You’ll already know that being organized is the key to a successful day’s fly fishing.
Fly fishing is so mobile, you want to be able to up and move in an instant.
The key is a good fly fishing vest, and I’ve got some great suggestions for the best fly fishing vests in 2021.
I want to show you my choicest picks and have also assembled a quick guide for key features to look for so that you can choose the best.
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When you are looking for a great fly fishing vest, you will want something lightweight. This vest is constructed from a really durable lightweight mesh. You will be wearing the vest for the majority of the day, so comfort is king. The mesh will also keep your back nice and cool.
But that’s not all.
You’ll have plenty of storage options if you decide to make the investment. The vest features six zippered front pockets, plus a large pouch in the rear. I like to take a lightweight fishing jacket, and this is the ideal place to store it.
When flyfishing, you want to be pretty much ‘handsfree’. Another great feature is the net ‘D’ ring, allowing you to travel with your landing net and have it to hand when you need it most.
Lightweight and great quality.
I love that every pocket is zippered.
Great fit with adjustable shoulder straps.
The shoulder straps are great, but I found them just a little thin. They can start to rub if you are casting all day.
I’ve started strong here. This mid-priced fly fishing vest has pretty much every feature I look for. I love the mesh back and adjustable shoulder straps.
For the money, you are getting quite a lot of vest here. When it comes to storage, it is exemplary.
How much storage?
Well, if I said to you you’ll get 17 pockets in total, would that be enough? The hardest part might be remembering where you put things! It also includes two folding integral ‘fly benches’, basically a foam shelf to stash your flies.
You’ll also get a rear-mounted net ‘D’ ring.
It’s a great all-in-one fishing vest, make no mistake.
If you are carrying all that gear, then you want to reduce weight where you can. This vest features a suspension spreading structure to evenly distribute weight around your torso.
Sizing isn’t an issue either. Both the waist and the shoulders are fully adjustable, meaning you’ll get a comfortable and perfect fit.
I really like the chest-mounted rod holder too. If you are traversing boulders while wading, you may have a wading staff or just need your hands free to balance.
Orvis is the gold standard when it comes to fly fishing attire. If you are looking for your ‘forever’ fly fishing vest, then you may have found it.
One key feature that I really like is the width of the shoulder straps of the vest. When casting, you are often moving, go too thin, and you’ll find that the straps can start to chafe. This comfortable fly fishing vest is supplemented by ultra-lightweight and stretchy material.
And there’s more than meets the eye.
Ok, I know this vest looks basic, but it actually has 18 pockets in total—12 on the outside (including two very large rear pockets) and 6 on the inside.
There are two hideaway tool ports located on the breast section for keeping sharp tools, and snags safely tucked away.
Shall I tell you what I hate?
Squashed flies. Fortunately, with this jacket, the front fly-box pockets are compression molded and pretty rigid, keeping your flies nice and safe.
A good amount of storage.
Supremely comfortable and durable.
The color of the vest didn’t do it for me, but that is down to personal preference.
One of the best premium fishing vests that I have seen. There’s plenty of room to store all of your odds and ends. If you were to choose this vest, it should last a long time.
You don’t need to spend a fortune to get a good fly fishing vest.
Do you want proof?
Here it is. The Bassdash strap fishing vest offers plenty of the things I look for. A huge amount of pockets (18 to be precise), not to mention loops on pretty much everywhere on the vest. These are highly useful for attaching your odds and ends, such as leader bridges, nippers, and zingers.
The waist section and shoulders are fully adjustable, so you should get a perfect fit. As with some of my best fishing vests, this also has a mesh back. As you’ll already know, fly fishing keeps you moving, and it is quite easy to get too hot, mesh stops this problem.
I love that the larges pockets are actually at chest level. They make the ideal place to store things you’ll need to access regularly without having to wade back out to reach them.
Do you know what else I love?
A chest-mounted rod loop. It is super handy when I need to stow my rod and have both hands free (like when I am changing fly, for instance).
This vest has lots of mesh, which I find superb when it comes to comfort.
As accessories go, it will give you plenty of options. There are loads of pockets and loops.
This vest would have been perfect, except that the waist adjustment straps can get in the way a little if the current is behind you.
Overall this is one of the best budget fly fishing vests that I have seen. For the money, it has lots of features you’d expect to find in a vest 5x the price.
If you are new to fly fishing and are still figuring out what works for you, you might want to go a little more towards budget fly fishing vests.
For a low-cost option, this is great.
You’ll see many features that are normally found in more expensive vests. The wide shoulders are made of mesh, a big plus for a comfortable fit. And you’ll also get 16 pockets in which to store your fly fishing essentials.
There are a few breast loops to attach zingers and tools to. And overall, this vest looks pretty durable.
One thing I really like is that this vest is available in numerous colors, 18 of them, so if you are fashion conscious, you’ll be able to find one to suit.
There isn’t masses of innovation in the vest, and I would have liked to have seen a D ring for my landing net, but as a basic model, it will serve your purpose adequately.
A really affordable fly fishing vest.
Lightweight design and durable construction.
This vest isn’t adjustable, so those with unusual body geometry or size requirements might struggle to get a perfect fit.
Ultimately you do get what you pay for. This low-cost fly fishing vest would be ideal for occasional use or a beginner to the sport.
If you are looking to invest in something to see you through the next few seasons, you will want to go for the best quality fly fishing vest you can.
Check this out.
This fly fishing vest is practically a chest-mounted ‘pack’. It has loads of innovative and useful features. I am a huge fan of the integrated fly benches. When it comes to fly storage, you should be able to take your entire collection. The front-mounted pockets can house both large or medium fly boxes (or even a mixture of both).
It’s about the little touches.
The vest is actually manufactured from recycled fishing nets. If you are environmentally conscious (and you should be), you’ll contribute to keeping our sport ‘green’.
The back panel of this vest is constructed entirely from this Cyclepond mesh. So not only is it environmentally friendly, but lightweight and breathable too!
When it comes to vests, storage space is your friend. This vest boasts a whole 65 cubic inches of storage. To put this in real terms, that is more than some backpacks!
Included fly benches.
Some might feel slightly perturbed by paying a premium for a vest made with recycled fishing net… Don’t. It’s a great vest.
This vest is durable and great looking too. It is adjustable and breathable, with plenty of storage. What more could you want?
Ah, Redington. They hold a special place in my heart. My first fishing vest was a Redington, and I was heartbroken when I upgraded. Redington offers affordable quality.
It is that simple.
Ok, this vest is a little ‘no-frills,’ but this is fly fishing, not a fashion show. This polyester fly fishing vest is lightweight yet durable. I would have liked it to be a little more breathable, but that said, the lower price makes this a compromise. It has a few features that make it great.
I really like the knitted collar. It is comfortable against the next, especially if you often turn your head (hint, it is fly fishing, you will be).
You also get a few extras included.
Well, an included fleece fly keeper for starters, these are essential for keeping your flies dry. Not to mention a fair helping of ‘D’ rings and loops, perfect for accessories.
An affordable and durable vest.
Mid-level storage, perfect for beginners.
The vest is not breathable, so it can get a little warm.
As an entry-level vest, this could represent a great choice. It is mid-range in terms of storage but has all of the key elements I look for in a great fly fishing vest.
Have you gathered that I like a fair bit of storage in my vests?
If it’s pockets you want, it is pockets you shall have!
This vest packs a punch in the pocket department. There are 20 of them! There’ll be plenty of room for your leaders, fly boxes, tools, and whatever else you might need.
Simms is a quality brand with a good name in the sport. With a vest like this, it is easy to see why.
Remember when I talked about ‘little touches’?
This vest comes with two built-in retractors. These are the ideal way to attach a zinger or hemostat. The zippers are corrosion resistant, too, ensuring that this vest will be with you for seasons to come.
One beautiful feature is the combination of a knitted collar with a mesh body. You get comfort and lightweight wearability, all in the same vest.
Another noteworthy feature is the inclusion of a reel seat holder. These are great for taking the weight of the rod off your hands when you need a break.
The largest number of pockets on my list.
Lots of little extras.
I’ve got nothing bad to say, it is a great vest!
For me, this is the ultimate, but then I am quite fussy. I don’t mind spending extra when it gets me something so good. For a reasonably priced and supremely functional vest, this could be an excellent investment.
If you are out for the day, then it stands to reason that you’ll need more room. What if you could combine the best fly fishing vest with a great fishing backpack.
Well, here it is.
Aventik has combined two great ideas to give you the ultimate fly fishing storage solution. You have a vest at the front for all of your quick-access items. And on the rear, you’ll have a roomy storage backpack.
The vest features a great deal of the tech I’ve mentioned in some of the other fishing vests above. D rings, spacious pockets, and even a rod holder. It’s also adjustable. A fantastic feature is that you can fold the lower pockets in when wading in deep water, keeping your possessions nice and dry.
Sometimes you want a little extra.
Well, I’ve got something for you.
You’ll find this setup comes included with fly fishing tools too! You’ll get a hook keeper, a nipper, a zinger, and a small pair of fly fishing forceps to compliment your kit. If you are looking for tools, head over to my guide on the best fly fishing nippers to get you started.
Excellent value with this two-in-one deal, a vest, and a really great fly fishing backpack.
The extra fly fishing tolls provided are a really nice touch.
This is heavier than any of our other setups, but that said, you’ll be spoiled for choice when it comes to room.
If you plan an expedition and want to bring absolutely everything you can, you’ll need a custom-built fly fishing solution. This could be it. If you prefer a pure sling pack, I’ve got a great article on it just here.
The Best Fly Fishing Vests – Buying Guide
So, you know that you need one. But which will be the best suited for you?
Don’t worry, I’ve got the answers.
I’m going to run through some of the features that I consider ‘essential’ so you can make the best choice.
A Comfortable Fly Fishing Vest
I place this quality as a real first when looking for the best vest for fly fishing. Let’s face it, anything that interrupts your enjoyment of fishing is a bad thing.
You will be carrying a lot on your shoulders (literally), so you want something comfortable. But how do we ensure that?
My first port of call is to look at the shoulder straps. I want to see a couple of things.
I want shoulder straps that look wide enough that they won’t rub my shoulders, and secondly, I like to see adjustability. By loosening and tightening the straps, I can get a snug fit, which means less movement and rubbing.
The same is true of waist straps. I want my vest to be comfortable yet secure. By tightening it, I can ensure it doesn’t get in the way when I am fishing.
If you are looking for the best fly fishing vest for women, you will definitely want something that can be altered to fit the differences between a guy’s physique and a girl’s.
You’ll have seen one thing that features heavily in my product suggestions above.
That’s right, mesh.
When it comes to fly fishing vests, the mesh is your friend. It is lightweight, strong, breathable, and dries really quickly.
Waterproofing isn’t the biggest issue when it comes to vests. They don’t cover much of your body, and in fact, you want them to be as minimalist as possible. If in doubt, choose something that is quick-drying over something which is ‘waterproof’.
Fly Fishing Vest Storage
This is the part that makes or breaks a good fly fishing vest. As a general rule, I say the more storage, the better.
Want to see how to set up your fly fishing vest in the most optimal way? This video shows you a way of doing it, but it is all down to personal preference.
It isn’t simply about how many pockets a vest has.
It’s about where those pockets are located. Otherwise, you might as well wear a backpack.
I look for large enough pockets to stow what I need, but I also have a good think about where I will store my things for often-used items such as nippers and scissors. I want them on my chest at all times.
For fly boxes and leaders, they too must be reached quickly. I hate wasting time when I am fishing.
I also want an interior section to keep my prized possessions safe. Ideally, these pockets should be high up in the vest to avoid anything getting wet.
Rings and Loops
These are two features that you don’t want to be without. Loops and rings allow you to clip and attach other fly fishing accessories. If these are small essentials, you don’t want to lose them, and a loop allows you to secure them and have them quickly to hand.
One loop that is absolutely essential is a landing net ‘D’ ring. If you’ve seen my article on the best landing nets for fly fishing, you’ll already know they are pretty compact. By having a ring on your back, you can safely store your net and have it within easy reach when you need it the most.
Here’s a feature that is worthy of special note.
Go for pockets that are zipped. Not Velcro, not press-studded… ZIPPED! It only takes a moment of inattention, and a full box of flies is on its way to the sea… The only sure-fire way to avoid this is to make sure your possessions are secured behind a sturdy zip.
So there you have it, 9 of the best fly fishing vests for 2021. Whether you are a seasoned pro or just getting started, there should be something there to suit.
Whatever you choose, make sure the vest has the minimum features I’ve given above, and you won’t go far wrong.
What vest do you like the best? Let me know in the comments.