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Head to Toe Saltwater Fly Fishing Essentials

When you’re packing for a saltwater fly fishing trip, there are a handful of essentials you shouldn’t leave home without. In this article, we’ll cover some of those “must have” items. 

In case you missed it, also go back and check out our previous post on saltwater terminal tackle. In that article, we covered the basics of fly lines, leaders and tippet for saltwater fly fishing. 

Here are a few items that we’d consider to be essentials for a saltwater trip: 


Lightweight clothing that offers sun protection is important for long days out on the water. Look for a UPF rating on clothing of above 20. We typically recommend a long-sleeve shirt and pants as the most comfortable option offering the most protection. Many anglers do prefer shorts. Just be aware of your own sensitivity to the sun, where you will be fishing and how much direct exposure you’ll have. Most days on the water chasing saltwater species will have zero shade available for 8+ hours.


Great options for long sleeve shirts with pockets include the Men’s Pro Stretch Shirt or the Women’s River Guide Shirts from Orvis. Many anglers also like a lightweight hoody for sun protection. A couple of good examples include the Orvis Women’s Pro Sun Hoodie and the Free Fly Men’s Bamboo Lightweight Hoody. Check out the other options for Men’s Tops and Women’s Tops


Options for warm-weather quick dry pants include the Orvis Women’s Pro Sun Skiff Pant and the Patagonia Men’s Sandy Cay Pants. Take a look at the rest of our Women’s Pants and Men’s Pants

Buffs, Gloves and Hats

When it comes to sun protection, the little things matter. First, we always recommend a Buff for sun protection on your neck, ears and face. 

Next, gloves also make a big difference when you’re standing in the sun, holding a fly rod and fly line in your hands. Oftentimes your hands are wrists get forgotten when the sunscreen comes out, or get washed away after a few landed fish. Gloves like The Simms Solarflex Sunglove is a great option. 

Hats are another essential to keep the sun out of your eyes. Check out our Men’s Hats and Women’s hats.


When it comes to footwear, anglers who will be wading the flats can choose from a soft bootie or a boot. In large part, this is a matter of personal preference. That said, if you will be wading flats in an area with rocks or coral, the protection of a boot like the Simms Flats Sneaker is preferable for most anglers. Soft booties are lighter and quicker to take on and off and may be a great choice when fishing sandy-bottomed places like the Bahamas. 

When fishing from a boat, we recommend going without boots or booties, because it can be easy to step on your fly line without realizing it. When you finally get that shot at a permit, you don’t want to blow it because your foot is on your line. 

For that reason, some anglers choose to go barefoot when fishing from a skiff. However, this leaves your feet exposed to the sun. The tops of your feet are an easy place to burn! With that in mind, you might consider fishing in a lightweight sock. You’ll still be able to feel it when your line gets under foot. Yet you’ll have that sun protection as well. Check out a few other great options from Patagonia here, and Simms as well.


When you’re headed to a warm, tropical destination, a rain jacket may not be the first thing on your mind. But it’s an important piece to bring with you. When the clouds roll in and it becomes a rainy afternoon, it’s easy to get a chill out there on the boat or while wading the flats. A lightweight, packable rain jacket will keep you dry and comfortable. 

A couple of great options include the Simms Flyweight Shell and the Patagonia Ultralight Packable Jacket


Sunglasses are an absolute must-have item, wherever you’re fishing. When fishing saltwater destinations, it’s especially important to find a frame that fits your face with good coverage along the cheek. When you’re out on the water, a lot of glare comes from below, so that fit along your cheek is important. Give us a call or stop by the shop to try sunglasses from Smith, Costa and Bajio

If you have dark eyes, that pigment in your eyes actually helps reduce the UV impact that causes eye fatigue and irritation. If you have lighter eyes, you will tend to be more sensitive to that UV impact and you may require a darker lens.

The darkest lens is typically a gray base. Next, blue and green lenses offer a high level of UV protection. Those are usually followed by bronze and copper-based lenses. And then finally, lens colors like rose and amber are among the lightest options, which are great for low-light fishing situations. 

If you have light colored eyes or if you’ll be fishing in bright, off-shore situations, we recommend a gray or blue lens for that high level of UV protection. 

If you have darker eyes or if you’ll be fishing more inland, then a green or copper lens might be a great choice for you. 

Polarized Lenses

The importance of polarized lenses in any fishing situation is paramount. It cuts the glare on the water and makes it much easier to spot fish. Those of us who don’t spend every day on the water will never be able to spot fish like our professional guides do. However, having a high quality polarized lens is going to give you the best shot. When your guide points out a fish, being able to see that fish and present the fly accurately will go a long way toward success. 

Lens Materials

When it comes to lens material, there are two primary choices, poly and glass. Poly lenses weigh less, so they can be very comfortable on long days of fishing. They are also more budget friendly than glass. While glass is a bit heavier, it’s generally more durable and scratch-resistant than poly. And perhaps most importantly, glass offers the best optics and clarity. 

Lens Cleaner

With any sunglasses, a lens cleaner is essential on any saltwater trip. The salt spray from boat rides will dry and leave a cloudy film on your lens before you know it. This may require you to clean your lenses frequently throughout the day, and having a cleaning kit is a game changer. 


Sunscreen is an essential item for any tropical destination. And bug repellent may also be important, depending on where and when you’re fishing. 

Stick sunscreens for your face and spray-on sunscreens for the rest of your body are often preferred by anglers because you can avoid applying it with your hands and therefore avoid getting it on your fly lines and leaders.


Have questions or need help with your next saltwater fly fishing trip? Our team is here to help. You can stop by the fly shop here in Littleton. Otherwise, give us a call at 303-794-1104 and we’d be happy to give you a hand.