Best Fly Fishing Sling Packs | buyer’s guide with reviews (2022)

If you’re in search of the perfect new sling pack, you’ve come to the right place. Not all sling packs are the same—different sizes, styles, features, and price make choosing a sling pack a difficult task. Hopefully with our help this review can help narrow down your search so you can spend less time shopping and more time on the water. Fishpond Flathead Sling PackIn this guide we’ll cover
  • What is a sling pack?
  • Why sling packs over other packs and vests?
  • What to look for?
  • Best overall fly fishing sling packs
  • Superior lightweight packs
  • Best sling pack for the money // Budget
  • Best sling pack for under $100.00
  • And much more!
Let’s get started!

Best Fly Fishing Sling Packs (Overall)

While these sling packs may be on the more expensive side, they feature all of the new and unique features you could want in a pack—with a few extras that will make your time on the water more enjoyable.

1. Fishpond Flathead Sling Pack

Fishpond are such an authority with fly fishing packs—this guide would not be complete without them. The Fishpond Flathead is clean, slick, incredibly functional and lightweight. It features an adjustable ambidextrous shoulder strap offering versatility and convenience. There is a quick-access magnetic front pocket that is a unique and helpful feature. The clam shell opening doubles as a workstation while on the water, with 2 removable dividers to stay organized. The pack also includes a molded back panel with a net slot, which is awesome and saves you cash on a net release.  Fishpond Flathead Sling Pack

Features//Specs:

  • 10 liters
  • 1.5 pounds
  • Fold down workbench
  • Large clam shell opening

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Pros

  • Ambidextrous Design
  • Net slot
  • water bottle holder
  • Plenty of space
  • External magnetic pocket for easy access

Cons

  • Expensive
  • Net slot is cumbersome
  • Can be overpacked

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2. Simms Freestone Tactical Sling Pack

The Simms Freestone Tactical sling pack is one of a kind. It features some of the most superior components in pack design, allowing for optimal use. My favorite thing about this pack is how slim it is. It’s not as large as other packs but sometimes that extra bulk can be more annoying than beneficial. At 15 liters it still has plenty of room for all your necessary gear. It has tons of external tools ports and daisy chains for your nippers, tippet ring, floatant, and hemostats. The compression straps will easily hold a rod tube for easy storage when hiking to your favorite fishing spot. The Freestone sling pack also comes equipped with a dedicated net holder. Simms Freestone Tactical Sling Pack

Features//Specs:

  • 15 liters
  • 1 pound
  • Slim design that lays flat
  • Ambidextrous
  • 4-way zipper allows entry from top, bottom, and sides

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Pros

  • Ambidextrous
  • Slim design
  • Compression straps for rod storage
  • Tippet Ring and floatant holder
  • Wide strap for comfort and gear storage

Cons

  • Some customers felt the ambidextrous design was misleading and only fits over the right shoulder
  • expensive

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3. Orvis Guide Sling Pack

If we were rating sling packs solely on aesthetics the Orvis Guide Sling Pack would win in my opinion. Orvis’  guide sling pack has approximately 18 liters of space divided between the main compartment and large external pocket. With this much space you’ll have room for everything you want, and then some. The shoulder strap can only be worn over the right shoulder but has been reinforced with extra cushion. The thick nylon material is strong enough when moving through trees and branches, but won’t weigh you down. It also features a fly drying patch, tippet bar, net holder and space for additional gear attachments. This is a great pack at a great price. Features//Specs:
  • 18 liters
  • 1.76 pounds
  • 100% recycled ECO CORDURA
  • Large main body compartment
  • Smaller External pocket
  • Cushioned shoulder strap

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Pros

  • Plenty of storage
  • Water bottle holder
  • Integrated Tippet Holder
  • fly drying patch
  • Zinger port and tools attachment system

Cons

  • Expensive
  • Net holder does not function well
  • When packed full can feel bulky and heavy

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4. Umpqua Steamboat ZS Sling Pack

The Umpqua Steamboat sling pack is perfect for those longer fly trips. It has ample storage holding 15 liters–enough for a few large fly boxes, leaders, other gear, and food. This pack is made from durable nylon and features a cushioned shoulder strap for added comfort. . The main compartment features two zippered locations for easy access to flies. There are also plenty of external accessory ports for all of your tools. umpqua steamboat ZS sling pack
Features//Specs:
  • 15 Liters
  • 1 pounds
  • Nylon Material
  • Adjustable and padded shoulder strap

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Pros

  • ample storage room
  • Well designed organizational pockets
  • High quality materials

Cons

  • Exterior pocket is difficult to open when main compartment is full
  • Exterior pocket only zips 1/3 of the way

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Other Gear Related Articles


Best Lightweight Sling Packs

We wanted to include some smaller sling packs for anglers wanting to take a quick trip to the river without the hassle of lugging out all your gear. These packs still offer many of the necessary components, but at the same time, a smaller and lighter design.

5. Umpqua Switch Sling Pack

The Umpqua Switch pack is another smaller lightweight pack designed to hold only the essential flies and gear. At 10 liters and about a pound, it’s not too much to handle when out on the water. This slick little pack features a unique long design that allows for better distribution of weight and does not bulge out like other packs. The pack is ambidextrous and can be worn comfortably on either shoulder. The added padding makes it hard to notice you’re carrying anything at all. With a simple design the pack does come equipped with plenty of pockets for internal storage and organization, a flat exterior pocket, D-rings, tippet cord, and nippers holder.  Umpqua Switch Sling Pack
Features//Specs:
  • 10 liters
  • 1 pound
  • Ambidextrous design
  • Multiple internal pockets
  • Internal divider for organization

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Pros

  • Nipper holder/tool port
  • D-ring for net attachment
  • Tippet cord
  • Flat external pocket for leaders

Cons

  • Feels long and cumbersome
  • Doesn’t hold as much as other packs

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Best Fly Fishing Sling Pack For the Money

We wanted to highlight one sling pack that we feel encapsulates the perfect combination of quality, versatility, and price.

6. Fishpond Summit Sling Pack

The Fishpond Summit sling pack is on the smaller end of what you’re able to hold, but we felt they nailed it with their accessory ports and tool holder locations. A really cool feature is the material is made from recycled fabric, just one of the many ways fishpond is working to reduce our carbon footprint. There is a large main compartment with some extra pockets inside to stay organized. The molded external pocket is works well as a workstation changing out flies or tying on tippet. There is also a net sleeve on the back and side straps to carry a rod case. 
Features//Specs:
  • 9 liters
  • 2 pounds
  • Made from recycled fabric
  • Large main compartment
  • Molded exterior pocket that doubles as a workstation

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Pros

  • Best balance between price and quality
  • Side compression straps for rod case
  • Multiple Tool holders
  • Velcro fly drying patch
  • Net sleeve

Cons

  • Not compatible with other Fishpond Accessories
  • Front strap clip is made from flimsy plastic

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Best Sling Packs Under $100

Sling packs can get expensive and we wanted to share a few packs for anglers on a budget. These are great sling packs and are all under 100.00 dollars!

7. Orvis Safe Passage Sling Pack

The Orvis Safe Passage sling pack is the smaller version of the Orvis guide pack. Besides the size, the two packs are virtually identical. The Safe Passage sling features durable nylon with additional water resistance on the bottom. This pack also features a molded back panel for extra comfort. The pack has all the great features you need, such as integrated tippet bar, water bottle holder, fly drying patch, and plenty of D-rings for securing additional tools. At only 1 pound and holding 10.5 liters this little pack is perfect for those quick trips to the creek. It won’t carry as much gear as the Orvis Guide sling pack but less gear makes for a more comfortable fishing experience.  orvis safe passage sling pack Features//Specs:
  • 10.5 liters
  • 1 pound
  • Durable nylon material
  • Molded back panel
  • Cushioned shoulder strap

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Pros

  • Affordable (under $100)
  • Bright interior for spotting stray flies
  • Integrated Tippet bar
  • water bottle holder
  • Zinger and tool attachment system

Cons

  • The internal cargo design puts pressure on the gear
  • Sits higher up on your back which can feel uncomfortable
  • Net holder does not fully secure net

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8. Allen Cedar Creek Sling Pack

Allen company has come out with the Cedar Creek sling pack. This awesome little pack comes equipped with all of the specialties those higher-end brands possess. With all of these great features it’s a mystery how they keep their prices so low. The main compartment features a large opening for easy access with multiple pockets for added organization. There is a decent external pocket that folds down, creating a workstation and reveals a tippet holder and small fly patch. The outside also includes a ton of small tool ports.  Allen Company Cedar Creek Sling Pack
Features//Specs:
  • 10 liters
  • 1 pound
  • Large main compartment
  • Many internal pockets and compartments
  • External pocket that doubles as a workstation

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Pros

  • Affordable (under $60.00)
  • fold down workstation
  • zippered shoulder strap pocket
  • sleek and small
  • fly drying patch

Cons

  • Water bottle holder does not function well
  • shoulder strap is uncomfortable
  • Some customers felt the material was not durable

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What Is a Sling Pack?

Sling packs have found their way into fly fishing, and many anglers have embraced this style of pack. A sling pack is a type of bag that fits on your back with the use of one shoulder strap that crosses your chest, along with a smaller strap that goes around your waist keeping everything in place. Sling packs generally range in size from 1-2 pounds and can hold 10 to 20 liters. Key point: Most sling packs are meant to be carried over your right shoulder, but several newer models have been introduced that offer ambidextrous options allowing the pack to be carried on either right or left side.

Why Sling Packs Over Other Packs or Vests?

Simms-g3-stocking-foot-waders-camoThere’s a reason why sling packs are so popular with anglers. For starters, they are generally lightweight and easy to pack. Secondly, they offer comfort and added mobility–something that larger backpacks, chest packs, and vests might not support. Next, sling packs can carry more than a traditional vest and even most than chest or waist packs. And lastly, sling packs offer ease of use on the water. With just a flip of the pack you have all of your essentials items right in front of you.

What To Look For In a Sling Pack?

Space – This goes without saying. The amount of space is one of the most important features to be aware of when looking for a sling pack. Looks can be deceiving and it’s hard to know how much space a bag actually holds. We’ve included how much each pack can hold in liters. A 10 liter bag will hold about 4 large fly boxes with room to spare for strike indicators, weight, floatant, leaders, ect. 18 liters and up will hold 6 large fly boxes, all the necessary gear , and will have room left over for food and a light jacket. orvis safe passage sling pack Organization – I wanted to highlight organization because it is often overlooked, and an issue that can cause a lot of frustration on the water (speaking from personal experience). Because the sling pack will move around a lot from normal travel and swinging from your back to chest, having multiple internal pockets and dividers will help keep your fly boxes and other gear in place. I have used a well known sling pack that did not have any dividers and my bag was a constant mess, making it hard to find what I needed. Size and shape – Some sling packs are fat and oval shaped which allow for bulkier gear; while others are rectangular and elongated—lying flat against your back.  It is important to find the right size and shape to fit your needs. I generally prefer a longer and slimmer sling pack because I do a lot of bushwhacking through thick trees. A larger pack that protrudes further will get stuck and snagged on passing branches. Comfort and adjustability – Comfort goes along with size. The larger the sling pack the heavier and less mobile you will be. All sling packs will have adjustable straps, but making sure they can adjust easily while on the water is a must. Ambidextrous – As mentioned earlier, many sling packs are being designed to be worn over the right or left shoulder. This might be an important feature for a left handed caster or someone that wants the option to change shoulders for whatever reason—ie. muscle soreness or convenience. Extra features you may want? – Different packs will come equipped with special features and perks. Because of the diversity among packs it’s easy to find one that fits your unique needs—such as a net slot, built in zingers, fly drying patch, water bottle holder, ect.

Reeling it in//Conclusion

It is our hope that this article helps you acquire the best fly fishing sling pack. Please leave a comment and let us know what you liked or needs improvement. If you’d like to see more articles like this one, please feel free to sign up for our newsletter. Related Reading:

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