I can not speak from experience as a fly fisherman, as I'm just learning, but as someone who has fished streams with spinning gear for years, I've always had two systems. The first was a vest, loaded with spinners, small surface, sub-surface, and sinking plugs, jigs, and all kinds of other hardware & tools. I used the vest when I knew that I was going to be well away from the vehicle and/or going to be out a long time, as it allowed me to go "heavy".
I also had the capability to go "light", with a lanyard that had clippers, surgical clamp, and a small box that contained about a dozen +/- selected lures. (I always managed to jam a few extras in there.) I'd sometimes jam an extra spool of different test line into a pocket, as well.
I've set myself up for fly-fishing much the same. A vest, with lots of pockets and storage for going "heavy", and an Orvis lanyard system that has tippet storage, a small flybox, clippers, clamp, and just a few other tools for going "light".
I know I'm leaving myself open for a lot of comments, but I use my daughter's old purses or pocket books...not sure. They are Mud shoulder bag in grey canvas that is perfect size for fly gear with seperate pockets and sections. Also a black Old Navy shoulder bag. These are about $10 on sale and work great. One for SM and one for Trout fishing. I tried the vest for a while and didn't like it in the summer, did the waist pack...nope. The shoulder bag is perfect for me. Of couse the wife says I should get boots that match my purse.
schiff, you're a brave fellow, my hats off to you!
I own & have used many different means of carrying my gear. I have a couple of vests, fanny packs, & a couple of chest packs. None are perfect all the time.
I also have a shoulder bag, an Army surplus olive drab, canvas gas mask bag that I've used extensively. I can fit a couple of Plano boxes in it, and whatever else I may need. It's about the best I've tried, but still doesn't fit all fishing situations or conditions.
Depending on the weather & where I'll be fishing, I'll often combine things, such as the shoulder bag & a fanny pack, or some other combination. This seems to be the best approach for me. Plus, I tend to wear clothing that helps with carrying what I need, such as cargo pants & shirts with loads of pockets.
( Rivers, Streams, Lakes, Ocean, etc. )
I've got packs set up for S.W., Steelies and Trout.
It gets warm here most everyday from April to October, like 80 to over 100 degrees warm and I don't carry things that don't get used often. So I haven't worn a vest in over two decades, most everyone I fish with wears a fanny / hip pack or some version of one. The guys that still wear a vest, don't get a ride home on really hot days.
Kidding aside, I'm fairly tall so having a pack slung just above my hips isn't a problem at the depths I often find myself fishing from. If I have to go deep, I just hike the pack up or wear it for a while like a bandoleer. When I float tube, I adjust the belt to cinch down around the bladder just ahead of the pockets on the tube. That way I don't ever need to swap out equipment from the pack to the tubes pockets.
I also have gear bags for long range travel etc, but that goes beyond the scope...
Dumb thought of the day: Don't most guys who go to the office wearing a suit, take off their jacket when they get the chance.....but they still wear a belt, maybe even suspenders right?
Location: Lake of the Woods/Rainy River Minnesota Canada border
Re: vest or chest packs for fly fishing
I've got a vest I don't use much. I have a chest pack I don't use much either and when I do I use it as a fanny pack. I hate having it in front of me. It really gets in the way on my chest. When I'm using a spey rod I don't like anything that even has pockets. I have a polar fleece vest that has pockets that seem to be perfect for grabbing the butt end of my rod.
I drag a lot of stuff fishing with me, but if you think about it, how much of it actually has to be on you? The amount I drag with me has probably gone up over the years, but what is actually on me has definately gone down.
i use a vest and like it. the key is not to over crowd it (yeah right), and assign a place for your gear and keep it in that spot (yeah right).
i also use a neck lanyard for days when the least amount of stuff is needed.
i would also like to try a hip pack some day.