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How to Dress for Fly Fishing

Updated on February 28, 2016

Selecting clothing for a day of fly fishing requires balancing function and comfort, and planning for a wide range of conditions. We have all experienced days on the water that could have been more comfortable and fulfilling with more carefully selected gear or clothing.

Headgear and Sunglasses

Probably the most critical components for comfort, function, and safety are sunglasses and headwear. Choose headgear for protection from sun and cold and for shading eyes to improve vision. I you are particularly prone to sunburn; you may want to wear a neckerchief as well. Don’t count on just sunscreen for protection through a long sunny day. Select polarized sunglasses with a lens color to match the water color if possible. The most effective lens colors for a wide range of conditions are amber, copper and bronze.


For safety and comfort when wading, It’s worth investing in a good pair of wading shoes. Be sure to select the proper size to account for neoprene waders and socks while providing good ankle support. Different types of soles are available including felt, rubber and cleat. Keep in mind that felt soles are banned in some states due to spread of invasive species that may be transported in the felt. So check the regulation in your state and if you plan to fish in various states opt for rubber soles.

Wading Boots
Wading Boots | Source

These same considerations apply for bootfoot waders, which are ideal for saltwater fishing from the beach. Another type of wading shoe may be desired for “wet wading” without waders. When selecting wading “sneakers” consider whether you might want to wear neoprene socks for warmth and comfort and select a larger size shoe accordingly. In warmer water, polyester socks may be a better choice than neoprene.


There are basically three types of waders: chest, pant or hip high. Hip high waders are for small shallow creeks and situations where very little wading is anticipated. Pant waters fit just like pants but with a waterproof stockingfoot. If you rarely wade in water more that knee high, pant waders may be a good option for you. Pant waders are also a good option for those who spend a lot of time rowing a boat with a little time in and out of water that is not very deep. Chest waders are by far the most widely used by fishermen due to their versitility. If you are fishing deep, cold water; chest waders are a must.


For wind and rain protection, select a quality breathable waterproof rain coat. If you fish inclement weather on a regular basis, you may want to invest in a wading jacket that doubles as a fly fishing vest. Consider a wading jacket that is insulated or contains an additional inner lining for added versatility.

Rain Jacket for Fishing
Rain Jacket for Fishing | Source

Look for jackets with some sort of air exchange system incorporated into the design to keep the body well ventilated and dry.

Like any outdoor activity, selecting functional and versatile fly fishing outerwear is important for ensuring a safe and fulfilling experience. Spend some time talking to other fly fishermen and fly shop staff to match your outerwear selection to your needs.

Check my fly fishing blog at Fly Fishing Globe


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