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New Fly Guy - Fishing Vest
Thursday, May 24, 2007

Now that I have all this fly stuff, what's the best way to haul it around?

In a previous post, I commented on the type of bag I used for spin gear.  I've been using the pouch system shown at the bottom of that posting for the last 6 months with great results.  It's perfect to hold all my spin stuff, easy to access and the top of the pouch gives me a handy shelf.  As good as that is, it's exactly wrong for fly fishing.  There are too many places for the line to catch as you cast and work to get a good fish on the reel.  After getting all balled up several times, I made the switch to a vest.

I decided to start cheap so I could learn the features of a vest that I really needed, so I bought the $20 version from Dicks Sporting Goods shown below.  After using it a few times, I concluded that it was not right for me. 

The ills of this vest include:

  • It's not durable, the zipper broke
  • The inside pockets have no room - they are just material sewn flat with no real room for pocket flex
  • The outside pockets are all undersized for the stuff I wanted to put in them
  • Limited size rear pocket

and, on a pesonal level, I learned you should buy these one size up.  I purchased a  large.  It fit great in the store, but once I got all my stuff in it or wanted to wear a jacket underneath, it was far too tight.

On the plus side, I did like the variation of the large and small middle chest pocket that you see on the left of the picture.  Nice to have another separate holding area.

Given the failure of the Dick's model, I got a vest at LL Bean on sale for about twice the cost.  I purchased an XL to overcome the size issue.

The benefits of this vest are:

  • Very roomy pockets that fit pretty much anything
  • Large inside pockets that are mesh with limited constraining material; plenty of room
  • Large back pocket
  • So far, nothing has popped loose or broken

The down size is that the one of the front pockets is one large container.  I would have preferred to have had a matching double pocket on both sides.

The large back zipper area allows me to store all my fishing gear like my hat, the lanyard with all the things I don't need (more on that in another post), a bottle of water and a snack or two.

With that extra room, I know that when I grab the vest, I've got all my accessories and only need to throw the rod and reel in the truck to get moving to the water.

In addition, this vest actually feels better to wear.  It has extra support in the shoulders that does a good job of distributing the weight.  The mesh inside allows it to move without binding on your clothes, so it never feels like it is constricting your motion.

If you are a new fly guy and need a vest, I recommend you take these factors into account and save the $20 I wasted on the Dick's version


Dick;s vest front shot.  The pockets are small

Bean front shot - very roomy pockets.  Only down side is that the middle chest pockets are both the same size.  It would have been nice to have a split pocket like the Dick's vest.

Sewn through inner pockets are useless.  There is no slack to put anything in these.  Once you squeeze something in, it's there for a long time or a fight to remove.

The Bean inside is a set of wide open mesh pockets with plenty of slack material to allow you to put stuff in there without a squeeze.

Narrow back pocked on the Dick's vest offers limited room .

You can pile a lot of stuff in the back pocket on this version.

 Unless stated otherwise, this article was authored by Steve Moore

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