Fly fishing sling packs become increasingly popular. The reason: their versatility.
Sling packs are sort of a mix between a backpack and a hip pack. They come in a lot of different styles, shapes, sizes and features. In this guide we’ll tell you everything you need to know about fly fishing sling packs. We’ll present you our Top 9 favorite products and we will tell you what to look for when choosing your fishing sling pack.
We’ll cover the following topics:
What is a sling pack?
What are the advantages of sling packs over fly fishing vests and fly fishing backpacks?
Review of best fly fishing sling packs you can buy
What is a Fly Fishing Sling Pack?
A sling back is a mix of a hip pack and a backpack. The sling pack has only one shoulder strap that is usually opened and closed on your chest. Many sling packs have an additional strap around your waist for additional stability while wearing the pack. Most of the sling packs are really lightweight coming in around 1-2 pounds and can hold around 15 liters.
Sling Packs vs. Vests and Backpacks
Sling packs have often become the preferred choice of a pack amongst fly fishermen and women. There are several reasons for that: usually they are really light weight. Sling packs are comfortable to carry all day as the strap distributes the weight well.
With just a flip of the strap you have all the pockets of the sling pack right in front of you for easy access. A backpack for example, you would have to take off first. Despite their lightweight and smaller dimensions they can hold a surprisingly large amount of fly fishing gear.
What to Pay Attention to when Picking your Fishing Sling Pack
There are several things you should pay attention to before making a choice.
Space: Depending on how much gear you want to fit inside you should consider buying a bigger or smaller sling pack. A bigger one gives you more flexibility but the additional weight can be annoying on days when you don’t need to carry too much gear.
Shape: Fishing sling packs come in all sorts of variations. Some feature multiple pockets (downside: they can get bulky) others try to keep it simple and focus on the essentials. A smaller, slimmer pack will give you more freedom of movement.
Ambidextrous: Sling packs used to worn over your right shoulder mostly. Nowadays more and more manufacturers are offering products that can be worn over either shoulder.
Waterproofness: This is a crucial characteristic of a sling fishing pack. Although you wear it higher than a waist pack it can potentially get wet when you are wading really deep. The same holds true on a really wet day. If you want to be on the safe side, go for a waterproof one. They are a bit more expensive because of waterproof zippers for example. But on the other hand you are safe with them no matter the conditions.
Best Sling Fishing Packs on the Market
The Fishpond Flat Head Sling Pack tops our list. It has an incredibly value for money and is an excellent choice if you want a long-lasting product. Fishpond have established themselves as a fly fishing gear authority.
The Fishpond Flat Head Sling Pack is a lightweight fishing sling pack, weighing in at 1.75 pounds (0,8kg). It is ambidextrous which means it can be worn over both shoulders. This fact increases comfort on a long fishing day. Features an adjustable shoulder-strap and an additional cross-body strap for extra stabilization.
If you have been fly fishing for a while you surely know about the quality of the American manufacturers products. The Simms Ambidextrous Sling Pack Tan is no exception. Available in two colors it features everything you are looking for in a great sling pack.
Four overall zippers allow easy access to the Simms Ambidextrous Sling Pack Tan that holds 18l. Compression straps hold your rod or other gear on the way to the water. The front of the shoulder strap features a docking station, retractor attachment and a looped webbing for nipper storage.
The Simms Ambidextrous Sling Pack Tan is ambidextrous as well and comes with a vertical net carry system. Weighing only 1.5 pounds ( 0.68kg) the Simms comes in even lighter than the Fishpond Flat Head.
The Orvis Safe Passage Sling Pack is our favorite choice for a light weight sling fishing pack. Weighing in at only 1 pound 5oz (0.6 kg) the Orvis Safe Passage has great, compact dimensions.
The design of the Orvis Safe Passage Sling Pack is very though through and the cushy, foam-padded shoulder strap makes it an ideal choice for long days at the river.
The Orvis Safe Passage Sling Pack also features multiple tool attachment options. On the bottom the Orvis fishing sling pack features a water bottle pocket and it also comes with a net holder. Great choice if you want to go light weight at an unbeatable price of less than $100.
The Umpqua Steamboat ZS2 1200 Sling Camo almost carries like a normal backpack. This gives you a great range of motion and makes the Umpqua an excellent choice for fly fishermen using double-handed rods.
The large main compartment can be used to store bigger items such as a rain jacket or a lunch if you’re on the water all day. A smaller pocket outside holds your essential and gives you quick access.
The Umpqua Steamboat ZS2 1200 Sling Camo is also ambidextrous. Moreover it features a net holder that can hold even bigger handle nets. The vented back panel is a great asset on hot days.
The FishPond Thunderhead Sling Pack is one of two fishing sling packs in our review that are fully waterproof. Take this sling pack in your hands and you will instantly feel its sturdiness.
The reason why waterproof sling pack such as the FishPond Thunderhead Sling Pack come in at over $200 is the technology that ensures these packs are really fully waterproof. A crucial part in this are the waterproof T-Zip zippers. Open and close them for the first time and you will immediately feel the difference to a normal zipper.
Waterproof sling packs are not as feature rich, especially on the inside. Their strength lies in keeping every drop of moisture out. If you know you’ll wade deep or will be fishing in wet areas such as the Pacific Northwest, go for a waterproof sling pack such as the FishPond Thunderhead Sling Pack. You won’t regret spending the extra money.
The Patagonia Stormfront Sling Pack has also been in the market for years in its original form and proven itself in the toughest environments over and over again.
If you are considering bringing along some valuable photo equipment for example, the Patagonia Stormfront Sling Pack is the right fishing sling pack for you. Just like the Fishpond Thunderhead it features T-Zip Zippers and is fully submersible.
The Patagonia Stormfront Sling Pack comes in two colors: the pictured gray and black. If you are serious about wading deep and carry valuable gear, get the Patagonia Stormfront Sling.
At the end of our review we want to give you an economic option if you don’t want to spend a fortune on a sling pack: the Teton Fly Fishing Sling Pack.
The Teton Fly Fishing Sling Pack is lightweight at only a little over 1 pound (0.45 kg) and features numerous pockets outside and inside to store your gear. A sleeve in the back if the fishing sling pack secures your fly fishing net.
At only $59.99 the Teton Fly Fishing Sling Pack is an excellent choice if you want to give sling packs a try but are not yet sure they are your weapon of choice for the future. You can’t go wrong with this one.
As you can see from our reviews,a fishing sling pack is a great, lightweight option to carry a lot of fly fishing gear easily. Depending on your needs you can get one that can hold more stuff or a more minimal sling pack for a lightweight setup. If you want to be on the safe side for all conditions, get a waterproof sling pack. They are absolute bulletproof.
Learn more about fly fishing gear:
Notice: All images courtesy of amazon. If you click on one of the links in this article and end up purchasing a product we earn a small commission at no extra cost for you. Thank you! All images amazon unless otherwise noted.