Today is the day. You have big plans for a long day of hiking in waders looking for risers and enjoying nature’s playground. You grab your rod, reel, some flies and maybe a few libations and you are ready to go. As you are about to put on your waders, you look at your blue jeans, thinking, “There’s gotta be something better than this.”
Base layers are vital for staying comfortable in your waders, from the hottest days at Henry’s Fork to coldest days of swinging for steelhead. This is the easy part. It might not be as easy to choose the best layer depending on your fishing situation.
Continue reading to learn more about the best clothing choices for layering under waders in different fishing situations throughout the year.
The Best Materials to Wear under Waders
Layering up is a good idea, regardless of the season. You will likely sweat to some extent. Waders will keep you warm, no matter how long it is. It is important to wear clothing that breathes and wicks away moisture from your skin underneath waders. You should look for base layers that are made of polyester. This is a proven moisture-wicking material. You might also consider:
Waders made of Neoprene
You will have to be careful what you wear underneath your neoprene waders if you happen to own a pair. Because they are meant to keep you warm during winter, neoprene waders can be less breathable. For under-wader wear, you will want to use moisture-wicking fabrics such as fleece and polypropylene.
Pro:tip – Avoid cotton!
No matter what waders you choose, they all have one thing in common: Avoid wearing cotton under them! Cotton is very hydrophilic, meaning that it can be washed in water. Cotton is extremely hydrophilic (i.e., water-loving), so if it gets wet you are out of luck. Fishing is not something anyone wants to do in soggy conditions, especially in colder temperatures.
The Best Wader Style Options
Stockingfoot waders will be your best option if you plan to do most of your fishing in the warmer months. These are lighter and more portable than bootfoot waders, but you will need to buy a separate pair for when you go out on the water. To avoid rubbing against your waders’ neoprene booties, it is a good idea for socks to go over your ankle.
There are many options for shoes that can be worn with these waders. You should ensure that your shoes or wading boots have good traction if you intend to wade into rocky waters. Look for boots with a Vibram sole or felt sole if that is the case. Rubber sole wading boots are also acceptable.
Bootfoot waders are lighter than stockingfoot waders. They have built-in boots which makes them a great choice. Although they are bulkier than stockingfoot, bootfoot waders are more comfortable for colder days due to their burliness. Bootfoot waders can be used for fishing at the beach. There’s no way for sand or dirt to pass through them. You can choose between bootfoot waders or stockingfoot waders . However, quality wading socks are a must. You should avoid cotton, and opt instead for wool or Neoprene socks.
Layering up is a good idea, regardless of the season. You will likely sweat to some extent. Waders will keep you warm, no matter how long it is.
The Best Socks to Wear with Waders
Let’s begin at the bottom, the socks. Boat Bitch Apparel has a wide range of merino wool socks to suit any season or circumstance. To avoid rubbing against your waders’ neoprene booties, socks should be worn higher than your ankle. To prevent skin from rubbing against your waders, you can wear longer socks.
The Guide Lightweight Crew Sock will be your best friend during the warm summer months. The Guide Midweight OTC socks will be your best friend in the cooler months, when the air temperature is more variable and the water temperatures are colder. The Guide Thermal OTC Socks are ideal for cold-weather fishing and water temperatures below 45-50 degrees. Layering socks in cold conditions is a bad idea. It will only make it colder and more difficult to keep your feet warm.
Wader Base layers by Season
You will need to adjust the way you wear your waders depending on the season. Below is a guideline on what to wear underneath waders in warm and cold weather.
What to wear under Waders in Summer
Summer temperatures can vary depending on where you live. They can be pleasantly warm or blistering hot. You will want to ensure that your summer fly fishing clothing is both water-wicking as well as sun protection. It’s a smart move to purchase a variety of warm-weather fly fishing apparel to wear underneath waders when summer arrives.
Summer Leg Layers
In the summer, you can wear light pants underneath your core bottoms. The Superlight Pants and the Fast Action Pants are lighter than wool, making them more insulating. The Bugstopper Leggings or the Mataura Pant will be a great choice for lady anglers. You will have a barrier between the legs and the waders, which will draw some moisture away from your skin but not insulate your legs.
What to wear under Waders in Winter
There are three important things to remember when winter fly fishing: layers, layers and layers. It is better to be prepared than not to and to shed unnecessary layers. There are many men’s base layers and womens options, but here are some basics to add to your cold-weather fishing outfit.
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