This post was last updated on July 27th, 2021 at 08:05 pm
Experienced fly fisherman all understand the importance of a good fly fishing vest. In order to be a successful fisherman you will need a lot of gear, and you need it accessible at all times. While out on the river you are sure to be looking for fly floatant, tippets and fly boxes frequently, and you won’t want to have to dig through a backpack to find them every time. The beauty of a fly fishing vest is to be able to stay organized with the multiple pockets they have and to keep all the mandatory gear right at your fingertips. Once you strap on all of your zingers and a fly patch or two, you will just need to load the pockets with your essential gear. Essential fly fishing gear includes things like nippers, leaders, tippets, flies and fly boxes.
Can you live without a fly fishing vest? Sure, many people will store all of their necessary gear in a backpack and take it off and dig for whatever it is they are looking for. Until you try to do this while standing in a river up to your waist, holding your rod in your mouth — you’ll never quite understand how much of a hassle it is. Carrying a fishing backpack in conjunction with wearing a fly vest is actually a pretty good idea. That way you can pack food, water, rain gear and other bigger stuff in your backpack while leaving room inside your fly vest for the commonly used items. On those backcountry fishing trips you definitely should carry a backpack with items like a first aid kit and water filter.
The Vests We Recommend
Redington Clark Fork Mesh Vest
The breathable quick drying nature of this vest is a big feature. If you end up taking a swim and want your vest to be dried out for the next day, you are certain to be glad that this fly fishing vest will dry out fast. The mesh is also nice to wear in hot weather, it almost feels like you aren’t even wearing it.
Prestige 26 Pocket Fishing Vest
This vest is loaded with pockets to fit whatever you might need to bring along. My dad uses this vest and he loves it, and so do all of the people who have reviewed it online. Perhaps the nicest feature of this fly fishing vest is the huge pocket in the back to store some of your larger items.
Packing Your Fly Vest
Perhaps loading up your new vest with all of your gear is the most fun part of buying a new one. Granted, switching to a new vest after many years of using a different one can take a little while to get accustomed to, but once the transition is made you will be glad you did. I always try to keep the gear in similar locations to where it was in my previous vest, this seems to help minimize your buyers remorse.
Other Uses For Fly Fishing Vests
Now that we are well aware of how important a fully functional fly vest is while on the river fishing, you might be interested to know that many non-fisherman also love these vests.
We like to think we carry around a lot of gadgets being fly anglers, but I am here to tell you that photographers carry around a lot of small items as well! Memory cards, extra lenses, filters, lens shades, lens cleaners etc. etc. They absolutely love these things! Granted, they look a little “touristy” when walking around Yellowstone wearing them, but you cannot argue the fact that these vests are perfectly suited for the hardcore photographer. On occasion I will go out and film people fishing to make various videos, and I’ll admit that I have experienced how great these work for storing photography gear.
Yes you can go fishing without a fly vest, I have done it plenty of times—but there are always times on those “vestless” days where I wish I was wearing one. If you usually fish from a drift boat you might not need one most of the time, but when you step out of the boat away from all of your gear you might wish you had one. Heck, you could even store a lightly packed fly fishing vest under your boat seat to grab for those times you do get out of your boat.
You might also be interested in the post “How not to pack a fly vest“.