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What To Wear Fly Fishing For The First Time

Fly fishing for the first time can be an exciting venture, but knowing what to wear can seem daunting. Don’t worry, as this article will provide valuable insights on the appropriate attire for your fishing trip. Whether you’re wading in rivers or standing on the banks, dressing appropriately will enhance your comfort and experience. From breathable clothing to specialized fishing gear, read on to discover the essentials for your first fly fishing adventure.

Choosing the Right Clothing for Fly Fishing

When it comes to fly fishing, choosing the right clothing is essential for a comfortable and successful fishing experience. The right clothing not only protects you from the elements but also allows for ease of movement and enhances your overall fishing performance. In this article, we will discuss various aspects to consider when selecting your fly fishing attire, from weather conditions to safety measures.

Consider the Weather Conditions

The first and most crucial factor to consider when choosing your fly fishing clothing is the weather conditions at your fishing destination. Different weather conditions call for different types of clothing to ensure your maximum comfort. If you’re fishing in hot weather or during the summer months, lightweight, breathable fabrics are a must. Opt for clothing that offers sun protection and allows for ventilation to prevent overheating.

On the other hand, if you’re fly fishing in cooler weather or during the fall and winter seasons, it’s important to dress in layers. Layering your clothing allows you to adjust your attire according to the changing temperatures throughout the day. Start with a moisture-wicking base layer, add an insulating mid-layer, and finish with a waterproof and windproof outer layer.

Dress in Layers

As mentioned above, dressing in layers is crucial when fly fishing, regardless of the weather conditions. Layering not only helps regulate body temperature but also provides versatility in adapting to changing weather patterns.

Begin with a moisture-wicking base layer that pulls sweat away from your skin and keeps you dry. This layer acts as a barrier between your skin and subsequent layers, preventing chafing and discomfort.

Next, add an insulating mid-layer such as a fleece or softshell jacket. This layer will trap your body heat and provide warmth, especially in colder conditions.

Finally, top it all off with a waterproof and windproof outer layer. This shell layer should be breathable to prevent overheating and allow moisture to escape. Look for jackets with adjustable hoods, cuffs, and hemlines to seal out any water or cold drafts.

Wear Moisture-Wicking Fabrics

When fly fishing, it’s essential to stay dry and comfortable, especially if you’ll be spending long hours on the water. Moisture-wicking fabrics are designed to pull moisture away from your skin and allow it to evaporate quickly, keeping you dry and cool. Fabrics such as polyester, nylon, and merino wool are excellent choices for fly fishing attire due to their moisture-wicking properties.

Avoid cotton clothing as it retains moisture, leading to discomfort and even hypothermia in colder conditions. Cotton takes longer to dry and can leave you feeling damp and chilled. Opt for quick-drying synthetic or natural fabrics that will keep you comfortable throughout your fishing adventure.

Opt for Breathable and Quick-Drying Materials

Breathability and quick-drying capabilities are essential qualities to look for in your fly fishing clothing. Breathable fabrics allow air to circulate, preventing sweat buildup and enhancing overall comfort. Quick-drying materials ensure that even if you get wet, your clothing will dry rapidly, keeping you warm and reducing the risk of hypothermia.

Nylon and polyester fabrics are known for their breathability and quick-drying characteristics, making them popular choices for fly fishing apparel. Additionally, some clothing items are specifically designed with mesh panels or vents to enhance breathability and airflow.


To shield yourself from the elements and ensure your safety during fly fishing, appropriate headwear is crucial. Here are a couple of essential headwear items to consider:

Protective Hats

A good quality hat is a must-have accessory for fly fishing. It provides protection from the sun’s harmful UV rays, helps keep your head cool, and shields your face and neck from sunburn. When choosing a hat, opt for one with a wide brim that provides ample shade. Hats made from lightweight and breathable materials such as nylon or polyester are ideal for warmer weather. Additionally, hats with a chin strap help prevent them from blowing away in windy conditions.


Fly fishing often takes place in bright, sunny conditions, making a pair of polarized sunglasses an essential accessory. Polarized lenses reduce glare from the water’s surface, allowing you to see beneath the water’s surface more clearly. This enhances your ability to spot fish and improves your overall fishing experience. Look for sunglasses with a wraparound frame to provide maximum protection and a snug fit. Additionally, choose lenses that offer 100% UV protection to safeguard your eyes from the sun’s harmful rays.

Upper Body Apparel

Your choice of upper body apparel plays a significant role in your overall comfort and flexibility while fly fishing. Let’s explore some essential clothing options for your upper body:

Fishing Shirts

Fishing shirts are specifically designed to keep anglers comfortable and protected during long hours on the water. Look for fishing shirts made from lightweight, breathable, and quick-drying fabrics such as nylon or polyester. These shirts often feature ventilation panels or mesh linings to improve airflow and prevent overheating. Additionally, fishing shirts with built-in UPF sun protection are highly recommended to shield you from harmful UV rays.


A fishing vest is not only a practical storage solution but also adds an extra layer of warmth and protection. Vests typically feature numerous pockets to keep your fishing essentials organized and within reach. Look for vests with water-resistant or waterproof pockets to protect your belongings from water damage. Additionally, consider vests with adjustable straps for a personalized fit and ventilation features to prevent overheating.


When fly fishing in colder conditions or inclement weather, a reliable jacket is essential to keep you warm and dry. Choose jackets that are waterproof, windproof, and breathable. Look for features such as taped seams, adjustable hoods, and cuffs, and consider jackets with thermal insulation for added warmth. Breathable jackets prevent sweat buildup while still offering protection from the elements. Layer your jacket over other clothing items for added insulation and adjustability.

Lower Body Apparel

Comfortable and functional lower body apparel is crucial for unrestricted movement and protection while fly fishing. Consider the following options for your lower body:

Pants or Shorts

The choice between pants and shorts depends on the weather conditions and your personal preference. In warmer weather, lightweight and quick-drying shorts are ideal for breathability and freedom of movement. Look for shorts with multiple pockets to store small gear items. If fishing in cooler conditions, opt for lightweight pants made from breathable materials like nylon or polyester. These pants should provide flexibility and freedom of movement while keeping you warm and protected.


Waders are an essential piece of fly fishing clothing for those fishing in rivers, streams, or lakes where wading is necessary. Waders are waterproof overalls that are designed to keep you dry while standing in water. They typically come in two styles: chest-high and hip-high. Chest-high waders offer more coverage and protection, while hip-high waders offer increased breathability and mobility. Look for waders with reinforced knees and gravel guards to prevent damage and enhance durability.


The right footwear is vital for stability, comfort, and protection while fly fishing. Consider the following options for your feet:

Wading Boots

Wading boots are specifically designed to provide traction and support while wading in rivers or streams. Look for boots with rubber or felt soles, depending on the conditions you’ll be fishing in. Rubber soles provide better grip on slippery surfaces, while felt soles excel in offering traction on rocky riverbeds. Additionally, choose wading boots with ankle support and a secure closure system to prevent water from entering.

Wearing Socks to Prevent Blisters

To prevent blisters and enhance comfort, wearing appropriate socks is crucial. Look for moisture-wicking socks made from synthetic or merino wool materials. These socks will help keep your feet dry and reduce friction, minimizing the risk of blisters. Avoid cotton socks as they retain moisture, leading to discomfort and potential foot issues. Consider layering socks and investing in padded or cushioned options for extra comfort.


Fly fishing often requires intricate movements and delicate handling of equipment, making the right handwear essential. Consider the following option:

Fingerless Gloves

Fingerless gloves strike a balance between protection and dexterity. They provide coverage for your hands while keeping your fingers free for tasks that require fine motor skills. Look for gloves made from lightweight and breathable materials that offer some level of water resistance. Additionally, ensure that the gloves have a secure fit and provide adequate grip for handling fishing gear.

Protective Accessories

To ensure your safety and avoid discomfort during your fly fishing adventures, consider using the following protective accessories:


Protecting your skin from the sun is crucial while spending long hours outdoors. Apply a high SPF, broad-spectrum sunscreen to all exposed areas of your body before heading out. Don’t forget to reapply regularly, especially if you’ve been sweating or in the water. Consider using sunscreen specifically designed for outdoor activities that offer sweat and water resistance.

Insect Repellent

Insect repellent is a must-have when fly fishing in areas with mosquitoes, ticks, or other biting insects. Look for repellents that provide long-lasting protection and are safe for use on the skin. Apply the repellent to exposed areas of skin and clothing according to the product instructions. Some repellents may also require reapplication after a certain period or after being in the water.

Additional Considerations

Aside from the essential clothing and accessories mentioned above, here are some additional considerations to enhance your fly fishing experience:

Choose Clothing with Pockets

Pockets are essential for storing your fishing essentials and keeping them within reach. Look for clothing items with ample and strategically placed pockets. Shirts, vests, and pants with multiple pockets allow you to carry small gear items such as leaders, tippet spools, forceps, and flies. Consider the size, number, and closure mechanisms of the pockets to ensure they meet your specific needs.

Consider Camouflage for Stealth

If you’re specifically targeting fish that are easily spooked, consider wearing clothing with camouflage patterns. Camouflage helps break up your silhouette, making it harder for fish to detect your presence. However, be mindful of any specific regulations regarding the use of camouflage in your fishing area. Prioritize function over fashion and ensure your clothing choices adhere to local regulations and preserve the natural environment.

Don’t Forget a Hat Retainer

While out on the water, it’s easy for your hat to be blown away by the wind or knocked off accidentally. To prevent losing your hat, consider using a hat retainer or leash. These simple accessories attach to your hat and securely fasten it to your clothing or gear, ensuring it stays put during your fishing adventures. Hat retainers are often made from lightweight materials and are easily adjustable for a comfortable fit.

Bring Rain Gear in Case of Showers

Weather conditions can be unpredictable, and a sunny day can quickly turn into a rainy one. To ensure you’re prepared for unexpected showers, always carry rain gear with you. A compact and lightweight rain jacket and pants can easily be stored in your fishing backpack or vest. Choose waterproof and windproof rain gear that offers breathability to keep you comfortable even in wet conditions.

Dressing for Safety

While comfort and functionality are essential considerations when choosing fly fishing clothing, safety should never be forgotten. Here are a couple of key safety measures to keep in mind:

Wear Life Jackets When Necessary

When fishing from a boat or floating device, it’s critical to wear a life jacket or personal flotation device (PFD) for your safety. Life jackets provide buoyancy and keep you afloat in case of an accident or emergency. Ensure that the life jacket you choose is approved by relevant safety regulations and fits you properly. Test your PFD’s comfort and functionality before heading out on the water to ensure peace of mind and maximum safety.

Dress in Bright Colors for Visibility

Consider dressing in bright or high-visibility colors, especially if you’re fishing in areas where there may be other boats or anglers. Bright colors make you more visible in the water and can help prevent accidents or collisions. Opt for clothing items with reflective details or consider wearing a fluorescent vest over your attire. While this may not be necessary in all fishing environments, it’s always a good idea to prioritize your safety.


Choosing the right clothing for fly fishing is a crucial step in preparing for a successful and enjoyable angling experience. Prioritizing comfort, functionality, and protection from the elements will enhance your overall fishing performance and keep you comfortable throughout the day. Remember to consider the weather conditions, dress in layers, opt for moisture-wicking fabrics, and choose breathable and quick-drying materials. Don’t forget to invest in essential headwear, upper and lower body apparel, appropriate footwear, handwear, and protective accessories. Additionally, prioritize safety by wearing life jackets when necessary and dressing in bright colors for visibility. Adapt your clothing choices to specific fishing environments and regulations to ensure a responsible and enjoyable fishing experience.

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