I have had clients come out with some really impressive fishing creels over the years and some were much older than I was. I’ve also done the research to find the best fishing creels to sell in my fishing store.
And to ensure I’m up to date on the latest and greatest fishing creels, I’ve also read through numerous forums to see what other guys are saying. I’ve consolidated my experience with what anglers say to make this list of the best fishing creels.
But before you buy, ensure you get the right type and the right size creel.
Our Top 3 Quick-Pick Fishing Creels / Bags
- Danielson Standard Polar Creel: Best Vinyle Bag Style Creel
- White River Fly Shop Wicker Creel Basket: Best Wicker Creel
- Beau Mac Tyee Tote Catch Bag: Best For Large Fish
Fishing creels are essential for anyone who enjoys wading while fishing and who wants to keep a fish or two. Fly fishermen, and those who target trout, steelhead, and salmon during their annual runs will need a fishing creel that matches the size of the fish they might catch, so I’ll recommend a few options and sizes.
Creels are light, conveniently placed along the body, and can hold several fish. Many types are available with varying creel capacity, but they all enable you to stay in the water while keeping your legal catch with you.
History and Evolution of Fishing Creels
The fly fishing creels were invented and used centuries ago and the trout creel has enabled fly fishermen to wade rivers, streams, and creeks while keeping their catches secure.
Today, the creel remains one of the best pieces of fishing gear for wading anglers that need to transport their fish.
Types of Fishing Creels
Other than size, the type of creel is also a consideration.
The traditional fishing creel design is a wicker fishing creel that is light, lets water out, and keeps fish secured inside. Most have a shoulder strap that lets you carry the creel on one hip with the strap over the opposite shoulder for support. Some might have a belt attachment to secure it to your waist.
Canvas creels are lighter than wicker creels and worn in the same way. They give you the added advantage of only taking up enough space to hold whatever fish you have in your creel.
Backpack Cooler Creels
One of the most portable creels is the backpack cooler creel, which you wear like a backpack and helps keep your catch fresh while you continue fishing.
You can get custom creels that are made from wicker or other materials and have the creel capacity to hold the types of fish that you target. Custom creels are ideal for those who catch larger species, like steelhead and salmon, that would overwhelm standard-size creels.
Key Features to Consider
A fly fishing creel endures a lot of wear and tear when used regularly, which makes creel durability very important.
Durability and Material: The wicker fishing creel has endured for centuries because quality wicker with a well-made wooden lid can last for many years. If any damage occurs, the wicker is repairable, so you can continue using it to secure your catch.
Size: Creel size is also important and must be enough to hold a legal limit of the type of fish you are targeting. A trout creel will seldom will have to hold more than a couple of fish, but consider a larger creel or a creel type that can handle large trout, steelhead, or salmon.
Fit and Ease Of Use: The creel should be easy to secure to your body, stay out of your way when fishing, and be comfortable to wear while you are fishing.
Top Recommended Fishing Creels
Based on my experience and the recommendation of other guides and anglers, these are the best fishing creels available.
1. Danielson Standard Polar Creel: Best Fishing Creels Overall
This creel bag is 14″ x 9″ and holds about a half dozen fish up to 14 inches in length. This is also the most popular creel bag with the most recommendations.
Its vinyl construction and comfy strap make it light and easy to wear.
It has a zippered pouch for fishing tackle and a screen-printed ruler to measure your catch.
2. White River Fly Shop Wicker Creel Basket – Best Wicker Creel Basket
The traditional wicker creel basket from Bass Pro Shops looks great and works even better with a leather buckle that secures the wicker top and an adjustable nylon shoulder strap.
If you like the old-school style of creel baskets, then this is the best you will get unless you get one custom-made. I also found that it gets good reviews and is well-liked by users.
3. Danielson Polar Jumbo Creel: Best Larger Size Creel
This is nearly identical to the standard Polar Creel listed above, except it’s bigger by four inches in length and comes in at 18″ x 9″.
I find this a better size for fish under 24 inches.
4. Eagle Claw Polar Creel: Best Insulated Creel Bag
Made from canvas with an insulated plastic lining that is easy to clean. It has a zippered outer pocket to hold fishing accessories, a snap top, and metal grommets to enable drainage.
I like this one because it’s insulated and will keep you catch fresher on those hot days.
5. Beau Mac Tyee Tote Catch Bag: Best For Big Fish
I’ve been asked by clients many times about how I store and transport large fish, and this is it, becuase most trout and steelhead and other large fish just won’t fit in a standard fishing creel.
The vinyl catch bag holds especially big fish in its 40” by 18” pouch. It’s not a traditional creel that you wear, but it’s a great way to hold and transport large fish like steelhead and salmon.
Instead, you carry it using its two carry handles. The heat-welded seams and a heavy-duty zipper prevent leakage, and the insulated foam keeps fish fresh longer.
6. Syhonic Classical Vintage Wicker Creel
The classically styled wicker creel basket looks great and works just as well with a snap lock, adjustable shoulder strap, and wicker carry handle.
It’s available in a standard size or a jumbo size for bigger fish.
It also gets good reviews and is inexpensive.
Care and Maintenance of Fishing Creels
Like all outdoor fishing equipment, the fly fishing creel will take on water and debris. The fish it holds could leave some slime that should be easy to clean by washing your creel with dish soap, rinsing it off, and letting it dry.
Many fly fishermen also use a mix of linseed oil and mineral spirits to clean off wicker creels by wiping it onto the wicker, letting it sit for a couple of minutes, and then drying it with a clean cloth. You should store it in a dry place that gets sunlight to prevent mold or mildew.
The only options other than a creel are a garbage bag or a good fishing stringer and both have their limitations on the river.