Sling Pack or Fly Fishing Vest? What is the Right Choice for You?

March 08, 2018

Sling Pack or Fly Fishing Vest?  What is the Right Choice for You?

There was a time when the Fly Fishing Vest was the fly fishing gear carry-all of choice.  And, why not?  It was a pretty good design and seemed to get the job done for almost everyone.  However, in the last decade there has been a full on assault on the poor fly fishing vest and it is now only one of many options for packing your fly fishing equipment for a day on your favorite water.

Take for example the Seeker Series Sling Pack.  The purpose may be the same but the system is quite a bit different than the good old fly fishing vest.  A fly fishing sling pack has several distinct advantages over the vest.  Space is probably the biggest improvement.  A sling pack holds at least as much and usually more stuff, including fly boxes, tippet, tapered leader, and tools as any fly fishing vest.  However, it is all located on your back rather than in bulging pockets in the front.  Comfort is another advantage.  A loaded vest can pull down and rub on your neck or chafe under the arms whereas a sling pack with a nice wide, padded shoulder strap can be worn all day.

Honestly, either will work just fine and in the end it comes down to what you prefer and how it works with the style of fly fishing that you pursue most.  Here are a list of pros and cons for both the traditional fly fishing vest and the more recent fly fishing sling pack.

Seeker Series Sling Pack


  1. Large volume pouches.  Enough to hold extra layers, lunch, and all the usual fly fishing gear.
  2. Zippers not velcro.  More secure and reliable.
  3. Rides on your back, but can be swung around to the front when needed.
  4. Essential fly fishing tools are strategically integrated with the pack for easy access and use.
  5. Fully adjustable for all body types.
  6. Has a water bottle holder (hydrate or die).
  7. Easy on and off.  Even over Multiple layers.
  8. Generally cooler on hot days than a vest.
  9. Can also double as a hiking pack when not fishing.
  10. Comes fully accessorized with tools.


  1. Usually a bit more expensive than a vest
  2. Can be fatiguing hanging on one shoulder if overloaded.
  3. Doesn't work well as an overnight bag.

Traditional Fly Fishing Vest

Fly Fishing Vest


  1. Less expensive (usually) than a sling pack
  2. Hangs on both shoulders and may be less fatiguing.
  3. All your essential gear is up front and accessible all the time.
  4. Lots of choices and styles available.


  1. All your gear is up front all the time.  This can get in the way of casting and handling fish.
  2. Not easy to get on and off over cloths.  Especially with winter layers.
  3. Not usually adjustable for different sizes.
  4. Adds another layer of cloth on hot days.
  5. A vest is a single purpose item.  Not good for use with hiking.
  6. There is usually no good place for water or other fluids.
  7. Closures are usually mostly velcro and wear out over time.
  8. No tools included.

While we certainly don't have anything against a fly fishing vest, we don't actually carry any of these at the time of this writing.  There is a reason for that.  We believe that a sling pack or even a backpack style fly fishing organizer is simple better.  That said, it is a very personal decision and one that each angler should make for themselves.  If you are considering a sling pack, we recommend that you check out the Seeker Series Fly Fishing Sling Pack.  We use it for all of our day trips and think its one of the best options available on the market for the money.

See you on the water!


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Fly Fishing Tapered Leader Size Chart
 2X 10.0 lb
3X 8.2 lb
4X 6.4 lb
5X 5.0 lb
6X 3.4 lb