. However, most vests aren’t designed to be completely waterproof, so consider carrying a waterproof pouch for important belongings like your keys and phone to avoid unlucky accidents in the water.
Price is always a factor to consider when buying a fishing vest, especially if you’re on a budget. You’ll find fishing vests on sale from low price points, to high-end, high price vests. We’ve reviewed a range of products across all price points, so you’re sure to find something to suit your budget.
Fishing Vest Set Up
Having a logical organisation when you are packing to go fishing helps you avoid spending too much time looking for items. Because the fly box is frequently used, you should consider having it to your left if you are right-handed or to your right if you are right-handed. Having it at this position ensures you can easily access it with your dominant hand.
Purchase a vest with appropriate pockets so that your tools easily fit into them. Have small items in small pockets so that the bigger pockets are left for larger tools and equipment. Some of the small-sized equipment you will need to take include
- Tubes of flotant
- Fly Boxes
- Pocket knives
The frequently used items should be closest to the outside of the vest while the less frequently used gear should be placed further away. Consider purchasing a vest with retractable leashes as well as zingers for your nippers and hemostats.
Tippet tenders that are easily attached to the vest enable you to access your spools easily. If you are one to go fishing for a whole day, remember to take your lunch, snacks, and drinks, so that you don’t have to interrupt your day. Pack your vest ahead of time so that you don’t forget to carry any essential gear.
The Best Fly Fishing Vest Reviews
Here’s a range of the best fishing vests for fly anglers, at all price points:
Allen Company Big Horn Fish Vest Review
With the many pockets that this vest has, you get enough storage space for all your equipment when you’re on the river. This is a high capacity fishing vest that is made from high-quality material. It is a valuable purchase as it is guaranteed to last you a long time.
The dual zip down design, as well as the fly patches, ensure that it fits perfectly. The alterable straps allow you to share it with someone smaller or bigger. The padded shoulders make you comfortable since all the weight of the tools rests on your shoulders.
There are pockets on the front and back panel to ensure you have room for everything when river fishing, and also to have the weight evenly distributed for stability and balance.
- High-quality materials
- Padded shoulders
- Pockets on front and back panel
- Dual zip down design
- You can adjust the waist straps to fit your body
- Some pockets hang low
- Could be hot in Summer
FishPond Fly Fishing Vest Review
This is arguably the best fishing vest. It is double patented with a signature moulded zip-down fly. The replaceable foam as well as the integrated rod tube holder makes it a valuable purchase. You can enjoy comfort when you are out fishing with its expansion zippered design for larger loads.
FishPond Fishing Vest allows you to take all you need for a fishing trip, whatever the conditions. You can alter the waist and shoulder straps to ensure that this vest fits you perfectly. Its standard design means that it is also a women’s fishing vest.
- High quality
- Alterable strap sizes
- Comes with zippered pockets of different sizes
- Durable fabric
- Integrated rod tube holder
- Some parts are not waterproof
Gihuo Mens Summer Outdoor Vest Review
The GihoVest is made from high-quality quick-drying nylon for fly fishing on the river. The double material ensures that the vest is durable and long-lasting. This chest vest is suitable for use during winter and autumn.
The v-neck design and breathable mesh lining ensure maximum air circulation and comfort. Because this vest was designed for outdoor activities, the breathable material ensures that you stay comfortable in the warmest conditions.
This vest features double thick pockets and button closures with a hook design to secure all your fishing gear. Because each tool has its dedicated pocket, you can easily find what you are looking.
- Cost-effective price
- Fast drying material
- Long lasting
- Breathable mesh lining
- Awkward sizing
- Less pockets than other options
- Fairly rigid
- Popper pockets, not zippered
Allen Gallantin Light Fishing Vest Review
This is an ultralight vest that is made from high quality, durable material and adjustable straps. The padded neck strap ensures that your neck is protected so that you don’t feel strained as you fish. Allen Gallantin Fishing Vest has the maximum storage capacity features, so it’s easy to ensure you have a pocket for each tool to fit in.
The front pockets have zip closures to ensure that all the items you store do not fall into the water. There are pockets big enough to hold large fly boxes and the large interior mesh pockets you have additional room for fishing tools.
- Lightweight design
- Durable materials
- Zip closures
- Mesh interior pockets so you can find your tools easily
- Some vests are not true to sizes
- Less pockets than other options
Anglatech VestPack Review
This vest is specifically designed for fly fishing, ensuring you have an enjoyable experience at your favourite fishing spot. You get to fit all your fishing gear and equipment in the many pockets and rod holder it comes with. This vest is designed for both men and women, with adjustable sizing. There is plenty of storage space so that you don’t have to leave an important tool behind.
All your tools will be within reach with this vest, so you don’t have to waste precious minutes trying to fish out items. The shoulder and waist straps are easy to adjust to ensure this vest fits perfectly. There is room for you to pack your take away lunch, so that you get more fly fishing in and don’t have to break up your day to get lunch.
The breathable mesh used to make this vest ensures that it is comfortable. It is made from a premium material that is lightweight, so it doesn’t weigh you down. The enabled air flow through the vest ensures you are dry and cool.
- High-quality materials
- Breathable mesh
- Adjustable sizing
- Comfortable and lightweight
- Fly pocket inserts squash flies
- Mesh wears over time
Fly fishing is a great activity that allows you to bond and have fun with family and friends. Having the best vest ensures that you are comfortable and well balanced when you are out fishing, and this guide should help you choose.
Nylon or mesh fishing vests are great options when the weather is hot, as it will keep you cool. Knowing what to look for when you are shopping for a fishing vest helps you settle for the right one.
A fishing vest with pockets of different sizes ensures that all your fishing gear (fly lines, nippers, headlamp and even fishing net) have a dedicated pocket, hook or rod holder. Consider purchasing a vest with shoulder padding to provide cushioning for the weight of the tools you are carrying.
We hope you’ve enjoyed this guide. Tight lines!