As fishermen, we are fortunate to have an overabundance of options from everything like fishing line and fishing rods but also lures, hooks and now tackle storage. Which I find it pretty convenient to have so many good tackle management options. We’ve discussed a lot of the good tackle box options. But this time we want to focus primarily on the best fishing bags and best tackle backpacks.
Depending on how you like to fish, if you travel at all, having some good fishing bag and backpack options to carry tackle is a must. I’ve found later in life I’ve moved to a much more modular system where I keep a lot of big bins of storage at the house, but then I just grab a handful of baits and load them into my fishing backpack or fishing sling pack and hit the road. A small sling pack a few good travel rods and I’m good to fish anywhere out of any boat, fishing kayak or maybe just walking the bank or wading a creek.
Let’s take a look at our list of best fishing bags and backpacks.
OUR PICKS FOR BEST FISHING BAGS AND FISHING BACKPACKS
- Best Full-Size Bag: Academy H2OX Ethos Soft Tackle Bag
- Best Full-Size Fishing Backpack: Evolution Drift Series Backpack
- Best Full-Size Waterproof Bag: Buzbe Swarm Bag
- Best Small Bags: Evolution Drift Series Topless Bag
- Best Sling Pack: Tackle Warehouse Sling Pack
- Best Mini Backpack: Evolution Largemouth Sling Pack
- Best Bulk Plastics Bag: Buzbe Quik Qube
- Best Waterproof Plastics Pouch: Plano Stowall Bags
- Best Finesse Bag: Z-Man Bait BlockZ Tackle Bag
BEST FULL-SIZE BAG: Academy H2OX Ethos Soft Tackle Bag
This is a big bag that comes full with five 3700-size H2OX tackle trays. The H2OX Ethos Soft Bag features lots of storage options with 3 big outside zippered pockets, an inside waterproof pocket on the inside of the top flap, the 5 boxes all in a lightweight bag that is supported with a heavy duty shoulder strap. You can load this big bag down and carry a lot of tackle with you in your boat, in your truck, on trips and beyond. If you’re looking for an all-in-one tackle bag, this is the one we recommend as it’s very reasonably priced for its size at $49 compared to other bags this size.
Academy upgraded a bunch of it’s in-house brand tackle with this new H2OX line and the new Ethos soft tackle bag is well made and holds a bunch of tackle at a great price.
BEST FULL-SIZE FISHING BACKPACK: Evolution Drift Series Backpack
We love the open concept on this backpack and the sheer volume of storage it has is fairly staggering in this heavy duty open mouth backpack. While it comes with six of the 3600-size tackle trays, you can actually fit another three trays in the big top zipper compartment. However we actually like that compartment for loading down with our bags of soft plastics. The other five pockets on the sides and front give you tons of places to put your tools, phone, sunglasses and more.
The Non Slip Dimpled PVC Bottom means it won’t slide around in your truck, on a wet boat floor, in your kayak, on the dock, on wet rocks or anywhere else you take it fishing with you. It’s made with a rugged wear-resistant 1680D material and construction. So while it’s easy to access everything quickly, it’s also as durable as it is functional. It’s at the top of the spectrum in terms of price but it holds as much tackle as we’ve seen in a single backpack. $129
BEST FULL-SIZE WATERPROOF DRY TACKLE BAG: Buzbe Swarm Bag
This is one of the best dry waterproof tackle bags we’ve ever fished with. The zippers are big durable and sealed so you can rest assured your gear will be bone dry in this heavy duty, virtually indestructible bag. The material is very unique and why the bag is so waterproof. It’s hard to describe but it feels like a rubberized plastic that is not rigid but also will not tear no matter how hard you abuse it. It’s maybe some of the toughest but still soft material we’ve seen in a tackle bag. We’ve loaded it down with some very heavy boxes and it maintains its shape and waterproof ability. This is an incredibly well made bag.
The zippers are a little tough to zip one handed. But that’s because they are so tight to keep the water out. So it’s one of those give and take things. If you want an ultra leakproof bag that’s this durable, you might have some tough zippers. It’s also on the pricey side as well. But, again, it feels like this bag would last forever. Everything Buzbe makes is ultra high-end stuff that is made to last decades not years. This bag will hold 5 3700 boxes. It comes with no boxes. $159
BEST SMALL BAG: Evolution Drift Series Topless Bag
Another in the open footprint design in the Evolution Drift Series, the Topless bag holds five of the 3600 size trays with a nice size front pocket. This bag is very rugged and durable in smaller footprint. But it still holds a ton of tackle. This is a great travel bag. Where you want to cover a lot of bases but you don’t want to haul a warehouse with you when your travel. The weight is reduced, the footprint is reduced but the storage is not sacrificed. A great small bag that lets you get to your tackle in seconds. The bag is 12x9x8 but holds a lot of tackle in a 12×9 foot print. $69
BEST SLING PACK: Tackle Warehouse Sling Pack
This is my personally most used fishing tackle bag. The Tackle Warehouse Sling Pack is a great price, holds a bunch of gear and is very well laid out. I will get to why I think this is the best in a second. But this bag is affordable, well thought out, well made and has exceeded my expectations for more than a year and been fishing on kayaks, wading creeks, fly fishing, bank fishing, boat fishing, BFS fishing, bluegill fishing and has travelled to 9 different states with me. It’s made to hold 2 3600 boxes, but I generally take those smaller pencil type boxes that come in my Flambeau 4510FB Terminal Tackle File. These little boxes like 4×6 inches and hold a variety of baits for me. This is often my BFS kit. I throw in bags of plastics in the big hard shell front pocket and throw those small boxes in the big compartment.
This bag also has intelligent accessories like a scissor plier stacking holster with velcro, a water bottle pocket, a caribiner clip to attach tools to, and small zipper pocket for quick access things. But the best part is the sling design.
So one of my personal pet peeves is how sling packs typically work for fishing tackle bags. I come from the photography world and when camera bag makers make a camera sling bag, they always make them so you can sling the bag around your shoulder to the front while it’s still on you and access your camera gear. Because often times you’re not somewhere where you can set your bag down and dig through it. So you keep the bag on your person and the pockets line up so that when worn in the front they open towards you. That’s how this bag is designed. Why does that matter. Well when I’m in waste deep water with a rod in my hand I can’t set my bag down and dig through it. No. I need to wear it in front and still access my big pocket to go through tackle. This bag does that because it was made to double as a hip pack as well. The crazy part is this bag is $37. Yes it doesn’t hold as much tackle as some of the other bags but in my opinion, it’s one of the best bags I’ve owned for multipurpose fishing.
BEST MINI BACKPACK: Evolution Largemouth Sling Pack
So why technically this is a sling pack (only had one strap instead of two). It functions more like a mini back pack. It’s squared off, the pockets are accessed from the top. It functions more like a smaller backpack than a sling pack. This one is very durable and rugged, has smart pocket designs and can still hold a lot of tackle for its smaller footprint. Some of the smaller backpacks are well made and are a small footprint, but you can’t get much in them. This is the best of all worlds with a rugged design and lots of space in small shape.
There’s a small pocket on the strap that is perfect for putting a phone or keys and wallet in. The front pocket is shallow but will still hold a bunch of packs of plastics or terminal tackle and tools. And the main pocket can hold several 3600 boxes or other smaller boxes and bags easily. Everything is well made on this bag and its very functional. If it was a real sling pack it would be a little easier to access from the front without having to take it off. Sling packs are made to be slung around to the front and still be accessed while bank fishing or wading in the water. This is a good middle of the road compromise on lots of storage and small footprint. $59
BEST BULK PLASTICS BAG: Buzbe Quik Qube
The Buzbe Quik Qubes (full review) have become some of my favorites for holding a lot of soft plastics bags. I have a pile of them in my boat that swap in and out depending on the season. I really love how durable they are, how they don’t dry rot or get compromised if a bag of salty plastics lets loose in one. Heck I had mice get in my boat and choose through some other plastics bags. But these bags were unscathed. So either the were sealed up air tight and rodents didn’t know what was in them, or they couldn’t gnaw through em. Regardless after seeing that, the old ones came out and these are all that are in there now. Made of a very pliable but tough material with sealed zippers, these are the highest quality soft plastic storage bags we’ve found.
BEST WATERPROOF PLASTICS POUCH: Plano Stowall Bags
These heavy-duty, clear zipper pouches can hold a lot of soft plastics. They are like clown cars, you can just keep stuffing bags of plastics in them and they continue to fit. They are made of a very heavy duty clear plastic and the zippers are sealed and waterproof. The XL is our favorite bag as it has a nice zipper pull and holds a ton of soft plastics bags. They range from $7.99 to $29.99 depending on sizes.
BEST FINESSE BAIT STORAGE: Z-Man Bait BlockZ Soft Bags
This is a soft bag that acts a lot like a hard storage bag. It can be configured for two rows or three. I setup one as a three row system to hold finesse plastics and packs of jigheads. Made specifically for Z-Man plastics that have to be stored away from other plastics, these have become my go-to for the smaller packs of soft plastics. I keep them at the house as an almost file cabinet of finesse soft plastics which often come in smaller packs that are perfect for this soft storage bag. If you’re OCD like me about tackle, you will like this Bait BlockZ a lot.
WHAT TO LOOK FOR IN A TACKLE BAG
You want to find a bag that is going to organize your tackle so you can access everything quickly and easily. I approach tackle storage as a modular approach. Small boxes in bigger boxes in bigger bags, in bigger crates, etc. I keep a lot of things stored in mass at my house, then I pick and pluck when I’m going fishing. I travel a lot and I share boats with a lot of other anglers. It got so tiresome having to go get stuff out of the boat for a trip. Now I keep a good portion at the house and just grab what I need for the next fishing trip and go. So I use a lot of bags for specific purposes.
A sling pack is handy for quick trips, or specific types of fishing like Fly Fishing or Bait Finesse (BFS) fishing.
If you’re going on a long trip or you want to start a modular system, then a bigger bag with lots of tackle trays is a good way to start. A big backpack can also work. These bigger bags can go on a kayak, in your boat, in your truck easily. And make storing all your tackle in one place nice and convenient.
It really boils down to how you think you will fish most of the time.
WHAT TO LOOK FOR IN A FISHING BACKPACK
I like a backpack to be on the smaller side. If I’m wearing a backpack, it usually means I want to be mobile. I want the fishing to be simple. I have the handful of baits I think will work, and I’m going to stick with them. Don’t get me wrong you can bring a lot of baits in small tackle trays in a small sling pack. I fished a trout stream recently and carried more than 40 different baits in a couple different trays in a sling pack. I cycled through a dozen baits before I figured out how the fish wanted a bait presented and which bait best presented that way. But I only had 3 small pencil pouches and a few bags of plastics and had everything I needed. I threw in a 32 ounce of Gatorade, my phone, a knife, pliers, scissors, a cell phone tether, and an extra reel in that sling pouch too. So a small backpack can make being mobile but prepared a reality.
A good tackle backpack should have smart pocket layouts, easily accessible, and be rugged and durable to withstand a lot of abuse. If it checks all those boxes, you’ll probably be happy with it.
WHAT TO LOOK FOR IN A WATERPROOF DRY BAG
The biggest thing on a waterproof dry bag for fishing is the enclosure. How is it sealed and can I access it say in the rain or on the water while wading without getting everything soaking wet. That generaly boils down to materials, seams, and how the bag seals. Water proof zippers, zip locking enclosures, or even velcro and roll top snap clasps can all effectively keep water out of a dry bag. You can fishing fishing bags that are completely waterproof now so we no longer have to rely on those single opening roll top bags that did a great job keeping things dry, but were not very user friendly when it came to get in and things out of the bag. I still use rolltop dry bags for things like spare clothes, rain gear, etc. But most of the time, if I want a water proof bag for fishing tackle, I’m using a zipping enclosure pouch or true waterproof material zipper bag.
HOW WE MADE OUR CHOICES
We are fortunate to have been able to test more tackle the many people will see in a lifetime of fishing. We have personal expriences with hundreds of tackle boxes, tackle bags, and other tackle storage solutions. We have longstanding relationships with most of the top brands in tackle storage management so we are able to source product for testing. And we also buy a ton of fishing storage bags and boxes for ourselves to hold a lot of gear and to help facilitate our travels.
We are in the field fishing and testing weekly. We travel all over the country to fish and film so we have had most all of these bags in a lot more places than just our local lake. Some of the bags have been to 8 or 9 states, have been in boats, trucks, kayaks, paddle boards, wading, hiking, and more. So they have literally been run through the paces in more ways than one.
We try to balance the absolute best made, with the best materials, with the best affordable options that we have proven work well for fishermen. We take a lot of pride in being VERY hands on with products. I will wager I guess that I personally have tested more than 10,000 products over the last 20 years. Having the depth of experience allows me to quickly assess the quality of a build, the functionality in the design, the materials and weigh that against the many fishing applications to give readers a lot of insight into each product.
Half of the products were purchased and half were sent for review. Of those, about half of the products made it into our list. No one can buy their way in. And we don’t make our buyer’s guides based off of whatever is selling on Amazon. We run through a lot of products over a period of time and then develop a list of the best in a few categories we think will be important to anglers.