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What to Wear Fly-Fishing

Suiting Up for Fly-Fishing

What to Wear Fly-Fishing

Scott Bish 

Fly-fishing is a great way to unplug, de-stress, and enjoy nature’s beauty. And because you’ll be on the water for a long stretch of time, it’s crucial that you remain comfortable. Before you head for the stream, make sure you’re geared up with all the right fly-fishing clothing. 

1. Fly-Fishing Waders
Fishing waders are waterproof boots that extend up to your hips, waist, or chest. Choosing the right size is pretty easy once you know what information you need. Gather your measurements for:

  1. The girth of your chest, waist, and hips
  2. Your inseam
  3. Your shoe size

Next, decide the style you want. Bootfoot waders have attached boots that keep your feet warm. Stockingfoot waders require you to wear separate wading boots and they’re a sound option if your fishing spot is far enough from the car parking area that you’ll need to wear walking shoes to reach it. 

In the world of waders, there are various materials to choose from, including durable neoprene, a thick, rubberized material designed to insulate and protect. While neoprene is great during colder months, it may be too heavy to wear in the summer. Another fishing wader material option is breathable fabric, typically constructed of nylon with a waterproof membrane, designed to keep anglers cool and dry. This type of wader allows sweat to escape, making it an ideal choice in hotter weather. 

2. Fishing Vest
The next fly-fishing clothing item to consider is a mesh or standard fabric vest. Standard fabric vests are lightweight, while mesh vests provide good airflow, which can help keep you cool on hot days. 

Beyond material, when choosing a fishing vest, the number and size of the pockets matter. You’ll need to be able to move around freely and easily, so choose a vest with no more than 20 pockets. Any more, and you’ll likely find yourself digging around for what you need and getting weighed down by the bulk. Up to eight small pockets should be enough to hold small items, such as your fishing license and car keys. Reserve six medium pockets for items such as packages of leaders and tubes of floatants, along with six large pockets to hold fly boxes, pocket knives, knot-tying tools, and other larger gear. 

3. UV Protection Shirt
Because you’ll likely spend much of your day in direct sunlight, you’ll want all the protection you can get. In addition to shielding against the sun’s damaging rays, many athletic shirts wick moisture away from skin and dry quickly, as well as provide odor control to keep you comfortable and focused on your fishing game. 

4. Full-Brim Fishing Hat
There’s a reason this hat style is often associated with fishing: The full brim provides sun protection. Just like the UV protection shirt, full-brim hats are available with UV protection, too. Another feature to consider is an adjustable drawcord to keep the hat from falling off your head or blowing away in windy weather. You may also want to look for a hat that’s waterproof to stay dry on rainy days. 

5. Underwader Pants
You don’t have to be fly-fishing for very long to realize the water can get pretty cold. On chilly days, it’s a good idea to wear fleece pants under your waders for added warmth. These often have an elastic waist and can help keep you dry and cozy all day. 

6. Moisture-Wicking Socks
Just like your shirt, you’ll want socks that eliminate the feeling of moisture by moving sweat away from your skin’s surface. In addition, you’ll want to avoid bulky socks, which could make your wading boots too tight and restrict your blood flow. Sportsman-style socks come in a variety of materials, from cotton to wool to synthetic. While cotton is soft and wool will keep you warm, synthetic socks made from a combination of materials are often durable and fast-drying, and they wick moisture and provide cushioning.