Fly fishing – the oldest form of fishing – is an outdoor activity where anglers fishing with specialized gear are at the mercy of our compulsive nature. We are gear heads at heart. A lack of space for flies, leaders, tippets and endless gadgets is an issue for every fly fisher.
A good fly fishing vest can, however, be a one-in-all solution. We've gathered the five best fly fishing vests and all types of anglers will find one that will be most ideal for their needs.
Fly fishing vests are not a popular as they used to be but they are hard to beat, especially if you like to carry a lot of gear.
The budget friendly Amarine fly fishing vest is adjustable, has 11 pockets and foam insert to help keep afloat should you take a swim.
Our top pick based on overall value is the Kylebooker fly fishing vest. A comfortable fit and 17 pockets allows you to carry a lot gear easily.
Hardcore anglers who are looking a streamlined, intuitive design that minimizes fatigue might consider the Simms Freestone fly fishing vest.
Fly Fishing Vest Reviews
1. Amarine Made Fly Fishing Vest Pack
Ranked number one in the women's fishing vest category on Amazon, the Amarine Made Fishing Vest Pack is a traditional fishing vest with many interesting features and colors and is sold at an entry-level price.
Featuring two side mesh pockets, accessory loops, two front pockets, foam paddings, premium textiles, and more, this product is ideal for all types of fishing, including freshwater and saltwater. It's also perfect for hunting, camping, kayaking, and canoe fishing.
The product is a multi-pocket fishing vest that is very popular in the industry. It comes with a front zip as well as numerous pockets which are useful for storing almost any fishing gear. In total, the vest comes with 11 zippered closures, which you can easily open from left to right and vice versa, and from up to down and vice versa. It's obtainable in eight different color options: black, blackish green, blue, green, camouflage green, camouflage yellow, grey, and red.
The fishing vest includes a breathable mesh, which makes the model particularly suitable if you want to use it during the summer season. Light but well-made, the vest is strong enough to hold everything a 200-pound person needs.
The shoulder strap and adjustable waist and length can be adapted to each angler's height and weight. Therefore, this is a vest that allows you to have a good fit.
What I Like
I like the design of the fishing vest from Amarine Made because of its light weight, plenty of pockets, large color options, and inexpensive price range.
What I Don't Like
This vest may actually have too many pockets! If you were to fill them all up the vest could get heavy. Of course you don't have to actually use all the pockets.
2. M MAXIMUMCATCH Maxcatch G-Mesh Vest Pack
M MaximumCatch has been selling their famous Maxcatch line for years, and their adjustable G-mesh fly fishing jacket has caught my eye. But what makes it a different product from the rest?
The central zipper does not take as much stress. When the pockets are full and pulled in two different directions, the zipper starts to slide on its own. However, if you don't bring your entire arsenal of fly fishing tools with you, you should be good to go.
You'll be able to enjoy the power of the Maxcatch vest and prevent sweating, thanks to the full mesh panel construction on the back. It'll stay breathable and you will find a premium-designed model and one that wouldn't put a hole in your wallet.
Although it wouldn't be my first choice for a full-day fishing adventure, if you need a fishing vest that can be used not just for moderate fly fishing but for camping, kayaking, and other activities, then this is it. This product is also available in eight different colors with high price differences between each color variant.
What I Like
I like that it's a well-made fishing vest with varying price options for every angler. Highly recommended by fly fishers, this is also well-built and has plenty of room to spare.
What I Don't Like
This vest comes in different colors and has a premium design (minus the premium price). But it doesn't hit every note in the way I like. I am a huge fan of padded shoulder straps, but I am not exactly thrilled that when you pull on the adjustable straps, they tighten at the shoulders and leave the bottom hanging in the air.
3. Kylebooker Fly Fishing Vest Pack
This is an ideal fly fisherman's vest! It has a unisex design and adjustable straps, which makes it very easily adjustable and adaptable for all sizes of anglers. It's a product that many anglers say is better than the Maxcatch.
The vest for fly fishing from Kylebooker is the most suitable for men and women in this type of activity. This vest has a sturdy zipper and a series of pockets (17) that are also appreciable for most types of hook and line fishing.
The weight of 23 ounces makes it one of the most lightweight vests for fly fishing. Because of this, you can wear this vest with ease, also by the possibility of adjusting the shoulder and waist straps. It's available in a single size that fits all weight levels. In this way, it is possible to adapt the vest to your size.
Furthermore, the weight is distributed evenly on the chest and shoulders, making the arms remarkably free to move in the most exciting phases of the capture.
The mesh with which the product is made allows air to flow freely through the fabric from the back, making the vest also suitable for the hot season. There are also 17 internal and external pockets which are more than sufficient for all types of needs.
Like most vests, this is available in six color options, from army green to light grey, and the price differences between them are not very wide.
What I Like
What I like most is the mesh design. The backside is breathable and designed to let air flow through. This is, therefore, most suitable for summer fly fishing. Kylebooker most recommends the vest for trout and bass fly fishing. I like the ability to adjust the shoulders and waist, which allows you to adapt it to your physical shape and therefore have more comfort.
What I Don't Like
The product is made of a polyester material which could be more strongly built. Many users also point out this, but I think it's the only downside.
4.Anglatech Fly Fishing Vest Pack
If you are more into trout fishing, I encourage you to consider this vest by Anglatech. This is a fishing vest that offers different pockets and spaces to store any type of object that can come in handy during the hunt for the coveted prey.
The major highlight of this gear is that it is adjustable in size and ideal for use by all men and women. The breathable fabric on the back and the relative lightness make the vest even more comfortable.
The high quality, however, is also clearly reflected in the price. Compared to previous models, the cost of this product is practically almost twice.
However, the strong point of the Anglatech product is, above all, the wearability. The possibility of adjusting the shoulders and waist straps allows the garment to adapt perfectly to whoever wears it.
Ultimately, if you are interested in trout fishing and are willing to spend a little more to ensure a more durable product, this is the fishing vest to bet on.
What I Like
The strong point is the wearability and, therefore, the comfort. It allows it to be worn for several hours without feeling the weight. The back is breathable and will enable you to stay cool and dry. So it is also excellent for those who fish in the summer season.
What I Don't Like
The price can be an issue for many starting anglers. You can get almost two vests with other products for the same price. However, the good thing is you'll be having a vest that will stick with you by the riverside.
5. Simms Freestone 19 Pocket Sleeveless Fishing Vest
The Simms' Freestone Vest is inspired by the unobstructed beauty of freestone rivers. The vest is made by fly fishers in Montana for fly fishers. This streamlined vest design contains 19 intuitive and well-organized pockets.
The Simms Freestone Vest is a multi-functional outdoor vest. This fishing vest has 19 pockets for your personal gear and fishing gear, and these pockets include four chest pockets, two large vertical side pockets, four hip pockets, two large horizontal zippered hip pockets, four inside pockets, two internal large horizontal zippered hip pockets, and one horizontal back pocket.
This vest is equipped with waterproof YKK zippers. The YKK zippers, which are made of nylon, ensure that your zippers won't corrode or rust.
This fly fishing vest has been designed with the comfort of the users in mind. The vest is built from 100 percent nylon with a lining made from 100 percent polyester mesh. Lightweight and durable, the vest weighs only 17.7 ounces and is ideal for fly fishing, traveling, sightseeing, hunting, kayaking, photography, camping, and more.
The simplified design includes pockets that are designed so that they can be used intuitively. A soft, padded collar and light, breathable shoulders ensure a sense of well-being from morning to evening.
The vest isn't adjustable in size to fit all body weights, but you can choose from Small to Medium, Large, or XXL, according to your body weight.
What I Like
It has a total of 19 pockets, strategically thought out so well that everything organizes itself. I also like that the Simms outerwear is designed with YKK nylon zippers to minimize corrosion, ensure high performance, and enhance durability.
What I Don't Like
I think this could be a perfect product if it has some adjustability features. It's therefore not a one-size-fits-all vest. But you have the option of picking from the various size options from which you'd find your fit.
Now you're getting your fly fishing gear ready, you are probably asking yourself a legitimate question. How do I choose an ideal vest for fishing? Below you'll find the most important features to consider, and I'll help you answer the questions you may be asking right now.
Key Feature #1: Types of Fly Fishing Vests
First, you have to know that aside from the pockets, there are not many differentiating features in fly fishing vests. But I can still help you identify a few differences.
Unisex: Some vests are designed for use for men or men and women. This is usually indicated in the product sheet, so watch out for that.
Adjustable Vest: Adjustable vests come with adjustable straps and shoulders that make them a one-size-fits-all for large and medium body anglers, so don't freak out if you get the wrong size. However, models that aren't adjustable, like the Simms Freestone Vest, come in various size options.
Waterproof: Not all vests are waterproof. Waterproof vests usually include water-resistant nylon zippers that will protect what is kept in the pockets.
Key Feature #2: Number of Pockets
A special feature of practical fishing vests is numerous inside and outside pockets. Good fishing vests have up to 15 pockets and optionally with Velcro or zip fasteners. Some have up to 19 pockets, but you have to remember that the more pockets, the more the confusion when trying to locate where you put specific fly boxes.
You, however, need many pockets if you are passionate about fly fishing because you have to keep countless large and small fly boxes or important accessories in the pockets inside and outside.
The vest is functional when it has many pockets of different sizes inside and out. Slash pockets in the side seams and a large pocket on the back are particularly appreciated by many anglers. In the latter, there is plenty of room for a rolled-up rain jacket.
The basic equipment that fly anglers carry with them include, for example, leaders, tippet material, nippers, forceps, floatants, indicators, split-shot and other items such as mobile phones and fishing permits.
Last but not least, fly boxes of all kinds need to be stored in the pockets of a fishing vest. These include larger boxes for streamers and smaller boxes for dry flies and nymphs. Thinking of these numerous items for fishing, you can see it's important you have a vest with as many compartments as possible.
Key Feature #3: Size and Fit
The size of a highly functional fishing vest must also be right. You can find vests with specific sizes indicated in Small (S), Medium (M), Large (L), or extra-large (XL or XXL). For a universally fitting vest, choose models with adjustable shoulder and waist straps.
In addition to the number and shape of the pockets, the material is also decisive for a good fishing vest. The weight of the item of clothing depends on it. When choosing the material, pay attention to the purpose for which the vest will serve. A light fishing vest, intended for use during warm weather, can consist of a nylon front and mesh back.
Key Feature #4: Price
Price shouldn't be a key factor if you're looking for a good-quality vest. Fly fishing vests are, by the way, not really expensive. The most expensive vests still fall below $150, although you can find models that are as cheap as $15 to $30.
But it's rare to find vests made to last and with functional features to be cheap. Under $20 vests have fewer pockets and are made of low-quality fabrics. So, if you want a good-quality vest, you need a decent budget.
Key Feature #5: Comfort
If you can turn a blind eye to aesthetics, the comfort of a vest is more important. Most likely, you will spend hours and hours wearing this item in often variable weather conditions. Convenience is, therefore, an important criterion. That is, it should have padding in the right place and should be adjustable in design for all types of pressure at the waterside.
Another consideration that must be made is that you must not underestimate the weight of the vest. Lightness should not be minimized at all. It should be borne in mind that, after wearing your fishing vest, you will add various tools and objects to it, which, overall, will weigh you down.
Fly Fishing Vest FAQs
Question 1: What Makes a Good Fly Fishing Vest?
A good fly fishing vest comes with waterproof zipper closures, adjustable straps for all body sizes (or may rather be obtainable in different sizes), breathable mesh design at the back for optimal air inflow, and comes with a lot of pockets (at least 15).
Question 2: How Should a Fishing Vest Fit?
A fishing vest should be free on the body, adjustable, and responsive to all your needs while fishing. It should be twice the normal size of the clothes you wear. As most vests are sized small and considering you always have to have an undergarment on, if you wear a small size, you should choose a medium or large, and if you have a medium or large body, choose a model with large or extra-large size. And if the sizing worries you a lot, choose a vest with adjustable straps.
Question 3: What Is a Fishing Vest?
A fishing vest is a fishing accessory that allows anglers to carry all their gear and makes it easy to access. Think of it as a fishing backpack, but no one wants to have to take off a backpack every time they need something while standing in a river. So, a fishing vest is a body-worn garment that allows you to have your flies and fishing tools all organized in compartments so they can be easily accessible.
Question 4: Do I Really Need a Fishing Vest?
If you have committed yourself to an active type of fishing, such as fly fishing, you may not always have access to all your flies and small tools. For example, if you are waist-deep in the water, a fishing case is seldom at hand. With a fishing vest, you can carry everything on your body and don't have to jump back to the bank in a hurry if you've forgotten something.
Question 5: Are Fishing Vests Waterproof?
While it's necessary that the vests, at least the pockets, are designed with waterproof lining, not all are indeed waterproof. This can be a fundamental feature if, by type of fishing, you think you often find yourself in contact with water. Rain and splashes can not only make you wet, but they can also damage any electronic devices (such as your smartphone) that you have with you.
My top pick is the Amarine Made Fishing Vest. It can also be a perfect choice for women anglers who want to rock something stylishly made that is easily adjustable. However, the best unisex vest is the Kylebooker Fly Fishing Vest Pack. If you want vest with water resistant zippers to keep your fly boxes dry, choose the Simms Freestone Vest. And if you want a one-size-fits-all, I'd advise you to select the M MAXIMUMCATCH Maxcatch G-Mesh Vest Pack.
Looking for more product reviews? Check out our Buyer's Guide to the Best Fly Fishing Gear.