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Fly Fishing - Clothing

[Trout That Go To Sea]  [Trout That Go To Sea II]  [Fly Fishing For Pan Fish]  [Stream Manners And Safety]  [Clothing]  [More Fly Fishing Articles] 

Clothing for fishing should be selected from two viewpoints-comfort to the angler, and invisibility to the fish. For instance, most fishermen are thoroughly convinced that on a bonefish flat an angler who is wearing a white shirt will be spotted by his wary prey far more readily than one who is wearing a darker color. And I believe that the same things applies with trout-a white or bright red shirt will be seen by an eagle-eyed brownie or a suspicious rainbow when a more subdued color might go unnoticed. A somber hue such as khaki is best for any fishing, and patterned materials also seem to blend into the surroundings to provide protective coloration to the angler.

Especially in the North and West, shirts should have long sleeves, because they can readily be rolled up for comfort, if necessary, but there are many times when because of sun, cold or insects, a short sleeve would be extremely impracticable. For the same reasons, the lightweight, brimmed type of khaki hat in common use is much the best for all kinds of fishing. They protect. the ears and back of the neck from the sun, and shade the eyes, too. The billed caps are good as far as the eye shade is concerned, but they leave the ears and neck exposed, and the angler may get a very painful burn in those two areas.

For salt water fishing, long cotton slacks and ankle socks will guard against sunburn on the legs, and rubber soled sneakers are a must in boats, and are equally good for wading, if the angler does not plan to use waders.

For wading fresh water rivers, if the weather is likely to be cool, then woolen underwear should be worn along with either lightweight jeans or slacks, or heavier woolen slacks if the temperature of the water is very cold, as in some Western rivers. For long trips in variable weather, it is best to carry woolen underwear and both types of top pants-light ones for the cooler days and evening fishing, and the lighter ones for the warmer times of day.

Wading gear is probably the most important part of the trout fisherman's outfit. The old time hobnailed wading shoes are rapidly disappearing because the hobs were often knocked out and it was necessary to carry a shoemaker's kit along to keep them in repair ... so few fishermen still use this type of shoe. Many anglers now wear stockingfoot waders, with a wool sock over the rubber foot, and then a shoe with a felt sole. These are comfortably light, but they are a lot of trouble to put on and after fishing there is the additional problem of caring for the wet socks, so gradually the real trouters are turning to the boot type wader, again with a felt sole, and preferably chest high waders. On certain Eastern streams the hip boot in the same style is sufficient but generally there is at least once in the day when the angler wants to get to a better depth in order to reach a fish, and that's when the chest high waders pay off. They are also warmer in cold weather. And, of course, they are practically a necessity in most of the big trout streams, bass rivers and salmon waters.

These waders are higher priced than the hip boots or the stockingfoot waders, but in the long run they pay for themselves as they wear well, do not tear easily on brush or fences, and if turned inside out after each time used, to allow the insides to dry thoroughly of the condensed moisture which forms inside from body heat, then they will last for years.

In all cases, the soles should be made of felt, as rubber becomes so slick in fresh water that it is dangerous.

On the other hand, rubber is best for salt water wading, where the fisherman is traveling over mud, sand, coral and weed beds. Here again, chest high waders are essential in most places in order to get out deep enough to reach fish. In the warmer, tropical waters, however, many anglers "wade wet"that is, they wear blue jeans or slacks of some kind, and rubbersoled sneakers, or if they can obtain them, the old army jungle boot, which can sometimes still be found in army surplus stores. However, ankle height tennis shoes are a fair substitute. These shoes must be thoroughly rinsed in fresh water after wading or they become "smelly" from the decayed salt water vegetation and muck.

Most chest high waders are quite full in the body, and they will feel much more comfortable if a belt is worn around the outside. This helps to keep water out, if the angler should happen to fall in, and it is also very restful, acting as a prop around the middle and really takes some of the strain out of a long day of wading. It also keeps the waders firmly in position, preventing rubbing at the knees, as very loose waders are inclined to do.

Occasionally everyone runs into some friend who has developed a special wading outfit which he considers to be far above all others, and if it is comfortable, then that's the thing to wear. In Argentina, one angler I met, Juan Blaquier, wades in heavy long drawers, with walking shorts over them, plus woolen stockings and rope soled alpargatas, and Mr. Blaquier claims that even when wet, the wool is just as warm and comfortable as waders would be. I would question the point in really cold mountain streams but in Argentine rivers it seems to be quite comfortable.

The fishing vest is the second most important part of the trout or salmon fisherman's clothing. Vests should have plenty of pockets for storing all the accoutrements of fly fishing-a pocket for fly buoy, one for clippers, another for leader boxes, line dressing, various boxes of flies, and so on. The short vests are by far the best because they stay clear of the water at all times, while the longer jacket style will get wet.

Some of the short vests now have a creel attachment which is more compact and easier to carry than the old fashioned cane creel. These are light bags which zip on and off at the lower edge of the vest, and have the outside fashioned of mesh in order to let air in to the fish. Their only drawback is that they will not hold an extra large fish, but to counteract that the angler can carry a large plastic bag such as is used in deep freeze lockers, and which will fold compactly into any pocket. Then if he catches a four-pounder he can put it in the plastic bag and stuff the whole thing in the large pocket at the back of the vest. This pocket, incidentally, is large enough to hold a couple of sandwiches and even a pint thermos of coffee.

The angler who is clad in waders and fishing vest is fairly well protected against rain, but it is always a good idea to tote along one of the new, roll-up raincoats and matching hat. The hood type is not so good for fishing because the hood cuts off sounds, and these are an essential part of fishing, particularly for trout. A fish might break and would not be heard by the fisherman who wears a hood, but the hat will give the same protection and still allow him to hear the right noises.

Generally he will not be fishing in a heavy downpour, but if caught out in such a heavy rain, even the trees do not give complete protection, and then a raincoat is invaluable. When a storm catches an angler astream, he should go ashore and sit down under some low bushes-not big trees. The low bushes will provide good protection from the rain and will not attract lightning, or be in danger of blowing over.

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