What Kind of Wading Gear Do You Need For Fly Fishing, And What Can You Do Without?

Fly tying kit

Ask the average person to picture a fly angler, and what do they see? A lone figure, waist deep in a woodland river, masterfully whipping their fly across the water. This angler is most likely wearing rubber waders, suspenders, and a floppy bucket hat decorated with hooks and lures. And sure, that’s one way to go fly fishing. When men and women first start exploring the exciting sport of fly fishing, they can quickly be overwhelmed. There’s so much to learn, and even more to buy!

So What Kind of Wading Gear Do I Need To Start Fly Fishing?

The truth is, you don’t need any wading gear to start fly fishing! Despite what you may imagine, many fly anglers never step foot in the water, instead casting from the side of the river or the dock of a fishing boat. In fact, that’s probably the best way for beginners to get started. It can be hard enough learning the sport from dry land, let alone trying to get all your fly fishing rods and flies and nippers and pliers and nets in hand. If you walk into a sports equipment store and buy waders, boots, and everything else you need to get up to your neck in fly fishing, you could accidentally get in over your head.

No, Really, I’m Ready To Start Wading. What Do I Need?

Perhaps the most important piece of gear you’ll need are a solid pair of wader boots. Many people prefer wader boots that can double as hiking boots, and there are many options available if that’s what you want to do. Waist or chest-high waders aren’t strictly necessary, depending on the temperature and depth of the water. When looking for wading boots, make sure they have a sole with enough traction for the type of river terrain you’ll be fishing in. You’ll use different boots for sandy ground than you would on rocky shores.

Your second most important piece of equipment after you pick out wader boots? A trusty hat. Let’s assume you already have a collection of fishing hats, next you’ll want to find a vest with plenty of pockets. The more pockets the better, actually. Many fly anglers also like to add a staff to their wading gear, which can help balance you in the water. We would recommend that as well.

If you have any more questions, find a friendly fly angler to advise you. We’re sure they’ll be happy to wax poetic about the sport for several hours, at least.

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