By Harry Spampinato
A vest is the classic approach to bringing all your gear along fly fishing. A new vest inspires and encourages you to reorganize your essential equipment and can also make a great gift for the old or new school angler in your life. While there are several other options out there like chest and waist packs and fly fishing backpacks, a lot of anglers prefer the look and functionality of a vest.
We’ve included a few different style vests here, some in the classic style and some more modern. There’s even a few vest/backpack hybrid units for those anglers who prefer a vest but require a bit more storage. Whatever your style is, we’ve tracked down some great deals on a variety of vests so you can find what’s right for you!
What Are The Best Value Fly Fishing Vests?
Most Breathable Vest For Keeping Cool: Redington Clark Fork Mesh Fly Fishing Vest
Mesh material is quick drying and cool on hot days
Simple, but effective pocket schematic
Youth sizing available
Not a ton of storage space compared to some other vests
Some complaints about zipper quality
Runs a bit short for some people’s liking
Here’s a classic style fly fishing vest from Redington. This is a quick-dry, mesh vest that you can keep cool in on those hot days and dry off in a jiff if you take a little dunk. There’s nine external zippered and Velcro pockets that add up to a solid amount of storage space without overloading the vest.
There’s also conveniently a space to secure a rod to the chest. Redington also offers this vest in youth sizing so if you’re buying for a youngster this is a solid option.
Best Lightweight, Durable Vest: Anglatech Fly Fishing Vest
Rip stop nylon is both durable and super lightweight
Awesome pocket schematic on the front – this vest can handle all your essential fly fishing gear
Has some mesh employed in the design for ventilaton
Large pocket on the lower back is great for stashing an extra layer or other bulkier items
Water bottle holder
A little on the expensive side compared to a lot of other vests – but you get what you pay for with this one
Not for those who prefer a more classic look
Zipper quality is not impressive
Here’s a top notch vest by Anglatech at a great price. This rip stop nylon vest is both super durable and lightweight. It should handle trekking through brush well and won’t snag up like some fabric vests do. The upper back has some mesh employed in the design for ventilation while there’s another, large zippered pocket on the lower back for stashing extra gear.
The front pocket schematic is really great on this unit — there’s big and small zippered pockets, a solid array of loops and clips for attaching gear and external mesh pockets for stowing smaller equipment.
There’s also a space to stash a drink near your waist. There’s two waterproof pockets for your sensitive items on the chest as well as two molded, fold out pockets for stashing flies. All in all, this vest provides a ton of space for gear in a lightweight, rugged package.
Best Vest/Backpack: Maxcatch Fly Fishing Vest Pack
Operates as a fly fishing vest and backpack giving it more storage capacity than most vests
Attractive, low profile look
Comes at quite a reasonable cost considering you can spend far more on a comparable vest with no backpack capabilities
Different color options available
The construction of this vest is not terribly durable – you won’t be able to beat up on this unit for more than a season or two if you’re someone who’s particularly hard on your gear
Some complaints about shoulder straps popping loose
Great value product, but fairly expensive if your needs only call for a simple vest
Here’s a seriously cool approach to a fly fishing vest by Maxcatch. This vest/backpack combination is an innovative and effective design that solves the issue of needing just a bit more storage than a vest provides. This is essentially an effective, normal fly fishing vest that’s capable of being loaded up for those longer treks out to the stream. There are two main molded pockets on the front for stashing your flies and three expandable zippered pockets for the rest of your gear located on the back.
The front of the vest is fully functionable — there’s space for flies, forceps, clippers, tippet and whatever else you might need. There’s an attachment point for a net on the side of the pack as well as several other D-rings and loops.
Essentially, this is a nice quality fly fishing vest with some added storage on the back for bringing along more gear. The fabric is water resistant and lined with mesh for breathability and the vest itself is highly adjustable for a good fit. This unit has a pretty bad ass, low profile look that’s bound to turn heads.
Overall, this is a versatile and effective vest that comes at an affordable price!
Best Value Vest: Maxcatch Fly Fishing Vest with Accessories
Comes with some nice fly fishing accessories
Great pocket schematic on the chest without overloading the vest
Can carry a rod tube
Highly adjustable and breathable
The amount of pockets here might take a little getting used to before you get organized
Only one, grey color option
Design of the upper zippers doesn’t support heavy pocket loads well
This may be my favorite vest on this list. Maxcatch has come up with an awesome value vest here, and they’ve even thrown in some extra accessories. With the purchase of this unit you also get a pair of forceps, a line clipper and a fishing zinger — pretty righteous! The vest on its own is a great deal for $50, it has a very nicely designed schematic that is ideal for angling.
There’s a large array of zippered pockets as well as D-rings and loops for attaching gear externally. One great feature of this vest is that it has a space to attach a rod tube so you can hike with your rod safely broken down instead of assembled in your hand when there’s a trek required.
The mesh back provides adequate ventilation and the strapping is adjustable for finding the right fit. If you’re looking for a seriously loaded vest that can accommodate for a rod tube, then this is an awesome value option that even comes with some added gear.
Best Value Classic Style Vest: Hilarocky Quick Dry Mesh Fly Fishing Vest
Super affordable considering the quality here
Back of vest zips down to reveal the mesh for ventilation
Available in several sizes
This vest could use a few more D-rings or attachment loops
Pocket placement is a bit awkward
Sized small – consider buying a size up
Here’s another Classic style vest, this one by Hilarocky. This is one of the better classic vests on this list due to it’s pocket schematic and breathability. The chest is well equipped to handle a ton of gear and there’s a rod holding system conveniently built into the front of the vest. The only thing lacking on this vest is perhaps a few more D-rings or attachment loops — something that at least can be easily added.
The back of this vest unzips to reveal the mesh skeleton giving you better ventilation. For a $30 vest the materials used are fairly high quality– there’s copper zippers employed into the design while the fabric of the mesh and vest itself is breathable and less prone to snagging while hiking. This one is definitely a great buy for the money that should hold up against some heavy fishing.
Best High Capacity Vest: KyleBooker Fly Fishing Vest Pack
Super high capacity for gear both internally and externally
Highly adjustable and breathable for a comfortable fit
Rod holding system is conveniently built into the chest
Comes at a very reasonable price considering the features of this vest
Might look silly to some anglers with all the orange accents
Does not have that classic look
Cheap zippers – go easy on this one
Here’s an awesome, high capacity vest that also comes at a great price. This unit by KyleBooker really has it going on. There’s an extensive array of pockets on the front of the chest as well as another large pocket on the lower back.
The storage on this one is bolstered by the added zippered pockets on the upper chest and the plethora of external attachment points. A rod holding system, molded pockets for storing flies, attachment loops and D-rings — It’s all there!
The back is designed with a mesh fabric for heightened breathability on hot days and the strapping is highly adjustable so you’ll stay comfortable in this vest without issue. It might have a bit of a silly appearance to some anglers, but I find the color scheme on this vest to have a pretty bad ass look.
For those fly fishermen who never seem to have enough space on their vest, this could be the affordable and effective solution!
Best Value Vest/Backpack: Amarine-made Fly Fishing Backpack Vest
Tons of storage between the array of chest pockets and backpack storage
Backpack compartments are expandable so you can keep the vest slim and form fitting when you don’t need the extra storage space
Mesh interior coupled with the low cut design of the vest makes it highly breathable
Comes at a very reasonable price compared to a lot of other vests
Some customer complaints that this vest wears a little bulky
Loud orange accents might be offputting to some anglers
Not hydration bladder compatible, but can be modified
Here’s another vest/backpack hybrid. This unit comes a little cheaper than #3 on this list, but it’s honestly quite comparable. I would give this vest about the same rating, it just depends on what your style is really. I personally like how the chest of this vest is low cut and how the shoulder fabric tapers to be narrow up top. The design of the vest itself coupled with the mesh lined fabric gives it great ventilation — because if you need a backpack your probably doing some rigorous hiking.
The pocket schematic on the front of this vest is killer — the two molded pockets for stashing flies make a huge difference on the water when trying to find what you need quickly. A solid array of D-rings and attachment points compliment all the pockets nicely. The backpack portion of this unit has three main compartments, so there’s even some solid organization potential there too.
Furthermore, the backpack compartments are expandable, so this vest can remain slim on days you don’t have a need for the added storage. This one is no doubt a steal for under $50.
Best Classic Style Vest: Autumn Ridge Traders Fly Fishing Vest
Has an effective array of chest pockets without being to cluttered in front
Material is water resistant and quick drying
Mesh interior is can be revealed by the zip on the back for added breathability
This vest could use an additional D-ring or two lower down on the vest
Several customer reviews insist this vest runs a bit small – order one or even two sizes up for an optimum fit
Some might not like the aesthetics of the color choices
This vest by Autumn Ridge Traders is my favorite classic style vest on this list. I think it has an awesome look and provides the typical fly fishermen with plenty of storage. The simplicity of this vest is appreciated by a lot of anglers — there’s ample space for all your essential gear without the front of the vest becoming too cluttered.
An interior, mesh chest pocket provides an extra space to stash a larger item so there’s some added storage for when you need it.
The back of the vest zips down to expose the mesh interior so you can ensure you get adequate ventilation on hotter days. The water resistant polyester fabric is great for drying quick if you get wet and the tan color is pretty tough looking if you ask me. There’s several sizes available so fitting this vest to your build is a piece of cake.
Best Simple Fly Fishing Vest: KyleBooker Camo Print Fly Fishing Vest Pack
Super economic option
Ample room for all the essentials
Low cut design and mesh skeleton give this vest pretty good breathability
Some anglers might not like the camo print look
Not a ton of organizational potential – just a few larger pockets
Buckles are poor quality
Here’s a great vest for the angler who doesn’t require a ton of organization or much gear. This vest by KyleBooker is a super affordable option that might be all you need for the stream. There’s four zippered pockets on the front for stashing fly boxes, tippets or whatever else as well as an interior zippered chest pocket. There’s an additional large pocket on the back of the vest giving this compact unit some decent carrying capacity overall.
It doesn’t compare to a lot of the other vests on this list, but there’s still decent storage for a day on the water. Fortunately there’s a few D-rings on the front of the vest for securing gear like clippers and forceps as well as a rod holding system. For a simple, $20 vest this unit is actually pretty well thought out and highly effective for fishing.
Best Versatile Classic Style Vest: Lamdgbway Quick-Dry Fishing Vest
Has a look that isn’t specific to fly fishing and comes in several colors making it suitable for photography, hunting and other activities
Great array of chest pockets
Can unzip the fabric down the back to provide full ventilation
Is sold in Asian sizing only so choose sizes mindfully
Poor quality zippers
An excessive amount of pockets for most fishing scenarios
Here’s a versatile vest by Lamdgbway that isn’t limited to just fly fishing. Of course all of the vests on this list have a number practical purposes — but this unit is a little less obviously designed specifically for fly fishing.
There are even three color options!
For fishing purposes this is a pretty top notch, classic style vest. It’s currently almost 60% off it’s regular price! The chest pockets are well thought out and there’s plenty of D-rings and loops to secure forceps, clippers and what ever else you want on hand.
The back fabric unzips completely exposing the mesh skeleton — it’s a great system for controlling the amount of ventilation your vest provides. If you’re interested in a classic style vest definitely give this one a look.
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