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Columbia Sportswear Henry's Fork II Vest-How to Chose A Fly Fishing Vest


A classic trout-fishing vest--with a few little extras for the demanding angler Six large-capacity exterior pockets with hook-and-loop closures, 4 large capacity zipper-closed pockets, and a back storage pouch A pliers pocket, two built-in pigtail-clip retractors, and a utility D-ring keep essential tools close at hand Neoprene padding around the neck reduces binding and chafing Removable sherpa fly keeper Rod holder with hook-and-loop closure Shell constructed from a durable, wrinkle-resistant cotton/polyester poplin blend.

How to Choose a Fly Fishing Vest Part I

Fly fishing vests hold all that gear. Choose nylon vests for the backcountry. Cotton vests cost less but dry slowly. Short vests keep gear above water when you're wading deep or float tubing. Consider a vest/backpack combination for the backcountry.

How to Choose a Fly Fishing Vest

"Kersplunk!" That's the sound of your fly box, containing $100 worth of flies, falling out of a shirt pocket into a fast-moving trout stream. If your mongoose-quick reflexes fail you at this moment, you can wish that box bon voyage. Its next stop: the Gulf of Mexico. How do you prevent such a stressful scenario? Get yourself a good fly fishing vest to secure and organize your gear.

Fly fishing vests provide pockets that hold and organize fishing tools and gear. Choose lightweight, quick-drying, wind-blocking nylon (such as ripstop and Supplex™) vests for the backcountry or wet conditions.

Cotton and cotton/poly vests usually cost less than those made from nylon. In wet conditions, however, cotton absorbs water and gains weight. Cotton dries slowly. Short vests keep gear above the waterline when you're wading deep or float tubing. Consider using a vest/backpack combination ("vest pack") for backcountry fly fishing.

What is a Fly Fishing Vest?

It's a multi-pocket vest that holds and organizes fly boxes, floatant, tippet spools, raingear, stream thermometers, roast-beef sandwiches and other essential fishing gear. Modern-day fly-fishing vests, tailored from high-tech fabrics and engineered for performance, can significantly enhance your fishing efficiency and comfort.

Fabrics Before making a purchase, consider the materials used in a fly fishing vest's construction. Here's information on the most common options you'll encounter:

Nylon (including ripstop and Supplex™)—Nylon vests are lightweight, quick drying, tough and durable. They also usually provide some degree of wind protection, helping to keep you warm when you fish in blustery conditions. Nylon is your best option if you plan to fish the backcountry.

Polyester mesh—Mesh vests are lightweight and cool. Choose this type of vest if you plan to fish in hot, muggy conditions.

Cotton (and cotton/polyester blends)—Vests tailored from cotton and cotton/polyester blends usually cost less than those made from synthetics. In wet conditions, however, a cotton vest might absorb water and gain weight. Cotton does not dry as quickly as synthetic materials.

Pick Your Pockets

Number of Pockets In general, the more pockets a fly fishing vest has, the greater its gear-carrying capacity. The fly fishing vests in REI's product mix offer between 6 and 23 pockets. Vests with high pocket numbers usually include specialized pockets designed to hold and organize fishing-specific gear items such as tippet spools, floatant and stream thermometers.

Waterproof Pockets Waterproof pockets prevent fly boxes, cameras and other valuable gear from getting drenched.

Pockets with Drain Holes Some fly fishing vests feature pockets with specialized holes that allow water to drain out should you get caught in a sudden downpour or take a spill in the river.

Large Back Pockets Many fly fishing vests offer high-volume rear pockets for holding larger items such as raingear, water containers and extra clothing layers.

Features to Consider

Sizing If you plan to fish in cold conditions, get a roomy vest that can fit comfortably over multiple clothing layers.

Color Inconspicuous anglers catch more fish. Choose a neutral-colored vest. Or go one step further: Match your vest color to the environment in which you plan to wet a line.

Length Shorter fly fishing vests keep your gear above the waterline when you're wading deep or float tubing.

Fly Patches Most fly fishing vests come with one or more "fleece" patches that you pin to the outside of your vest and use to dry waterlogged flies. When your fly gets soaked, remove it from your leader and hook it into the fibers of the fleece patch. Tie another fly on your leader while you allow the damp fly to dry on the fleece patch.

Hook and Loop Rod Holders Like a "third hand," this feature holds your rod while you select flies, tie knots, straighten leaders, etc. This fly fishing-vest feature usually involves two components: A loop on the vest's lower hem and a hook-and-loop patch on the chest. When you need both hands free, slide your rod's grip section into the lower loop, while "lashing" down a higher point on the rod with the hook-and-loop patch.

D-rings Handy attachment points for nets, flashlights and other gear.

Foam or Neoprene Collars Some fly fishing vests offer no-chafe foam or neoprene collars. These can greatly enhance your comfort if you plan to fish for long stretches of time.

Inflatable Vests REI offers an inflatable fishing vest from Stearn's. This vest has a built-in CO2 cartridge that instantly inflates a flotation chamber when you pull an emergency cord. When inflated, the vest provides over 22 pounds of buoyancy qualifying it as a Type III Coast Guard-approved personal flotation device (PFD). Inflatable fly-fishing vests make a great choice if you plan to fish from float tubes or pontoon boats.

Vest Packs

Consider a fly fishing vest/daypack combination for fly fishing in the backcountry. The pack section stores the larger quantity of gear, food and clothing necessary for trekking and fishing far from civilization. Most vest packs allow you to separate the vest and pack components as needed.


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