Do I Need Waders During The Summer?

Two anglers wade the saltwater flats on a sunny day.

We wear waders because as humans we are creatures of comfort. Typically when chasing trout and salmon we are plying waters that are very cold. It's extremely difficult to stand in cold water for extended periods of time, and can be downright dangerous and hypothermic if you're not wearing waders.

Wearing waders while fishing for cold water species will extend your fishing time to great lengths and allow you to comfortably withstand the elements for as long as you wish. Anglers in tropical destinations do not wear waders because the combination of warmer water and air temperatures allow for comfortable "wet wading" conditions. You just don't need them!

In the Summer time, the air temperatures may get so high, that even wearing breathable waders may cause you to overheat and experience discomfort. "Wet wading" a trout stream on a hot day can be refreshing, cooling and freeing. So when its mid-August and the sun is bearing down, try ditching the waders and you may find you'll feel a bit free without the bulk of waders.

If the water you're wading is especially cold, you may still want to wear waders on even the hottest of days. Each person has their own level and tolerances for temperature, so do what feels right to you, regardless of what everyone else is doing. Even on a warm 90 degree day, it's almost impossible to stand in the numbingly cold waters of Lees Ferry for any extended period of time without the added insulation of a pair of waders. This is good option for a pair of wader pants to help mitigate the hot air temperature and the freezing water.

Make Sure You Have Waders When

  • You're steelhead fishing in the Fall/Spring/Winter
  • You're a trout fisherman that loves wading cold tailwater fisheries, and fishing in the spring, fall and winter, and in some cases all summer long still
  • You're a saltwater fisherman in New England or any of the northern oceans where water temperatures hover around 50 degrees.
  • Any time that the air temperatures are cooler and you're going to spend most of the day in the water, they're going to keep you warm and dry and able to spend as much time as possible in comfort.

Who Doesn’t Need Waders?

Anglers in the Western part of the US or anywhere that the air temperatures are warmer and drier typically only wear waders during the colder spring, fall, and winter months. During the summer, waders aren't really needed. A quick-dry pant and some sandals or a wading boot is really all you need. During hot and dry 90 degree Montana days, standing waist deep in cool mountain water is a pleasure that wearing waders would only inhibit.

If you spend all your fishing time in the summer months in the West, don't really fish in the spring fall or winter, maybe you don't really even need a pair. If you like to rock hop small brook trout streams in the mountains, maybe a nice pair of hiking boots, rubber boots or hip waders is all you really need.

Leave the Waders in the Car When

  • You'll be doing all your fishing from a boat, and won't be getting out to wade fish.
  • You fish primarily tropical destinations like the southern coasts or anywhere the air and water temperatures are warmer.
  • You decide to stick to fishing from the banks of a river or pond.
  • You fish tiny trout streams that you can jump across (hip boots or a good rubber boot are a better choice in this case).
  • If the water temperatures are comfortable to the touch and the air temp is warm enough that hypothermia isn't a concern.

Waders are a great invention, their development allowed us to spend more time in cold water fishing for the animals we love to chase. Most of us are going to want and need a pair of waders, but it doesn't always mean that they are necessary. While they allow us to fish longer in colder water and stay dry and comfy, the pleasure of wading a stream in the summer time with a good pair of boots or sandals and without the constraints and clammy feeling of a pair of waders is indeed a small pleasure of fly fishing.

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