I wear a Daiwa Wilderness vest(people here in england call them waistcoats) and though it's basiclly simple you'd be surprised how much you can carry in it. I tried a chest pack once, but felt very uncomfortable with it.
I have to agree with the rest, go with what you're the most comfortable using! I use different items depending on how I intend to fish, and don't really limit it to just fly fishing. I have no issues with wearing a vest & carrying a spinning rod!
I had an Orvis Tak L Pac vest many years ago, and it was OK, but was a bit warm in the summer months. I have a chest pack, and a couple of fanny packs, and 2 other vests I've since purchased. Not a big fan of the chest pack, but it just may be this particular one. I would have to go dig it out of the closet to see who made it!
One vest is a cheap Pflueger I bought from an Ebay seller, I think I paid about $15 for it. I actually like wearing it, it's light weight, although there's not enough pockets, but it does cause me to NOT carry more than I need. Not as well made as the Orvis, and with a lot of use, likely won't last but a few years, but for me it's plenty comfortable. The other vest was a gift, and is a shorty style, and has a green camo leaf pattern on it. It's fine, but also a bit warm for summer fishing. Again, not sure who made it!
One of the fanny packs I got for hunting, and I like it for carrying small amounts of gear. It's made by Hunter Specialties. Nice camo pattern on it too! The other was also a gift, and I don't think I've even used it!
One of the best things I've found for carrying gear is an old military surplus, canvas gas mask bag. I have 2 of them also. They have an adjustable strap that fits very well across my shoulder, and another strap that secures the bag to my waist. The bag stays right under my left arm, down near my hip and is not especially cumbersome as long as I don't cram too much gear in it! Holds a couple of medium size Plano boxes, or smaller fly boxes and all the gear I really need. I had one many years ago and used it for small game hunting & carrying fishing gear. I liked the simplicity of it, and it was very durable!
I had a house fire many years ago, I lost the Orvis vest, the old gas mask bag and some other things, so have not been inclined to replace such items with products that are on the high end of the cost scale! Frankly, I've actually liked some of the "cheaper" products better anyway!
The neck lanyard, a tool tote for your neck, theres lots of models, mine you can stick flies to it, hang the hardware we cary around, tippet and what not. Very light, I use it when I'm just hitting the water for a short time with little gear.
Most Chest Packs are too big for my taste. Especially they are too tall and too thick. What ever you get make sure the front/top strap is adjustable. I don't like a vest that flops forward when I lean over. You also need a D hook at the back of the neck to fasten a net to. The best that I have used is the old Orvis Safe Passage. They don't sell my model any more. You can see in the picture that it is low and doesn't interfere with rowing if you are floating and stopping to fish frequently.
Orvis Safe Passage Chest Pack
A vest you might consider is the Fishpond San Juan Vertical Chest Pack. It is very narrow but taller than I like.
Fishpond San Juan Vertical Chest Pack
Like many things with fly fishing personal preference has a lot to do with your choice. One thing you can do is make a brown paper bag about the size of the vest and hold it up to see how it fits you. I am short and what fits me best may be all wrong for you.
My 10 year old Walmart vest finally disintegrated a couple months ago. During that time, I tried a small $10 fanny bag, and it worked. I bought a Blue River chest/waist pack, but couldn't see spending $70 for a MIC fanny bag (although it was well made, and I've been thinking about buying another). I bought a fly fishing fanny bag, and it bounced off my fanny with each step. That lasted less than 15 minutes. I did use a small shotgun shell bag for quite a while about 6 years ago, and it held all I really needed. It had a comfortable shoulder strap, and was actually dandy. I lost it, but it was $7 from Walmart. I might have to get another one. While I carry a lot of stuff in my vest, its main function is to serve as a hanging vest: nippers, hemostats, and net. I hang a leader straightener pad on it, but never use one. Most of the flies I use are contained in a couple of those little $1 boxes that shops have near the register. Sometimes I'll just put one little box in my pocket, and the nippers and hemostat in the other pocket. The leaves the net, and it always seems like I need it most when it's in the Jeep. Oh yeah! Tippet spools need to be carried, and that little shell bag is looking better as I type this.
Vest here... mainly because I have to see where my feet are going. I admit I carry too much stuff in it but I am ready for anything. It's an old Simms mesh vest. I hope it never fails me.
I have a small chest pack I use for my local pond that holds all I need for that particar spot.
Yeah, I know what you mean. I went to a sling pack, but still used a vest in my float tube. Then I got a NFO boat with big saddle bags. No more vest.
A vest is easier to use when you are younger because you can remember what pocket you used for what, lol.
Flyfishing, from my viewpoint, can be considered a "marketing enterprise." Look at all the gear that is made for the flyfisher...special lines, tippets, rods, and the like. Manufacturers have done a good job of convincing us to purchase gear that is designed for "flyfishers."
Back in the days of bamboo and fiberglass, fly vests were vogue. Nowadays there are fanny packs, chest packs, and pouches that you wear under your shoulder.
You may consider fly vests "archaic" if you feel that there are more improved/better looking/more stylish alternatives available.
I've only used chest packs and fanny packs. I've seen fly vests, but to me they look more like an article of clothing.
As long as people continue to purchase fly vests, they will be stocked in stores.
I carry my fly gear in a camo fanny pack that feels like fleece. I have no problem finding anything in there.
There are plenty of items that I consider a "thing of the past": 2pc 9ft flyrods. click and pawl reels. Wooden framed nets. Lines not slick from the factory. Bamboo and fiberglass rods. Cast and stamped reels. Today, people continue to purchase and enjoy them. It's all good my friend!