What to Wear Fishing in Hot vs Cold Weather

Fisherman in action with trophy in hand. Catching pike fish from snowy ice at lake.

What you wear fishing can make or break your fishing trip. You could freeze or get a sunburn.

It is best to learn about what you need to wear so that you do not become either of these things. There are a few basic things that you should really wear every time you go fishing, so here are things to put on when fishing in cold and hot weather. 

Why Does What You Wear Matter?

A lot of people don’t realize that your clothes are a part of your fishing gear. Experienced anglers have developed specific clothes to wear when fishing to protect their skin against the harmful UV rays the sun gives off. No matter what the temperature outside is like, the sun can burn you.

Saltwater and freshwater will both make the sun’s rays more damaging to your skin, which is why it’s especially important to protect your skin when fishing. You don’t just want to wear a swimsuit and call it a day; layering is never a bad idea.  

Happy elderly fisherman catch fish on the frozen river in winter

Fishing in cold weather can be miserable without the right clothing.

You should also be prepared for any kind of weather. It can be sunny with clear skies one minute and be storming with strong winds the next. You never know what the weather will really be like. All anglers should be boy-scout-level prepared to brave whatever Mother Nature throws at them. 

Fishing clothes are designed specifically to help you fish better. You don’t want to be pulling in a once-in-a-lifetime catch and have your shirt get in the way. Also, you shouldn’t be seen by the fish. Camouflage will help you blend into your natural surroundings so that hopefully, the fish don’t see you. 

The Right Clothing in Any Weather

You might think that you should dress differently in the different kinds of weather; however, that’s not exactly the case. You should always have a base layer and shell/outer layer, and when it’s cold out, you should add an insulation layer.

There are clothes made specifically for going fishing, and those are what you should be wearing. Most of these clothes are waterproof (or moisture-wicking), windproof, and breathable. You should also invest in some fishing gloves and water shoes.

Also, any kind of sun protection you can use is good for you. Sunscreen, fishing hats, and sunglasses will all help protect you from the sun’s harmful UV rays. 

Hot Weather Fishing Clothes

Nobody likes to be super hot. You don’t want to be sweating all over because then you feel gross and sticky. However, you shouldn’t just wear a short-sleeved t-shirt because you’re hot. The right clothes to wear in hot weather involve a base layer and an outer layer.

All of your clothes should have a good UPF, but your warm-weather clothes should especially. While some more experienced anglers wear sandals, you should always wear the appropriate footwear. And sandals are not the appropriate footwear.

Also, no cotton or wool socks; your socks should be polyester. You could also wear neoprene socks, but polyester socks will work just as well. 

Base Layer

A long-sleeved shirt is the best fishing shirt for warm weather. The shirt can be tight, but it should be looser. Always wear a shirt with long sleeves so that your arms are covered. You should also wear long pants to protect your legs. All of your clothes for this layer should wick moisture and be made from high-quality material. 

Shell/Outer Layer

You might not think that another pair of pants would make the most sense when it’s hot out, but if it starts raining, you’ll want another good pair of pants. No matter how hot it might be, the wind and rain could cause you to shiver. Your second layer in hot weather should be some kind of rain jacket.

Rain gear is never a bad idea to have in any kind of weather and make sure that it’s all breathable so that you don’t burst into flames trying to stave off the rain. 

Accessories

A fishing hat, gloves, and sunglasses are all important when fishing. They will all protect the rest of the exposed skin you have. Most anglers have a lucky fishing hat, so you could always look into getting your own lucky hat. Any kind of sunglasses will do; that part doesn’t matter to your fishing experience.

A lot of people forget how harmful the reflection of the sun off the water can be to your eyes, so sunglasses are vital to a fishing trip. 

Cold Weather Fishing Clothes

Cold weather poses a different threat to your skin when fishing. You tend to forget about the sun when it’s cold outside, but that doesn’t mean that it isn’t there. The sun is harmful no matter what the weather is, and you need to stay vigilant.

When it’s cold outside, you should add an insulating layer between the base layer and the outer layer. One of the most important layers in cold weather is for your feet. While wool socks will definitely keep your feet warm, you might want to get in the water.

If that’s the case, you should wear waders with wool socks on underneath them. You can always wear neoprene, but it’s not super breathable. If that doesn’t bother you, neoprene socks are a good tool to have handy. 

Base Layer

Like when it’s hot outside, your base layer needs to be breathable. You don’t want to feel muggy and sweaty, and a bad base layer could become super sticky. The last thing you want when it’s cold out is to start sweating because you can’t exactly take clothes off.

This layer doesn’t need to be water-resistant or anything like that because if your base layer is wet, you might have bigger issues. 

Insulation Layer

This layer should trap the natural body heat that your body makes to keep you warm. This layer could be a flannel shirt, a wool sweater, a fleece jacket, or a down jacket. This layer paired with the breathable base layer will ensure that you’re warm enough without being sweaty and sticky.

Whichever type of insulating layer you choose, make sure that it fits you and your fishing style. 

Shell/Outer Layer

Once again, any kind of raincoat or windbreaker is best for your outerwear. However, you could also wear a pair of waders and a drysuit. The main goal here is to be warm, so you need to pick an outer layer that makes you feel warm.

You don’t want to feel hot and sweaty, but this layer most likely won’t make you do that. 

Accessories

Gloves are one of the most important things to wear when it’s cold out. You should get some gloves that are made of neoprene, which is the material that is used to make wetsuits. Not only will your hands be warm enough to protect you from frostbite, but they will also be protected against the fish teeth or sharp hooks. 

In Between Hot and Cold Weather Fishing Clothes

There are of course months out of the year where it’s neither hot nor cold; it’s just regular weather. These months dominate the year because there are more instances of regular weather than extreme weather. You will still need to be prepared for these months because the weather can change at any moment and turn unforgiving. 

Base Layer

Your base layer should always be the same: a breathable waterproof long-sleeved shirt. This might be all that you need depending on how windy it is outside. However, it definitely needs to have long sleeves to protect your arms from the sun. Long pants are a necessity too. 

Shell/Outer Layer

You could do a thick raincoat, or you could wear a drytop. You’ll want to be able to adapt to the changing weather, even if it changes over the course of a single day. If it’s a little bit warmer out, that doesn’t mean that it won’t get colder later in the day. You should keep a drybag that has a warmer layer within reach. 

Rainy Weather Fishing Clothes

Waterproof everything is the best when it’s raining. A pair of waterproof pants, a pair of waterproof boots, a waterproof shirt, and a waterproof hat will all become your new best friend. It’s always hard to gauge the weather even if you can just turn on the news or the weather app on your phone. 

Some waterproof clothes are made of rubber or gore-tex, and gore-tex is the better option. You can get away with only one layer if it’s hot outside, but you should have other layers handy in case the wind picks up and makes it colder outside.

Some companies also make full-body rain suits. It’s a set of a matching jacket and a pair of pants that are breathable and still prevent rain from touching your body. You can always wear waders if you want to actually get in the water.

Waterproof gloves would be good for you to wear so that your hands don’t get too cold from the rain. You should always wear gloves when fishing and waterproof gloves are almost a no-brainer. A hat of any kind will help you keep the rain out of your eyes. 

What Shouldn’t You Wear Fishing?

  • Swimsuits
  • Short-sleeved t-shirts
  • Flip flops
  • Shorts
a man fishing on a lake

Short-sleeved shirts should never be worn when fishing. 

All of these clothes may seem reasonable when it’s warm outside, but they don’t make sense when you spend a long time fishing. Being exposed to the sun for long periods of time without proper protection isn’t smart. You’ll want to cover yourself the best that you can so that you don’t risk getting sunburned. 

What Should You Wear Under Waders?

You should keep the three cold weather bases when wearing waders if it’s cold out. As always, a breathable long-sleeved shirt and a pair of long pants are a must. At all times your skin should be dry, and layering your clothes is the best way to do this. 

What Kind of Shoes Should You Wear?

Water shoes are the best option for you to wear in hot weather. Your water shoes should cover the tops of your feet so that they don’t get sunburned, and they should have solid bottoms that won’t slip if you plan on standing in the water.

When it’s cold outside, you should wear neoprene booties to keep your feet dry and warm to prevent frostbite.

Why Wear Gloves In Any Weather?

Whether you believe it or not, your hands are always at risk of injury when fishing. Any angler will tell you that you can cut your hands on just about anything. However, the main things that could hurt your hands when fishing are fish teeth, hooks, knives, and fish scales too.

You can wear fingerless gloves when it’s hot outside, and there are gloves that are made of sun-resistant material to prevent sunburn on your hands. Neoprene full-hand gloves should be worn when it’s cold out so that you don’t get frostbite. 

Where To Buy the Proper Fishing Clothes

You might think that you can get good fishing clothes anywhere, but they won’t all be the best quality. You can always get on Amazon, but you should double-check that you’re getting clothes that work for what you need. Checking the reviews is never a bad idea because you’re hearing from real people what they think about certain products. 

Companies like REI, Columbia, and Patagonia specialize in making fishing gear. Their products are high-quality, and they won’t try to trick you into buying their gear by mislabeling it. You can never go wrong when buying their clothes.

They make everything that you’ll need, and they have online shops or actual shops so you can try on your clothes to make sure that they fit. 

Conclusion

Whether you’re going freshwater fishing or venturing out onto the deep sea, you need to be prepared against the elements. While you might think that wearing whatever you want when fishing is alright, it really isn’t. You need to be protected from all of the elements.

The biggest element that you need to protect from is the sun and the UV rays that it gives off. 

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    Riley Draper

    Riley Draper is a writer and entrepreneur from Chattanooga, Tennessee. As a world traveler, he has been to more than fifty countries and hiked some of the most elusive trails in the world. He is the co-founder of WeCounsel Solutions and has published work in both national and global outlets, including the Times Free Press, Patch, and Healthcare Global. When he's not writing, he's probably on a hiking trip or climbing in the mountains.