Fly fishing sling packs have become increasingly popular in recent years. The reason: their versatility.
How do you choose the best fly fishing sling pack? Sling packs are 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 packs. We’ll present you our Top 10 favorite products. We will take a look at regular fishing sling packs and waterproof fly fishing packs. We will also tell you what to pay attention to before choosing your pack.
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How to Choose the Best Fly Fishing Sling Packs
A fly fishing sling pack has only one strap that you wrap around your chest. This makes it the perfect hybrid of a fly fishing hip pack (one strap as well that you wear around your hip) and a backpack. You sling the pack around your chest, hence the name sling pack.
Most of the packs are really lightweight coming in around 1-2 pounds and can hold around 15 liters. The choice you have to make is whether you want a regular fly fishing sling that can carry your gear on a dry day or whether you want a waterproof pack (or even a submersible one). In this guide we’ll present you our favorites from both sections.
Fishing Sling Packs vs. Fishing Vests vs. Fly Fishing 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.
10 Best Fly Fishing Sling Packs Quick Answer List
Best Regular Fishing Slings
In this first part of our review we want to present you with a few solid options if you are looking for a regular fly fishing sling packs to hold your essential gear. If you are looking for a waterproof fishing sling, click here.
The Teton Fly Fishing Pack is a great entry into the world of fly fishing sling packs. For less than $60 it offers many features of higher priced fishing slings. Three zippered pocket can hold a lot of gear, especially the easily accessible front pocket. A sleeve at the bottom to carry a water bottle and one at the side to carry your landing net are great features.
The Teton Fly Fishing Pack is lightweight at only a little over 1 lbs (0.45 kg). The shoulder sling is nicely padded and provides excellent comfort for all day fishing fun. A foam fly patch can hold your flies and the Teton Fly Fishing Pack offers several attachment options on every side.
At only $59.99 the Teton Fly Fishing 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.
If you have been fly fishing for a while you surely know about the quality of Simms products. The Simms Tributary is no exception to this rule. If you’ve read any of our other gear guides, you’ll know that we like to recommend entry level products from premium brands. The reason: often their knowhow from high end products trickles down into their entry level products.
This is also true for the Simms Tributary which comes at $79.95. Made from durable recycled polyester, this sling can hold 10L which makes it a great choice for a day trip. Beware, that the Simms Tributary is not ambidextrous like its brother, the Simms Freestone, and hence has to be worn over the right shoulder.
The Simms Tributary features one main compartment and a small zippered exterior pocket. A net sheath can comfortably hold your landing net. The shoulder strap is well padded for all day comfort. If you are looking for a straight forward, well made fly fishing sling pack, go for the Simms Tributary.
The design of the Orvis is very thought through and the cushy, foam-padded shoulder strap makes it an ideal choice for long days at the river. It is made from 100% recycled cordura.
The Orvis Pack also features multiple tool attachment options. On the bottom it has 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 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 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 Flat Head tops our list of the best regular fly fishing packs. 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 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 stabilisation.
Best Waterproof / Submersible Fly Fishing Packs
Now that you have a good idea of the best regular packs out there, we want to take a look at our favorites from the section of waterproof / submersible fly fishing packs. These are more expensive because of their technology. The best waterproof fishing slings are fully submersible. That means you can put them under water and they will keep your gear dry no matter what.
In order to achieve this they are made with waterproof zippers such as the famous TIZIP. These are much more expensive than normal zippers and hence submersible fishing slings all come in at $200+.
The FishPond Thunderhead Pack is one of the fishing sling packs in our review that are fully waterproof. Take this sling pack in your hands and you will instantly feel its sturdiness. It feels like an elephant skin. A small zippered outside pocket (not waterproof, only water resistant) holds your essentials.
The reason why waterproof sling packs such as the FishPond Thunderhead 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 TIZIP 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 pack such as the FishPond Thunderhead Pack. You won’t regret spending the extra money.
The Patagonia Guidewater 15L is the successor of the brand’s famous stormsurge sling that was a fly fisherman’s favorite for years. Now Patagonia has reworked its popular submersible sling pack to make it even better.
The new Patagonia Guidewater 15L is made from 100% recycled nylon material. The shoulder strap does not absorb water. The main compartment zipper can be opened from both sides making access as easy as it can be. The ambidextrous pack features a net holder and a rod tube holder.
The Patagonia Guidewater 15L comes in black and blue and weighs in at only 1lb 7 oz (670g). A small separate pocket on the inside can hold your essentials such as a wallet or keys. One of our favorites of the season.
Following Filson’s design philosophy, the Dry Pack is a beautifully minimalistic sling pack. It features one padded shoulder strap that enables you to quickly swing the pack around for easy access. The main compartment is protected by the sturdy T-ZIP.
The zipper for the small exterior pocket of the Dry Pack is only water resistant. The Dry Pack features a D-ring to attach a net for example. An extra handle on the side secures a safe grip at all times.
Here is another excellent option if you are looking for a waterproof, fully submersible fly fishing sling pack: the Simms Dry Creek Z. It comes in two colors and features a wide, comfortable shoulder string. Exterior lash points all around the sling allow for the attachment of extra gear such as pliers or nippers.
The Simms Dry Creek Z also comes with a neat slide-in pocket for your fly fishing net. On the inside, the sling features mesh pockets for storing small items. All your gear goes into the big main compartment. A big front pocket on the outside can hold a fishing license. But be careful, it’s only water resistant but not waterproof.
The Orvis Waterproof is the last waterproof sling pack in our test and it’s fully loaded with nice little features. Orvis reworked their traditional waterproof sling pack to incorporate feedback from fly fishermen in the field.
The Orvis Waterproof features multiple attachment rings across the entire pack. The tippet spool comes in handy when you need to change tippets in the pouring rain. A fly patch on the side of the Orvis Waterproof can hold your used flies.
On the bottom the Orvis Waterproof has a water bottle holder. With a capacity of 14L it’s right up there with its contenders such as the Simms Dry Creek Z, the Patagonia Guidewater 15L or the Filson Dry. Waterproof but not submersible.
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.
Last update on 2021-11-30 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API
Conclusion on Fly Fishing Sling Packs
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.
Fly Fishing Sling Packs: Frequently Asked Questions
A fly fishing sling pack is a great option if you don’t want to carry a backpack. The easiest way to organize it is to ask yourself which gear you will need at the water. Most of the time you will want to bring a number of fly boxes including a nymph box, a streamer box and a dry fly box. Your sling pack can also hold additional items such as tippet spools, pliers, sink leaders, or a pair of fishing sunglasses.
A sling pack is a bag that can be worn across your chess. You can look at it at a form of hybrid from a backpack and a hip bag. In contrast to a backpack it features only one strap that you sling around your upper body hence the name sling pack.
Sling bags are a great alternative to a backpack if you don’t need to carry a lot of gear. Especially in warmer temperatures you will sweat less using a sling pack.
Learn more about fly fishing gear:
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