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Wet Wading Essentials – Tips and Recommended Gear

Summer is the time to cast off your waders and step into that clear, cold, Rocky Mountain water. We love wet wading season around here. It means exploring small creeks, alpine lakes and our favorite high country waters.

Wet wading simply means going without waders. There are many ways to approach wet wading. It can be as simple as shorts and a pair of sandals; or perhaps quick-dry pants and your favorite wading boots. Ask a handful of anglers how they approach wet wading and you’ll likely get a handful of different answers.

If you’re new to wet wading, we’ve got a few important tips to keep in mind. Plus, we’ll offer a rundown of our favorite wet-wading gear and options…

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THE GEAR

Sandals, shoes or wading boots? Largely, it’s a matter of personal preference. But there are some important things to consider. The first is where you’re going to be fishing. And next, is how you plan to get there. If you plan to be standing on a grassy bank, sandals may be the ticket. But if you plan to wade rocky creek bottoms, bust through willows and step over logs, we’d recommend a closed-toe boot or shoe. These will provide better protection for your feet in rough terrain. And a sturdy wading boot will provide better support for an all-day backcountry mission.

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Recommended Footwear: For a versatile and supportive boot that will cover year-round fishing missions, from wet wading small creeks to shoulder seasons on big water, check out the Patagonia/Danner Riversalt Wading Boot. For a lightweight, backcountry-purposed boot that still offers the support of a wading boot, you might like the Simms Flyweight Wading Boots. And for an ultralight, hiker-driven shoe specifically for warm weather, the Simms Flyweight Wet Wading Shoe is a great option. Finally, remember that your traditional wading boots can be repurposed for wet wading. All you need is a pair of neoprene socks to achieve the same fit without your waders.

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Speaking of socks, next you’ll want to consider what to wear under your boots or shoes when wet wading. A pair of neoprene wading socks will allow you to wear the same size boots with or without your waders. Just know that these neoprene wet-wading socks are wet suit material – not dry suit. Your feet will get wet. In addition to neoprene, some anglers choose to wear a synthetic wet-wading sock, a thin liner sock or sometimes both.

Recommended Socks: If you’ll be wearing wading boots, we’d recommend pairing them with the Simms Neoprene Guards socks, which are available in Men’s and Women’s sizes. Or the Patagonia Yulex Wading Socks. Beneath your neoprene, you might consider a dedicated wet-wading sock like the Simms Guide Wet Wading Sock for comfort and to prevent hot spots.

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Next up, do you wear pants or shorts? When the weather is hot, shorts are always an option. However, it’s safe to say that most of us prefer a quick-drying pant. Pants provide more protection from bugs, brush and sunburn. And as soon as you step out of the water, they’ll be dry in minutes.

Recommended Pants: For a quick-drying pant that offers sun protection, check out the Simms Superlight Pant, the Patagonia Guidewater Pant or the Orvis Women’s Quick-Dry Pant.

My go-to wet wading system for some of my more remote backcountry spots is a pair of Simms Flyweight Wading Boots, Neoprene Guard Socks, a Wet-Wading Sock and a pair of Simms Superlight pants. When we asked our eCommerce Team member , Larkin Wilson. “That lightweight sock under the neoprene bootie is hugely important. I found out the hard way that wet neoprene against your skin for miles and miles of trail can lead to hot spots on your feet”

As noted above, each angler has their own system. Here, eCommerce Manager, Blake Katchur shares his. “When I am wet wading, I am trying to go as light as possible,” he told us. “My Patagonia/Danner Riversalt Boots have been nicely repurposed to small creek Colorado fishing. I’ll wear a thin neoprene sock in those boots to take up volume and keep my feet warm, and on longer days with more miles, a light liner sock under that. Patagonia quick dry pants help protect my legs from brush and dry very quickly on the walk back to the truck. At the truck, I will always pack an additional pair of dry socks for an evening session or drive home. It may be sunny and 80 degrees still at dinner time, but if you want to fish that magic hour before dark, slip into your full waders then. Being wet to the waist when the sun disappears for the day can mean a real cold walk back to the truck”.

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Final Considerations

Wet-wading season is also monsoon season here in Colorado. Afternoon thunderstorms should be expected and lightweight rain gear is essential. Our favorite options include the Patagonia Ultralight Packable Jacket, available in Women’s and Men’s sizes, and the Simms Flyweight Shell.

Next, don’t forget a lightweight, quick-drying shirt for protection from the bugs, sun and other elements. Check out our selection of women’s and men’s apparel. 

And finally, we have wading staffs and other accessories to keep you safe and comfortable on the water. If you have questions or need help finding the right gear, please ask! We’re here to help. Visit us at the fly shop in Littleton. Or give us a call at 303-794-1104.