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What to Wear When Fly Fishing

Learning how to dress when fly fishing takes practice and many days of experience. We wrote this article to help remove some guesswork for the beginner fly angler. 

First and foremost, it’s essential to dress appropriately for the weather and the water conditions. Colorado fly fishing requires anglers to be prepared for variable conditions on any given day, especially in Crested Butte.

Here are some tips on what to wear when fly fishing:

The Basics:

  • Waders
  • Wading Boots 
  • Layered Clothing
  • Hat & sunglasses

Other items to have handy:

  • Neck gaiter for sun and bug protection
  • Rain jacket
  • Sunscreen
  • Insulating layers as the weather demands.
  • Water and snacks

Let’s discuss the basic attire required to have a fun, safe, and successful day of fly fishing in Colorado.

Waders – Waders are an essential piece of gear for fly fishing, especially if you’ll be fishing in cold water or rivers with rocky bottoms. Fishing waders are waterproof from the foot to your hip or chest, depending on the style of wader you choose. 

In Crested Butte, we wear waders 90% of the year due to excruciatingly cold snowmelt running through our rivers. This is the case for most Colorado fly fishing scenarios, except when you’re fishing during some of the hottest days in July and August. 

There are two types of waders: chest waders and hip waders. Chest waders are recommended for deeper water, while hip waders are good for shallower streams. 

When you are on a guided fly fishing trip with Dragonfly anglers, we will outfit you with whichever waders are most appropriate for the water we’re wading that day. 

Note: Waders are unnecessary for most applications when float fishing from a raft or drift boat.

Additionally, remember to wear a comfortable pair of socks on your feet to (A) help keep your feet warm and (B) assist in getting your foot in and out of the neoprene booties with ease. Socks also help your waders from developing odors over time.

Wading Boots – Wading boots fit over your waterproof wading booties sewn into the waders. Wading boots have excellent traction and help with stability when walking on slippery riverbeds. 

In the hottest summer months, when we don’t need waders, we still recommend using wading boots with neoprene socks for traction and to protect your feet from injury. We never recommend wearing open-toed shoes like Chacos or Tevas when wading in rivers.

Dragonfly will outfit all our clients with wading boots before a fishing trip. 

If you’re in the market for a new pair of waders, we carry a wide selection from Simms and Patagonia and our staff has a wealth of knowledge about the features and benefits of each model. Fit is super important when selecting a pair of waders and boots, so please come see us at the shop to try some on and find the best pair for you.

Layered Clothing – Dress in layers to stay comfortable throughout the day. Start with a moisture-wicking base layer to keep sweat away from your skin. In Colorado, where we are at a high elevation and the sun is intense, we advise anglers to wear a long-sleeve shirt with a hood. 

Synthetic fabrics, like the material in this Patagonia Cool Daily Sun Hoody and Simms Solarflex Sun Hoody, help keep you cool and protected from the sun’s harmful rays.

Add a synthetic fleece or non-cotton insulating layer for warmth on cooler days. And top it off with a waterproof and breathable shell layer to protect against wind and rain.

Remember that fly fishing is a relatively sedative sport, meaning our bodies are challenged to keep our core warm, especially when standing in 50-degree water. When in doubt, pack an extra layer. Your fishing guide from Dragonfly Anglers will gladly help carry it if not needed. 

For your bottoms, non-cotton tights or long underwear ensure your legs stay comfortable under your waders. ,

Hat and Sunglasses: Protect your face and eyes from the sun with a hat and polarized sunglasses. Polarized lenses are essential to help reduce glare on the water, making it easier to see fish and underwater structures.

A generic ballcap and a neck gaiter or hooded t-shirt will keep you cool and the sun off your face most days. 

Other Items:

If conditions warrant flexibility, or you are fishing when there’s a chance for precipitation or wind, always err on the side of caution and pack more layers. A proper rain jacket is generally advised to have nearby in addition to plenty of water, snacks, and sunscreen. 

The last thing you want to happen when you’re fly fishing is becoming hungry, dehydrated, or uncomfortable due to the elements. 

Summary: It’s essential to prioritize safety and comfort when selecting fly fishing clothes and gear. Ensure your attire allows you to move freely and stay protected from the elements. Crested Butte has some of the best fly fishing in Colorado and we recommend that you dress appropriately to best enjoy the experience. 

When you’re on a guided fly fishing trip with our company, we will provide waders, boots, fly rods, and all necessary tackle. It’s up to you to dress appropriately for everything else. 

Contact Dragonfly Anglers at (970)-349-1228 or stop by our fly shop at 307 Elk Avenue, downtown Crested Butte to shop for all your essential fly fishing gear needs.