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Best Fly Fishing Vests – 2023 Buyer’s Guide

Home » Best Fly Fishing Vests – 2023 Buyer’s Guide

Fly fishing vests are generally considered an essential piece of equipment among anglers, and there are many good reasons why. With so many options to carry essentials today, the fly fishing vest is still the go-to companion for most fly fishermen. Other alternatives are hip packs, sling packs, and backpacks, just to name a few.

Some anglers like to have everything with them when they head out to the water, and others want to stick with the bare minimum. Depending on the style you go with, a fly fishing vest can accommodate almost every preference for carrying equipment. Some must-haves include tippet, nippers, pliers, or even an extra reel.

With that said, fly fishing vests come in all shapes and sizes and are not created equal. This guide will present an overview of what is available and what to look for when purchasing a new fly fishing vest. We will take a tour of the best vests available in both quality and budget and give you the pros and cons.

With that said, let’s get to it!

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Which Fly Fishing Vest Should I Choose?

A fly fishing vest provides additional storage opportunities when hitting the water in its most basic form. In former days these vests were usually made of thicker cotton or nylon. These vests were very durable. On the downside, they were not very lightweight and breathable as modern fly fishing vests. Today most fishing vests feature a combination of mesh material and nylon. This dramatically increases breathability on hot summer days.

Some manufacturers make fishing vests with a slim outline and are great if you want to bring only a little extra gear. They won’t constrain your freedom of movement. Other vests give you the utmost flexibility in getting as much equipment as you want. Some fly anglers love to carry many fly boxes for every possible fishing situation they may encounter. If you are one of them, you should look for a fly vest with many pockets.

Lastly, modern-day fly vests often come with several neat minor features such as rod holders, D-Rings, retractors, and much more. The classic fly fishing vest is relatively short, so you can wade deep when wearing it over your waders (read our Guide on the Best Fly Fishing Waders here).

Let us now look at a range of options for your next fly fishing vest. As all fly fishermen’s and women’s needs and budgets are a bit different, we made sure to give you a range of options to choose from. All of these fly fishing vests can be worn by men and women. In the very last part of this guide, we’ll take a look at Fishpond’s Upstream Tech Vest, specifically for women.

Best Fly Vest: Top 10 List For 2023

  1. Simms Tributary: Best New
  2. Redington Clark Fork Mesh Fishing Vest: Best Entry-Level
  3. Filson Guide: Best Traditional
  4. Orvis Pro: Best Fit
  5. BassDash Strap: Best Low-Budget
  6. Fishpond Upstream Tech: Best Versatility
  7. Simms G3 Guide: Best Professional
  8. Patagonia Mesh Master II: Best Lightweight
  9. Fishpond Upstream Tech Women’s: Best Women’s Vest
  10. Columbia Men’s PFG Henry’s Fork: Best Quick-Dry

Best Fly Fishing Vests on the Market

Now that you know what to look for in a fly fishing vest, we want to show you some of our favorites. We’ll dive into the details for each model and tell you what we like and dislike about them. We made sure to include different styles in this ultimate guide so that you have a wide selection to choose from. We have also paid attention to picking fly fishing vests for different budgets.

Best New Fly Fishing Vest: Simms Tributary

American manufacturer Simms comes out with their new Simms Tributary fishing vest for the new season. At $79.95, this one is an excellent choice for the minimalist and women. This fishing vest boils it down to the essentials. It focuses on reducing weight while providing you with ample storage opportunities.

The padded collar of the Simms Tributary ensures excellent wearing comfort all day long. Besides the multiple pockets, this vest features a D-ring for your landing net and a rod holder. Comes in two colors and various sizes. Excellent value for money.

Simms Tributary Customer Reviews

Love this vest lite and carry’s everything I need.

– Brian E.

Light weight, large pockets, intelligent ergonomic design. Look at your 20 yr old fishing vest dispassionately.

– Anonymous

Redington Clark Fork Mesh Fishing Vest: Best Entry-Level

The Redington Clark Fork Mesh Fishing Vest is a fantastic beginner’s fly fishing vest. It also has the potential to stay at your side for years because it has all the features you’re looking for in a quality fishing vest. Nine pockets are more than enough for most fly fishermen and women to hold all the essentials and even a tiny packed lunch if you’re out for a long day.

The padded shoulders and light mesh fabric make the Redington Clark Fork Mesh Fishing Vest comfortable to wear even when fully loaded. Besides all the front pockets, this vest features another big zippered pocket on the back that can even hold your catch if necessary. For around $30, the Redington Clark Fork Mesh Fishing Vest is a fantastic price-to-value product.

Redington Clark Fork Mesh Fishing Vest Customer Reviews

I’m now into my third season of using this vest for wade fishing the Sarasota Bay flats. I fish several times per week, but I make sure I rinse the salt water off the vest, along with all my other gear, if the bottom edges get wet. It has weathered several cycles through the washing machine and is no worse for wear. All the zippers are still in perfect working order – no corrosion. It has plenty of pockets for all my gear and leader material. The loops work well to hang my scissors, net, etc.

I attached a little magnet system to the loop on the back of the vest, the other half of the magnet to the hoop end of my net, and then I can easily reach back and attach my net to the magnet on the back and this keeps the net out of my way when not in use. I bought the large/extra large size and this way I can wear the vest over my life vest when I prefer to fish out of my kayak. I found this to be much more cost effective than the extra cost of a combo fishing/life vest with no compromises to the number of pockets available.

– Ted

Seems well made. Nice sized pockets. Should be cool in hot weather. Fits me nicely and I am large, 5’10” and 365lbs. Not constricting at all. Should fit all but the largest men. I bought the 2x/3x size.

– M Pan

Best Traditional: Filson Guide

If you are a traditionalist and want to look like Brad Pitt in “A River Runs Through It,” the Filson Guide is for you. Besides all the classic pocket options of a fly fishing vest, the Filson Guide comes with neat little extras such as a sunglasses pocket or the fly patch made from sheepskin.

Filson is well-known for the durability of its products. The Fly Fishing Guide is made in the USA and gear you pass on to your grandchildren. On the back, it features a D-Ring to attach your fly fishing net and two pockets to store a fly fishing jacket or your lunch or catch. Not as lightweight as other vests in this review, but you will surely stand out from the crowd.

Filson Guide Customer Reviews

Everything is right about this vest, from the brass hook to the zippers and to the snaps. When fishing and travelling, you need pockets, and this vest has them. I’m not even sure I have found all the pockets yet. I have no doubt this vest will last decades, if not more. It is my instant favorite. Rick / Pittsburgh

– Richard J

The perfect fishing vest! A classic fishing vest with all of the pockets you could need. I love the color of this vest and the overall classic fly fisherman styling. I anticipate having this vest for the next several decades. My great grandpa and grandpa both wore Filson while hunting and fishing, and I feel like I am continuing on their legacy of love for the outdoors when I put on this vest. I decided to go for this classic vest over many of the new fangled chest packs and lanyards.

Nothing beats the ease of throwing on a fishing vest and having everything in exactly the same place that you left it on your last fishing trip. A note on sizing: I usually wear a medium in Filson shirts and a large in most of their jackets or vest as I tend to like a little room with my outer layers, but with this vest, the medium suited me well. It is cut with lots of room. Hope you enjoy it as much as I am!

– Peter H

Orvis Pro: Best Fit

Orvis is another big fly fishing brand offering a solid fly fishing vest with its Pro model. Similar to the Patagonia Mesh Master II, Orvis stacks the front pockets vertically. The lower pockets are much bigger than the Mesh Master ones’, allowing you to store even large fly boxes (for streamers, for example). Featuring 18 pockets in total, the Orvis Pro comes close to the Simms Freestone Vest. Just like Patagonia, the Orvis Pro also features two back pockets. One of them is a reach-through, and the other closes with a zipper.

The material of the Orvis Pro promises to be extra abrasion-resistant. The vest does not come in as light as the Patagonia Mesh Master II on the flipside. At 17.5 oz (496g), it does not feel heavy either. It comes across as more sturdy overa since the fabric is not made of mesh but nylon. The nicely padded collar adds to the comfort and makes it a good choice for long days on the water.

Orvis Pro Customer Reviews

Love this vest. Purchased for a “brothers trip” fall of 2019 and could not have been more pleased. As i had to fly to the destination- very light weight. As we were in Jackson Hole, excellent durability. As im a bit of a gear geek who subscribes to the philosophy, make your gear work for you. Don’t work for your gear! This piece of kit was perfect. It worked for me at every turn, tribute or river.

I have room to spare for my next trip along with continuing to carry the extra supplies i bring. Its a bit on the extra $ side, and definitely more than it should be. But a bomb proof piece of gear ill be using for MANY years to come. Highly recommend.

Schrag 1

Got this for my husband for Christmas, and he loves it. Very comfortable and had a pocket for anything you need.


Bought this for my boyfriend and he LOVES it!!

Denise B

BassDash Strap: Best Low-Budget

The Bassdash Strap Fishing Vest is the outlier in our test in several aspects. It is the only one from a non-traditional fly fishing brand. The Bassdash Strap Fishing vest only comes in one size. However, its versatile system can be adjusted to fly fishermen and women of different builds.

The first thing that catches the eye when looking at the Bassdash Strap Fishing Vest is the number of pockets it features. This makes it an excellent choice for people who like to carry a lot of gear. The flipside of this design is that the vest gets a bit bulky. This might provide less room for movement when casting a fly rod.

The Bassdash Strap Fishing Vest is made of premium polyester and mesh fabric in the back of the vest. This gives it good breathability even on hot summer days. The collar is not as well padded as in other models such as the Simms or Filson but still provides enough wearing comfort.

The wide shoulder straps add to that since they distribute the vest’s weight equally. At 19.4oz (550g), the Bassdash vest is the heaviest one in our test besides the Filson. That comes as no surprise given the number of pockets of the vest.

The Bassdash comes in a traditional green, which gives it a classic look. Another option for traditionalists is the grey version. If you are into colors, you can choose from bright red or blue. At only $45, the Bassdash Strap Fishing Vest is by far the cheapest in our test. It certainly is a good choice for the money-conscious fly fisher.

BassDash Strap Customer Reviews

I’ve used this vest 3-6 times a week every week since I’ve purchased this vest and the durability of it seems ok as seen in one of the photos the threads did give out and opened a hole in that pocket but it’s on the inside where my license stays so it’s not a big deal but I’d rather it didn’t happen and the main zipper is plastic witch feels as cheap as it sounds but still holding good with zero issues and all other zippersare metal.

I wear it at least 4-5 hours at a time and its comfortable and will stay as light as the gear you load up into it. It has plenty of pockets for everything I’ve needed so far and over all a good deal for the price. I have also wore a hoodie under the vest and a carhartt style jacket over the vest at the same time and it was comfortable for having this vest on and still easy to access my compartments.

– Anonymous

This is a very comfortable vest. It is made out very durable material and yet very lightweight. The back is breathable mesh with helps for these hot summer days. It has soo many compartments for all your different gear. You can stay organized which is important when you’re out at the water.

The zippers come with big handles making it simple to open and close. It has adjustable straps at the shoulders and sides making it very easy to fit to your body. It even has pockets on the inside too. I would highly recommend this to any angler that’s constantly on the move. Makes your life much easier with normally means more fish.

– Jesus L

Fishpond Upstream Tech: Best Versatility

The Fishpond Upstream Tech Vest is another great fly fishing vest that is very versatile. It features 14 interior and exterior pockets. The ones on the front are extra-large to hold even big fly boxes like the Fishpond Tacky Big Bug Box.

You find a neat attachment for your fly fishing net on the back of the Fishpond Upstream Tech Vest. Adjustable waist and shoulder straps make sure the vest fits tightly no matter how packed it is. The Fishpond vest is made of recycled nylon material.

A mesh interior ensures a low weight, making the Fishpond Upstream Tech Vest comfortable to wear all day. Padded shoulder straps add to that comfort. The Upstream is the pinnacle of the Fishpond vest collection. The Fishpond Sagebrush Mesh Vest and Fishpond Gore Range Tech Pack are great options if you want something a little cheaper.

At $199, the Fishpond Upstream Tech Vest does not come cheap. But the build quality ensures you will have fun with this fly fishing vest for years to come.

Simms G3 Guide: Best Professional

If you want to look and fish look like a pro, go for the Simms G3 Guide. This model is the pinnacle of Simms’ fly fishing vest line and leaves nothing desired. 24 pockets make sure you can bring any gear you want.
The Simms G3 Guide has a very close and snug fit and does not hinder your casting.

Besides all the classic features of a fly fishing vest, the Simms G3 Guide comes with two built-in retractors to attach your nippers or pliers, for example. Every time you think you’ve discovered all the pockets on the vest, you find another one.

Simms G3 Guide Customer Reviews

There’s almost TOO MUCH storage on this thing. It’s just amazing.

– BS

I can organize better with a vest. I have packs and they are fine. I feel more dialed in when wearing the right vest, and this is it for me. There is a pocket for everything and stashing space on the back for layers, rain gear and such.

– Co Guide

Patagonia Mesh Master II: Best Lightweight

The Patagonia Mesh Master II is an excellent choice for people who would rather not wear a fly vest. It is a lightweight and straightforward as it gets. The front pockets of the Patagonia Mesh Master II are stacked vertically rather than horizontally, like in most other fly vests. This makes the Patagonia vest less bulky and gives you more freedom of movement when casting. Besides the six front pockets, it has additional zippered pockets inside. This is an excellent place to store a car key, for example.

There are two zippered pockets on the backside of the vest to hold extra gear. Their high position ensures that the gear inside stays dry when wading deep. An EVA foam collar provides all-day comfort and increases an equal weight distribution.

You have to load your Patagonia heavily, though, to feel any weight at all. Weighing in at only 12oz (340g), the Meshmaster II fly vest is designed for the fly fishing minimalist. Apart from the pockets and collar, the entire vest is made of ultra-lightweight mesh material, ensuring high breathability. The blue and grey colors add an extra bit of elegance to your day on the water.

Patagonia Mesh Master II Customer Reviews

Ive probably tried on most fly fishing vests on the market. This vest has the perfect combination of hot weather comfort and carrying capacity. The pockets are perfectly sized and well laid out. Im finally satisfied with a gear carrying option for long days on the river.

– Anonymous

Bought this in late October and have not tried it out yet. But my first impression is positive This is much shorter than a conventional vest, but the design is very well thought out so it holds all the gear .I had in my conventional vest. The designers seem to have put a lot of thought into minimizing places where your line can hang up. And it is incredibly light weight, with a very solid shoulder weight distribution system.

– Anonymous

Fishpond Upstream Tech Women’s: Best Women’s Vest

Although all of the vests reviewed in this article can be worn by women, Fishpond has created the Upstream Tech fly fishing vest, especially for Women. The women’s specific fit rides higher and has the option to be cinched down to ensure a snug fit.

The Fishpond Upstream Tech Women’s features padded, adjustable shoulder straps and mesh nylon on the back for increased breathability. It also comes with a net slot in the back and a velcro fly patch to store your wet flies to dry.

Fishpond Upstream Tech Women’s Customer Reviews

This “women’s” vest was made of quality materials, lightweight, and had all the features I need. However it was far too big for me. It is advertised as fully adjustable for men and women, however the straps could not be cinched small enough for me (5’4″, 115 lbs). The front and back panels are too wide to allow further tightening. I wish this vest was also offered in a smaller cut that would truly fit a small woman. The three stars are only because the size description is deceiving.

– NW

Columbia Men’s PFG Henry’s Fork: Best Quick-Dry

The Columbia Men’s PFG Henry’s Fork is our favorite for quick drying fly fishing vests. Available in two colors (Fossil – pictured above – and carbon), this vest is made from Columbia’s Omni-Shield™ material that promises to withstand all liquids below 170°F from entering the fabric. The result is that it dries 3-5 times faster than conventional material.

Besides these quick-drying capacities, the Columbia Men’s PFG Henry’s Fork is convinced with its multitude of pockets and attachment options. The oversized lower front pockets can easily hold even big streamer boxes, tippet spools, floating, and other essential fly fishing gear.

A neat little feature is the license window on the right chest pocket which means you don’t even have to take the license out of your pocket if you’re checked. The cushioned shoulder part ensured all-day wearing comfort.

Columbia Men’s PFG Henry’s Fork Customer Reviews

Great vest, I have worn a few times while trout fishing and really got it dirty one time. It washed-up great. The only complaint I have is that the fabric and plastic clasp used to secure the front is very small and not very secure at all and can fall off. Mine has fallen off a couple times now…I may have to try adding some stitching or something to hold it in place so it doesn’t fall off.


This is a very well made vest. I fish 4X a week. It dries quickly after getting wet. The pockets are perfect for holding my bait and small bait box. There are plenty of well placed hooks that I use to hang pliers and clippers from.

Caddie P

Conclusion on Fly Fishing Vests

We hope you enjoyed our extensive review of the best fly fishing vests. As you can see, they come in all different forms, shapes, and sizes. If you want to bring a lot of gear, pick one with many pockets, such as the Fishpond Upstream Tech Vest. If you want the utmost in casting flexibility and freedom, go for a lightweight model like the Patagonia Mesh Master II Fly Vest. You can’t go wrong with the Filson Guide if you want a cool, classic look.

Best Fly Fishing Vest Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

Q: What is a fly fishing vest?

A fly fishing vest is a piece of gear that you wear over your waders. Made of lightweight material such as nylon, it can hold many items you need. Fly fishing includes fly boxes, tippet spools, pliers, and clippers.

Q: Are fishing vests supposed to be short?

You can put several things in a fly fishing vest. These could be tools you need on the water, such as fly boxes, tippet spools, and pliers. A small lunch should also fit into your fly fishing vest.

Q: What do you put in a fly fishing vest?

Fishing vests tend to be shorter than a jacket, let’s say, because fishermen wear them over their regular clothes. When wading deep, a shorter fishing vest can come in handy since even the lower parts of it won’t get wet.

Are fishing vests worth it?

You can get a quality fishing vest for less than $50. It can be a great and helpful tool as it offers you to stow away items such as nippers, pliers, sunglasses, or fly boxes. Moreover, you can attach a landing net on the backside since most modern fishing vests have D-rings.

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