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The Best Fishing Vests & Packs

Years ago, when I made the transition from casual trout fisherman to hard-core fly fishing addict, I began to realize that most of the silly junk that I had in and on my fishing vest was cheap, relatively useless gadgetry that simply took up space…although it did look cool…so I thought at the time. What’s more, I also realized that my fishing vest itself was not an effective or efficient way to organize my gear while on the river. I wore the same traditional, tan, cotton, multi-pocketed vest that virtually every other fisherman on the planet (or at least in the state) wore at the time. It had so many dang pockets and zippers that my fly boxes and other gear would constantly get lost or misplaced…especially when in the heat of the battle with a fine fish! Not to mention, the 100% NOT-waterproof fabric would turn into a sopping wet mess while fishing in foul weather…resulting in my more delicate gear (such as my camera) getting soaked and often ruined, which in turn, made me have to put all my stuff in Ziploc bags before going into the vest. Oh boy! Those old tan fishing vests induced many a filthy, rage-filled cussing fit over the years!

Finally, after one particularly frustrating day on the river, I got home and simply dumped everything out of my vest, pitched all the cheap plastic gadgetry, downsized and reorganized all my essential gear, threw away that tan vest, and created my own custom made chest/back pack that I fashioned together from old military surplus items. It was tough as heck, waterproof, and most important, it was very practical and efficient…with just enough (large) compartments to keep my gear readily accessible and in obvious places when I needed it fast! No more fumbling around through 40 different pockets to find what I was looking for.

Over the past decade or so, and more recently while working as an Alaskan fishing guide, I’ve been very happy to find some great fishing vests/packs on the market these days which have long replaced my original custom made creation. These newer, more modern designs are very comfortable to wear for all day use, are made from high quality, weather resistant fabrics, and are designed for maximum efficiency and performance while on the water. I’m especially fond of vest and packs from Fishpond and Simms, which after extensive field testing, I believe are truly some of best available. Below are my top picks. Click on the photos below to learn more and order yours today through our Amazon  and Simms affiliate service.