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Wet Wading – What Is It? (Fly Fishing)

Wet Wading – What Is It? (Fly Fishing)

When most people think of fly fishing, they think of people standing in the river with waders on. The thing is, waders aren’t always necessary – especially during the warmer months of the year.

Wet wading is simply wading in the river without using waders. Your feet and legs will get wet, so it is important to only wet wade when the weather is nice enough. It actually feels really good to wet wade, and allows for a more comfortable fishing experience during the warmer months.

This article will cover the best footwear options for wet wading, and i’ll offer some pointers on how to start wet wading. I am a huge fan of this method, because it allows me to be more comfortable on the river – without overheating and sweating.

If you only fly fish during the warmer months, definitely give it a try. It will also save you some cash, because you don’t need to buy waders. With the price of good waders nowadays, avoiding that purchase can be very economical.

When Should You Wet Wade?

I like to wet wade when the weather allows it. This is usually in the spring and summer when the air temps are rising and the water temps are also increasing. It is usually a pretty easy decision – just think about if waders will be too hot. Usually when air temps are consistently in the 60s and 70s, I will start to wet wade. During these warmer days, waders are simply too uncomfortable to wear throughout the course of a fishing day.

One exception is tailwater fisheries. These rivers are extremely cold, since the water is released from the bottom of a lake. On many tailwaters, water temps stay in the low 40s. So for tailwater fishing, i’ll always wear waders – even in the summer months. The water is way too cold to wet wade comfortably. I have tried it, but I don’t last very long. My feet and legs go numb pretty quickly.

Wet wading is a really great method on freestone rivers, because the water temps increase as the weather gets nicer. Freestone rivers are where I do a majority of my wet wading.

Wet wading is also a good option for lakes and ponds. These bodies of water tend to warm up really quickly in the spring and summer.

Wet Wading Socks (Neoprene)

One of the best ways to wet wade is by using wet wading socks and your regular fly fishing boots. These socks are neoprene (just like wader booties) and they work well with wading boots.

Your feet will still get wet, but the neoprene keeps your feet warmer by insulating them. The wet wade sock/boot combo is probably the most popular way to do it. Most anglers you see wet wading will be using this combo – it just works really well and it’s comfortable.

The nice thing about this system is that it isn’t that expensive. If you already have wading boots, all you need to do is invest in a good pair of neoprene wet wading socks.

My personal favorite is the Simms Guard Socks. They are extremely high quality and they fit true to size. You pull the guard gaiter down over your boots, which will prevent rocks and debris from entering the boots. They feature a 3.5mm neoprene construction, which is plenty strong for any sort of wet wading. They are also backed by the Simms guarantee, in which Simms will repair or replace them if they fail on you.

Wet Wading Sandals

Wearing sandals can be a decent option for wet wade applications, but they do have their downsides. Wearing Chacos or Tevas can really beat up your feet. Since there’s no real toe or heel protection, rocks can cause injuries when wearing these types of sandals. This is especially true if you’re doing lots of hiking throughout the day.

For folks who want to try wet wading in sandals, I recommend getting a pair with more protection. Having your toes covered really makes a huge difference, and it can prevent injuries.

Brands like Keen make more protective sandals, which work fine for wet wading. The Keen Newport has quickly become a popular sandal for wet wading. It offers lots of foot protection while remaining breathable. The rubber toe cap will ensure that you don’t stub your toes or cut them on rocks. If you’re looking for a wet wading sandal, the Keen Newport is really worth checking out.

Wet Wading Shoes

Another great option is to invest in a wet wade shoe. These shoes are meant to get wet, and they will still stay intact without breaking down from moisture.

I really like wet wading shoes because they protect your entire foot. You don’t have to worry about pebbles or other debris entering the shoe. When i’m covering miles and putting in long days on the water, I really like using a wet wading shoe.

Since wet wading shoes are designed to withstand constant moisture and drying out again and again, they last a lot longer than a regular hiking shoe. This is why it’s important to select a wet wading shoe from a reputable company.

My current favorite is the Simms Flyweight shoe. It is extremely lightweight, and perfect for those longer summer days on the water. It is entirely synthetic, which allows it to dry out super fast once you’re done fishing. The shoe also features a welded TPU film in the high abrasion areas of the shoe. It also has a tread pattern that allows you to install Simms cleats into the sole. You can put Hardbite studs or Alumabite studs for extra traction. You’ll just need a drill and about 15 minutes of time.

Out of all the socks, sandals and shoes – the Simms Flyweight shoe is still my #1 go-to nowadays.