Guide On What To Wear Fly Fishing In Cold Or Warm Weather

by Thavius | Last Updated:   October 8th, 2022
Guide On What To Wear Fly Fishing In Cold Or Warm Weather

I have seen a good number of weird things on my fly fishing trips. However, one thing that I’m yet to get a grasp of is how people choose their attire. Some fly fishers dress up like they are going on a space trip while others look like they just got out of their beds.

So, what is the right attire for a fly fishing trip?

As your favorite adventure guide, I will be sharing some tips on the right outfit for fly fishing.

The Right Fly Fishing Wear

What you wear on a fly fishing trip will have a significant impact on your experience. It can easily determine if you will enjoy the trip or not.

That said, the right fly fishing clothing should be comfortable and moisture resistant. It should also offer sun protection and be ideal for the predicted weather. If you are in-between seasons, you should go for layering clothing. This will keep you comfortable and protected regardless of the temperature changes.

Though this answer seems straightforward, you have to understand some nuances to ensure that you are fully prepared for your adventure. Firstly, the temperature on land is different from the one on the water. Also, the fact that a piece of clothing feels comfortable when dry doesn’t mean that it will remain comfortable when wet.

In this guide, I will dive deeper into the details and also tell you the things you should expect. Additionally, I will be recommending some fly fishing gear that I rely on when going on the water.

Choose Your Attire Based On The Weather

You may think that this is something that everyone knows. However, I have met several fly fishers that came on trips without preparing for the weather.

Some fly fishermen have too much clothing on during the hot summer days while some have lesser clothing than necessary during the cold winter days. One of the biggest mistakes you can make as a fly fisher is thinking that the same outfit you wear for casual walks will suffice on the water.

Warm Weather

If you live in an area that experiences hot summers, the temperature can make you feel sticky. You could also get dehydrated easily due to the heat and humidity. So, the right clothing for this weather has to be light and cool.

It also has to be able to wick moisture, absorb sweat, and get dry easily. This is the best way to protect your skin from chafing from wet clothing. Trust me, you don’t want to experience chafing in the armpit area while you are busy casting your fly rod and reel.

Here’s an article on the different types of reels.

Cold Weather

To my bewilderment, I have seen fly fishermen wearing t-shirts and shorts during the cold days of winter. You may be able to get away with having insufficient clothing on while walking outdoors. However, the cold wind that you will encounter on a moving boat won’t be so forgiving. The human body experiences heat loss mainly via the head and core.

Hence, these body parts have to remain warm and dry if you are to stand a good chance against the cold. In addition to warmth, the right clothing for the winter months should be able to absorb sweat. Why is this important in freezing conditions? Well, your movement around the boat will cause you to sweat at some point and it could result in chaffing if you are not careful enough.

Prepare for Rain

Another thing that I’ve noticed on charters is that some anglers come without rain gear. The time you spend under the shower may be your favorite part of the day, however, being under rain showers without the ability to get dry will make your day unpleasant.

This will be particularly true if you will moving from one spot to the other. If you own a boat, you should consider keeping your rain gear in it permanently. Also, you should always remember to check the weather forecast before going to spend a day on the water. You may also as your guide for ideas on how to dress if you will be using one.

Prioritize Comfort

I always prioritize my comfort whenever I go on fishing trips. Good fly fishing clothing shouldn’t only be lightweight, but it should also offer as much mobility as possible. Your body temperature is going to rise whether you are sharing a fishing spot with several anglers or fishing in a tropical paradise. Additionally, your fly fishing clothes have to wick moisture and provide breathability.

Mobility Is Key

You may suddenly find a fish next to your boat and need to make a fast cast to seize the opportunity. However, you will have very little chance of making the catch if you are dressed like an Eskimo. You will feel too clumsy and constrained to move quickly. Therefore, the right clothing for a fly fishing trip needs to offer a good amount of flexibility.

Prepare for Changes in Temperature

Transition seasons like fall and spring are known to have irregular temperatures. For instance, the weather may be chilly in the morning only to become heated in the afternoon. As a result, you should consider layering for changes in temperature during such periods. You will be guaranteeing your comfort when you can add or remove layers of clothing throughout the day. It is a more effective solution than opting for an outfit that only suits one weather.

Staying Dry

As I mentioned earlier, it is not a good idea to leave for a fly fishing adventure without your rain gear. Getting lightweight waterproof rain gear will require a significant investment but it will be worth it. If you want a material of the highest quality, you should go for Gore-Tex. I love Gore-Tex because it is incredibly lightweight and dry.

You also have to consider the pants. Wet pants do not only take a lot of time to dry but they also get very uncomfortable too. When your core is wet, you will get cold even if the external temperature isn’t that low. This is due to the low internal body temperature. What’s more, wetness can also increase the chances of chaffing.

Staying dry is even more vital if you are fly fishing in winter. You will be able to fish comfortably all day long when your clothing wicks away moisture. Nylon is an excellent example of a material with great water-repelling capability and it dries quickly too. You can get clothes with a water-resistant finish from the top brands.

Even when the sun is out, there is nothing pleasant about being soaked. You will quickly become uncomfortable when your shirt is stuck on you due to moisture. Of course, there is a good chance that it may not rain.

However, you are bound to get wet when catching or releasing fish or during other fishing activities. So, you have to be prepared. Modern sun shirts are the best option due to their ability to wick away water and get dried easily.

Safety Considerations When Choosing Your Outfit

Comfort shouldn’t be all that you care about when picking an attire for a fly fishing trip. You also need to consider your safety. Here are some safety considerations:

UV Protection

The sun can make your life uncomfortable in so many ways. Being exposed to the sun may result in rapid dehydration or nasty suburbs. What’s more, the sun can even hurt you during the cooler months. This is why fishing guides visit dermatologists regularly. If you are an avid fly fisher, you need to be aware of the danger the UV rays pose to your body.

You can protect your skin from UV rays by applying sunscreen but this can easily become messy. A better solution is to wear fly fishing outfits with UV protection. If you will be fishing regularly, you should consider covering up when you can.


I’ve met some anglers that started with cheap pants and all of them had the same story. The seams get torn and the knees get ripped easily. Clothing of higher quality costs more money and it is easy to see why. Fishing pants made by the best brands last longer because they are specifically designed for fishing environments. These brands even go as far as testing them on the field.

Additionally, high-end clothing comes with features as strong zippers, double padded knee areas, and cross-stitching on shirts. These features are what make them more durable and long-lasting. So, you should be assured that your expensive apparel can withstand the harshest environments. High-quality wears may cost more, but they are worth every penny.

Fly Fishing Clothing Recommendations

The issues mentioned above can be resolved with certain items. I’ll list some of them and tell you why you need them. Also, I will mention some items that you have to avoid.

Sun Shirts

These are the most widely used UV-resistant gear for outdoor sports on the water. You can wear these fly fishing shirts as your main layer of clothing or beneath other pieces of clothing for increased warmth. They are known to be thin, flexible, and dry thanks to the polyester fabric that they are built with.

Sun shirts are made for people of all types and sizes including men, women, and children. They also come with various features like hoods and thumbholes.

Another good thing about sun shirts is their SPF capacity. The SPF rating of good quality sun shirts is usually between 50 to 70. In addition to the material’s comfortability, long sleeve shirts are designed to protect your arms from the sun. This type of fly fishing shirt may also come with a built for extra protection.

If you will be fishing frequently, then you need to have a sun shirt that comes with long sleeves. Two of the best sun shirts that you can get on Amazon are Netdraw’s Bamboo Long Sleeve T-Shirt and Tasc Performance Carrollton Long Sleeve T-Shirt.


You should avoid wearing heavy jackets when going on a fly fishing trip. Instead, you should opt for multiple layers of clothing with a medium or lightweight jacket. This is because you need to be able to move your hands freely when casting. A heavy jacket won’t give you the freedom you need to cast all day.

If I am to recommend a jacket, it has to be the Men’s Lightweight Puffer Jacket. There are several reasons why I have chosen it as the best jacket for fly fishing. First, it is extremely lightweight and comfortable. It is also water-resistant and built for cold weather. It is perfect for families that love to fly fish and you will find it easy to carry thanks to the carry bag.

Pants or Shorts?

If there is one piece of clothing that I always wear on the water, it’s pants. Pants provide additional warmth and sun protection. I also rely on my pants to keep the bugs away in summertime. However, I know several guides that prefer to wear fly fishing pants.

When thinking about what to wear fly fishing between pants and shorts, your priorities should be mobility and comfort. Modern pants are lightweight, elastic, and long-lasting. They are also built with special materials like nylon and spandex so that they can be quick-drying.

If you can’t decide between pants and shorts, you don’t have to worry. What you need is something like the Outdoor Convertible Pants from Opexscal. The product is designed to serve as both a pant and shorts. It is also made of breathable and quick-drying material. As for dryness, you will be pleased to know that the material wicks away moisture. It basically has all that you are looking for.

UV Protectant Bottoms

Several brands now utilize technology that provides their pants and shorts with SPF. For instance, some brands make use of titanium oxide yarns. Titanium oxide is used in the production of many sunscreens. The rating used for bottoms is called UPF.

Colder Climates

If you live in an area with mild winters, you should be okay with having only a pair of long johns below your usual pants. However, this won’t suffice in colder regions. You will need to have a pair of fishing pants that allows you to move around easily while also providing warmth. You should opt for a water-resistant shell that comes with a warm liner.

Watch this video for a guide on layering for cold-weather fishing:

Accessories And Shoes For Fly Fishing

Now that we have gone through the piece of clothing that you should wear fly fishing, it is time to look at the right accessories and shoes.


One essential item that you will need on your fly fishing adventures is a hat. In addition to protecting your face, a hat will also improve your sight by keeping the sun’s glare away. Though any type of hat should serve you well, one type of hat that you shouldn’t buy is a huge sombrero-styled hat.

This type of hat offers excellent sun protection but it will make running around very inconvenient for you. Sombrero-styled hats are also difficult to carry around and require lots of storage space. If you must wear something on your head, get a regular baseball cap and combine it with a face shield or buff.


Buffs are items that are specially designed to shield your face and neck from the sun. If you are traveling at high speed, you can keep your buff in its place by pulling it over your hat. You should know how frustrating it can be to have the wind blow off your hat continuously.

The ideal buff for you should have a light and thin material. Also, a buff that comes with breathing holes will be more convenient to wear and will prevent your glasses from getting fogged.

If you want the best buff on the market, then you should opt for the BUFF Unisex Lightweight Mask. It offers UPF 50 protection and comes with laser-cut breathing holes for protection.


Several fly fishers tend to overlook eyewear when putting together gear for sun protection. If you purchase inferior quality eyewear, it won’t shield your eyes from the sun and this could later hurt your eyes.

On the other hand, polarized sunglasses are designed to protect are designed to shield your eyes from harmful sun rays. Polarized sunglasses that offer full coverage will also prevent sunglasses from getting in through the sides.

Additionally, these special sunglasses will enhance your view of the water by cutting the glare on the water. You should choose sunglasses whose lens color matches that of the water you will be fishing in. For instance, you should opt for a blue lens if you will be fishing in the deep blue.


Footwear isn’t a necessity for fly fishing. You should be okay wearing sandals in the warmer part of the year and tennis shoes in winter colder times. However, there are situations where you will more adequate footwear. For example, you should purchase a hiking boot if you will also be going on hikes.

Cold Climates

You will have to wear waders if you will be fishing in extremely cold environments like mountains. The importance of adding this to your gear is that it will keep you dry and give you the freedom to go into the water to wade towards fish. There are various types of waders, so you will have to choose one based on your environmental conditions and needs. Also, you should ensure that the one you opt for is of good quality.

Watch this video to learn how to wade in rivers:

Warm Climates

You may decide to fish barefooted when flats fishing in warmer climates. However, you will have to invest in fishing shoes if you have highly sensitive feet. The best wet wading footwear on the market is the Columbia Men’s Drainmaker Boat Shoe. The product is comfortable and long-lasting.

In tropical environments, the flats usually have sharp objects like coral below them. So, it is much better to wear flats boots. High-quality wading boots are known to have come with hard soles and zips. They are also made of neoprene. That said, the best flat boot that you can get today is the Everlast Flats Boots with rubber soles.

Furthermore, you shouldn’t overlook how much body heat you can lose through your feet. If you want to ensure that your feet stay toasty, you should get high-quality quick thermal socks. I recommend that you get the Orvis Neoprene Wet Wading Socks. These wading socks will be a good fit for your wading boots and tennis shoes.

Things You Shouldn’t Wear When Fly Fishing

There are certain things that you need to avoid when deciding what to wear fly fishing. For example, wearing dark-colored clothing on a sunny day can make your trip inconvenient.

Let’s have a look at what not to wear for a fly fishing trip:


You should consider cotton clothes as taboo when planning your fly fishing trip. You may only wear a cotton shirt when layering for winter. The material lacks breathability and as a result, gets hot in the summer. It also takes too long to dry because it retains water.

So, you will have a high chance of experiencing chaffing if you go out wearing cotton pants. Cotton’s poor drying capability may cause you to have a bad day in the colder months. It may even result in hypothermia. Regardless of what time of the year it is, cotton clothing should never be an option.

Bulky Accessories

You should avoid large or bulky accessories when fishing. When selecting what to wear fly fishing, you should opt for the minimum amount of clothing required for the weather. The less gear you have on you, the more comfortable you will be.

If you will like some help on your next fishing adventure, here are the best fish finders under 200.

Frequently Asked Questions

What should a woman wear when flying fishing?

A female fly fisher should wear a long-sleeved T-shirt over a short-sleeved one and then add a hoodie, best, or jacket. The outer layer should have enough pockets to carry your fishing items. Also, all pieces of clothing should be made of breathable, quick-drying materials.

Do I need waders for fly fishing?

Waders aren’t a necessity for fly fishing, especially if you will be fishing from a boat. However, waders will enable you to get into the water and reach difficult fishing spots. If you don’t have enough money to purchase waders, you don’t have to worry.

What should I wear under waders in the summer?

The right fly fishing apparel to put on beneath your waders in the summer includes lightweight pants or shorts, jackets, and fishing shirts. You should also add a hat and a sun gaiter.

Do wading boots prevent wetness?

No, they do not prevent wetness. Instead, they shield your feet and waders from cuts. Your feet will get without stockingfoot waders or wading socks.

How can I keep my hands warm when fly fishing in the winter?

You can keep your hands warm in the winter by using fingerless gloves, drying your hands quickly, and buying and knowing how mittens work. You should also avoid leaving your hands in one position so that blood can continue flowing.

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I've been a fisherman for over 35 years. From catching small bullheads with my grandfather at his pond to catching strippers on the backwaters of the Chattahoochee, I love to get out in the wild and have a marvelous day on the water.