fishing vest

4 Top-Rated Fishing Vests for Fly Fishing and Kayak Fishing

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Think of all of the gear you need when you're out fishing: like your fishing rod, tackle, pliers, and your fishing license. Then there's lures, tackle, bait, hooks, and more—which in addition to being must-haves, can be small and easy to lose, too. Instead of having to reach into your backpack or tackle box for all of these supplies (and risk losing them in the process), it's much simpler to keep the essentials on your person. With a fishing vest, not only will you be able to keep track of small items, but they're also great to protect your clothes from odors and are often made of fabrics that dry quickly, which is certainly an added bonus when you're out on the water all day long. There's plenty of must-have fishing gear out there—and while the right hat is imperative, most of them don't have the added bonus of convenient storage. Plus, with the right zippers and compartments, you can even end up bringing less to the water, but you'll still know you have everything you need. Some vests even double as a life jacket. These are all perfect for fly anglers, on-the-go fishermen, and kayak anglers, too. Here's our picks for the best fishing vests.

1. Our Top Pick


M's G3 Guide Fishing Vest (S-2X) - Simms, $249.95

Simms has the perfect fishing vest for the organized angler, and the smart design and well thought out construction makes it our top pick. With a whopping 24 pockets, you'll have more than enough room for everything you need. Best of all, there are various types of pockets that function for various needs: Use the weather-resistant pockets to protect your cell phone from the elements and the flapped pockets for things you'll need quick access to. There are also zippered pockets for easy access and added security—and we also love that this comes with Velcro drop pockets, multiple D-rings, and even two built-in retractors with magnetic docking stations. The jacket also has a third-hand rod holder that'll come in handy for hands-free fishing while you snap some pictures or organize your fishing accessories. It's made of 100-percent nylon and has a water-resistant finish to keep you dry.

2. A Fishing Vest That Doubles As a Backpack

Maxcatch Fly Fishing Vest Pack - Amazon, $59.99

Like most fishing vests, you'll find two large pockets on this vest. Not only does this vest have many pockets, but it also has a large backpack-like compartment on the back, so you should have enough space for your larger essentials. Many of the pockets are molded to protect items that are fragile, like flies, and yet it's still made of lightweight, water-resistant fabric. You can adjust the shoulder and waist straps for a secure fit, so this is an almost one-size-fits-all option as well, but it's the ideal vest for someone who may overpack or has a lot of fishing gear. A customer wrote, "This vest not only had more than ample room for my fishing gear, it has the added backpack which allowed me to pack a full lunch, 4 bottles of water, a thermos of coffee, my eyeglass case and room to store my jacket after it warmed up."

3. A Simple & Affordable Option 

Autumn Ridge Traders Fly Fishing Photography Climbing Vest (M-3x) - Amazon, $29.88

With breathable water-resistant fabric, you'll be sure to stay dry and cool in this lightweight vest by Autumn Ridge Traders, and it's our pick for a simple, no-nonsense option for the budget-minded angler. It has padded shoulders, making it super comfortable for all-day wear no matter how much you put in it, and there are 16 pockets with Velcro and zippers. You can also choose to unzip the back fully to reveal a full mesh back for those extra hot days. It has two larger interior mesh pockets on each side, and one reviewer notes, "This is not just a fly fishing vest, we will be using it for trout and bass fishing and it will work just fine. If you are looking for a durable, lightweight, great quality fishing vest at an actually reasonable price, then this fishing vest is for you."

4. A Fishing and Life Vest Hybrid Option

Onyx Adult Kayak Fishing Life Vest - Dick's Sporting Goods, $89.99

If you're planning on going kayak fishing this season, consider this Onyx vest that doubles as a life jacket, and a very good one, too: it's a type III US Coast Guard-approved jacket. This is the safety and security you need with the pockets that will help you keep track of all your things. Despite it being a life vest, it still has a breathable and comfortable fit and can be adjusted as needed. It doesn't have as many pockets as our top pick, but it still has a few zippered and even fleece-lined options for all of your must-haves. You'll still have space for lures and a few essentials, and it's made of 400-denier nylon (top quality stuff) that has a mesh lower back for airflow. Safety and convenience? Definitely a win-win.

This post was originally published on January 30, 2020. It has been updated by the Wide Open Spaces Commerce Team.