Get Wet: A Guide to Wet Wading

Presented by Ross Reels

Wet wading and dry fly fishing are synonymous with summer. Like many anglers, when the mercury begins to rise I ditch my waders in favor of shorts and other breathable apparel. If you’ve never left your waders behind, I highly suggest you try! It’s also proof that you don’t need a ton of gear to get started in this amazing sport. I have compiled some of my favorite options along with some other industry offerings that any angler could benefit from.


The number one consideration I make when wet wading is my footwear. This includes my shoes, socks, and gravel guards (if applicable). Stability and traction on and around the water is paramount for safety but also makes that perfect presentation a little easier. Slipping and falling is a surefire way to spook any weary fish.


I typically wear my wading boots accompanied by wool socks and gravel guards, although there are tons of options. The stability that wading boots provide underwater is unmatched by any sandal or hiking boot that I’ve tried. They may not be the most lightweight option for long hikes but it’s how I feel the most comfortable on the water.

Wet Wading Footwear

Wool or synthetic socks, gravel guards, and wading boots are my choices of footwear.
If you prefer to wear wading boots I highly recommend gravel guards for two reasons. First, as their name implies, they help keep gravel and debris from getting into your boots. The other advantage is that they are typically the same thickness as the booties on waders so they will help take up space in your boots. Two options to consider are the Orvis Neoprene Wet Wading Guard Socks and the Simms Guide Guard Wading Socks. If you would rather not wear gravel guards, adding another set of insoles will help take up the extra room in your boots.
Sock choice is also important if you choose to wet wade in your boots. Soggy toes are never fun and the effects of standing in the water all day can be magnified by wearing cotton socks. Sticking with wool socks that naturally repel water or a purpose-built synthetic sock like the Simms Guide Wet Wading Socks would be the way to go. I personally have sworn by the Wigwam Hiking Outdoor Socks for everything from running to fishing for years.


Orvis Men's Pro Approach Wet Wading Shoes
Orvis Men’s Pro Approach Shoes Photo Courtesy of Amazon.
Orvis recently released their Pro Approach Shoes, a purpose-built wet wading shoe that allows you to ditch clunky wading boots. This shoe is incredibly lightweight (the biggest downside to traditional wading boots), quick drying, breathable, and have built-in socks that function as gravel guards. These shoes are equipped with Michelin, yes the tire manufacturer, Outdoor Extreme rubber soles that are designed to provide 43% better wet rubber traction and 25% better abrasion resistance than the competition. Other manufactures have made wet wading specific shoes like the Simms Flyweight Wet Wading Shoe, but none as purpose-built as the offering from Orvis. These might be the only real competition for my wading boots in the summer months.


Many anglers, myself included at times, will opt for wet wading in their favorite sandals. Chacos, Teva, and Keen all make great options. After tripping on enough roots, rocks, and logs in open-toed sandals, I tend to stray away from them if I plan on covering any sort of distance that day. Tevas are typically my choice for fishing near a campsite early in the morning or meadow streams where obstacles are more limited.  One advantage that KEEN Men’s Newport H2 Sandal & Women’s Newport H2 Sandal provide over Chacos and Tevas are the closed-toe. They may not be the most stylish sandal but they provide more protection and support while still letting you feel the cool water on a hot day. Oh, and did I mention the awesome tan lines you’ll get from wearing Dad sandals all day?


Summer is a prime opportunity to ditch your waders and get comfortable on the water.

Summer presents a lot of new opportunities to fish water that may have been frozen over or inaccessible for months. Getting to a remote alpine lake or backcountry stream can involve a fair amount of hiking and it’s always nice to wear comfortable clothing. Choosing between shorts and pants is a rather simple process for me. If I anticipate any bushwhacking or swarms of irritating insects I’ll opt for quick-drying hiking pants like the Eddie Bauer Men’s Guide Pro Pants. There are many other hot days where I  find myself taking a dip in a plunge pool or going for a float after pounding the water with less than perfect casts. On those days, I opt for quick drying shorts like Patagonia’s Baggies.


Fly Lords Shop Wet Wading Apparel Buff
Check out the Flylords Store for some great wet wading apparel like our synthetic t-shirts and exclusive Buffs!
It’s time to ditch those jackets and layers so you can flaunt your favorite fishing shirts. Long sleeve synthetic shirts are typically my go-to whether its a more traditional fishing-style with pockets or a performance tee like the Flylords Reel Head Performance Long Sleeve Shirt. Sun protection, bug protection, and breathability are key when choosing a shirt for wet wading on a hot summer afternoon. Regardless of sleeve length, I tend to stray away from cotton that takes longer to dry. A Buff and a hat typically round out my summer wading apparel. Buff’s are great for not only keeping the sun off of your neck and face, but also protecting you from swarms of insects.

Waterproof Gear Storage

Fishpond Thunderhead Submersible Lumbar Pack
The Fishpond Thunderhead Submersible Lumbar pack is the perfect wet wading companion.
Afternoon rain showers become the norm in the summer so choosing a waterproof pack or bag is a great idea. I personally have been using the Fishpond Thunderhead Submersible Lumbar pack for a few months now and can’t say enough about it. This thing has plenty of storage for a camera, a few beers, a rain jacket, and all your fishing essentials. The biggest advantage to this pack is that it is completely submersible thanks to the TIZIP closure. I have total faith that this pack will keep my gear safe. If you prefer a little more space, the Fishpond Thunderhead Submersible Backpack and Thunderhead Submersible Sling may be a better option.

Get Out There

Wet wading is an absolute blast during the summer when water and air temperatures rise.  If you are just giving it a try for the first time, I hope these suggestions help you along your way. I’m always curious to hear other tips and tricks used by our readers so leave us a comment below!
Article by Evan Garda, he is on the Content Team here at Fly Lords. He can be found chasing trout throughout the west with his trusty fly rod. Check out his adventures at @evangarda.



    • Socks are important when you wet wade as they keep all the grit from abrading your feet. Stand in cold water for hours and grind grit under your sole and you will be crippled the next day.
      Also, the writer is correct that wet wading requires closed toe footwear. Kayaking type sandals are for …kayaking, not wading.

    • Have never worn wool socks. Wading boots and neoprene wading socks are all a person needs. 10 years in the Colorado high country feet haven’t been abraded or that cold, it’s summer.
      True, Chacos no good.

  1. I usually wear trunks with my Patagonia gravel guards. The other day I knew I was going to go through a lot of tall grass and brush so I wore my Kuhl pants and gravel guards. Completely worth it, kept my legs from getting scratched up and no ticks. The best part was coming across some blackberries to take home!

  2. I have been wearing a pair of Soft Science Terrapin wet wading boots for the past couple of summers and have really enjoyed them.
    Fit like sneakers but protect like boots.
    Check them out !

  3. I have been wearing a pair of Soft Science Terrapin wet wading boots for the past couple of summers and have really enjoyed them.
    Fit like a sneaker but protective like boots.
    Check them out!

  4. I have been wearing a pair of Soft Science Terrapin wet wading boots for the past couple of summers and have really enjoyed them.
    Fit like Sneakers but protect like boots.
    Check them out !

  5. Wet wading is the way to go during summer. Simms makes great wet wading socks. Gravel guards are help keep gravel out but can get gross pretty fast if they stay wet. I love the FishPond lumbar pack. I carry a pack as well when guiding to hold extra water, first aid, and snacks. The lumbar pack with a good lanyard is about as efficient as a chest pack but much more comfortable.

  6. Yeah, but ticks. Believe me, I love wet wading much more than walking streambeds in hot waders, but wet wading during tick season simply increases the risk of Lyme disease. Unless you’re either out on random spring scorchers and you can handle the cold water or late summer/early fall after the ticks have become dormant you’re better served by wearing a pair of waders.

  7. Thanks for the info. I just literally want to get the use out of my wading boots when rock hoping on the shore. Wearing chest waders isn’t always needed👍👍🎣🎣

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