(VIDEO) What’s In That Vest? Laying Out the Essentials and More

by | Jun 14, 2023 | 10 comments

The key to a good carrying system is efficiency. Carry lots of gear or be a minimalist. But however you carry your gear, make sure it works for you. Think it through. And then change something if the system is holding you back, if it’s getting in your way or taking you out of rhythm. A carrying system should be designed around the way you fish, and not the other way around. Think about that. Don’t change the way you fish to suit a poorly chosen pack.

My vest is the most important piece of gear that I own. Because it holds everything that I work with. And having things laid out with a purpose keeps me efficient and ready to adapt. 

Last week on the Troutbitten Podcast, we talked about vests, packs and lanyards — different ways to carry your gear. That brought in another wave of questions regarding what I carry in my vest and how I lay it out. Here then, is a video showing all of it, along with a few key companion articles to complete the walk through.

READ: Troutbitten | Pack or Vest? Why I’m a Vest Guy
READ: Troutbitten | 100 Day Gear Review — The Simms G3 Guide Vest
PODCAST: Troutbitten | Pack, Vest or Something Else — Carrying Your Gear, S7, Ep8
READ: Troutbitten | Don’t Hate Split Shot — Have a System (with VIDEO)

Check out the video, then scroll below to see what I don’t carry in the vest — how I carry the heavy stuff.

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What Is Not In the Vest

I carry all the heavier items on my hips and not in the vest. So the extra weight is not on my shoulders. This time tested strategy saves energy and allows for longer days on the water. Here’s what’s on my wading belt:

  • Wading Staff
  • Water
  • Net
  • Camera

Wading belts that are commonly provided with waders are not up to this task. So, for decades I’ve been using the following DIY wading belt system:

READ: Troutbitten | Let’s Rethink the Wading Belt
READ: Troutbitten | What About the Wading Staff (with VIDEO)

Fish hard, friends.


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Enjoy the day.
Domenick Swentosky


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Domenick Swentosky

Central Pennsylvania

Hi. I’m a father of two young boys, a husband, author, fly fishing guide and a musician. I fish for wild brown trout in the cool limestone waters of Central Pennsylvania year round. This is my home, and I love it. Friends. Family. And the river.

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  1. No TP? haha

    How about a first aid kit?

    • Hi Ron.
      Correct, I’ve chosen not to carry a first aid kit. I accept the trade off and the risk.

  2. Only thing noticed missing is some first aid stuff.

  3. Only thing that seems missing is some first aid items

  4. Somewhere I read that one should wear the vest when placing new contents in the various pockets so the mind doesn’t have to reverse the location of its whereabouts.

    • Agree, was taught that over 40 years ago. Keeps my memory straight and vest organized.

  5. I agree with your concept and thinking. One item to consider is not just limiting to getting all things in one pack but possibly having a multi pack system (example chest pack, hip pack).

    • Right on. And that’s almost necessary with a lanyard system.

  6. Hey Domenik! So I’m a Colorado fisherman and one thing I always have to contend with is weather/temperature changes. I’m either wearing a jacket or need somewhere to put it when things warm up. I also hike into most my fishing holes so I carry a lunch. I currently use a backpack system that connects to a vest. I use this to carry these, along with my water. My problem is carrying my net. I saw your video on the belt system and I like that, but I can’t carry my net on a belt with a backpack. Just curious your system for carrying your jacket, lunch etc?

    • I Eric. Thanks for asking this. We contend with weather changes a lot too. And we walk in far, spending the whole day on the water, away from any access to the vehicle. So, like you, I set up a system that accommodates. That means one rod, plenty of water and food, and yes a jacket, raincoat, and/or multiple layers.

      This is exactly why I choose a vest. The back pockets in a vest are like a backpack without the structure. A backpack is, honestly, overbuilt for my fishing needs. All I really need is some simple storage for holding some rolled up clothes and a sandwich. That’s what the large back pocket on the vest does for me.

      Here’s a Troutbitten article about why I choose a vest.

      And here’s a video showing the stuff I carry. I mention in this one about the raincoat, etc.

      The Smith Creek Net Holster is far better than other net holsters I’ve seen and used. And with it, I can load up the back of my vest and have the net back there, no problem. My Dad uses a William Joseph chest pack, and he loads up the back compartment with stuff too. But the net holster positions the net so the bulk of the backpack part is IN the hoop as the net lays pretty flat against the back. Does that make sense?

      Probably wouldn’t work with a full backpack, though, because there’s too much structure there.


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Domenick Swentosky

Central Pennsylvania

Hi. I’m a father of two young boys, a husband, author, fly fishing guide and a musician. I fish for wild brown trout in the cool limestone waters of Central Pennsylvania year round. This is my home, and I love it. Friends. Family. And the river.

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