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Gear Review: the Vest

fly fishing vest

For years, fly fisherman have been trying to find the perfect piece of gear to carry their various and sundry flies and tackle on their fishing expeditions. For a sport so fascinated with gadgets, gizmos, and Gink, the conscientious angler has had to answer the age old question: Should I be comfortable and risk leaving that one, hot fly at home? – or – Will I carry the whole fly shop with me but fish like a burdened pack mule?

Well, ladies and gents, it appears as if the fly fishing industry has heard your question. The answer is simple: vest.

Admittedly, it wasn’t featured in many catalogs or profiled by bloggers attending ICAST/IFTD. But it is going to take the world by storm. In a world of space-age sling packs and artisanal lanyards, the vest will indubitably carve out a niche in the contemporary fly fishing scene.

Most manufactures are making vests this year, andthe majority of them carry features such as:

    • Lots of pockets

  • Ample rear storage
  • D rings and tether points a-plenty
  • Big pockets for the things you might not need, but then again might?
  • A nifty, if not impractical, loop/Velcro-strap rod holder
  • Weight distributing designs inspired by the “shirt”
  • Tiny pockets for individual split shot, strike indicators, or pieces of gum


All of that fancy techno-jargon aside, let’s get to the real reason that most fly fisherman will be sporting the vest in 2016. The look. In a culture where the line between form and function is often blurred, the vest is going to be the next flat-brimmed hat, large arbor reel, or wicker creel.

I myself own a vest. It has been my primary gear-storage apparatus for years. It excels at carrying all of my essential gear, a rain jacket, flies I’ll never use, snacks, water, wader repair kit, knot-tying tools I don’t know how to use, and lots of the little plastic tubs you get from fly shops.

It can’t not be the next big thing. It is almost like vests have one foot firmly planted in fly fishing’s past, another stepping into the future, and a third kicking the door down in the present. So get one now. While all of the other guys on the water are hopping around in minimalist chest packs with bits and pieces flailing about them, you’ll be fishing safe and sound. As adventurous-looking anglers don larger and larger backpacks capable of carrying a camp stove and bed roll, you’ll be able to open up an almost-hidden pocket and find the hand warmers you packed for last year’s steelhead trip.

Most importantly, you’ll have another piece of $100 fishing equipment. And no one can put a price on that.

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