Fly Fishing Gear photo

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The king is dead… long live the king. I have reached the end of the road with my old Filson retro fishing vest, which I loved so dearly I made it a “Stuff That Works” selection a few months ago.

But alas, the rips and wear got to be too much (after many years)… and I’ve found something I like more. The Fishpond Marabou vest is new for 2011, and I’ve been testing it out for a few months now. I’ve fished it a lot in Colorado, and took it to Alaska and Kentucky. My number one impression is that it is the most comfortable vest I’ve ever worn. The mesh back keeps things cool, while the adjustable shoulder straps allow me to quickly size up or down, depending on if I’m fishing in a T-shirt (no, I’m afraid to say the Perry the Platypus/Agent P shirt isn’t mine) or layered up in fleece and rain gear.

I am a minimalist… so I like having few pockets with purpose. I like to use the two front, side-access pockets on the Marabou for fly boxes; weights, leaders, and goos go in the zip pockets; strike indicators and spare tippet go in the mesh outer pockets. I also really like the various tags, tabs, etc., on which I can clip on hemostats and other gizmos. You’ll notice a Leatherman Skeletool hanging off one loop on my vest… I love that thing also, and expect to dot a Stuff That Works post on that soon.

At $169, Marabou vest is an investment, but I think, in terms of value for the dollar, well worth it. Put it this way… think of your vest–or if you are so inclined, your pack–as “home base.” It’s my office on the river. Minus a real comfort level and functionality feel, I think any vest, or pack, is dead weight. But when you barely realize you’re wearing a vest or pack at all, and find yourself instinctively reaching for (and finding) the right tool, or fly, or whatever, when your eyes are still locked on the trout rising in the seam upriver… that’s the zone you want to be in. I’m in that zone when I’m in this vest, and I’ve always trusted fishpond durability. Besides it looks pretty sporty too. Maybe Romano will stop teasing me about my “retro” ways now. Nah… probably not.