A high-quality fly fishing vest is a huge asset whether you’re fishing for an hour or all day. But if you don’t take the time to organize your vest in a logical way, you might end up spending more time searching for gear than casting to fish.

To help you get started, here are a few tips on how to organize a fly fishing vest.

Where to Put Fly Boxes in a Fly Fishing Vest

Everyone organizes their fly boxes differently, but a good strategy is to have one “working” fly box that holds your most frequently used flies. Place that box in a large pocket that’s most easily accessible with your dominant hand e.g. if you’re right handed, place it in the large pocket on the left side of your vest. That way, you’ll have an easier time unzipping and removing the fly box.

If you like to carry lots of different flies with you at all times, smaller fly boxes can be stashed away in size-appropriate pockets on the vest. When you need them, they’ll be waiting.

Use Smaller Pockets for Smaller Items

There are so many small items involved in fly fishing; leaders, tubes of floatant, desiccant powder, knot-tying tools, pocket knives, lip balm… the list goes on. All these little things are where the small pockets on your fly fishing vest get utilized.

Start by placing the items you use frequently in the small pockets closest to the outside of the vest. The less often you use an item, the further away it should be tucked in your vest.

What About Tools for Fly Fishing

Retractable leashes, AKA zingers are invaluable when it comes to organizing fly fishing tools you use all the time.

Your nippers and hemostats are the most zinger-worthy tools in your possession. Get individual zingers for each one and attach them to the dedicated tool tabs found on most fly fishing vests.

What’s the Best Way to Store Tippet on a Fly Fishing Vest?

For keeping spools of tippet easily accessible, tippet caddies also known as tippet tenders are what you want. These simple tools slide through the center of several tippet spools, like an axle, which then gets attached to your vest. Every size of tippet you need is there waiting.

What About Your Lunch for Fly Fishing?

Many fly fishing vests have large zippered pockets on the back that are perfect for storing a sandwich and bottle of water. However, if you plan on staying out all day and need extra space for food or rain gear, you may want to look into a hybrid vest/backpack design so you won’t have to go without the essentials.

Experiment and Rearrange Until You find What Works for You

Fly fishing vest organization is very personal and there isn’t a single “right” way. Use the tips above as a starting point and play around with different arrangements until you get your setup dialed in.