Best Fishing Backpack Reviewed and Compared (2022 Buyer’s Guide)

Lance Wilkins
Lance Wilkins
Editor @ CallOutdoors. Outdoor gear-head and adventure addict. I fish, camp and enjoy to writing about my adventures.

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I remember my first fishing backpack and how much it changed how organized my fishing gear was on following fishing trips.

Being a fly fisherman at heart, it was the abundance of little pockets that I could access quickly that really made the difference.

That was back in the early ’90s and fishing backpacks have improved since then.

No matter the type of fishing you do: whether it’s fly fishing or surf fishing, the best fishing backpacks are waiting to help you keep your essential fishing gear safe and organized.

The Best 5 From The Review

Here are my favorite fishing backpacks from this list…

Top Pick

YETI Panga Airtight

A durable backpack from YETI that will ensure that all of your items will stay dry.

YETI Panga Airtight

The top choice of all the fishing backpacks is the YETI Panga Airtight.

It doesn’t have many pockets for organization however, it is fully: waterproof, submersible, and tough as nails.

No matter what you put into the backpack, it’s going to save and survive anything thrown at it from both the weather or ocean.

Best Fly Fishing Backpack

Simms Freestone Sling Backpack

A comfortable sling bag made from durable nylon with excellent construction for quick access to your fishing gear.

Simms Freestone Sling Backpack

The best backpack for fly fishing is the Simms Freestone Sling Pack.

When you fly fish, you don’t need to carry too much and this water-resistant, lightweight, comfy bag has all the storage space you need and it’s really easy to access all of it. It’s made by Simms, so the build quality is excellent and it’ll last a lifetime with care.

Best Fishing Backpack With Rod Holders

Fishpond Thunderhead

This bag is thick, durable, waterproof, and with the fully waterproof TIZIP zipper, no water is getting in there and all your gear will stay 100% dry.

Fishpond Thunderhead

If you need a rod holder or two, the FishPond Thunderhead is your best bet.

It has two straps along its side for carrying a rod or two, and it’s; waterproof, made from recycled materials, and comfy as can be to wear, – even when fully loaded.

Best Surf Fishing Bags

Wild River Tackle Tek Nomad

Ideal for lure fishermen who like to carry every option they need in a very organized fashion.

Wild River Tackle Tek Nomad

Surf fishing requires a lot of lures, bait, and more.

You’re likely to be doing it at all hours of the night or day.

The only backpack that covers all these angles is the Wild River Nomad.

It has a pocket for everything, including; 4 lure trays, a work surface, a sunglasses pocket, and it has a built-in light. You can fish from dusk until dawn and still rig as you need to.

Best Kayak Backpack

FishPond Wind River Roll-Top

Made from Cyclepond, a recycled durable waterproof material. It’s 100% submersible and can keep all your gear safe and dry.

FishPond Wind River Roll-Top

The hardest thing about kayak fishing is keeping your things dry and your best solution for it is the FishPond Wind River.

It has a large capacity, is fully waterproof, and it’ll sit comfortably on your back, or be strapped to the kayak while you paddle around knowing your tackle is safe inside this waterproof dry bag.

Our Best Fishing Backpacks

Anglatech Fishing Vest Pack

Primarily designed for fly anglers who need to carry little accessories like nippers and fly floatant.

Anglatech Fishing Vest Pack

The Anglatech Fishing Vest Pack is not a fishing backpack, it’s a vest and is primarily designed for fly anglers who need to carry little accessories like nippers and fly floatant.

Fit

This fly fishing vest is adjustable so you can get a customized perfect fit and it features pockets of every size to match your fly gear.

There’s a removable plier holder, a water bottle pocket, special pockets for flies with foam inserts for you to hook them into, and a water-resistant pocket for your phone.

Pockets

Every pocket is easy to get to, you’re literally surrounded by all the gear you need and it’s just a grab away.

It even features rod holders so you can clip in your fly rod while you walk around or when you need to tie not with both hands.

Capacity

Being a vest and not a backpack, it doesn’t have a huge amount of space and you might have to resort to carrying a tackle backpack as well as the vest for extra layers, food, drink, or a rain jacket.

It’s a durable vest overall but the zippers do seem to malfunction or stop working. They can come undone on their own which can lead to your tackle boxes floating down the river.

Specs

  • Capacity: Small
  • Pockets: 12+
  • Waterproof: 1 water-resistant pocket
  • Material: Nylon fabrics
  • Tackle tray: No

Pros

  • Adjustable fishing vest for a comfy perfect fit
  • Pockets of every size for all your accessories
  • High-quality construction from durable fabric
  • Rod sling for when you’re walking up the river
  • Easy access to every pocket
  • Plier holder keeps them ready
  • Foam insert fly storage pockets
  • Water-bottle pocket to keep you hydrated

Cons

  • Not very much storage space
  • You might need to carry an extra backpack for more gear
  • Zippers aren’t the best and open or fail sometimes

Top Pick

YETI Panga Airtight

A durable backpack from YETI that will ensure that all of your items will stay dry.

YETI Panga Airtight

Yeti as a brand are some of the best coolers and waterproof backpacks around.

The YETI Panga Airtight fishing backpack is one of the best when it comes to being durable and waterproof.

Waterproof

This waterproof fishing backpack features a hydrolock zipper that keeps water out and even air in.

I own this fishing tackle backpack and let me assure you, when it’s zipped up, nothing is getting in there. I had to swim back to my boat, and this backpack acted like a life raft by keeping me afloat – nothing in the backpack got wet either.

Material

It’s made of really thick nylon fabrics with TPU lamination that is tough as nails, after owning it for 2-years and fishing hard, the only wear is some scuff marks.

The adjustable shoulder straps will keep you comfy under a heavy load, and you can add chest and waist steps to make it even easier to carry.

This backpack features just 1 main compartment with a sleeve and a zippered pocket inside.

Capacity

There is much room for organization unfortunately as there aren’t enough pockets and I end up putting things in their own bag to then add to the backpack.

The outside of this backpack features molle webbing allowing you to customize it a little and add accessories where you want them to be.

There is also webbing on the shoulder straps too where you can put things you need often like nippers.

The major flaw in this and every backpack is that you have to take it off to get inside and get your gear.

Specs

  • Capacity: 28 L
  • Pockets: 3
  • Waterproof: Yes
  • Material: Hi-density nylon w/ thick TPU lamination
  • Tackle trays: No

Pros

  • 100% waterproof and submersible, nothing is getting wet
  • Enough storage space for fly gear
  • Acts as- float when in the water
  • Super durable, puncture-resistant, and abrasion-resistant.
  • Handy zippered valuables pocket on the inside
  • Molle webbing to adding accessories externally
  • Comfy padded shoulder straps

Cons

  • Not many pockets for organizing everything
  • No easy access when fishing

Best Fly Fishing Backpack

Simms Freestone Fishing Sling Pack

A comfortable sling bag made from durable nylon with excellent construction for quick access to your fishing gear.

Simms Freestone Fishing Sling Pack

Simms is a fly brand that makes some of the most durable equipment around. Their jackets and waders last longer than any others I’ve used, and this quality is also in each fishing backpack too.

Design

The Simms Freestone Sling Pack is an ambidextrous sling backpack which means it only runs over one shoulder, although Simms added two shoulder straps for extra comfort.

Everyone who uses this bag can’t stop talking about its comfort, and this is thanks to the double shoulder straps.

Compartments

This sling backpack features a small main compartment plus 5 other pockets to keep everything organized.

It also features clever little touches like plier and nipper holders on the front and a tippet holder on the back so you can add a thinner line and fix leaders easily.

Accessibility

In terms of access, this backpack does well. You don’t have to take the bag off to get to everything, just slide it to your chest and you have everything you need right there.

Simms added 4-way zippers as a feature on this backpack too, which makes getting to your stuff even easier.

Material

The backpack is made from durable nylon with excellent construction that also features a water-repellent coating that makes the entire bag water-resistant. It won’t stay dry if you drop it in the river, but a splash or two or a light shower isn’t a problem.

The only possible drawback of this backpack is that it’s quite small and might not have enough capacity for some anglers.

Specs

  • Capacity: 18 L
  • Pockets: 6 +
  • Waterproof: Water-resistant
  • Material: Nylon
  • Tackle tray: No

Pros

  • 4-way zipper for easy access
  • Special nipper and plier holder
  • A good amount of pockets for organization
  • Handy tippet holder on the back
  • A good size for traveling light
  • Padded shoulder straps for comfort
  • Super comfortable to carry
  • High-quality construction and long-lasting
  • Water-resistant to protect your gear

Cons

  • Might be a bit small for some

Best Fishing Backpack With Rod Holders

Fishpond Thunderhead

This bag is thick, durable, waterproof, and with the fully waterproof TIZIP zipper, no water is getting in there and all your gear will stay 100% dry.

Fishpond Thunderhead

FishPond as a brand specializes in making fishing backpacks, it’s their core business as opposed to a side business like another brand.

The Fishpond Thunderhead is another backpack that I own, I only own two, promise.

Material

It’s made from their own Cyclepond material that’s 100% recycled nylon old pond liners, hence the name.

It’s thick, durable, waterproof, and with the fully waterproof TIZIP zipper, no water is getting in there and all your gear will stay 100% dry.

Compartments

This waterproof fishing backpack features one main compartment for valuables and a clear stash pocket on the inside, and one handy but small accessories pocket on the outside.

The outside also has some webbing on it you can customize where you want what and a useful clip to attach your tippet roll to.

These fishing backpacks come with a rod holder so you can clip in your rod while you change spots, or carry a second rod if you’re on the flats targeting multiple species.

Shoulder Straps

Unlike a lot of the other backpacks, this backpack comes with shoulder straps, a sternum strap, and an adjustable waist strap that’s removable too, making it comfortable to carry under a heavy load.

The negatives to this bag are similar to all the waterproof bags; not enough pockets and you’ll have to take it off to access your gear.

Specs

  • Capacity: 28 L
  • Pockets: 4
  • Waterproof: Yes
  • Material: 1680d TPU coated recycled Cyclepond nylon fabric
  • Tackle tray: No

Pros

  • Super durable waterproof construction
  • Fully submersible, nothing’s getting wet
  • Comfortable to carry with waist, sternum, and padded shoulder straps
  • Good size for a day fishing trip
  • Has a rod holder along the side
  • Molle webbing for attaching accessories
  • Easy access exterior pocket

Cons

  • Could have more pockets for organization
  • You’ll have to stop fishing to access the bag

Best Surf Fishing Bags

Wild River by CLC Tackle Tek Nomad

Ideal for lure fishermen who like to carry every option they need in a very organized fashion.

Wild River by CLC Tackle Tek Nomad

The Wild River Nomad fishing backpack is ideal for lure fishermen who like to carry every option they need in a very organized fashion.

Material

It’s made from durable nylon with double stitching to ensure it’s long-lasting.

The base has extra padding too so it’ll handle being left on rugged terrains.

It’s not waterproof, however, it comes with a protective rain cover and nylon is naturally a little bit water-resistant.

The rain cover folds nicely away into one of the many pockets so you can access the rain cover quickly in a sudden downpour.

Compartments

The Wild River Nomad is a multi tackle large backpack with a space for everything. At the base, you have utility boxes or tackle boxes compartment where you can fit 4 boxes to keep your lures neatly, ready for a quick change when required.

Aside from the zippered pockets, the bag also features a protective sunglasses pocket, a pliers holder that’s removable, and a pocket that folds out to become a work surface. You can use the work surface to tie knots, rig baits, and more.

LED Light

This multi tackle large backpack also features an integrated led light system.

The led light sits on the front of the bag and you can use the led light system to light up the interior of the bag or outside while you’re night fishing.

The downsides of this bag are that it is heavy and when fully loaded you’ll notice the weight on your back, and it would be better if the backpack was waterproof or had a water-resistant coating.

Specs

  • Capacity: 31.64
  • Pockets: 10+
  • Waterproof: It comes with a rain cover
  • Material: Nylon fabric
  • Tackle tray: Yes

Pros

  • Integrated LED light system for fishing into the night
  • The bag stores 4 tackle or utility boxes in the tackle trays
  • The backpack has a dedicated sunglasses pocket
  • Removable plier holder for easy cutting and hook removal
  • The bag has loads of pockets to keep your things organized
  • Armored heavy-duty bottom construction to reduce wear and tear
  • Comfy adjustable padded shoulder straps and sternum strap
  • Easy access to all the pockets
  • One pocket converts to a work surface
  • High-quality durable construction
  • Features a rain cover to protect the multi tackle large backpack

Cons

  • No waterproofing
  • Heavy when empty

Daiwa DTBP Fishing Tackle Storage Bag

A heavy-duty bag with a large capacity from Daiwa. It can keep your gear safe from light rain or splashes with its water-resistant coating.

Daiwa DTBP Fishing Tackle Storage Bag

The Daiwa DTBP fishing backpack is similar to the bag above, but it’s a little more simple and has a much bigger capacity.

It’s made of nylon with a water-resistant coating to keep your gear safe for splashes or light rain and it won’t stay dry in a serious downpour.

Compartments

It features a large main compartment that’s ideal for reel storage and other bulky items.

Beneath this compartment, the bag features a tackle tray compartment that you access from the front where you can fit 3 tackle boxes.

This lets you find and change lures quickly and is ideal for bass fishermen where taking a variety of fishing with you is key.

Pockets

The backpack also comes with a protective sunglasses pocket, plus 5 other pockets so you can give everything its own home while you’re out on the water, and find it quickly when needed.

There’s also a leader wheel on the outside for changing your tippet quickly without having to search for it.

Weight

This bag is heavy without anything in it, so when fully loaded it’s going to feel quite heavy on your back.

Luckily the straps are well padded making it comfortable to carry, but you might struggle if you’re wearing it all day long.

The main annoyance of this bag is that the tackles boxes the backpack comes with are terrible and break very easily, so you’ll most likely have to get your own ones after a while.

Specs

  • Capacity: 54 L
  • Pockets: 7+
  • Waterproof: Water-resistant
  • Material: Water Resistant Nylon fabric
  • Tackle tray: Yes

Pros

  • Large capacity bag for holding loads of tackle
  • Heavy-duty bag construction for durability
  • Compartment for 3 tackle trays or utility boxes
  • Pockets to keep all your stuff organized
  • Protective sunglasses compartment
  • Leader wheel for easy tippet changes
  • Great access to all your tackle
  • Comfortable to carry with padded shoulder straps

Cons

  • Heavy out of the box
  • Included tackle boxes break easily

Shimano Blackmoon

Made from durable ripstop polyester and is put together with a heavy-duty build. It’s an all tackle backpack that’s ideal for any spin or surf fishing.

Shimano Blackmoon

The Shimano Blackmoon is another all tackle backpack that’s ideal for any spin or surf fishing.

It’s made from durable ripstop polyester and is put together with a heavy-duty build so it’ll last a while.

The fabric is naturally water-resistant but your gear will get wet.

Compartment

This bag features a tackle compartment that holds 4 boxes, a small compartment, and 7 more pockets.

There is a space for everything to have its own section.

All the pockets and compartments are easy to access and the heavy TPU Corrosion-Resistant zippers won’t stop working even if they get covered in salt.

The tackle compartment can be opened via a zipper, or you can close it with a velcro tab so you can whip it open quickly when the fishing situation requires a change of lure, in order to hopefully hook whatever fish you have seen.

On the side, you have some mesh pockets for things you constantly need to use and there’s a water bottle compartment too.

Weight

The bag is heavy when it’s empty, so when fully loaded it’s quite a lot of weight to carry.

Luckily the padded straps are comfy but it would be better if it had a waist strap to help spread the load.

The bag would also be better if it was waterproof to protect your stuff from any accidents or serious rain.

Specs

  • Capacity: 38 L
  • Pockets: 9+
  • Waterproof: Water-resistant
  • Material: Rip-stop Polyester fabric
  • Tackle tray: Yes

Pros

  • Made with heavy-duty construction and fabric
  • Water-resistant to keep your gear dry
  • Dedicated compartment for tackle trays or utility boxes
  • Loads of pockets for keeping your fishing gear organized
  • Easy to access every pocket
  • Comfortable shoulder straps
  • Nice medium-sized capacity

Cons

  • Quite heavy when empty
  • No waist straps
  • Not waterproof

Eagle Creek No Matter What Rolling Duffel

Ideal choice for when you’re going on a long fishing expedition and have to take loads of equipment with you.

Eagle Creek No Matter What Rolling Duffel

The Eagle Creek No Matter What Rolling Duffel bag is not a backpack, it’s a, you guessed it, a duffel bag.

It’s the ideal choice for when you’re going on a long fishing expedition and have to take loads of equipment with you.

Design

It’s durable, water-resistant, and has a huge capacity of 105 liters, so you really can take everything with you.

It features quality wheels and comes with a stuff bag for storing the duffel in.

Features

You can also use the stuff bag to put dirty fishing shoes in or wet and dirty clothes that you don’t want to contaminate everything else.

Another great thing about this bag is that it comes with a no questions asked lifetime guarantee, so it’s a duffel bag for life.

It’s not a bag for day trips though – it’s just one big compartment with no pockets for organization.

Specs

  • Capacity: 105 L
  • Pockets: 1 main compartment & stuff bag
  • Waterproof: Water-resistant
  • Material: Bi-tech fabric
  • Tackle tray: No

Pros

  • No questions asked lifetime guarantee
  • A huge capacity for all your stuff
  • The ideal bag for long expeditions
  • Some water-resistance with a heavy-duty storm zipper
  • Great for multi-day kayaking fishing
  • Comes with its own stuff bag

Cons

  • Not for day trips
  • No pockets for organization

Sling SpiderWire Fishing Tackle Backpack

Ideal for short day trips where you don’t need to carry very much equipment.

Sling SpiderWire Fishing Tackle Backpack

The Spiderwire fishing tackle backpack comes in a sling style and is ideal for short day trips where you don’t need to carry very much equipment.

It would suit fly fishermen or light traveling spin fishermen, but it might be a little small for any tackle junkies with just a 15-liter capacity.

Design

The Spiderwire fishing tackle backpack is not a particularly fishy backpack, but it is light and comfortable to wear, even when it’s packed full thanks to the well-padded shoulder strap.

It’s made from water-resistant polyester and has a nice durable build so it’ll stand the test of time.

Compartment

It has a small main compartment plus 5 other pockets for all your equipment, one that comes with a free box for your tackle.

The fishiest pocket on this backpack is the quick access front tool pocket where you can store your pliers and nippers.

Accessibility

The best thing about a sling bag is that you can access all of it without taking it off thanks to the single shoulder strap.

Just slide the bag around, get what you need, and slide it back.

It’s much easier than a traditional backpack but you do have to deal with a smaller capacity.

Specs

  • Capacity: 15 L
  • Pockets: 5
  • Waterproof: Water-resistant
  • Material: Polyester
  • Tackle tray: No

Pros

  • Light and comfy to carry
  • Small size for a short fishing trip
  • Comfortable shoulder straps
  • A good amount of pockets
  • High-quality build
  • Comes with a tackle box included
  • Easy to access
  • Front tool holder pocket

Cons

  • Not many fishy features
  • Might be too small a bag for some

Best Kayak Backpack

FishPond Wind River Roll-Top

Made from Cyclepond, a recycled durable waterproof material. It’s 100% submersible and can keep all your gear safe and dry.

FishPond Wind River Roll-Top

Another waterproof backpack from FishPond is the Wind River Roll-top backpack.

Material

Like the previous FishPond backpack, it’s made from their own recycled, durable, and waterproof material, Cyclepond.

This material combined with the waterproof roll-top design makes this backpack 100% submersible and ensures anything inside will never get wet.

With a 32 L capacity, it’s got enough space for a day trip or longer.

Storage

It features a quick-access outside pocket, plus two internal pockets for valuables, one of which is a clear stash pocket.

On the outside, you have rod holder straps so you can carry a rod tube, extra rod, or the rod you’re fishing with when you need two hands for something else.

It also comes with adjustable shoulder, sternum, and waist straps that provide excellent carrying comfort when the bag is full and heavy.

Design

The major downside of this backpack is the roll-top.

It makes it hard to get to anything at the bottom, as there is no side access that you’d get with a zipper.

It would also be better with more pockets for your gear but it’s hard to incorporate in a waterproof design.

Specs

  • Capacity: 32 L
  • Pockets: 1 main compartment + 3
  • Waterproof: Yes
  • Material: Cyclepond waterproof fabric
  • Tackle tray: No

Pros

  • 100% waterproof for dry gear no matter what
  • A durable and high-quality bag that’ll last
  • Comfortable with adjustable waist, chest and shoulder straps
  • Easy access external pocket
  • Features rod holders
  • Internal valuables and clear stash pocket
  • A good amount of storage space

Cons

  • Not that easy to access due to the roll-top
  • Could have more pockets for organizing your stuff

What Is A Fishing Backpack?

Fishing backpacks are not your normal backpack, they’re purposefully designed as a fishing tackle backpack to accommodate the storage requirements you might need.

They have things like tackle box compartments, rod holders, and dedicated protective sunglasses pockets so you can get all your gear from A to B safely and as organized as possible.

Man Fishing at a River with a Waist Bag
Man Fishing at a River with a Waist Bag

Who Needs A Fishing Backpack?

A fishing tackle backpack should be owned by anyone who fishes often, like at least once a month.

Once you own one, it won’t just be a backpack, it’ll also become where you store the fishing tackle you need for a fishing trip at home, keeping it separate from all your other gear.

If you fish just once a year you probably don’t have much fishing gear to put in a dedicated fishing backpack in the first place, so you might not find the value in them, but some of them are 100% waterproof, and that by itself is useful to have even if you go to the shops in the rain.

Advantages of Buying A Fishing Backpack

The advantages of owning a proper fishing backpack are numerous, and some of them we have already mentioned but we’ll go into them in a little bit more detail.

The benefits do depend on which one you choose, so I’m just warning you that you might not find all of the advantages in one fishing backpack.

You’re Ready To Fish

If you’re like me, you’ll want the fishing tackle you need for a spontaneous evening fishing trip ready at all times.

I use my backpack as a kind of emergency grab bag for emergency fishing trips, yes the need to fish can be an emergency.

It’s fully loaded with all my fishing essentials, so when I feel like going on an emergency fishing trip, all I have to do is pick up my fishing tackle backpack and my rod and walk out the door.

Preparation

This does require some pre-planning, but all you have to do is pack everything you need in your backpack once, and then top it after each fishing trip as required.

Let’s say you lost a good fly that was working that day, all you need to do is put it back into stock when you get home from your fishing trip, and you’re ready for the next one.

Organization On The Water

Man Fishing in a River
Man Fishing in a River

Say you’ve got to your fishing spot and there is a shoal of mullet on the surface being smashed by tarpon, but you have the wrong lure on.

Now you’re rushing to find it, and if you’ve taken some regular backpack instead of a fishing tackle backpack, the fish might have gone by the time you find your lure in the disorganized mess.

The best fishing backpacks have a space for all your fishing gear so that it’s always organized and accessible so you can get to what you need quickly without missing any opportunities.

Some even feature a dedicated tray-like pocket for tackle boxes.

Tackle Protection

The best fishing backpacks will protect your fishing gear too.

Like I mentioned before, the best fishing backpacks have a dedicated sunglasses compartment, and the protection doesn’t stop there.

Some fishing backpacks are waterproof and others are water-resistant, so you can be sure your gear stays dry and no horrid salt is going in and corroding your fishing essentials.

Durability

Good fishing backpacks are made to be a lot more durable than your average backpack.

Fishing is tough on gear and your bag will sit on rocks, sand, grass, mud, boat bottoms, and more when on fishing trips.

Your normal backpack won’t last, but the best fishing backpacks are made from fabric like 1200d high-density nylon that you’d struggle to cut with a knife.

Types of Fishing Backpacks

Fishing Rod Beside a Backpack
Fishing Rod Beside a Backpack

Fishing backpacks come in three different styles, and the best one for you comes down to personal preference and how much fishing tackle you need to carry around.

Traditional

Traditional fishing backpacks are just your normal shoulder bag with two thick padded shoulder straps.

This type of fishing bag has the most capacity with plenty of storage and organizational options, plus it is the most comfortable to carry compared to the other types, as the weight is more evenly spread.

However, it is harder to access than the other types, as you have to remove the bag to get in there unless it has good side pockets.

Sling

A sling fishing backpack has one shoulder strap instead of two making it way more accessible.

To access a sling bag, you can just slide it around from your back to your waist and get what you need without having to take it off.

They are smaller with less capacity than a traditional fishing backpack, and your shoulders do get tired with these as the pressure is on one side of your body, you can switch as you go to balance it out though.

Waist Pack

This style of fishing backpack has the smallest capacity but it’s great for things you need to access quickly and often.

They are essentially a fanny pack with loads of pockets that sit around you on a waist strap and are often used in combination with a traditional fishing backpack. A chest pack is a good alternative if you want a small bag that you can easily access and carry.

Fishing Backpack Buying Guide

Here are all the things you should consider before buying a backpack to ensure you get the best fishing backpack for you.

Size

How much fishing tackle do you take with you on fishing trips?

In my fishing tackle backpack,

I have a raincoat, numerous fly boxes, a spare fly line, a spare fly reel, a leatherman, a first aid kit, multiple spools of leader, gloves, a hat, spare polarized sunglasses, and more.

Make sure you choose a fishing backpack that has enough storage to hold all the fishing tackle you need on fishing trips.

TIP

Having extra storage space and plenty of storage options is always better than not having enough, so always go one step larger if you’re unsure.

Organizing Your Bag

Fishing Gear on a Wooden Table
Fishing Gear on a Wooden Table

When looking for a fishing backpack, get out all the gear you’d take on a fishing trip, and categorize it.

This will give you an idea of what your fishing bag needs to hold and how you would like to hold it.

A good fishing backpack will have multiple storage pockets plus a spacious main compartment so that you can organize your tackle effectively and be able to access it quickly.

Accessibility In The Moment

One thing I love about fishing, and I’m sure you do too, is that it can go from zero to a hundred in a matter of seconds.

Suddenly a shoal of tuna comes up, or a marlin comes up on a lure, you get a line wrapped around your hand, a fish loses its mind just when you’re landing it.

In these moments, you’ll often need some gear to be available quickly so can change a lure, cut a line, or pull a hook out of a fish.

NOTE

Be sure to pick a backpack with attachment points and tool holders you can get to quickly. And one that lets you find the specific lure even when you’re in a panic about changing it and casting to that trophy tarpon that appeared out of nowhere.

Trays

Some come with tackle trays where you can store 4 tackle boxes, others have a waterproof pocket for your phone, some have loads of side pockets for little things.

Pick a fishing tackle bag that matches your gear the best, and you’ll be happy.

Carrying Comfort

My fishing tackle bag is heavy on my back, especially after I’ve waded up a river for 7 hours, and I don’t carry too much either.

The tackle backpack you choose needs to be comfortable to carry and one way of ensuring this is through thick padded shoulder straps.

The last thing you want is your fishing backpack to be uncomfortable and put a downer on your fishing trip.

If It’s Not Comfy, You Won’t Use It

To really enjoy using your backpack it has got to be comfy and this comes down to two things; the straps and the back panel.

The back panel should be padded so none of your pointy gear pushes into your back while you’re carrying it.

And in terms of straps, the more the better.

Straps

The best fishing backpacks will have a shoulder, waist, and sternum strap that are all adjustable and padded.

By having all three straps, the backpack spreads the load so not one single part of your body is under strain while carrying it.

And the padding is there to stop the straps from digging into your body, which with a heavy backpack full of fishing tackle is guaranteed to happen.

Water-Resistance

We all fish around water right? We’re so crazily obsessed that we fish through rain and wind too, well, some of us.

The chance of your fishing shoulder bag coming into contact with water is 100%, so you’ll need some water-resistance fishing gear to manage it.

Not all fishing backpacks are waterproof, some are only water-resistant, and others just come with a rain cover for shower protection.

NOTE

Make sure you pick the right waterproof rating you need from your tackle backpack, and there is no right choice, it’s a personal preference.

Is it important?

I personally value waterproofing higher than anything else.

The last thing I want is to get cold and wet, and the only way to avoid this in the fishing I do, which is mainly in the middle of nowhere on a flat or up a mountain, is by having a 100% waterproof fishing backpack to put my warm dry gear in.

What To Pack In Your Fishing Backpack

The best fishing backpacks will have plenty of storage for you to carry everything you need for your fishing trip.

What are the fishing essentials you should take with you in your fishing tackle bag on every fishing trip?

Here’s a video about some items that you might find useful….

5 Items Every Fisherman SHOULD Have In Their Tackle Box (You Probably Don’t)

What you need to take with you in your fishing bag on each fishing trip does depend on the style of fishing you plan on doing.

If you’re going fly fishing, your tackle backpack will have a few different items compared to if you’re going surf fishing, but in the end, most of the gear you need is quite generic.

Warm Clothes and Rain Gear

No matter where you’re fishing, whether it’s up a mountain or on the Florida flats, rain and wind are always a possibility.

So you’d hope your fishing backpack has a rain cover or is waterproof for these moments.

You should always carry a good waterproof jacket and some warm clothing in your fishing backpack.

NOTE

Getting wet and cold when away from a shelter can result in getting sick and even catching hypothermia which is why it’s crucial to always have something warm and waterproof ready in case the weather changes.

First Aid Kit

Fishing is a safe sport overall but things do go wrong.

I have had my hand hooked on to a tuna., I have also had a line wrapped around my thumb while it was attached to a sailfish jumping in front of the boat.

In my 30 years of fishing, these are the only two major accidents that have happened, but boy was I glad I had a first aid kit in my fishing backpack so I could clean and bandage the wounds and keep on fishing.

Spare Lures or Flies

We have our favorite lure or fly we feel most confident fishing with, but one day you’re going to lose it, so why not bring some spares in your fishing backpack?

You should always have multiple lures or flies for every scenario in your fishing backpack.

Prepare for the Worst

One day you’re going to get out there and the fish are going to be going crazy.

You may lose a few lures in the madness or they might only want to eat one of them and not the rest.

TIP

Having a good selection of spares sitting in your lure utility boxes is the only way to be prepared for these situations, so make sure they’re in your fishing backpack.

A Multi-tool/Knife

I might be preaching to the choir here, but having a sharp knife and or a multi-tool in your fishing backpack is essential.

When you’re fishing you might have to fix an engine, pull a fly out of a hand, or cut the line quickly before you go overboard.

You’ll want your knife or multi-tool sitting ready in your back in your backpack, or attached to the shoulder straps so you can get to them quickly.

Spare Leader Material

Fishing is an endless pursuit of tricking fish, and one of the key ingredients to success is having a range of leader materials in your fishing backpack.

One day the trout might not be shy and will happily eat a fly on a 4x leader, the next you might need a thinner 6x leader to trick them.

The same goes when offshore fishing for tuna and sailfish, you might get away with a 100lb leader, and the next day have to drop to 60lb when they get shy.

A Spare Spool, Fly Line, Or Reel

You need to be prepared for anything when you go fishing, and your fishing backpack is there to be fully loaded with everything you might need.

Can you imagine hopping on a boat and heading out for 3 hours to find your reel breaks or your fly line snaps, now the day’s over as you have no spares in your backpack and have to head home?

It’s Better to be Prepared

Doesn’t sound very appealing does it.

A spare spool, fly line, and/or reel are not heavy things to carry on your back, and you may not need them often, but you’ll be happy they are in your fishing backpack when you do.

Looking After Your Fishing Backpack

Fishing is hard on your fishing gear and once you have invested in a fishing backpack, you of course, want it to last as long as possible.

With these few tips, you can increase its longevity easily.

Maintenance

One of the first features that tend to wear out on a fishing backpack is the zippers. The zippers can get salt residue in them easily and then corrode, and get stuck when you try to open them.

It’s often in the moment when they get stuck that you end up pulling hard, and popping the zipper out completely, making the backpack useless – I’ve done it.

TIP

To avoid this, you should add some lubrication to your zippers like vaseline and a little WD40, and you’ll find the zippers run smoothly, and don’t get stuck up with dirt, salt, or corrosion.

Daily Cleaning

After every fishing trip, you should give your backpack some TLC.

It deserves a freshwater rinse and to be fully dried off.

Don’t soak it or anything, just give it a wipe down with a damp cloth and make sure it fully dries.

Doing this each time combined with the maintenance tips above will make sure it stays fit and healthy.

Care

Even though a fishing backpack comes full of rugged features, handling your backpack with care is going to help it last a little bit longer.

After the zippers, one of the next features that tend to wear out first is the bottom of the backpack.

Placement

Fishing Bag on Top of Logs
Fishing Bag on Top of Logs

Always look for a soft piece of ground to put your backpack on.

Choose sand over rocks, or grass over thorns.

If you fish in a boat every day, leave the backpack on a cushion or a map, not directly on the deck.

Making this conscious choice each time is going to give your backpack the best chance to survive.

Backpacking Out

Thanks for reading my article guys and I trust you’ve found the backpack for you, or at least got some insights into what you need.

Here’s a quick pointer or two in case you need some extra assurance you’re making the right decision.

Top Pick

The top backpack for me, for every fishing situation, is the Yeti Panga Airtight.

It’s rugged, durable, comfy, and so waterproof you can swim across rivers with it. Your gear will always be dry and safe in this bag, plus it looks pretty awesome too, you could even take it to the office on a rainy day.

Best Fly Fishing Backpack

If you’re a fly fisherman, the Simms Freestone is the right bag for you.

It’s light, comfy, water-resistant, and features all the pockets you need for all your accessories.

Best Fishing Backpacks With Rod Holders

Anyone who needs a rod holder on their bag should look at the FishPond Thunderhead.

It’s fully waterproof, spacious, has a few pockets for little things, has some of the best shoulder straps around for comfort, and there are two velcro ties on the side for your rods.

Best Surf Fishing Bags

If you’re surf fishermen or like to take lots of tackle with you, the Wind River Nomad covers all your bases.

It features a dedicated lure tray storage area, sunglasses pocket, 7 other pockets plus a rain cover, and it comes with its own lighting system so you can fish at any hour.

Best Kayak Backpack

For the adventurous kayak fishermen out there, check out the FishPond Wind River.

It’s spacious, fully waterproof, has comfy shoulder straps, and it features a rod holder too. You can rest assured your gear is dry and safe even when you take a wave or two, and even capsize.

Final Thoughts

I hope you enjoyed my article and that you’ve found the ideal backpack for your next fishing trip. Please share it around with your friends and family, everyone needs a fishing backpack.

There are some other articles you might be interested in too like the best fishing watch or the best fishing scale, feel free to check them all out. You might want to consider looking at fishing knives, they are very handy to have during fishing trips. Check out some great fishing knives here.

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Lance Wilkins
Lance Wilkins
Editor @ CallOutdoors. Outdoor gear-head and adventure addict. I fish, camp and enjoy to writing about my adventures.
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