Fly fishing is a wonderful and adventurous sport that will bring you closer to nature and the fish you are after. You can fly fish both in shallow water near the bank or in deeper water directly in the river. No matter what you prefer, you will always be surrounded by water, which means that wearing the right apparel is of the utmost importance.
This applies to comfort, weather-durability, and the ability to remain dry while being in the water. If those three highly crucial factors are taken under consideration, you will most certainly be able to fully enjoy your fly fishing trip in or at the waterfront.
Fly fishing is just so intense, in a way, as it forces you to really get in there, get wet, and become one with the liquid element to catch the fish of your dreams.
But that will only be possible if you are wearing the right gear and come 100% prepared also fishing apparel and gear is big business, with estimated Anglers spend $49.8 billion on gear and trips, nationally.
To help you choose the best clothing to wear for fly fishing, we have created this helpful guide on what to wear fly fishing. It is an in-depth article that covers all four seasons, and that will make sure that your next fly fishing trip will be both successful, comfortable, and dry.
What to Wear Fly Fishing No Matter the Season
Let's start with a few items that you should always have with you when fly fishing, no matter the season. This basic apparel will make your fly fishing adventure so much more fun and optimized. So make sure to never head out to the water without it.
When fishing on or just below the water surface, sunglasses are a definite must! The obvious reasons include protecting your eyes from the sun and being able to see better in bright daylight (plus, they'll also make you look cool while fishing).
To see your fly and the fish's take on the surface, you should also make sure that your sunglasses are polarized. This type of special sunglasses cuts the sun's glare coming off the water and actually allows you to see through the surface, which can be extremely advantageous when fly fishing. If you see exactly what's going on around your fly and when a fish is going for it, you will have a much better chance to time the strike.
Another must-have apparel when fly fishing is a conventional fishing hat or base cap. Quality fishing hats will protect your head and face from the sunlight while at the same time ventilate the head area for more comfort in both warm and cold weather.
In summer, an impenetrable fishing hat, in combination with a mosquito net, will also contribute to your continued sanity, as it will keep the bugs away from your head and face. Trust me, those things can drive you absolutely mad, as well as distract you.
Whenever you will want to fly fish standing in the water, you will have to wear waders. Those will protect you from the cold water and make sure that you remain dry throughout your entire fly fishing trip.
Most waders nowadays come with wader boots already attached to them, which is a big plus if you ask me, as it makes it even more unlikely that water will get inside of your waders.
Another essential thing you should always have with you is a wader belt that you can wear around your waist. Such a belt allows you to attach tools and smaller tackle boxes to it and eliminates the need to bring a bag or backpack on your fishing trip. As it is worn tight around the waist, it will also prevent water from running down into the legs, should you ever be so unlucky to fall in.
This brings us to the last thing you should always have with you; extra clothing. While waders will protect you from getting soaking wet from head to toe, there is always the risk of getting some of your apparel wet, either by falling in or simply being exposed to a lot of rain or snow.
Maybe your sweater gets wet, your fishing hat is drenched after heavy rainfall, or perhaps your warm gloves are soaking wet. Wet clothing can create a lot of discomfort and cause freezing and, even worse, getting a cold.
A simple way to get out of your wet clothing, without having to end your fly fishing trip abruptly is to have a bunch of spare clothing with you. Always have a bag with some spare socks, underwear, a t-shirt, a sweater, gloves, and a fishing hat in your car. Going back to your parked vehicle to change from wet and cold to dry and warm clothes beats having to drive home by more than a mile!
Now, let's move on to some seasonal apparel suggestions for your fly fishing adventures.
What to Wear Fly Fishing in Summer?
It's warm, maybe even hot, and you want are on your way to the river bank. And while summer fly fishing does not require a lot of apparel, it's still a good idea to consider bringing the following pieces of clothing:
I know you want to bring a T-shirt, but consider bringing a long-sleeved alternative instead. It both protects your arms from the intense sunlight and can keep you warm should you end up in a summer rain or thunderstorm, which can actually be rather chilly.
Summer is the best time for wearing your fishing vest; there is no fat jacket covering it, and you really only have to wear a shirt underneath your vest. Apart from making you look like a professional fly fisherman, a fishing vest can carry a lot of smaller gear and tackle for you (as well as your mobile and car keys), which is very convenient.
Wearing shorts in summer is a given, but they also make a lot of sense when fly fishing during the warmer months. Shorts allow the warm air coming off your body to ventilate, keeping your body temperature at a moderate level, no matter how hot it gets. With shorts on, it's also much easier to wade into the water with your bare legs. If the river water is warm enough, fly fishing in the water with shorts is rather nice and comfortable.
Given that you actually can wade into the water without the need to wear your waders and wader boots, wearing crocs can be a smart and simple solution. They will give you more stability in the water and protect your feet from sharp stones or up-sticking roots or branches.
What to Wear Fly Fishing in Winter?
In winter, you will have to bring an entirely different set of fishing apparel with you. Given that you actually can fly fish during this time of year, hitting your fly fishing water during winter is all about staying warm!
Under your winter jacket, you should wear a thick and warm sweater, preferably made of fleece, which is a great insulating and breathable material.
Forget your normal fishing hat in the winter. It's time to bring out a warm hat that covers both your head and ears. You lose a lot of body heat via your head in the cold, especially when spending hours and hours standing pretty much still. A warm winter hat will prevent the much-needed heat from exiting your body.
Hands freeze easily in cold and damp weather, especially if they come in contact with water. Warm, insulated gloves can prevent that from happening and ensure that your hands stay warm and dry, making it much easier to handle your tackle.
A good tip here is to use half-finger neoprene glove models, as they are both waterproof and make it easy to handle your gear and tackle without having to take them off entirely.
What to Wear Fly Fishing in Spring and Fall?
Spring and fall are mixed seasons that can have both warm and cold weather. Weather patterns during these two seasons can change rather abruptly and are pretty hard to predict, which is why you should always bring the following apparel when fly fishing during these times of year.
Rain- and windproof jacket
Spring and fall are more often than not equal to rainy and windy days, which are weather conditions that can be really unpleasant during a fishing trip.
A Gore-Tex rain- and windproof jacket will protect you from those harsh conditions, keep you warm, dry, and comfortably ventilated. Modern Gore-Tex design is great when it comes to air circulation and ventilation, and it really makes a lot of difference when you are out in the open.
When the rain really starts pouring, you don't want to be wearing a conventional fishing hat or base cap, as you'll get soaked!
Instead, buy a waterproof fishing hat that will keep your head dry and the water off your face.
Waterproof fishing gloves by Clam or Simms are a must-have when fly fishing in colder conditions during spring and fall. Not only will they protect your hands from wind and rain, but they'll also keep them dry when you are standing in the water. Additionally, you can even handle your fish with these gloves on, making a huge difference, as both the water and the fish can be very cold this time of year. It makes handling and releasing your catch so much easier!
Should the sky suddenly clear and rain and wind have disappeared, wearing a light sweater underneath your jacket will allow you to take off your outerwear and continue fishing in just your sweater. This can also give you more flexibility and freer movement while casting your rod.
Now that you know what to wear while fly fishing. Check out our 7 Basic Fly Fishing Steps For Beginners to help you with your fly fishing tips.
I hope you enjoyed this guide on what to wear fly fishing. Choosing the right clothing can make a huge difference to your overall enjoyment, and the enjoyment is what keeps us coming back for more. Good luck when fishing. Remember to have fun and tight lines!