Best Fly Fishing Vests for 2023 (Hands-On & Compared)

We've ordered over a dozen fly fishing vests and put them to the test to narrow them down to this list of the best fly fishing vests in 2023.

As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases.

Fishing vests have long been an essential bit of fly fishing apparel for anglers of all skill-levels. While there’s a growing craze towards lanyards, hip packs, and slings these days, there’s still a massive market for the fly fisher who likes to bring a lot with them to the river.

Quick Look: The Best Fishing Vests

This is where a good fly fishing vest comes in. Not only do the best fishing vests have plenty of pockets for your fly boxes and gear, but you can also often find combo vests that double as backpacks or even camel packs to hold extra water.

In this post, I’m sharing my personal experience testing each and every one of these vests to bring you the ultimate list of the best fly fishing vests for 2023.

Fly Fishing Vests & Packs

Read More About Fly Fishing Vests & Packs

The Best Fly Fishing Vests of 2023

Alright, let’s get started! Below you’ll find all of the best fly fishing vests on the market this year. I ordered each one of these vests to my door and tested them for at least a week or two on the water to bring you this list.

You will find that none of these vests are overly expensive. I’m aware that larger brands like Orvis and Fishpond have great vests, and I’ve owned some $150+ vests in my day, but I just don’t see the point in spending that much when the vests on this list offer more features and cost far less.

1. Anglatech Fly Fishing Backpack Water Bladder Combo

  • Pros: Plenty of storage, also includes 2 L water bladder, easily adjustable, good quality overall, great value
  • Cons: The backpack is a bit small, top zipper pockets could be larger, D-Ring net attachment should be triple sewed
Me wearing the Anglatech Fly Fishing Vest during the testing period in Arizona

The Anglatech Vest Backpack With Water Bladder is one of the first vests I started testing and when it arrived in the mail, I was immediately impressed by the versatility and build quality of the vest.

The fact that this thing comes with a built-in 2L water bladder is an absolute game-changer.

YouTube video

If you’re like me, and you find yourself fishing in hot weather (I’ve been testing this vest in Arizona), then you’ll know the importance of staying hydrated while fishing.

But the bladder isn’t the only thing that makes this vest a great purchase. I love the pockets, it has enough space to carry extra gear like a light rain jacket, and it is easily adjustable from a few different points, meaning it’ll fit just about any body type.

It also features a mesh back which will allow you to stay as cool and dry as possible during those hot days hiking mountain streams or days on the drift boat.

I found the vest to be comfortable, functional, and easy to adjust and use. The pockets were all in right places and it had some fly-specific features like a foam fly insert.

→ Check out our full hands-on Anglatech Fly Fishing Vest Review Here

Why I Chose It

Of all the dozen or so vests that I tested and compared to come up with this list, the Anglatech Fly Fishing Backpack with Water Bladder was the only one to seamlessly integrate a backpack and a water bottle, while still having plenty of storage for fly gear. I love this vest.

Product Specifications

Material: Nylon Lining, Polyester, Mesh BackSizing: One Size
Overall Weight: 35 ozColors: Sand & Forest
Number of Pockets: 12D-Ring: Yes

2. Bassdash Strap Fishing Vest

  • Pros: Great price, comfortable, breathable
  • Cons: No fly fishing-specific features, some frayed stitching on arrival
Me wearing and testing the Bassdash Strap Fishing Vest

The Bassdash Strap Fishing Vest is made out of lightweight and quick-drying polyester. When I first put it on, I was impressed by how lightweight and breathable it was.

It’s perfect for those long days spent throwing bugs to fish in the warm weather. Thanks to it being quick drying, you can know that if you take a plunge in the water, then the Badash Vest will dry relatively quickly.

YouTube video

Similar to the Anglatech, this vest is also fully adjustable and can fit any angler. So, if you prefer to fish in cooler weather, then you’ll be able to easily lengthen the straps to fit over the top of your clothes. Then in the summer, it can be quickly adjusted back to fit over a t-shirt.

→ Check out our full hands-on Bassdash Strap Fly Fishing Vest Review

Why I Chose It

Let’s talk about what makes this vest great, and that’s gear storage. This vest is loaded with pockets, zippers, straps, strings, and loops. It’s perfect for clipping on your hemostats and tippet or hiding away your leaders and flies.

Product Specifications

Material: 100% Polyester with Mesh BackSizing: One Size
Overall Weight: 19.4 ozColors: Green, Blue, Brown, Grey, Red
Number of Pockets: 18D-Ring: Yes

3. Maxcatch Fly Fishing Vest

  • Pros: Detachable fly foam is great, good smaller box storage, comfortable, breathable, affordable
  • Cons: Zippers stick at first, no larger pockets for jacket
Me next to the river wearing the Maxcatch Fly Fishing Vest and showing the pockets and storage

The Maxcatch Fly Fishing Vest was one of my favorites that I tested and for an incredible price of just over $30, this one tops my list as the best value fly fishing vest.

YouTube video

It has a great amount of storage and the build quality is pretty good. The main issue I had was that when mine arrived in the mail, the zippers were super sticky. Like I had to pry them open with pliers. This is partly a testament to how sturdy they are, considering they didn’t break when I pried them open.

But after that, they worked fine and seem to be built well.

I think that this vest is a standout for the quality of the materials used, the amount of storage, and again, that price tag. Really hard to beat. Considering there are vests on the market for $300, you could buy 10 Maxcatch Fly Fishing Vests for that price and I find the quality to be great.

→ Check out our full hands-on Maxcatch Fly Fishing Vest Review

Why I Chose It

My favorite part about the Maxcatch Fly Fishing Vest was the ergonomic position of a lot of the pockets. Not only does this vest have a ton of storage, but they placed pockets in unique places (like under the arm) to give even more storage than it appears (and it appears to have a lot).

Product Specifications

Material: Polyester, Mesh Back, Foam Fly InsertSizing: One Size
Overall Weight: 14.5 ozColors: Grey
Number of Pockets: 10D-Ring: Yes

4. LOOGU Outdoor Fly Fishing Vest

  • Pros: Super lightweight & breathable, traditional look & feel
  • Cons: No external gear loops, no fly pin pad insert
Me wearing and opening the zipper pockets during testing the LOOGU Outdoor Fly Fishing Vest

When I first unboxed the Loogu Outdoor Fly Fishing Vest I couldn’t believe how lightweight it was, and I loved the old-school, traditional look and feel of it.

YouTube video

When you picture the classic fly fishing vest, the LOOGU Outdoor Vest is what comes to mind. It’s dark green in color with a cotton and polyester blend, which makes it breathable, durable and soft.

The mesh back makes it great for fishing in warmer climates and makes the vest nice and lightweight on your body. It’s ideal for fishing all day while remaining comfortable. This vest is not as adjustable as previous models on this list and is not a one size fits all.

LOOGU’s Outdoor fly fishing vests zip up in front, which allows the user to be able to do just about anything and not have it fall off. It’s perfect for hiking over boulders in brook trout streams or paddling a drift bow throwing streamers to rainbows.

→ Check out our full hands-on Loogu Outdoors Fishing Vest Review Here

Why I Chose It

This one makes the list for just how lightweight and affordable it is. It’s also a totally classic fly vest. When I put it on, I felt like I was fishing back in the days of “A River Runs Through It” when the sport was just more simplistic.

Product Specifications

Material: 35% Cotton, 65% PolyesterSizing: XS, S, M, L, XL
Overall Weight: 12.3 ozColors: Green, Blue, Khaki, Cammo
Number of Pockets: 12D-Ring: Yes

5. Obscuro Fly Fishing Vest

  • Pros: Water bottle holder, comfortable, affordable, sturdy back D-ring, good external loop storage
  • Cons: Finicky back zipper, not too adjustable
Me wearing the Obscuro Fly Fishing Vest on one of my many days of testing it out on the water

The Obscuro Fly Fishing Vest looks and feels great, and coming in at under $30, I’d say it’s another one of the best absolute budget option on the list. I feel that for the extra couple of bucks, I think the value of the Maxcatch (above) is overall a bit better, but both of these are good choices.

It was barely beaten out by the Kylebooker Vest (below) as my absolute top pick in the budget category, but it’s a pretty close second.

I love that there are plenty of external loops on this vest to hold things like my GPS and bear spray when I need it hooked on the outside for easy access.

My main cons about this one is the fact that on my version of the vest, the back zipper was a bit finicky, and as a slim guy, I didn’t find that the side adjustment snugged up enough, but other than that this is a great option if you’re on a tight budget.

Why I Chose It

Really the Obscuro Fly Fishing Vest comes down to the cost and the outside storage. It’s hard to find vests for under $30 that are still built well, and when you pair that with the great external storage loops and deep pockets, this is a good option.

Product Specifications

Material: Polyester & MeshSizing: One Size
Overall Weight: 17.6 ozColors: Green, Grey
Number of Pockets: 12D-Ring: No

6. FlyGo Fishing Vest

  • Pros: Traditional Feel, Lightweight, Good Loop Storage, Versatile
  • Cons: No Back D-Ring For Net, No Fly-Specific Features

The FlyGo Fishing Vest is the most traditional-looking vest of all the vests I tried and I love the feel of it. It also comes in the widest variety of sizes, so while it’s not adjustable, you can ensure you get one that fits you perfectly.

The vest isn’t really a fly-specific or even a fishing-specific vest, so it lacks some of the features that I’d like to see from a fly fishing vest like a foam fly insert and a read D-ring to hook a landing net, but overall if you’re looking for a nice traditional vest, this is a good option.

Why I Chose It

The FlyGo Fishing Vest takes my pick for the best traditional looking vest because it just looks like those old-style vests. For me it was between this one and the Loogu, but I think the FlyGo just edges it out on the style points.

Product Specifications

Material: 35% cotton (linen), 65% polyester, MeshSizing: XS, S, M, L, XL, XXL, XXXL
Overall Weight: 15.5 ozColors: Kakhi, Green, Baige, Black, Light Khaki, Navy Blue, Red, Grey, Navy Grey
Number of Pockets: 14D-Ring: No

7. Kylebooker Fly Fishing Vest

  • Pros: Cool button back pocket for extra gear storage, lots of pockets and storage, comfortable, great price, good use of space
  • Cons: A bit on the short side
Me showing off the storage pockets while holding up the Kylebooker Fly Fishing Vest in my fly fishing office during testing.

The Kylebooker Vest is both lightweight and breathable. Coming in at only 23 ounces, it’s perfect for a long backpacking weekend full of fishing, or even to be used as a day hike vest.

That’s exactly how I used it while testing too. I was wearing it on long days bushwacking in and out of the river in relatively warm weather and it was breathable and comfortable for that kind of day on the water.

It features enough pockets to not only hold all of your hiking snacks and gear but also all of your fly fishing equipment as well. It’s ideal for fishing in hot weather thanks to the mesh backing and how lightweight it is.

The seventeen exterior pockets can hold tippet, leaders, flies, phones, and everything in between. It’s perfect for the gearhead angler. On top of this, there are also gear attachment loops, D rings, and a hemostat keeper.

There’s even a rod holder loop, so now you can tie on your flies without having to set down your rod or tucking it underneath your arm.

The adjustable waist and shoulder straps make this vest one size fits most. On the back of the vest, you’ll find a back compartment large enough to stow maps, extra socks, or any extra gear that you think may aid you in your fishing trip.

Why I Chose It

The Kylebooker Vest made my list of the best fly fishing vests because of all of the budget vests I reviewed, this was my favorite. It’s just a great budget option.

Product Specifications

Material: Polyester + MeshSizing: One Size
Overall Weight: 23 ozColors: Black, Green, Brown & Khaki
Number of Pockets: 17D-Ring: Yes

How I Tested & Compare These Fishing Vests

We ordered a bunch of fishing vests specifically to create this list of the best fly fishing vests in 2023, and between myself and the rest of the team here at Into Fly Fishing, we’ve probably worn, tested, fished and reviewed dozens of fishing vests over the years.

As a professional guide and fly fisherman of over 10 years, I’ve rented, researched, tested, and got my hands on more vests than I can count.

When we’re testing and comparing vests, we take them out on the water for the day. We fill them to the brim with all the gear they can handle and test to see if the zippers are secure, the d-rings and external loops are built well if they have a good use of space, and if the overall build quality is worth the price.

Each of the vests, like every product on this website, has been extensively tested, reviewed, and compared before being added to this list.

Watch the Best Fly Fishing Vests Video

YouTube video

What Makes a Great Fly Fishing Vest?

Now that you know which products to look for, let’s talk about the features of good fly fishing vests and what you should be looking for. When you go over the information below, take into account what type of fishing you’ll be doing and which vest would benefit you the most.

Pockets

Ideally, the vest should have as many pockets of varying sizes as possible. This way you’re able to carry all of the essential gear you need to catch fish as well as any extra odds and ends that make your day a bit more comfortable. You’ll want small pockets to hold loose flies and larger pockets for maps or fly boxes.

fly vest and rod and reel on table

External Storage

Aside from having a bunch of storage pockets, I like when a vest has external storage loops and d-rings to attach essentials like bear spray, GPS units, and water bottles.

This is where vests really come into their own. You can’t really hang those external items off of vest alternatives like hip packs, sling packs, and the like, so if you’re going to go the vest route, it’s good to take advantage of the extra storage capabilities they have.

Adjustability

A vest that adjusts is a needed feature when you’re fly fishing. Very few of us only fish during the summer. So, there need to be straps that allow it to be worn over a flannel or down jacket and then pulled tight to be secure.

Water Resistance

A water-resistant vest isn’t a necessary feature, but it’s a great bonus. Having something water resistant gives you the confidence to be able to slip your phone or a map in one of the pockets without it being damaged.

Durability

This not only applies to fly fishers but anyone who enjoys the outdoors. Durability is a key component of gear. You need something that’ll stand up to the elements and last you season after season. A vest is no different.

Opening fly box from pocket in fly fishing vest on river

Material

The material comes into play when you want to know if a product is durable, water resistant, and lightweight. Something that is polyester is waterproof and relatively lightweight. If those are some features you’re looking for in a vest, then look for something made of polyester.

Comfort

If you want to spend hours out on the water, then comfort is something you should prioritize. There’s nothing worse than a strap chaffing your casting arm 40 minutes into a morning of fishing. If possible try on the vest and give some phantom casts with your arm to see how it feels.

Breathability

If you’ve ever walked around with a backpack on during a hot day, then you know how important breathability is. Without airflow, your back, shoulders, and chest will be drenched with sweat fairly quickly on a hot day, which takes away comfort. Look for something with a mesh back or no back.

Man with vest on river fly fishing

Light Weight

A couple of extra ounces on your back might not hurt your back at first. However, after a full day of fishing, it can easily make the difference between a sore back and one ready to go again tomorrow. That’s where a nice lightweight vest comes into play.

Fly Fishing Vests & Packs

Read More About Fly Fishing Vests & Packs

  • Best Fly Fishing Backpacks
  • Best Fly Fishing Sling Packs
  • Best Fly Fishing Vests
  • Best Fly Fishing Packs

Fly Fishing Vest FAQs

Why do you wear a fly fishing vest?

Fly fishing vests are used mainly to store extra gear while out on the water. Fly fisherman tend to carry extra leaders, lines, flies, and other essentials like water bottles and rain jackets, and the best vests will offer sufficient storage for these items.

Do you need a vest for fly fishing?

While it isn’t 100% necessary to have a vest for fly fishing, it is recommended so that you can store important items like lines and flies which often break or get lost while you’re on the water. Also, every fly fisherman should carry a net and most fly fishing vests will have a useful D-Ring on the back to hook a landing net onto.

What are the essential features of a fly fishing vest?

Essential features of a good fly fishing vest include plenty of storage for fly boxes, fly line, leader and flies, as well as a spot for a water bottle, a D-ring to hook your landing net, and a large back pocket or integrated backpack to carry rain gear or layers of clothing. The best fishing vests will also be lightweight, breathable, and easily adjustable.

How should a fishing vest fit?

A fishing vest should fit snugly to your torso and should be adjustable in length so that it can come to just above your waist.

Who makes the best fly fishing vests?

The best vests are made by Kylebooker, Anglatech, Maxcatch, and Bassdash. While larger brands like Orvis and Fishpond have some amazing vests, they are typically overpriced. You don’t need to spend a fortune on a good vest!

How much do fly fishing vests cost?

While fly fishing vests can cost as much as $300, it’s not necessary to spend that much in order to get a great, high-quality vest. These days, brands like Anglatech, Kylebooker, Maxcatch, Obscuro, and Bassdash are making great vests for under $50.

Review This Post

Conclusion

Hopefully, now you have a good idea of what the best fly vest looks like. It’s something that can carry all the gear you need while also being comfortable. You should take a look at what you need for your type of fly fishing, as well as your skill set.

Are you new and looking for a vest? Then the best beginner fly fishing vest will be whatever you can get your hands on. Or, are you an expert looking to be more of a minimalist? Then check out something with only a few pockets.

The best vest for fly fishing is whatever meets all the criteria for you and fits into your fly fishing budget. Use some of the information above to figure out what you need, and then start shopping around. A great vest will only improve your fishing experience.

Like This Article? Pin It!

Buyer's Guide To The Best Fly Fishing Vests
The Best Fly Fishing Vests You Can Buy

Amazon and the Amazon logo are trademarks of Amazon.com, Inc, or its affiliates.

As a part of the Amazon Associates Program and other affiliate programs, Into Fly Fishing® may receive a comission if you order products through links on this website.

SHARE THIS POST

Dallas spends most of his time chasing brook trout in the mountain streams of his home state of Virginia and paddling around farm ponds throwing wooly buggers to bream and bass. When not fishing he's writing about fishing and has been published in The Virginia Sportsman, Southern Culture on the Fly as well as other fly fishing and outdoor sites.

You may also like...

My Yeti Backpack front view with gear holders on the grass
Dive into our pro review of the YETI Panga Backpack: Waterproof, durable, and ready for adventure. Your go-to guide for this versatile gear.
Obcursco Fly Fishing Vest
We ordered the Obcursco Fly Fishing Vest on Amazon to bring you this hands-on Obcursco Fishing Vest Review.
Kylebooker Fly Fishing Vest
We ordered the Kylebooker Fly Fishing Vest on Amazon to bring you this hands-on Kylebooker Fishing Vest Review.