The 10 Best Fishing Backpacks
This wiki has been updated 30 times since it was first published in February of 2016. Every angler will tell you the same thing: You won’t have a successful day of fishing if you’re not equipped with the right gear. Of course, transporting all that equipment to the water is another issue entirely. Luckily, these fishing backpacks provide a convenient and practical way to store your tackle and get it to your destination, so you'll be prepared for whatever the day brings. When users buy our independently chosen editorial recommendations, we may earn commissions to help fund the Wiki.
June 17, 2021:
You can go basically one of two ways when choosing a fishing backpack. The Piscifun Dream is still our top choice for getting all your tackle where it needs to go, though the Shimano Blackmoon and Custom Leathercraft Multi-Tackle have just about as much space. Alternatively, models like the Fiblink Sport and Blisswill Outdoor are considerably more portable, and therefore great for use while actually fishing. The Anglatech Combo is especially good for this, sporting easy-access front pockets and a water bladder to keep you hydrated on hot days in the river. All of our selections remain the same as from our previous update.
March 13, 2020:
We removed the Glacier Glove River and Maxcatch Vest Pack after discovering availability issues. Noting its plethora of compartments, quality craftsmanship, and a few unusual but useful features (such as fish net attachment ring), we opted to move the Anglatech Combo up a slot.
We added three new items ranging from large and heavy-duty (the Shimano Blackmoon) to lightweight and extremely versatile (the KastKing Day Tripper). The latter is ideal for navigating tricky terrain, as its integrated bungee cords help keep items like rods and reels tied down, and an array of straps keep it secure on the body.
Patagonia Sweet Pack From an iconic American outdoor clothing company, this rugged backpack can be worn as you trek through the woods to your next fishing hole, at which point you can remove the main body and simply don the vest portion as you cast. It features a bladder sleeve and special pockets for a reel and a spool of line. backcountry.com
Simms Dry Creek Z Anglers who frequently brave harsh weather and rough waters will appreciate the waterproof design of this sleek bag. It has a convenient net holster in its center, and attachment points on the back allow fishermen to secure rods during a hike. It’s available in two stylish colors. simmsfishing.com
When It's Finally Time For Some Fishing
Keeping those trays, along with the rest of your gear, in a backpack purpose built to handle fishing supplies is an even better way to make the trip a pleasure.
The fishing trip is a hallowed institution of American culture; when a person "goes fishing," he or she is taking time to be away from the demands of the daily grind, unencumbered by work, bills, chores, or the myriad distractions with which we clutter our lives.
For some of us, a fishing trip offers the chance to enjoy the peace and quiet of solitude, or it can mean enjoying the company of friends and family in a new and exciting setting. For others, fishing means catching fresh, nutritious, and delicious food we can enjoy in the context of a camping trip, or simply to bring home as a fine meal.
Whatever "going fishing" means for you -- whether that means an idle afternoon spent casting a line off the side of a dock or wading out into the gently flowing waters of a river or stream, or if it means cutting a hole in the ice to drop your line or setting long lines behind an ocean going boat -- it's important that you have the right gear and bait. Trying to catch a saltwater Striped Bass with a fly fishing rod will be about as productive as trying to catch a bear with a mousetrap, after all.
Especially for those types of fishing that require specialized lures, hooks, and other accoutrement, such as for comes with using a jigging rod and bait, it is important not only that you have the right supplies, but also that you manage and maintain your equipment and bait properly. Proper planning and organization prior to your fishing trip can help you get the most relaxation and enjoyment out of the outing once you're out there by (or in) the water.
Storing your hooks, sinkers, floats, lures and bait in purpose built trays that keep everything separated and easy to access is a great way to minimize frustration and maximize enjoyment during a fishing trip. Keeping those trays, along with the rest of your gear, in a backpack purpose built to handle fishing supplies is an even better way to make the trip a pleasure.
Choosing The Best Fishing Backpack For You
The type of fish you're after will be the defining factor when it comes to choosing a fishing backpack. If you're going deep water fishing for ocean fish, then go ahead and choose a large backpack you can load with lots of gear, as you'll almost surely be tucking your bag away in a cabin or under the gunwales of the boat anyway.
However, those bulky front pockets can impede a clean long cast, so weigh the benefits of easy access to lures and supplies against the potential limitation to mobility.
If, however, you're going to be wading through a river for hours on end in pursuit of elusive freshwater fish, then it's important that you have all your gear on your person, and with the weight evenly distributed and easy access assured, no less.
For the fisherman who is heading out into the forest or wetlands for an afternoon standing in a river, a fishing backpack with plenty of pouches on the front is a must have. These options allow you to access spare hooks, fresh bait, new lines, and even a snack for yourself without you having to move much at all, which means less chance of scaring off fish.
These packs also distribute weight evenly for hours of comfort with minimal soreness and stiffness. However, those bulky front pockets can impede a clean long cast, so weigh the benefits of easy access to lures and supplies against the potential limitation to mobility.
For fishing out of a canoe or smaller flat bottom boat, a larger fishing backpack is a great choice. These packs allow you unfettered movement while preparing and launching your boat, and most are reliable waterproof and can protect your gear (and your extra clothing and your lunch) against slashing or even the unfortunate event that they end up overboard. And if you choose to load those cooler compartments with beer instead of extra bait, that's your prerogative.
Your Fishing Backpack Beyond The Fishing Trip
As it just so happens, the compartment configuration of most fishing backpacks also makes them great for use in myriad other applications. Many fishing backpacks offer an ergonomic design that distributes the weight load well enough to be used during a hike, so if you are planning a trip that involves overland travel and fishing, enjoy the best of both worlds with one of these options.
If you use a small enough fishing backpack to bring along in your larger pack, then you don't need to try to make one bag serve double duty.
For a wilderness outing that will involve both hiking and fishing, another option is to choose one of the more compact suspender style fishing backpacks that can be folded and tucked away down into your larger hiking backpack when emptied. If you use a small enough fishing backpack to bring along in your larger pack, then you don't need to try to make one bag serve double duty.
Fishing backpacks can also be used to tote tools and hardware to a worksite, so if your day job involves hammers, nails, screws, and wrenches and on the weekends you switch gears for some fishing, consider a backpack that can serve both as mobile tool box and as fisherman's kit depending on how it is loaded. (The same trays that organize hooks and sinkers can keep nuts and bolts separated and ready for easy access, too.)
And don't forget about that handy waterproof and insulted pocket built into many fishing backpacks the next time you plan a picnic or barbecue. You can bring along fresh, chilled foods in comfort and you can easily keep the rest of your condiments and fixings sorted thanks to the many pockets and pouches in your fishing backpack.