Fly Fishing Vests and Packs Guide

Posted by  Saturday, August 24 2013 4:00 pm
expert

In order to handle the enormous amount of specialty items associated with fly fishing — floatant, indicators, tippet, fly boxes, etc. — a quality fishing vest is an investment in making your life on the water organized and trouble free. The reality is, though, that no matter which fishing vest you choose, it will not have any effect on the amount of fish you catch. On that same note, your vest does determine how organized and comfortable you are while out on the water, so getting the best vest for your particular needs will keep you happier and fishing longer. The cost of fishing vests are competitively close, so understanding what makes one vest better than the next is important so that you get the most vest for your money.

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A fly fishing vest with lots of pockets is a standard for most anglers.

Vest & Pack Types

Many different styles of fly fishing vests and packs are available to the avid angler. Each of the different styles has been designed to meet the various streamside needs of individuals anglers. The four different groups are as follows:

Standard Fabric Fly Fishing Vests: This is the standard fly fishing vest among most anglers. Lots of pockets with lots of room, a good idea for any fishing situation.

Mesh Fly Fishing Vests: This vest is just a variation of the standard fly fishing vest. The mesh vest has just as much room as the standard vest, but due to it unique mesh construction it is a little cooler and better suited for the blazing dog days of summer.

Chest Packs: The chest pack is a specialized type of fly fishing pack that has a few small compartments along with one very large front chest pocket. Due to the compact nature of these chest vests, they make ideal small stream or overgrown river packs.

Waist Packs: The waist pack is a recent addition to the fly fishing scene. Small and compact, these waist vests are perfect for the more seasoned angler who knows exactly what he does and does not need out on the water.

Basics on Pockets

The major principal behind wearing a fishing vest is to hold all the fly-fishing necessities that you might possibly need in a days worth of fishing. That being said, there are many different items that you could potentially bring with you on any day of fishing. So having a vest that contains a good number of pockets is one of the features that you should keep an eye out for when looking at vests.

Of course, you should also be cautious of vests that include too many pockets. Some models of vests boast a ridiculous amount of pockets, like 50. What could you actually put in all these pockets? The vest's purpose is to organize your needs, not to bring everything you could possibly imagine with you to the river bank. The sad thought in this argument is that most of us out there could probably find enough items to fill these vest pockets, but the sheer weight of all items would stop us from fishing more than one or two holes.  A good idea is to find a vest that contains somewhere between 15 to 25 varying-sized pockets. This lesser number of pockets should still be enough to take all you need to the river while at the same time allowing you to keep everything important close by and organized.

Another key feature to look for when buying a vest is the different pockets sizes included with the vest. Having a vest with just large pockets will make neatly storing and finding little items impossible, while on the other hand a vest that has only little pockets will be no good for carrying large fly boxes. The best idea is to try and find a vest that has a few large pockets (4-6) with additional varied sized small pockets and one very large back stow-away space. The large back stow-away space is a good idea to have included with the vest you plan to purchase; because if you plan on fishing hard to reach spots packing out extra clothes for rough weather conditions can save a days fishing.

Fabric vs Mesh Vests

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Sometimes a small pack is the best bet for small-stream anglers.

fishing vests on the market today for the most point come in two different general styles, the mesh vest or the fabric vest. Fabric vests are simply what their name implies, a fishing vest made up entirely of fabric. The fabric used to make the vest is usually some combination of polyester and cotton. You have to be careful when choosing a fabric vest, you want a vest that will be able to hold up after being repeatedly wet and dried but at the same time you want a vest that will not be too hot and heavy during the summer months.

As far as mesh vests go they are a combination of stretch mesh and fabric pockets. These vests are usually completely made out of polyester which helps them in the long run against wearing out. One reason that mesh vests are gaining in popularity is that during the hot summer months they are considerably cooler and lighter than their fabric counter parts.  With either type of vest you choose make sure to check out the quality of construction before you purchase it. A quality vest will not have any loose threads or single sewn seams. Double stitching around pockets and zippers is a must; these areas take lots of abuse over the years so quality craftsmanship will keep your vest trouble free.

Vests and Comfort

If you are going to be wearing a vest for the better part of the day while fishing, the most important feature is how comfortable the vest feels on your shoulders and back. Try to avoid vests that have big metal buckles on the shoulders straps, or very thin stiff shoulder straps. These two types of shoulder straps will rub your raw even through the thickest of sweatshirts. A series of new designs in vests have come to the market recently that helps to distribute the weight of the vest on the body and off the neck. These new designs really make for a much more comfortable overall fishing experience.

Summary

While there is some truth to the statement that if the fishing vest fits it will work.  There is a big difference between having a vest that just barely does the job, or a vest that keeps you organized and comfortable for hours on end. Which ever vest you choose to best fit your fishing needs, make sure to be open to spending a little more money on a quality vest up front.  In the future you will save yourself time, money, and aggravation making it well worth the extra investment.

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Last modified on Wednesday, April 23 2014 2:47 pm
Jason Akl
expert

Jason Akl is a writer, commercial fly tyer and guide with 15 years in the industry. Professionally, he's been a seasonal guide and fly tier that ties commercially and teaches tying classes to both adults and children. Most of his flies make their homes in fly shops in the northern Midwest but some have found their way as far as Europe. As a freelance writer, he's had many written pieces appear in both Canadian and American publications, as well as numerous global websites. When not on the bench or behind the computer, he spends time working with companies such as Daiichi Hooks or the American Tackle Co as part of their pro-staff doing product testing pieces and seminar

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