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What To Wear When Fly Fishing

Fly fishing is a popular outdoor activity that requires some strategic dressing. Whether you’re a beginner or an experienced angler, it’s important to know what to wear to ensure a comfortable and successful fishing trip. From choosing the right clothing materials to considering weather conditions, this article will provide expert tips on what to wear when fly fishing.

Choosing the right clothing

When it comes to fly fishing, choosing the right clothing is essential for a comfortable and enjoyable experience. The right attire not only protects you from the elements but also allows for ease of movement, which is crucial when casting and maneuvering in the water. In this comprehensive guide, we will explore the various factors to consider when selecting your fly fishing attire, as well as specific clothing options for different parts of the body.

Consider the weather and location

Before heading out on a fly fishing expedition, it is crucial to consider the weather conditions you will encounter. Whether you’re fishing on a sunny day or in unpredictable weather, being prepared with appropriate clothing can make all the difference. Additionally, the location of your fishing spot may also influence your clothing choices. If you’re fishing in cold mountain streams or in warmer coastal areas, your clothing needs will vary. By taking into account both the weather and location, you can ensure that you are adequately dressed for the conditions you will encounter.

Prioritize comfort

Comfort should be a top priority when choosing your fly fishing attire. Spending long hours on the water requires clothing that won’t restrict your movement or cause discomfort. Opt for clothing made from breathable and stretchable fabrics that allow for unrestricted movement. Additionally, consider the fit of your clothing. Loose-fitting garments can provide better freedom of movement, while still offering protection from the elements.

Think about layering

Layering is an important concept in fly fishing attire, as it allows you to adapt to changing weather conditions throughout the day. By wearing multiple layers, you can add or remove clothing as needed to regulate your body temperature. This is particularly useful when fishing during transitional seasons or in areas with unpredictable weather patterns. Layering typically consists of a base layer, a mid-layer, and an outer layer, each playing a specific role in keeping you comfortable and protected.

Select moisture-wicking materials

Given that fly fishing often involves spending time in and around water, it is crucial to select clothing made from moisture-wicking materials. These fabrics are designed to draw moisture away from your body, keeping you dry and comfortable throughout your fishing trip. Moisture-wicking materials also dry quickly, preventing you from feeling cold and damp in case of splashes or rain. Look for clothing labeled with moisture-wicking properties, such as synthetic blends or merino wool, to ensure optimal comfort during your fly fishing adventures.

Upper body attire

The upper body plays a vital role in fly fishing, as it is responsible for casting and maneuvering the line. As such, selecting the right clothing for this part of your body is essential. Here are some options to consider:

Fishing shirt or long-sleeved shirt

A fishing shirt or a long-sleeved shirt offers protection from the sun’s harmful UV rays and provides an additional layer between your skin and the fishing line. Look for shirts made from lightweight and breathable materials, such as nylon or polyester, that feature built-in sun protection. These shirts often have ventilated backs or mesh panels, allowing air to circulate and keep you cool even on hot days.

Fishing vest or jacket

A fishing vest or jacket is an excellent addition to your upper body attire, as it offers ample storage for accessories and gear. Vests generally have multiple pockets, allowing you to keep your essentials, such as tippet spools, leaders, and fly boxes, within easy reach. Jackets, on the other hand, provide more protection against wind and rain. Consider the weather conditions and the amount of gear you plan to carry when choosing between a vest and a jacket.

Rain jacket

A quality rain jacket is a must-have item for any fly fisher. It provides protection against unexpected rain showers and keeps you dry when wading in the water. Look for a rain jacket made from waterproof and breathable materials, such as Gore-Tex, that can withstand heavy rain while allowing moisture to escape. A rain jacket with a hood and adjustable cuffs will provide additional protection from the elements, ensuring you stay comfortable and dry throughout your fishing trip.

Lower body attire

Equally important as the upper body attire is what you choose to wear on your lower body. Protection, comfort, and mobility are key considerations for this part of your attire. Here are some options to consider:

Fishing pants or shorts

Choosing between fishing pants or shorts largely depends on your personal preference and the weather conditions. Fishing pants made from quick-drying and lightweight materials are an excellent choice for cooler weather or when you need extra protection against tall grass or brush. Fishing shorts, on the other hand, are a practical choice for warmer days, allowing for better airflow and freedom of movement. Look for pants or shorts with ample pockets for convenient storage of small gear items.

Waders and wading boots

Waders are a staple in fly fishing attire, enabling you to stay dry and comfortable when wading in the water. They come in two main styles: bootfoot and stockingfoot. Bootfoot waders have integrated boots, while stockingfoot waders require separate wading boots. Stockingfoot waders provide better mobility and versatility, as you can choose boots with the desired level of comfort and traction. When selecting waders, consider the material, durability, and fit to ensure optimal performance. Pair your waders with wading boots that provide excellent grip and ankle support for safe and comfortable movement across various terrains.

Headgear and accessories

Protection from the sun and other elements is essential, and the right headgear and accessories can offer just that. Here are some options to consider:

Hat or cap

A hat or cap is an essential accessory to protect your face, neck, and eyes from the sun’s rays. Look for a hat with a wide brim that provides ample shade, shielding you from direct sunlight and preventing sunburn. Caps with neck flaps offer additional protection to the back of your neck, which can be particularly vulnerable to the sun. Consider a hat or cap made from lightweight and breathable materials, such as nylon or polyester, for optimal comfort and moisture-wicking properties.


Fly fishing often involves spending long hours gazing at the water’s surface, making a good pair of sunglasses indispensable. Not only do sunglasses protect your eyes from harmful UV rays, but they also enhance your visibility by reducing glare. Opt for polarized sunglasses that provide superior clarity and allow you to spot fish and underwater obstacles with ease. Look for sunglasses with a wraparound design to further shield your eyes from peripheral sunlight.

Neck gaiter or buff

A neck gaiter or buff is a versatile accessory that can provide additional protection against the sun, wind, and bugs. It can be worn around your neck, pulled up to cover your face and ears, or used as a headband to keep sweat out of your eyes. Neck gaiters or buffs made from lightweight and breathable materials, such as microfiber or polyester, are ideal for fly fishing, as they provide UV protection, moisture-wicking properties, and quick drying.


Gloves are a valuable addition to your fly fishing attire, especially when fishing in colder conditions. They offer protection against the elements while maintaining dexterity for knot tying and line control. Look for gloves made from materials that provide both insulation and water resistance, such as neoprene or fleece. Consider gloves with reinforced palms or fingertips for added durability, grip, and protection.

Fly fishing vest or pack

A fly fishing vest or pack is not only a practical accessory for storing and organizing your gear, but it can also serve as an additional layer of protection for your upper body. Vests and packs often come equipped with various pockets and compartments, allowing you to carry all your essentials in an easily accessible manner. Choose a vest or pack that offers the desired storage capacity, comfortable fit, and adjustable straps to distribute weight evenly.


Proper footwear is crucial for stability and safety when wading in the water or navigating rugged terrains. Here are some options to consider:

Wading boots

Wading boots designed specifically for fly fishing are an essential piece of footwear for optimal traction and support. Look for boots with durable rubber or felt soles that provide excellent grip on slippery rocks and riverbeds. Avoid using boots with studded soles, as they can damage delicate river ecosystems. Consider boots with ankle support and a secure closure system to prevent water from entering.

Wet wading shoes

During warmer months, wet wading shoes provide a comfortable and lightweight option for fly fishers who don’t require the added insulation of waders and wading boots. These shoes are designed to be worn without socks and offer excellent breathability and quick-drying properties. Look for wet wading shoes with non-slip soles and toe protection for enhanced safety and comfort.


Choosing the right socks is essential for keeping your feet comfortable and blister-free during your fly fishing adventures. Opt for moisture-wicking socks made from synthetic or wool-blend materials that keep your feet dry and prevent the buildup of bacteria. Consider socks with cushioning or additional support in areas prone to blisters, such as the heel and ball of the foot. Properly fitting socks should provide a snug, yet comfortable, fit and should not cause any friction or discomfort within your footwear.

Choosing appropriate layers

Layering is a fundamental concept in fly fishing attire, ensuring that you stay comfortable and adaptable to changing weather conditions. Here’s a breakdown of the different layers to consider:

Base layer

The base layer is the layer closest to your skin and is responsible for moisture management. Choose a base layer made from moisture-wicking materials, such as merino wool or synthetic blends, that efficiently draw sweat away from your body. This layer should fit snugly but not feel restrictive, allowing for optimal movement and breathability. During colder weather, consider a base layer with added insulation properties to keep you warm and comfortable.


The mid-layer offers additional insulation and warmth when needed. Fleece jackets or pullovers are popular choices for fly fishing mid-layers due to their excellent insulation properties and moisture-wicking capabilities. Consider mid-layers with zippered vents or underarm panels for ventilation during periods of increased activity or warmer weather. Depending on the weather and personal preference, you may choose a thicker or thinner mid-layer to suit your needs.

Outer layer

The outer layer acts as a protective shell against the elements, providing wind and waterproofing. Look for jackets or shells made from breathable and waterproof fabrics, such as Gore-Tex or similar materials, that can withstand rain and keep you dry. A well-fitting outer layer should allow for comfortable movement without feeling restrictive. Consider jackets with adjustable hoods, cuffs, and waistbands for a customized fit that keeps out wind and rain.

Seasonal considerations

The season in which you go fly fishing can greatly influence your clothing choices. Here are some considerations for each season:


During the spring season, the weather can be fickle, with fluctuating temperatures and occasional rain showers. Dressing in layers is particularly important during this time of year, as mornings can be chilly, while afternoons can warm up significantly. A combination of base layers, mid-layers, and an outer layer, along with a rain jacket, will keep you prepared for any weather changes. Additionally, consider wearing convertible pants or zip-off shorts to adapt to changing temperatures throughout the day.


Summer fly fishing often means fishing in hot and sunny conditions. Protecting yourself from the harmful rays of the sun is crucial during this season. Wear lightweight and breathable clothing that offers UPF (Ultraviolet Protection Factor) sun protection. Opt for moisture-wicking materials and consider wearing fishing pants or shorts to keep cool. Don’t forget to bring a broad-brimmed hat, sunglasses, and sunscreen to shield your skin and eyes from the sun.


Fall fly fishing brings cooler temperatures and vibrant scenery. Dress in layers to accommodate temperature changes throughout the day. Begin with a base layer that provides moisture-wicking properties and insulation, and then add a mid-layer and an outer layer for additional warmth. Fleece jackets, flannel shirts, and thermal socks are excellent choices for the fall season. Be prepared for potential rain showers by bringing along a rain jacket or shell.


Winter fly fishing requires specialized clothing to protect against cold temperatures, wind, and potentially icy conditions. Layering is essential to retain body heat, starting with a warm and moisture-wicking base layer. Add multiple insulating mid-layers, such as thermal tops and fleece jackets, and finish with a waterproof and windproof outer layer. Insulated waders, along with warm gloves, hats, and thermal socks, will keep you comfortable and protected in freezing conditions. Additionally, consider wearing traction aids or ice cleats on your boots for extra stability on icy surfaces.

Additional attire considerations

Aside from the weather and season, there are other factors to consider when selecting your fly fishing attire. Here are some additional considerations to keep in mind:

Safety considerations

When it comes to safety, wearing a personal floatation device (PFD) or a life jacket is paramount, especially if you plan on fishing from a boat or in fast-moving waters. A PFD not only provides buoyancy and enhances your water safety but can also serve as an additional layer of insulation during colder weather. Always choose a well-fitting and approved PFD that is comfortable to wear for extended periods.

Camouflage and color selection

The choice of colors and patterns for your fly fishing attire can vary depending on personal preference and fishing conditions. While some anglers prefer muted and earth-toned colors to blend in with their surroundings, others opt for brighter colors for improved visibility and safety. In clear water conditions, consider wearing clothing with a color that contrasts with the environment, making it easier for fish to distinguish your presence.

Accessorizing for practicality

Accessories play a practical role in fly fishing, providing functionality and convenience on the water. Here are some considerations when selecting accessories:

Fly fishing gear attachment points

Fly fishing gear requires ample storage and easy accessibility. Look for jackets, vests, or packs with multiple attachment points, such as D-rings or loops, that allow you to secure and hang your gear. This ensures that your essentials, such as nippers, hemostats, and forceps, are always within reach when you need them.

Pockets and storage

Having adequate pockets and storage options in your fishing attire allows you to keep essentials organized and easily accessible. Vests, jackets, and packs with multiple pockets of varying sizes are ideal for accommodating items like fly boxes, leaders, tippet spools, and small tools. Consider the location and available sizes of pockets when choosing your fishing attire, ensuring they meet your storage requirements.

Utility tools

Fly fishing often requires various tools, such as nippers, forceps, and tippet spools. Consider investing in retractable tools, such as zingers or coil retractors, that securely hold your tools and keep them accessible when needed. Additionally, attachable magnetic patches or strips in your vest or jacket provide a convenient and secure location for storing flies and hooks.

Proper care and maintenance

Proper care and maintenance of your fly fishing clothing will ensure their longevity and performance. Here are some tips for caring for your attire:

Cleaning and drying

After each fishing trip, rinse off any saltwater, sand, or dirt from your clothing to prevent damage and prolong its life. Follow the manufacturer’s guidelines for cleaning each item, whether it requires handwashing or machine washing. Avoid using harsh detergents or fabric softeners that may affect the fabric’s properties. After cleaning, allow your clothing to air dry thoroughly before storing to prevent the growth of mold or mildew.

Storage and organization

Store your fly fishing attire in a clean and dry environment to prevent deterioration. Avoid storing damp or wet clothing, as this can lead to mold and unpleasant odors. Fold or roll your clothing neatly to minimize creasing and prolong its appearance. Use storage solutions, such as garment bags or boxes, to keep your attire protected and organized when not in use.

By following these care and maintenance tips, you can ensure that your fly fishing attire remains in excellent condition, ready for your next fishing escapade.

In conclusion, choosing the right clothing for fly fishing is a crucial consideration for comfort, protection, and functionality. By considering the weather, prioritizing comfort, thinking about layering, and selecting moisture-wicking materials, you can create a versatile wardrobe suitable for various conditions. Depending on the region and season, upper body attire, lower body attire, headgear, and accessories, as well as appropriate layering, should be carefully chosen. Safety considerations, camouflage and color selection, and accessorizing for practicality further enhance your fly fishing experience. Finally, proper care, cleaning, and storage of your clothing ensure their longevity and optimal performance over time. With the right clothing, you can fully immerse yourself in the beauty of fly fishing while staying comfortable and protected throughout your adventures on the water.

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