Rated 2 out of 5 by Swearengen West Branch Fishing Vest
I gave only 2 stars because, at 5 times the price of any entry-level vest, this vest should have been a dependable performer.
It does a merely adequate job, is too costly and is rather poorly thought out for on-the-water use. I have used this vest on 3 multi-day trips and no less than 10 additional day-trips but could not resolve its failings. I have now repaired my old vest I wanted this to replace and only use this vest when the older one is too soggy or requires further repair.
Fly-box pockets: Poorly located pockets are the Achilles' heel for this vest. There are many pockets, but the absolutely essential fly-box pockets are triple-layered (large fly-box pocket, large outside utility pocket, and large interior mesh pocket). So, filling any one of these lower front pockets with a fly-box adds such intrusive bulk that filling, or worse yet, accessing the contents of the other two becomes challenging while on the water---e.g. while on fast water simultaneously place both hands inside your vest to access those contents confidently. Hope you brought a snorkel, buddy. So now 4 main pockets (2 to each side) are no good to me---which vastly cuts into my storage space.
Outside/lower storage pockets and mesh inside/lower storage pockets: absolutely worthless for anything besides a ziploc with TP when fly-boxes are in fly-box pockets.
Creel pocket: My friends and I find the creel pocket location/access a source of side-splitting amusement. We would pay to watch this vest's designer pack an 18" trout in there while we watch (imagine a dog chasing his tail).
Tippet pockets: decent size with velcro to secure tippet ends.
Outside/upper chest pockets: nice size and well-located. They do not have drain holes (unnecessary for me anyway as they rarely get wet and are where I keep very small items).
Collar: better quality and more comfortable than many other vests.
Inner sunglasses' pocket: the design is very good and functions well. I'd like to see this feature on any future fishing vests. It makes me want another inside pocket on the opposite side of the vest (this second position would be ideal for a waterproof pocket to store a camera/smartphone to record catch/release).
Fabric: tough enough for thickets, rock-scrambling etc. and dries quickly enough for me.
Stitching: seems well-done and has not failed in any way.
Zippers: I have had the experience where zippers get stuck on excess overlapping fabric as another reviewer stated, but those large outer storage pockets (the only location where it happened for me) means little to me as those pockets are rendered useless when my fly-box pockets are full.
Overall: Too much storage space is wasted by the multi-layered pocket design (which undoubtedly adds to complexity of production and causes a higher price). Even if this storage system actually worked, I believe using even 3/4 of the space would make the vest front-heavy, bulky, and uncomfortable. Many good ideas were incorporated into the vest's design, but as a whole these ideas just don't come together well enough for me to feel content with it or recommend it.
May 15, 2014
Rated 5 out of 5 by fishinlaw Men's West Branch Fishing Vest
I have used this vest since Summer 2012 when wading or fishing from boats or from land and it meets all my expectations. The 4 small front pockets hold tippet material and have grommets which allow the spools to remain in the pocket and to feed the tippet through the grommet. There are two larger zippered pockets behind those which hold my fly boxes and other materials. The two upper pockets are large enough to hold packaged leaders and thingamabobs, and there are ample spots to clip on zingers with nippers, floatant, and other stuff, as well as a hemostat. There are three inside zippered pockets. The vest also has d-rings and a ring in back to hold a magnetic net connector. The arm holes are large and comfortable, allowing use over a jacket. It can be closed with a zipper or with a snap-clip. The price is very fair for the quality and features. Highly recommended.
May 22, 2013
Rated 5 out of 5 by OldTroutchaser Men's West Branch Fishing Vest
Have fished in this vest three times and like it alot. The fabric slides on easily over other clothes. It's light and comfortable. The many copious, zippered pockets hold all my gear securely and conveniently. The sizing and fit are correct.
October 17, 2012
Rated 5 out of 5 by heidikm Great gift!
Gave this to my dad (a fly fishing beginner) for Christmas, and it was a hit! Fit perfectly based on the size chart measurements.
January 4, 2012
Rated 3 out of 5 by Lobosko Almost nice
Well made, comfortable, with a reasonable number of pockets (more would be better), but I returned it because the small pockets in front, which with other vests I have always used for packaged leaders, are too small to fit them, and rather small for other stuff as well.
August 31, 2011
Rated 4 out of 5 by SacoWader All it needs are drains.
I use this vest for fly fishing and overall it is great. Very light, dries fast, innumerable pockets and a simple but super rod holder.
If you're like me sometimes you get a bit clumsy while wading or find some extra slippery rocks and take a little dip. When this happens all of the pockets of this vest fill with water and take dumping out to clear; which in itself is a clumsy operation. Some drain grommets on the bottoms of the pockets and this would be 5 star.
June 13, 2011
Rated 4 out of 5 by Fishingbum Practical Vest - Good Value
I had a similar LL Bean vest that has lasted 18 years, but has a couple rips by now. Bean's has upgraded it to ripstop nylon, which while a bit light for my taste, will probably stave off fabric tearing. The pockets are well thought out, except I would have appreciated an extra upper inside right pocket which the old one had. Altogether, it seens to be a well designed product that I will enjoy using.
April 8, 2011
Rated 1 out of 5 by Beanjeans1 Not a happy fisherman
I purchased this vest for my husband for Xmas. He just started using it here in PA as fishing season is the 2nd week of April. After 3 attempts to like this vest he confessed that he wants to throw it away. The velcro does not stay closed and he lost some lures. The back pocket used for storing your fish is difficult to reach and you have to take the vest off. In the process he lost some lures that slipped out of the velcro pockets. He also says the water proof fabric is too warm. Oh well, this time he'll buy his own.
May 1, 2010
Rated 5 out of 5 by Sorley The best Christmas gift ever!!
I bought the fly rod & reel at the store & ordered the vest online. The all were well received & I have friends wanting me to buy them cool gifts for next year!!
We can't wait to go flyfishing & enjoy more products from LLBean
January 6, 2010
Rated 2 out of 5 by fishn problems
It seems every time I use this vest one of the outside zipper pockets with the small flap over it , the flap gets caught in the zipper. this seems to happen every time I use it & it's frustrating. Other than that it's ok but I'm not using it much because of the above reason.
April 17, 2009