If you’re reading this, I’m assuming you’re either an experienced or just a passionate fly fisherman. If that’s not the case, at the very least you’re flirting with the idea of becoming one.
By implication, you’ll be spending time on the river, which means you’re going to need the best fly fishing vest you can afford.
Consider the fact that it’s the second most used piece of fly fishing equipment you’ll ever buy and use, so making the right choice for you is very important.
Let’s take a look at the top five best quality fly fishing vests, taking into account all their particular features, at the end of our review, I believe your choice will be clear.
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Top 5 Best Fly Fishing Vest
1. Anglatech Fly Fishing Vest Pack for Trout Fishing Gear and Equipment
Designed by a Fisherman for Fishermen, the Anglatech is a high-quality, lightweight fly fishing vest. A vest made for comfort and not lacking in pocket space. It’s easy to see why this is a popular vest among amateurs and professionals alike.
It comes in a variety of colors, so take your pick. The idea behind the design of this vest is to allow maximum time on the water with the most comfort possible.
- There is plenty of storage offered by the Anglatech. You’ll have more than enough space for all the equipment needed for a pleasant day out on the water.
- The Anglatech allows for easy adjustment. Get that perfect fit every time for maximum comfort.
- Bulkiness is not something you’ll need to worry about with the Anglatech, its lightweight design is made from premium, quality materials.
- The zipper has been reported to give various problems such as stripping, not staying zipped up, and in some cases breaking off outright. However, these are very isolated incidents.
- The mesh will rip rather easily if not handled carefully, overloading the vest is one of the main reasons that contribute to this. Handle the mesh with care and this shouldn’t be a problem at all.
- Pockets are not waterproof.
2. Maxcatch Fly Fishing Vest Pack
Don’t be fooled by the name of this fly fishing vest, the idea behind this design is to allow for multiple uses such as hunting, hiking, etc. Primarily though it remains a vest made to bring honor to the name Maxcatch.
Lightweight and comfortable, you’ll be spending countless hours out on the water. If you’re married, you’d better get your wife into fishing because otherwise, she’ll be seeing a lot less of you than usual.
- The Maxcatch accommodates multiple fly boxes in various sizes. The expandable mesh invites more and more gear.
- A large mesh back pocket equipped with an additional zippered pocket makes room for even more equipment.
- The adjustable straps make the Maxcatch a pretty much one size fits all solution, convenient, especially when ordering online hoping the size that arrives makes for a comfortable fit.
- It’s a lightweight vest that simply allows for more comfortable time on the water. If you’re planning on spending a lot of time wearing the Maxcatch, weight is a big issue.
- The mesh backing made of quality and breathable lightweight material will keep you cool in the hot summer weather.
- There have been some reports of durability issues, however again, these are isolated incidents, less than 2% to be exact.
- The vest is not waterproof.
- Some cases reported of zippers breaking off.
- The straps release under pressure, loosening the vest.
- A couple of customers have complained about seams coming loose, but again this is less than 2% of the overall percentage of satisfied buyers.
3. Redington Clark Fork Mesh Fly Fishing Vest
The Redington Clark Fork Mesh Fly Fishing Vest, manufactured by Farbanks, is made of quality nylon material and comes in the color sage. A fast drying mesh fly fishing vest that comes equipped with a knit collar for that extra bit of comfort.
With nine external zip/Velcro closed external pockets, there’s enough space for a nice trip out on the water. The vest is also available in a tailor-made size designed specifically for youth.
- Fast drying material to keep that wet feeling to a minimum.
- Made of quality nylon material.
- A knit collar provides the wearer with comfort.
- 9 external zip/Velcro closed external pockets provide oodles of space.
- Youth size vests available.
- Zippers have provided a number of customers with issues such as breaking off, coming loose etc.
- Compared to other vests, the quality lags a bit behind.
- Better vests available on the market at similar prices.
- Storage space is limited compared to other vests in its class.
4. Allen Gallatin Ultra Light Fishing Vest & fly fishing vest
Maximizing storage capacity, the Allen Gallatin fly fishing vest utilizes a nice looking lightweight design. It’s one size fits most vest with a padded neck strap and net D-ring. The front pockets are zip closed and can hold large fly boxes with ease.
To add to that a sizeable interior stretch mesh conveniently stores boxes or gear. Multiple exterior pockets and D-rings for your accessories make this one vest worth having a serious look at.
- Eye-catching & lightweight design.
- One size fits most.
- A padded neck strap provides comfort for those memorable days out on the water.
- Front zip pockets are capable of holding large fly boxes with no issues.
- The large interior is made of stretch mesh and conveniently stores boxes, gear, or any other goodies you want to bring along.
- Multiple exterior pockets and D-rings maximizes storage capacity.
- Value for money looking at other reviews.
- One customer complained that the vest is a bit heavy.
- One customer complained that the straps did not fit him properly.
5. Lixada Fly Fishing Vest,Fishing Safety Life Jacket
The Lixada Fly Fishing Vest has gone the extra mile in designing a vest that not only compares with your traditional fly fishing vests, it edges the competition by adding features like a technical backpack, multi attachment accessory loops on its front and wide reflectors on the back and shoulders.
To top it off, underneath the exterior is a fully functioning flotation device which can be detached, making it perfect for kayak fishing. 11 zippered pockets, multi attachment Ladders, and the previously mentioned accessory loops make for some impressive storage capacity.
This vest offers so much customization it feels like the Swiss Army Knife of fly fishing vests. Apparently, inventory is limited, so if this is your cup of tea, don’t delay, order soon!
- Available in multiple colors.
- Boasts many unique features not offered by competitors.
- Full customization to meet your specific needs.
- Massive amounts of storage space, attach or detach, it depends on you.
- Contains a detachable flotation device if you are considering trying your hand at something like kayak fishing.
- The Universal size does not fit everyone; smaller people will have to look at alternative options.
- It is not a Coast Guard approved life vest.
- The product description does not accurately convey what you are purchasing according to one customer.
- Limited availability.
How To Pick The Best Fly Fishing Vest For You
Having looked at several options, it’s time for you to genuinely think hard about what it is what you are looking for in a fly fishing vest. Our buying guide will be your map to the answer.
If you’ve ever gone fishing with a pro, you’ll have noticed they have an extensive collection of gadgets and tools, baits and lures all aimed at catching that dream fish that cements itself in campfire story history forever.
Think of your fly fishing vest as those gadgets, tools, lures, and baits. In other words, the pockets, the amount on the vest and the ability for you to store your weapons of choice within them will be critical to your success.
Logically you cannot take your tackle boxes into the waters, so that’s where your fly fishing vest pockets earn their weight in gold.
You need a vest with enough pockets but not too many. If you overload on pockets, you are going to feel compelled to add stuff to them. That’s a mistake you don’t want to make.
Take a daypack for all your extra stuff and keep only the most important stuff in your pockets when you’re fishing.
You need at least ten pockets but don’t get more than twenty. Two large pockets on the bottom, four pockets on the front should be enough to keep all your big gears.
On the top, two pockets to keep all your small items. D-rings and interior pockets are also necessary.
A lot of consideration goes into buying a very simple but critical piece of equipment. This is going to be snug next to you all day. Make sure it’s right, it’s comfortable, and it’ll carry the gear you need to take.
Final thoughts on the pockets, it might sound trivial, but look at the placement of your pockets, you want to have the optimal use of all your equipment on the water.
Oh, and make sure there are enough pockets, no point in looking good but missing the point of what the vest is for. The more the merrier.
Size & Fit
Depending on your height, picking the right size is very important. There are some models of fly vest that goes down to your waist; some prefer to wear them higher.
A vest that goes above your waistline looks kinda awkward. Those are made for people who like to wade in deep waters and keep all their stuff dry. There is a risk of doing this.
If you are wading and the water is above your waistline, you may end up drifting downstream as the buoyancy of your body lifts your boots off the bottom of the stream.
The bottom line is, don’t wade above waist level and get a waist level fly vest.
You need to balance your packing. Most of the time you will be wearing a shirt or two under the vest, keep that in mind when picking the size.
When you are out there on the water for a long time, you need to keep yourself comfy and balanced.
In addition to the length, you need to make sure that the vest is large enough to go over all of the clothing you are going to wear regardless of the season.
Although there’s nothing wrong with wanting to acquire a fly fishing vest that looks good, it’s not metaphorical skinny jeans time. It isn’t a fashion competition.
You could easily, on a good day, spend hours in your vest. You want comfort, extreme comfort.
It should be a sad moment for you to take off that vest. Make sure that you feel 110% comfortable in the vest you eventually decide to purchase.
Again, this might seem trivial, but the slightest discomfort could ruin the entire experience, and you don’t want that.
In this section we’ll be looking at two types of material vests:
- Mesh fly fishing vests
- Non-mesh fly fishing vests
Your mesh vests should be nice, breathable and lightweight. This is awesome considering the amount of time you’ll be out on the water.
The obvious con here is that mesh is not your most durable material. You could be as careful as humanly possible, but accidents happen.
The advantage of a mesh vest is that it’s going to be cooler in the summer, but it’s going to be colder in the winter. It’s more of a personal decision, so you gotta make a judgment call on that.
Even without the unfortunate event of an accidental tear, the motion carried out by fly fishing stimulate friction, and science tells us that friction and mesh don’t mix well. Non-mesh vests are much more rugged and durable. They also come heavy and bulkier.
This is a personal choice, but don’t just grab and go. Research carefully on what will best suit your needs.
You’ve been forewarned, don’t blame the retailer if your mesh vest tears, and don’t have a hernia if you feel like you’re bodybuilding instead of fly fishing.
There is no way you can check for hems and stitch areas online, that’s where positive reviews and friendly suggestion comes in. Once you get your hands on a product, check it out thoroughly.
Depends on material, fishing habitat and how much load you are going to be hauling. Might last couple of years which is a long time considering the lifespan of a fishing vest.
Hopefully, our buying guide assists you in making the right choice for your individual needs, that’s our aim here, a happy client.
Take into careful consideration the suggestions made in the former, and you’ll be alright. It’s not rocket science, has enough pockets, feels comfortable, and finally, to mesh or not to mesh.
Frequently Asked Questions
We’ll be answering one question per vest in the order they were reviewed.
1. Question: Do the front compartments hold flies? Is there a foam insert or are they for fly boxes and tackle.
Answer: The two front-most pockets have Velcro foam inserts for flies.
2. Question: Are any of the pockets 100% waterproof for electronics? If so is one large enough for an iPhone 6+?
Answer: None of them are waterproof, but the large pockets up front should be big enough.
I bought a Pelican 1040 micro case which is pretty big for any phone, and it fits inside. Just barely, but it does fit without straining the zippers or overdoing it.
3. Question: What is the loop at the bottom typically used for?
Answer: The loop is used to hold your rod while you change tippets, flies, etc. Place the cork end of the rod in the loop; the reel will act as a stop and allow you to work on the end of your line. Quite simple, nifty, and effective!
4. Question: Any of the pockets waterproof?
Answer: Nope. Bring a plastic baggie. Great vest though!
5. Question: What type is the Life Jacket Rating?
Answer: Not rated as a life jacket. It’s a fishing vest with padding.
6. Question: Can I store fishing lines, hooks, and lures in a vest?
Answer: As I have said before, everything comes down to the size and pockets of a fishing vest. Small equipment like lures, baits, lines, and hooks are the necessary stuff.
You need them every time you want to switch bait, try out some new strategy or give a different color scheme to your fishing.
All of these vests mentioned above have dedicated pockets to keep these items with you at all times. Some of them use a foam pouch to keep all your lures there.
Fly fishing is an amazingly enjoyable sport. It relaxes the soul, refreshes the mind, and there are very few things as satisfying as winning the battle with that river monster trophy fish after hours of fighting. That’s why choosing the right vest for you is so important.
Take your time and make the right decision, but don’t take too long, the river is calling, and that river monster trophy fish is seeking out a worthy opponent. Getting the best fly fishing vest is half the battle won.