Whether you’re fishing from a bass boat, fishing off the banks, or throwing lures into the whitewater of a dam chances are good you’ve got more tackle than you can manage. If you’re like me, you probably take 2-3 rods and several utility boxes for a “quick” trip to the river. Juggling all that stuff can be a real pain in the neck unless you’re prepared!
In order to manage your tackle when you’re traveling, a fishing backpack is really indispensable. You can get out of the house and get on the water faster if you’ve got everything ready to go and organized and if it comes time to travel, using a fishing backpack makes everything easy.
In this article, we’re going to look at tackle backpacks. These packs, generally, are meant to handle a day’s worth of fishing tackle and accessories like tools and line for any trip.
Water-resistant 1200D high density nylon fabrics, protective rain cover, hard molded sunglasses case, KAM buckle and SBS zippers
Protect your tackle with the Durable, water-resistant exterior | Includes: Three 3600 Series StowAway Utility Boxes
12-month Guarantee: Save time and fuss, so you can bring home more fish without looking like a disorganized newbie.
This light weight versatile bag was designed for the adventurous angler who likes to hike, canoe, kayak, or SUP to more remote fishing locations.
A water-resistant, up-right design is made convenient and comfortable with adjustable, padded straps.
Super light outdoor pack with multi pockets.
Made of high quality 1000D Water-Resistant Nylon Fabrics. With extra firm stitched; Left/Right exchangeable and adjustable shoulder strap; Full-length double zipper.
Water-resistant 1000D high density nylon fabrics, made with high-end equipment to ensure its safety. The abrasion resistant and indestructible KAM buckle and SBS zippers (Full-length double zippers), more durable than the competitors'.
High performance type-coated waterproof fabric with two side pockets with Velcro closures
How to Choose the Best Fishing Backpack for You
Types of Fishing Backpack
These bags are a little smaller than a full-size backpack. Sling packs are great for quick trips or those who aren’t carrying a lot of gear. Maybe you know exactly what tackle you need and you prefer to stay light on your feet!
Sling packs are popular with fly anglers due to their slim profile and lightweight. Regardless of what type of fishing you’re participating in, a sling pack is usually light enough and small enough to carry for hours – unlike many larger packs.
Additionally, thanks to the sling design, you can swivel the pack around and get to the contents on the fly, something that just isn’t possible with a full-size backpack.
Tackle backpacks are what most would consider a “fishing backpack”. While the exact definitions may leave something to be desired, I’ll do my best to clear it up.
Whatever you call them, tackle backpacks are great for carrying loads of gear. Most of these packs are made to carry multiple utility boxes, sunglasses, line, pliers, clippers and other goodies.
While having room for more equipment might sound good, it comes with a few downfalls.
Possibly the biggest thing to watch out for is that a lot of full-size backpacks are too bulky and heavy to carry while fishing. So if you’re looking for a pack you can carry all day while on the water fishing, consider a smaller sling pack.
These bags are best for organizing and carry tackle to your fishing location rather than while fishing.
Fanny Packs and Waist Packs
A quick note about waist packs before we move on. These packs are mostly for fly fishing or Tenkara users. They’re quite small and usually outfitted with goodies for fly fishing like a tippet holder.
Some other anglers may get away with using them, but for most, there just isn’t enough room for conventional tackle.
I personally actually like little waist packs for fun adventures like summer wade fishing. Whether you’re throwing a fly rod, casting, or spinning it’s fun to wade through an unknown creek with a few baits. Carrying a full tackle backpack is a real pain in these situations and only holds you back.
Waist packs aren’t a great choice for a main storage option, but they’re a must-have for adventurous anglers.
Tackle Storage Options
When you start looking for tackle storage options you’ll probably be overwhelmed by all the options!
One of the most common storage options is the Plano utility organizer. Today these molded plastic boxes are made by tons of companies but they all work the same.
Tackle Box Sizes
Plastic utility boxes come in many styles such as jerk baits, spinnerbait, adjustable, waterproof and more. Each of these variants may be available in different sizes. Utility box sizes are usually written as 3600, 3650, 3700 and so forth.
Make sure you check which size boxes your tackle box, sling pack, or tackle bag is made to hold or you’ll have trouble getting things to fit.
Storing Soft Plastic Baits
Another type of storage to watch for is soft plastic storage. Some anglers choose to store these baits in a utility box such as the ones I mentioned above. Others, however, keep them in their plastic zippered bags.
Soft Plastic Bait Binders are available to store and organize the plastic baits while keeping them in their bags.
Personally, I’ve tried both bait binders and storing soft plastics in a utility box. I’ve found that keeping baits in their original bags tends to help them last long. Some soft plastic baits, scents, and oils will actually melt together on contact. This can make an absolute mess and ruin a lot of money worth of bait when you opt to store in organizers and it fails.
What I might recommend for a balance between organization and longevity is to store some soft plastics in your tackle organizers. Keep the bulk of your soft plastic bait in their original bags and top off your organizers as you use baits.
A few bags of soft plastics can go into the general zippered storage area of almost any tackle backpack, but bulk storage may be more difficult.
Somehow water resistance has become a topic of conversation in fishing backpacks. This is silly and I’d advise you to ignore it entirely.
Why? Because fishing gear is inherently made to handle being wet.
There is, however, one major exception. Terminal tackle.
Terminal tackle covers things like raw hooks, sinkers, swivels, snaps, etc. Much of this terminal tackle is made from high quality steel and steel is prone to rust. That’s why I always advise that you invest a little money into a waterproof utility box for your terminal tackle.
If water gets in with your hooks they will rust. This means dull hook points, hooks rusted together, and ruined tackle. Do yourself a favor and keep them protected with a waterproof box. If they do get wet, be sure to dry out the box when you get home.
Other than that, there’s nothing else in a fishing backpack that really needs to be kept away from water. If you’re carrying spare clothes, just double up two old grocery bags and wrap your clothes in them. Zip it up in your bag, and you’re good to go through all but a hurricane.
There is really one major split in fishing backpacks. There are those who want to carry their tackle backpacks on their back during fishing and those who want to carry their fishing gear to the boat and drop it.
Most of us can carry a pretty uncomfortable load if we just need to get it to the boat and drop it off. However, if you’re planning to carry your backpack for hours while casting a line, comfort really becomes a serious factor.
When I bought my first tackle backpack I imagined carrying it with me while I roamed the banks fishing. However, by the time I got it loaded with my tackle, it was way too heavy to carry. I found myself taking off constantly because it got in the way of my casting or got uncomfortable.
These days I use my tackle backpack just to transport the tackle to my boat. I wish I had bought a sling pack or a waist pack the first time around because looking back, they would’ve been a much better fit for my goals at the time.
Uses for Fishing Backpacks
There are three main uses for fishing backpacks
Tackle organization is first. Backpacks made for organization and tackle storage need to be more like tackle boxes and less like backpacks. If you just want to hold and organize tackle you really don’t need comfort or a good suspension.
Bank fishing comes next. If you want to carry your gear to a spot, set it down, fish, then pick up and move later then you’ll need a different backpack. I’d advise looking for a pack with moderate storage and moderate comfort. Good straps, maybe a hip belt, and solid ergonomics. Think about accessibility and organization so you can get to the gear you want on the move without ripping the whole backpack apart.
Wade fishing is last. If you plan to be on the move for long stretches while casting, landing fish, climbing over logs, etc. then you’ll want some specific features. Look for a backpack, sling bag, or waist pack with minimal storage and extremely high comfort. Lower bulk and easy access to only the bare necessities while on the move will help keep the bag out of the way while you work and keep you fishing.
Best Fishing Backpacks of 2021
This bag gets one of our top spots because it’s just so darn well-loved. Piscifun has been taking over fishing gear on many online retailers because they’re bringing us gear at good prices, loaded with features, and positively received by customers.
- Water bottle pocket
- 4x utility boxes
- 3 color options
Among so many features, it’s most notably divided into an upper and lower section. Down low is room for 4 3600 series boxes. Up top is room for general storage or more small utility boxes.
While I do appreciate the little details such as the rubber feet, waterproof fishing backpack rain cover, and movable internal divider I will say there are some drawbacks. For instance, while you can move the internal divider to create a single large internal compartment, it can’t be fully removed. Due to the divider’s thick padded foam that means it ends up leaching space inside the pack when opened.
Other than a few tiny details, it’s hard to argue with the price and design. Because of the size, I would argue that this pack makes a good choice for those who need to transport a large amount of tackle to the fishing site or boat.
I do recommend ordering the pack without the utility boxes because the ones that came with mine were all jerk bait/crank-bait boxes so now I have to go out and buy more to have a variety. It would have been easier (and cheaper) to just buy my own utility boxes.
There’s no way you’re going to want to lug this beast on your back for hours while you cast. It’s a bit on the bulky and heavy side to be used that way. Instead, think of it as a backpack-shaped tackle box!
This bag is best for those who carry a large amount of casting tackle with them on and off the boat or back and forth to the car.
Plano’s E-Series 3600 is an awesome blend of storage and portability. I’d say this is a good choice for the bank angler or the angler on the move.
- Holds 3x 3600 boxes
- Small internal storage
- Hydration system compatible
There’s nothing mind blowing here. Normally that might be a drawback, however, I think it’s actually a benefit here. Too many fishing backpack manufacturers are overcomplicating things. This one keeps it simple.
Inside you can store 3+ 3600 series boxes. Given that this backpack doesn’t have super robust shoulder straps I wouldn’t overload it with weight so less is more here. At the top of the main compartment is plenty of space for snacks, gear, or anything else.
Outside the pack are a couple small zippered pockets. There’s not much room here, so don’t expect to load up a ton, but it’ll hold your license, wallet, keys, or other.
If you tend to wander while you fish, or you just need something for casual outings, this is the backpack.
If you’re a surf angler then this might be the backpack for you. It’s designed like a hybrid between a rolling suitcase and a big backpack. Let’s check it out.
- Holds 5x 3650 series utility boxes
- Rolling luggage wheels
- Large saltwater rod holders
It seems to me that this backpack would be ideal for the saltwater surf anglers out there. There’s enough room for tons of bulky tackle with space for 5x 3600 series boxes. Plus the top half of the bag is an open compartment for anything extra.
If you have a long walk though sidewalks, boardwalks, or the concrete jungle, you can use the rolling wheels and handle. Once you hit the beach or woods, pull out the backpack straps and start booting it. They did make this backpack waterproof, but I’m not sure it makes a ton of difference.
This is a great choice for carrying big rods and big tackle. I know you saltwater anglers out there will appreciate the included rod holders.
I’ve used a lot of gear from KastKing and, so far, I’ve yet to complain about their products. The Pong Hopper is exactly the bag I wish I had originally bought for myself.
- Holds 2x 3600 series boxes
- Lightweight sling style bag
- Integrated rod holder
Okay, let’s look this over top to bottom. Of course, there’s a wide padded sling for carrying the bag. One thing I like that they added, though, is that you can switch the sling to different attachment points at the bottom of the bag. This means you can adjust it for comfort and dial in how the bag hangs across your back.
Inside you can hold up to two 3600 series boxes. There are also several clear zippered pockets for your license, map, or whatever else. In the front pouch of the sling bag is organization for keys, tools, and gear.
Maybe the only thing I would have liked to see included would be tool attachments on the front of the sling. I like to be able to get to my pliers and nippers without flipping my bag around. Maybe next time, KastKing!
This backpack makes the list because it dares to deviate from the popular style and shape. With an overall square profile it makes total sense for optimal storage of tackle organizers. See if you agree.
- Holds 3x utility boxes
- 2 rod holders
- Exterior organization pocket
This bag takes 3 utility boxes (included) and secures them in a simple single vertical pocket. On the outside is a simple organizer pocket for a license, some bags of soft plastics, and maybe a spool of line.
They did include some clips and pockets on the shoulder straps which I like. However, I think that the ergonomics of this bag make it a squeamish choice for carrying while wading or walking for long periods. I think this backpack lends itself better to carrying your gear from the house, truck, or cabin to the boat.
Of course, it’s anybody’s guess who or how this bag could best be used. So, check it out, see if it fits your style or needs, and get out there after it!
Piscifun is a brand I’ve turned to several times for affordable fishing gear. While this might not technically count as a backpack, I think it deserves a place due to the extremely low cost and portability.
- Holds no utility boxes (will hold fly boxes)
- Adjustable strap 20-56”
- 3 Colors
As I mentioned, the main strap is adjustable to fit any size waist from 20 - 56” so it should be able to accommodate most users. Unfortunately the only colors available are a flat green, flat khaki, and camo so you’ll find a color you like as long as you like earth tones.
On the outside is a water bottle holder (I never drink enough when fishing) or holder for your favorite frosty beverage. There are two outer velcro pockets and one main zippered pouch.
I do like that they included a large metal D ring on the center of this pack. When I travel fast and light, I really like having pliers and nippers easily available and a secure attachment is crucial.
If you do any creek wading or urban fishing where you want to be able to move freely, this is the bag for you! Now please excuse me while I go order one....
Since we just took a look at a full-size fishing tackle backpack, it’s only proper to consider the other side of the coin. This highly customizable sling pack is a great size for quick anglers. Plus, the external MOLLE system is almost limitless.
- Velcro and MOLLE system
- Multiple shoulder strap configurations
- Rod holder
Among all the accessories included on this sling pouch is a water bottle holder, fish grip holder, rod holder, and a few other goodies.
Not enough accessories for you? Don’t worry because the front of the pouch is covered in a MOLLE style daisy chain. You can slap on any modular systems with ease.
Perhaps the biggest downfall of this pack is that there are little pockets everywhere. I can’t imagine having enough small items that need separate pockets to ever use up all these little nooks and crannies. However, maybe that’s different for you.
While it is small enough for carrying while you’re fishing, it may not be the best for fly fishing. Straps cover most of the pockets and the modular system makes it a little cumbersome for the needs of fly anglers.
This might be best for those who know where they’re going, what fish they’re targeting, and only need to carry a limited supply of tackle.
Piscifun makes the list for a second time by copying what the big brands have been doing for years and doing it better. They also happen to have fantastic prices and the sling pack is no exception.
- Velcro and MOLLE system
- Multiple carrying orientations
- 5+ colors and options
It’s true, you can wear this bag just about any way you want. Take apart the straps and put them into configurations for backpack straps, sling bag, crossbody bag, or chest bag. It’s probably for the best, too, because the size of this bag is somewhere between a sling and a backpack.
One of the greatest assets of this pack are all the accessory pockets and pouches. For instance, there are two rod-holders, a water bottle pocket, plier and clipper attachments, and several small pockets scattered around. However, because this is a sling pack, getting it too bulky or heavy might be a bit hard to manage and I can’t imagine how it could possibly hold two rods steady while you walk.
That said, this pack makes a good choice for fly anglers with a lot of gear or casting anglers with a minimal amount of gear. Ideal for quick trips to the river or local fishing hole.
Spiderwire makes some awesome braided line. They also make some awesome gear and accessories for all sorts of fishing. In this case, we get a modern, sleek looking tackle backpack.
- Single color
- Includes 3 medium utility boxes
- Adjustable main compartment
As a backpacking guide, one of the things I find myself appreciating about this pack is the hip belt. While it won’t hold much weight, it will help to secure the pack and prevent it from swinging around as you walk.
Essentially this pack is divided into 3 parts. At the top is room for personal items and assorted gear. Centrally located is a pocket for food and drinks so you can stay out longer. Finally, at the bottom, is room for the tackle.
Among the accessories I love are a tool holder (pliers, clippers) and a dedicated foam sunglasses case. If you’re like me you’ve got a nice pair of fishing glasses and keeping them organized and protected is a must-do!
In a market where almost all other tackle bags are available in multiple colors, I think they should consider making this bag a with a broader selection as well. Currently, it’s only available in black and lime green.
This is a great tackle backpack with minimal extra features for anglers with a slim to moderate amount of tackle to carry.
If you’re tired of fishing backpacks that have room for too many odds and ends, look no further. I love this Plano tackle bag because it’s just that – a bag for tackle.
- Room for 4 3750 series boxes
- 3 outer pockets
- One color
Most of the packs and bags on our list are loaded with features and accessories. Not so with the Plano Z.
This bag is a big square tackle backpack that is made to efficiently fit only 4 large utility boxes. 3750 series boxes happen to be very large on their own so when you get 4 of them in one bag, you’ve got all the storage anyone could hope for.
On top of the utility boxes, this bag also has dedicated room for up to 8 bags of soft plastic baits.
If you fish as I do, this bag will be perfect for you. Tons of room for your existing gear and enough space to expand with a focus on utility boxes for casting tackle and just enough room for plastics.
I would recommend this bag for anglers who really like utility box storage and don’t need room for extra stuff like accessory pouches.
Fishing tackle bags range from full-on backpacks to utility box holders with a shoulder strap. There seems to be something out there for everyone and before you buy one, you’d be well-advised to think about what features you really need.
Personally, if I had to buy my fishing tackle backpack again I’d go for one with fewer accessories and more focus on just storing utility boxes. However, you might prefer a bag with tons of small pockets for organization. This is a prime example of choosing the right bag for you.
Remember that every angler is different and the bag that’s best for me might not necessarily be your top pick. We’ve covered a ton of fishing tackle bags and sling packs in this round-up so now you take your pick and get out there fishing.