What to Wear Wet Wading

What to Wear Wet Wading (Fly Fishing Gear Guide)

When it comes to what’s on the forefront of a fly angler’s mind before a day on the water, what to wear is usually low on the list. Flies, rod and reel choice and the ideal fishing spot is what most of us focus on before we go. We likely have a trusty pair of waders and that’s what the majority of us plan on wearing despite the weather.

A poor choice of clothing can minimize the time spent on the water! It’s time to make the most of your fishing time.

A Guide Recommendation for Wet Wading

When you’re deciding what to wear wet wading, a pair of comfortable felt bottom wading boots with neoprene socks, quick drying pants and a breathable fishing shirt will do the job.

Wet Wading Clothes - Pants Boots Shirt
Wet Wading Clothes – Pants Boots Shirt

We all know the feeling when we wake up to go fishing and see that it’s going to be a hot day on the water. The question immediately arises if it’s worth it to wear waders despite the outside temperature. If you’re fishing in extremely cold water, it’s hard to not wear waders. They’ll keep you in the water longer, but can become extremely uncomfortable on those hot days.

Being uncomfortable on the water adds even more stress to what can be a challenging sport. However, if the temperature is too cold, waders sometimes have to do the trick.

If possible, shorts and closed toe sandals is one of the most comfortable wet wading outfits. If you’re fishing a gravel bottom and fishing in warm enough water, you’ll struggle to find an outfit that feels better. Your body temperature won’t rise to extreme levels and you’ll find that your clothing won’t be what forces you back to your car.

Guide Tip: I’m going to point you to two articles that discuss Banning Felt Wading Boots and Installing Studs in Your Wading Boots. Both of these are “Must Reads” when trying to get a grip.

Quite a few high mountain rivers and streams are going to have boulders and slippery portions of the river that can cause problems during wading. When fishing these bodies of water, felt boots and long, quick dry pants will work well. You’ll likely be walking through brush as well as some colder water so it’s best to be prepared in these scenarios.

Options For Your Feet

If you’re a somewhat avid angler, it’s good to have a system for what you wear while you’re out on the water. Having something you wear in the winter, spring, summer and fall helps you put more of your attention on fishing rather than your attire. Peace of mind is imperative for footwear.

Slipping, being too hot or cold are all factors that are annoying. Make an effort to fish in high quality footwear.

Wet Wading with Shorts and Comfy Sandals
Wet Wading with Shorts and Comfy Sandals

When it comes to choosing footwear, wading boots are often going to be the number one option for most anglers. However, depending on what type of angler you are, you may find that wading shoes or sandals are better depending on where and what you’re fishing. Here are a few recommendations for shoes that will assist you in your pursuit of fish!

Recommended wading boots – Simms Flyweight- The Simms Flyweight Wading Boots are some of the best wading boots on the market. Simms is well-known for their quality waders, boots and other fishing equipment. The beauty of the Flyweight boots is that they’re going to work just as well for trekking to the river as they do while you’re in the river.

The Simms Flyweight boots have a felt bottom with room to use studs depending on your environment. They’re light, durable and comfortable! Don’t just take my opinion for it. The reviews on these boots speak for themselves. Yes, they’re near $200, but they’re going to make a massive difference in your fishing experience.

Korkers Darkhouse– Korkers wading boots have come on to the scene in recent years. As a result, they barely stay on the shelves! Their boots have interchangeable soles. Each sole that Korkers designs are unique to different fishing situations. These boots are similar to Simms in their ability to work well for hiking as well as wading. You can read reviews and get current prices with this link to Amazon – Korkers Darkhorse Wading Boots

The durability is what sets these boots apart. They last for years and barely look worse for wear. You can find the Darkhorse model for $190, but Korkers also makes much more affordable boots. These boots are a brilliant option for you.

Neoprene Socks – Simms Neoprene Socks (link to Simms) – Again, Simms takes the cake for Neoprene socks. They’re great for the days you can’t justify wearing full waders, but need the grip and security that wading boots offer. For only $30, you’ll find that you use them quite a bit throughout the season.

Recommended SandalsKeen Newport Sandals – Many anglers have their preference for wet wading shoes. Some will wear Chacos or other types of sandals, but the Keen Newport’s are great! Some would classify these as classic “dad” shoes, but it’s hard to knock their production.

They’re grippy, comfortable and you won’t find that gravel or other debris find their way into the sandals. Plus, you’ll find that they’re about $100 and last for years. I’ve had my pair of these sandals for 8 years and they still work well.

Pants and Shorts

If you choose to not wear waders, then shorts and pants are your options! When you’re making decisions on what sort of pants or shorts to wear, there are a few things to consider. First, what is the storage situation? Fly anglers are well aware of the importance of storage on the water. The more the merrier.

The second thing to consider is how quickly they will dry. Sitting in wet clothes for most of the day is uncomfortable. Fishing in a pair of shorts or pants that dry quickly will allow you to wade through certain points of the river easier.

Sun protection is another part of clothes to consider when fly fishing. If you’re not the type that wants to stay covered, a nice pair of pants will keep you comfortable for the entire day.

Recommended PantsColumbia Silver Ridge – The Silver Ridge pants from Columbia give you the option to have shorts or pants. These pants are 100% polyester so it takes little to no time to dry. Also, they’re quite durable and have a nice amount of storage. You can keep your keys, phone and a fly box in your pockets if needed.

Feel free to spend as much time going in and out of the water in these combination pants! Also, for around $40 you’ll see that they’re well worth their price. Give them a chance and you won’t be disappointed! They’re a perfect summer pant and won’t feel too hot no matter the temperature.

Recommended PantsMen’s Outdoor Convertible Fishing Pants (Amazon) – You’ll struggle to find better reviews for fishing pants than the Free Fly Nomad Pants. They’re great for wading and they don’t look like boxy outdoor pants. They’re stylish and perform very well.

They don’t have the extra storage that you would find on Columbia or Simms pants, but the comfort and breathability of these pants is worth the investment. They’re $90, but they’re going to last. Fish them in saltwater, freshwater and then you can wear them to dinner once you’re done for the day!

Recommended Shorts Columbia Brewha – These shorts have been the favorites of fly anglers for years! It’s impressive how much storage you get when using these shorts. They have a D-ring for keys and four pockets on the front for a variety of other equipment. They’re a bit heavier duty so don’t worry about durability.

On top of it all, these shorts will dry well. They’re labeled under the “Performance Fishing Gear” line that Columbia recently developed. Give them a chance if you’re looking for some quality shorts.

Shirts for Wet Wading

A quality fly fishing shirt isn’t always easy to find. Either they’re too heavy, too light or far too expensive. Each angler has their own preference when it comes to a quality fishing shirt. Assess your location and where you’re going to be fishing before you make your decision!

I wrote all about shirt and jacket colors in this article – Fishing Shirts and Colors For Fly Fishing

Many anglers have shirts for fall, summer, spring and winter. Shirts are a bit of an investment, but comfort on the water will give you more of a chance to land a trophy fish. A nice fishing shirt will repel bugs and sun as well as blend into the environment. You don’t want a shirt that sticks out and gives you away to all of the fish in the area.

Clothes for Wet Wading
Clothes for Wet Wading

Recommendation Columbia Bahama II Long – The Bahama shirt from Columbia is another staple in fly fishing. These shirts are extremely lightweight and keep you cool on those warm summer days. They’re breathable, light and have a nice amount of storage.

The two chest pockets, small loops for fly fishing tools and durability make the $30 or $40 for these shirts well worth it. Columbia made a quality product with this shirt. The pockets are secure and will keep your items in place no matter how much you’re bending and moving. Give these shirts a chance!

RecommendationSimms Big Sky Shirt – If you’re wanting a traditional long sleeve shirt, you’ll struggle to find one that’s better than the Big Sky. These are by far one of the most comfortable and breathable shirts that you’ll ever wear. With two convenient pockets and a sunglass cleaning pad under the shirt tail.

Designed by fly fishermen in Bozeman MT for fisherman Simms products haven’t let me down, stylish and will last forever.

Simms is a fly fishing company first, with a proven track record. My favorite combination is My Big Sky shirt and my comfy Flyweight Wading Boots. I like to do backcountry fishing and these clothes have never let me down.

If your feet get a little warm on 90-degree days. You can wear Keen sandals or Chacos to complete the outfit. Make sure you’ll be wading on gravel bottoms or you’ll need felt for slippery rocks.

RecommendationSimms ColdWeather Shirt – If you’re choosing to wet wade on a bit colder day and aren’t interested in wearing many layers, the Simms ColdWeather shirt is wonderful. It has a waffle, fleece lined interior that traps the body heat quite well. There are two Velcro front pockets that are easily large enough for fly boxes.

On top of it all, Simms made a shirt that’s actually quite stylish and could work for both fishing and a night out on the town.

While the pants and shirts receive quite a bit of attention, your wearable accessories shouldn’t be overlooked. A nice pair of fishing gloves will keep your hands from getting burned from the sun, too cold in the water and burned on the fly line.

Recommended GlovesKastKing Sol Armis – These gloves are less than $20 and are going to do a great job protecting your hands. If you hurt your hands, your fishing experience is extremely limited.

Last Cast for Summer Comfort

Feeling comfortable on the water is important. So much of our focus in fishing is given to accurate casts, fly choice and reading the river. We don’t want to waste time changing our outfits and making adjustments because of poor planning. Investment in nice fishing clothing is worth your time. The short-term investment will keep you happy on the water for years to come.

More Nymph Fishing Articles – WHY because NYMPHS Catch Fish!

Danny Mooers is a high school English teacher in Arizona with a love for fly fishing. Growing up in Minnesota gave him the opportunity to experience all types of fishing and grow his skills. After living out in the Western United States for several summers in college, his fly fishing obsession grew. Having the opportunity to share in his passion for fishing through writing is a dream come true. It’s a lifelong hobby and he strives to make it understandable for people of all skill levels

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