Fly fishing vests are by far the most popular fishing gear for fly anglers. Nobody wants to keep going back to their vehicle every time they need something, right? Fishing vests can keep all your light gear in arm’s reach, enabling you to concentrate solely on catching fish and having a good time while you’re at it.
Most people assume that shopping for a fly fishing vest all comes down to what you intend to carry, but that’s not always the case. Fly fishing vests vary in size and quality, so to get the best one; you might need to go through tens or even hundreds of vests unless, of course, you have a list of the top fly fishing vests.
Best Fly Fishing Vests on the Market
1. Simms G3 Guide Vest
If you’ve shopped for fishing gear before, then you’ve heard of Simms. They have been around for years and have gained a good reputation for their high-quality products, and this vest is no exception.
One of the best things about this vest is the level of comfort it provides. It features a stretchy mesh material on the shoulders that keeps you very comfortable, even after a whole day in the water. It also has a padded collar that keeps you well ventilated, even on the hottest day.
You get two big zippered pouches, two cargo chest pockets, and two vertical weatherproof chest pockets on the chest. On the back panel, it has a weatherproof split-back pocket, and a large bellowed cargo pocket.
Another cool feature on this vest is the ‘third-hand rod holder.’ The rod holder features a reel seat string and a Velcro chest tab that enables you to use both hands when changing flies or adding tippet material.
2. Fishpond Gore Range Tech Pack
If you are in the market for a fly fishing vest that not only looks great but also gets the job done, then you’d better take a look at the Fishpond Gore Range Tech Pack.
The Fishpond gear has an efficient design that gives you enough comfort and space for your gear, without any unnecessary fabric and features.
This fly fishing vest has a total of 17 pockets of different sizes to fit everything from fly boxes to leaders and tippets.
It also features wide, adjustable shoulder straps that distribute weight evenly, keeping you comfortable, even on long, gear-heavy trips. It also comes with external attachment points that provide quick access to forceps and zingers.
Like our previous picks, this vest also offers excellent ventilation. It has a mesh backing at the back and inner front to keep you cool on hot days.
3. Orvis Pro Fishing Vest
Apart from its obvious good looks, the Orvis fishing vest is made to resist damage in any fishing environment, making it among the most durable fly fishing vest on our list.
It comes equipped with thoughtful design elements like a padded collar, capacious armholes, and stretchy padded shoulders that are so comfortable, you might even forget you’re wearing it.
Unlike most vests that come with a zippered front closure, the Orvis Pro comes fitted with an adjustable fastener. The purpose of this feature is to move up and down, allowing for a custom fit.
The Orvis Pro comes equipped with a total of 18 pockets that are organized pretty well to enable you to access your gear with ease. It features two medium-sized front pockets to offer you chest storage. Each of the front pockets also contains a fly-drying patch and a hideaway tool port.
You will find two massive compression-molded compartments below the chest pockets with small zippered molded pockets on the front. You’ll also find a sizeable vertically-zippered pocket on the right side of the main opening.
On the rear, this fly fishing vest possesses a full mesh pocket. The pocket gives you access to the interior as well as a large zippered compartment. All interior pockets are made of a stretch mesh material but don’t have zippers or Velcro fasteners.
On the downside, the Orvis Pro tends to get wet when in deep water.
4. Simms Headwaters Pro Mesh
If you fish in scorching and humid areas, then the Simms Headwaters fishing vest is perfect for you. This vest is made of hard-wearing nylon. The compartments are also thoughtfully placed.
This vest features a padded collar. Also, it keeps you dry when you’re moving around in deep water.
In terms of storage, it has excellent freestone pockets. Also, it has two velcro pockets on either side of the fishing vest. Contrary to what you might think, this pocket design and configuration do not reduce much on the storage size, and this product makes up for the limited storage on the front with extra mesh storage options on the rear.
This fishing vest also possesses a cool feature. It has two built-in retractors. The feature is located on each chest’s side. These retractors come in handy as you get to have your nippers attached securely and usable at all times.
5. Anglatech Fly Fishing Backpack
If you are in the market for an affordable fly fishing vest that will give you all the comfort and storage options provided by high-end vests, then you’d better check out this fantastic fishing vest.
The first thing you’ll notice when you take a look at this product is that it resembles an adjusted PFD. It features adjustable closures, a tight back, and is cut reasonably high. Although it is only sold in a single size, the vest’s closures provide a pretty good fit.
This fantastic vest closes with a single zipper. As you might expect to form a single zipper vest, it often fails by either breaking up entirely, becoming undone, or just functioning poorly. On the upside, this vest is constructed to be suitable for everyone.
This vest also comes equipped with interior padding for added comfort, making it heat a bit; therefore, it is more suitable for colder weather. It also has a 1.5-liter water reservoir. It comes in handy with a drinking tube that pops up at the right chest.
In terms of storage, you get two large vertical pockets at the front with two separate zippered pockets in each.
Although this vest does not offer many storage options, you can’t lack space to store your items. Everyone, you look around wearing this fishing vest, you will find a well-covered loop or eye for attaching hemostats, nippers, or anything needed for fishing. With so many places to secure your gear, customizing your tool position has never been simpler.
At the rear, you will find a large zippered pocket. This gives you flawless access to the water reservoir. Additionally, it gives you plenty of space to store all the tools you might need, from rain gear to an extra line.
6. Simms Freestone
The Simms Freestone is a good option for anyone who wants a high-performing fly fishing vest at a reasonable price.
This vest is constructed from sturdy, fast-drying nylon with a padded collar. It also consists of a breathable mesh-liner. It is high-cut to keep its contents dry when you’re moving in deep water and opens at the front via a rigid plastic fastener.
In terms of storage, this fishing vest comes equipped with 19 pockets. These compartments enable you to store anything you need for your fishing trip. On the front, you get two large vertical pockets at the chest that can fit fly boxes easily.
Beneath their Velcro closures, there are small stash pockets that are suitable for accessories like indicators. You also get two Velcro slash pockets that can be located on either side of the chest opening.
At the waist, this vest is fitted with two massive horizontal pockets that have durable zippers. Each of the pockets wears a flap enclosure pocket for added storage. You also get a D-ring. This feature is for your neck. It is located at the back. The vest also possesses two excellent Hypalon attachments for items on the chest.
7. Patagonia Mesh Master II Vest
If you are in search of a lightweight, breathable fly fishing vest for use during the summer, then this product might be the vest for you.
This vest boasts a mesh body that is breathable and reduces the overall weight of the vest considerably.
Although it doesn’t have a minimalist design, this fishing vest has a streamlined design that can accommodate all your necessities, leaving out all unnecessary features that most fly fishers loath.
It features a smart vertical front pocket design that serves to reduce bulk. All pockets come equipped with a 3-layer, 100 nylon construction. The pockets are breathable and are coated with a DWR (Durable Water Repellant) material to keep your gear dry.
The vest’s back panel has a stacked upper pocket that comes in handy when wading through the water by keeping your gear dry. The bottom part of the back panel features a mesh zip pocket used to store a light rain jacket or other equipment.
This product is super comfortable, cool-dries quickly, and comes with an EVA foam collar that provides a snug fit.
Factors to consider when buying a fly fishing vest
1. Number of Pockets
The most crucial factor to consider when buying a fishing vest is its storage capacity. Fly fishing vests are just equipment for holding fishing gear, so it’s evident that they come with several pockets.
There is a fine line between a vest having too many pockets or not having enough. Most fly fishing vets come with between 10 and 20 pockets. Picking a vest with a convenient number of pockets is convenient since you won’t lack space for your fishing gear.
The ideal number of pockets for a fly fishing vest is between 10-12 pockets. Having too many pockets on a fishing vest would confuse you when searching for your gear.
2. Size of Pockets
Keeping the size of pockets in mind when shopping for a fly fishing vest guarantees that you get a vest that will offer you the best service. If the pockets are too small, the functionality of the vest loses its meaning. You will not carry enough tools. This will need you to supplement the storage capacity with a sling pack or chest pack.
Likewise, big pockets will be annoying and tedious, mostly if you fill all of them. They might cause the contents in the vest to be overwhelming and unevenly distributed. Therefore, you should choose a vest with an even distribution of pockets. The vest should either have medium, small or large pockets.
The quality and material of the vest go hand in hand. Manufacturers use a plethora of materials when making fly fishing vests, and this might cause you to get overwhelmed when choosing the right one.
Prioritizing quality ensures that you don’t pick a vest that will leave you uncomfortable or break apart as soon as you wear it. Fly fishing vests usually come in two types:
Mesh Vests: This type of fishing vest is made from unique perforated fabrics, making the vest well ventilated and breathable. These vests are generally lighter than other vests in their construction, but their quality level is a gamble. The major drawback of using mesh vests is that they don’t keep you warm. They are therefore not suitable for use in cold weather.
Non-mesh or Traditional vests: These types of vests can also be referred to as heavy-duty fly vests. These types of vests are made from heavy materials, making them very durable. They are heavier and warmer compared to mesh vests. This makes them suitable for cold weather, like during the winter.
Avid anglers spend a lot of time on the water. If you’re one, you must pick a vest that will keep you comfortable while you’re at it.
When it comes to the level of comfort offered by a vest, two things come into play: weight and cushioning.
With your vest packed, its weight increases significantly, and if you’re not careful, it might end up weighing you down and causing you to strain your shoulder. That is where padded shoulders and neck come in handy. They ensure that the vest’s weight is evenly distributed across your neck and shoulders, thus enabling you to remain comfortable, even when wearing a fully loaded vest.
It would be best if you also went for an adjustable vest. Such vests enable you to take more comfortable positions as you fish. They also come in handy when paddling a kayak since they don’t get in the way of your paddle.
5. Color and Design
When it comes to fly fishing vests, functionality is critical. They are not made with classic designs such as those found in high-end clothing brands. That being said, if you appreciate aesthetics, there are plenty of fly fishing vests out there for you to choose from.
The general style for pocket accessibility is the same for all fly fishing vests; their buoyancy differs.
If you fish in water, then you should go for a vest with better buoyancy features. It would help if you also considered camouflage to avoid scaring the fish away
6. Water Resistance
Although water resistance is not a primary concern when shopping for a fly fishing vest, you should consider it if you intend on carrying gear that might get damaged by water.
Most manufacturers coat a few pockets on their vests with DWR. This ensures the pocket contents remain dry when the vest is submerged. Some models are fitted with flaps over the pockets. This ensures that splash doesn’t get into the pockets if the zipper is left open.
Fly fishing vests are just as essential as any other fishing gear. Without them, you wouldn’t be able to carry all your fishing gear comfortably and efficiently.
We understand that shopping for a fly fishing vest is very daunting. That is why we reviewed seven of the best vests on the market. All the vests on our list are of the best quality. We also tried to diversify their range so you can find one that suits your budget and storage needs.