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How to Stay Warm And Dry While Surf Fishing

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When asking a seasoned surf fisherman how to stay warm and dry while surf fishing? Will, more than likely, elicit a hearty chuckle followed by a whole lot of personal advice from wearing a knitted cap under a baseball cap using pocket warmers with activated carbon.

The reason for this is that surf anglers can’t stay warm and dry at all times. Being cold and wet is inevitable if you’re surf fishing.

Firstly, you make sure you have a good pair of waders and a solid wader belt. Secondly, be sure to wear your tops and jackets outside your waders and secure them with your wader belt.

Lastly, remember that ensuring your extremities are warm by wearing appropriate hats, gloves, and socks will ensure your whole body stays warm.

What To Wear When Surf Fishing To Stay Warm And Dry?

What do you wear to stay warm and dry while surf fishing will generally depend on three things?

  • Where are you fishing? In a river, lake, or ocean?
  • What is the weather like? Is it ice cold or a scorcher of a day?
  • What is your fishing style?
  • Do you like to go in as deep as possible can or are you more cautious, only ever in knee-deep, and rely on tools and equipment to give you the reach you need?

If it is a boiling hot day and you’re going fishing in a river, you could well stay warm and dry even if you’re just wearing a pair of shorts and a cap.

If you’re in Alaska and are fishing in the surf of an icy ocean.

You’ll only stand a chance of staying warm and dry if you’ve got a good pair of waders, several layers underneath them, and over them with a strong wader belt to hold everything in place.

The two items that most surf fishermen invest in to keep them as warm and dry as possible are waders and a wader belt.

Luckily, thanks to technological advancements in the production of fabric and the manufacturing of waders, you no longer have to dread putting your waders on.

Waders are no longer stiff, hard, and a mission to put on or take off.

There is a range of waders from traditional neoprene waders with boots made from a light, breathable, still waterproof fabric.

Choose your waders after considering where you’re fishing, what protection you need from the elements, how deep you’re going to go, and your budget.

Chest, Waist, or Hip Waders?

This is the first thing you can decide on is what length of wader you need. I prefer using a chest waderOpens in a new tab. when it comes to surf fishing. With chest waders, you don’t have to worry about getting wet.

Chest Waders

Chest waders offer the ultimate protection and biggest coverage, which is essential if you’re fishing in a spot where the wave action is unpredictable.

They are warmer than the other wader sizes and will have roomier pockets.

Waist Waders

Waist waders are perfect for calmer waters and less extreme weather conditions.

They’re easier to put in and out of if you decide the weather is such that you don’t need them and are ideal if you’re fishing in cold waters on a hot day.

Because they protect your lower half from the cold water and while the top half of your body stays cool.

Hip Waders

Hip Waders are the lightest of all waders, perfect for surf fishing in warmer conditions, and when you know that the water depth is not going to be a problem.

What Type of Material Should Your Waders be Made From?

As well as coming in a range of colors and sizes, waders also come in several different types of materials from durable neoprene to lightweight, breathable fabrics.

This gives surf caster a variety of options that will suit not only the surf fishing environment but also your pocket.

Neoprene vs. Breathable

When it comes to waders, there are different material options, including PVC, neoprene, and breathable.

The most common choices that people stick to are neoprene and breathable because PVC options don’t have the durability that surf fishers are looking for in their waders. (Freshwater Fishing AdviceOpens in a new tab.)

Neoprene Waders

For a long time, neoprene waders were the go-to choice for fishing because they were waterproof and durable options for a long time.

While they have grown more comfortable in recent years, there are still plenty of downsides to consider this option.

These tend to get heavy in the water, which makes them uncomfortable. They also lack breathability, which means that they get got quickly and keep that sweat in.

This means that neoprene waders aren’t the best choice in warmer weather or warm water.

However, if you are fishing in the cold, then you may want this option.

You will feel a lot warmer when you are wading around in colder water due to its ability to retain heat.

These are also great options because neoprene is incredibly durable and cheaper than breathable waders are.

Breathable Waders

Breathable waders Opens in a new tab.have recently become the standard for waders, though they are also the most expensive option on the market.

As the name says, they are breathable, so you are protected from the heavier waves when surf fishing. 

But, they are also very lightweight and easier to get in and out of than other waders.

These are made from a material that was specifically created to wick excess moisture away from the skin, but you should know that you will end up feeling sweaty no matter what your waders are.

These are probably the most versatile option because of how lightweight and well-made they are.

These can be used all year round, but there are especially useful on those warmer surf fishing adventures.

Stockingfoot or Bootfoot Waders?

Boot foot Waders

As mentioned before, all waders come in either a booted foot or a stockingfoot.

Bootfoot waders come with boots fitted to the legs of the wader that fit any foot size. 

The soles are usually cleated to help you keep your footing, and you will save money because you won’t have to buy a boot to go over as you would with a stockingfoot wader.

Bootfoot wadersOpens in a new tab. are very cumbersome, but the one thing you can be certain to be a problem is walking any kind of distance in them.

The neoprene ones also tend to leak in the area between the foot and the shin as there is plenty of strain on the stitching at this point.

Stockingfoot Waders

Stockingfoot wadersOpens in a new tab. have no boot, so you will incur an additional expense by needing to buy a pair.

However, a lot of surf casters prefer to buy an oversized sneaker to wear over the stockingfoot wader, making them easier to walk a distance in, so they are less cumbersome.

The stockingfoot wader is the ideal option for anyone needing a wader that is lighter or needing to hike a distance as part of their fishing expedition.

Watch this video to find an inexpensive way of choosing surf fishing wader boots, especially if you already have a good set of waders you use for freshwater fishing.

Video credit: Kayak Hacks FishingOpens in a new tab.

What Else Will Keep You Warm And Dry?

In addition to your waders, several accessories will keep you warm and dry.

This is over and above the obvious items like a beanie under your cap, gloves, or layers of either shorts or thermal underwear.

Wader Liners

Wader liners are used in breathable waders. They are a sift-lined layer of insulation that makes Breathable Waders as warm as Neoprene ones.

Wading Socks

Wading socks are thick woolen socks that provide warmth and comfort.

Surf fishing involves standing in cold water for long periods, and a pair of cushioned wading socks are vital.

How To Properly Wear Waders When Surf Fishing?

A sure sign that a person is surf fishing for the first time is when you see them wearing their waders over everything instead of under everything.

A rule of most seasoned surf fishermen is to wear jackets and surf tops over waders.

If your jacket is tucked in, then water will follow the jacket into your waders, fill them up and weigh you down.

This will not only make you cold but can put you in danger.

You will fill up like a water balloon and find it difficult to maintain your balance, and your mobility will be severely limited.

If you are in rough waters or extremely cold conditions, this could even cost you your life.

How To Properly Wear Surf Belt?

Another mistake newbies make wearing a wader belt outside their jacket. A wader belt is meant to be worn over both your waders and your jacket.

It should be tightly wrapped over these items to keep water out of your waders so that you don’t have to fight for your life in a hard current or rough surf.

Choose a solid but flexible enough wader belt and tighten it above your waist over everything to keep you warm and dry and to stay safe and secure without being uncomfortable.

Look at this video to explain how to choose a good surf belt and how to use it properly.

Video credit: Surfcasters Journal

Most interesting is that the presenter recommends never using the surf belt that came with your waders but rather purchases one that is stronger and more versatile.

A good surf belt appropriately worn will save your life and protect the tools and equipment that surf fishermen need to carry with them.

How to Layer Your Clothing Properly For Surf Fishing?

Layer your clothing

There’s nothing quite as rewarding as coming back from a surf fishing trip that is warm and dry and has caught a fish.

In addition to wearing waders and a surf belt correctly, paying attention to what else you wear will make a big difference.

You’ll find that by layering effectively and wearing the right types of fabrics, it is no dought to keep you warm and dry even in the most inclement weather.

Your base layer, which is the first layer against your skin, should be some kind of thermal underwear.

This will draw moisture off your skin to the exterior of the base layer, which will keep your skin dry. If your skin is dry, it will be less likely to feel cold.

Microfleece, silk, polypropylene, and fine wool are ideal fabrics for this layer. The fit of this layer should be snug but not tight.

The next layer should be slightly looser, as it is the insulating layer. It needs to be looser so that air can be trapped around it.

This air will become heated and help keep you warm as toast. 

A knitted wool and fleece fabrics are ideal as they will help to keep the base layer dry by drawing moisture away from it and pushing it to the outside of the insulating layer. 

These kinds of fabrics can retain heat, even if they are wet. Use thinner fabrics for milder weather conditions and thicker fabrics, or two insulation layers, for freezing weather.

People often make the mistake of wearing denim jeans for this layer. This is not a good idea as denim is cotton, which will be cold when wet and take a long time to dry.

The last layer should ideally be wet weather gear made from a waterproof breathable fabricOpens in a new tab..

A jacket and pants will help to expel the moisture from the inner layers keeping the dryer and you warm.

Don’t Forget AboutYyour Extremities.

A few years ago, Mythbusters conducted an experiment that proved just how much of a difference keeping your extremities warm impacts your tolerance of cold.

A person was able to sit in a cold room for longer wearing nothing but a hat, gloves, socks, and underwear than they were fully clothed without a hat, socks, and gloves.

Many surf fishermen wear a beanie under a cap, and, in particularly harsh conditions, many will wear a neck gaiter too.

Gloves are essential, and it is good to learn to fish wearing them even though they may feel cumbersome in the beginning. 

They keep your hands warm and make it easier to handle the fish as their teeth and slime stick to the gloves.

Jersey gloves are ideal as they don’t stretch when they get wet.

You must take a few spare sets of gloves with you, though, as they can be not only uncomfortable when wet but also dangerous.


You should know just about all there is to know how to stay warm and dry when surf fishing. Take your time to shop and compare the different types of fishing gear, clothing, and accessories.

I would advise you to buy the best quality you can afford because staying warm and dry isn’t just about your comfort; it is also crucial for your safety and well-being.

Surf fishing is gratifying, especially if you ensure that you are well prepared to face the elements.

Zaldy G.

I love feeling the cool ocean spray every time I hit the beach with a rod and a bucket of bait. I love the thrill of feeling bites on my line whenever I hook a big one. And I especially love the pride that comes with cooking a fresh catch and sharing it with my friends and family. Thank you for stopping by. Let's go catch some fish!

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