Like many things, the answer is, it depends. There are a lot of great options when it comes to carrying your flies, tools, and tippet around, and finding the best one for you can be a difficult task if you’re only trying to choose only one.
Fly fishing is an activity that offers a gamut of options when it comes to gear. Different situations require the right gear to maximize the experience. The spectrum of fly fishing equipment is overwhelming and the choices can be intimidating and fishing vests and packs are no different. This post offers things to consider when looking for the ideal pack for your fly-fishing adventures.
Here is some insight into what to consider when looking for a vest, hip pack, or sling.
THE VEST is ideal for fishing situations where you only have to carry the essentials e.g. flies, leader, tippet, and basic tools like nippers, and forceps. If you’re wet-wading or fishing a small creek for trout and you don’t need much because you don’t wander off too far from base camp or parking, Avest with easy access, to tools, lines, flies, and even a small trout net is ideal. Modern vests feature straps and hooks to attach tools beyond just pockets. A minimalist way to carry the essentials. The best part is you feel like a fly angler when you wear one.
- Limited on what you can carry
- Not the best to Spey cast in
- No easy way to carry a water bottle
- Not ideal Restricts movement over bulky jackets
- Not the best for bushwacking
- You feel like a fly angler when you wear it
- Makes you carry only the essentials
- Good organization
- Comfortable and less fatiguing
THE HIP PACK, on the other hand, is great for fishing in situations where you’ll likely be traveling greater distances whether by foot or boat and require more gear for longer days on the water away from where you base.
Ideal for situations where you will be on short treks to get to your fishing spots and fishing with two-handed rods, you know, ’cause it can move out of the way.
- Not the best for wading in the deep, especially if you’re short in stature
- You tend to overfill
- Not the best organization or no compartments
- Not all hip packs are waterproof or submersible
- Easy access from front to back
- Can carry a lot of stuff including snacks and beverages
When THE SLING pack was introduced, it was the bee’s knees, especially for the one-strap backpack kids. It was a practical pack that combined the accessibility of a hip pack while having capacities close to a backpack.
Similar to hip packs, slings are Ideal for situations where you will be on longer treks to get to your fishing spots and fishing with two-handed rods, you know, ’cause it can move out of the way.
- One strap can make it feel unbalanced
- You tend to overfill
- Not big enough for overnight trips
- Fits everything you need
- Easy access to everything
- Lots of adjustments
- versatile in many fishing situations
We realize there are other carry options; chest packs and backpacks. Chest packs essentially do the same thing as a vest sans the cool factor. Backpacks are awesome and you should have one, especially one that has adjustable straps to carry an extra rod tube on a long day hike in trips or long boat rides on the water, you know, just in case.
Ideally, you should have one for every type of fly fishing experience you may encounter on a regular basis. All that said, if you were to get only one, get a sling pack. It will cover almost all your fishing situations. Then you need to decide what you need based on specific fishing situations and the tools you need to catch fish. Ultimately, the pack you carry depends on your goals and how far and how long you will be going.
Just do it…get one of each. You’ll justify it somehow.