kayak fishing clothes


Okay, so we all know and you know you need to be wearing a lifejacket or some form of PFD when you are fishing on your kayak. But what else should you be wearing for comfort, safety and for fishing success. Here is a look at some of the best gear to wear to stay comfortable out there all day and all weekend, if that is the case.

If you have places to go fishing in your kayak, you will know you don’t need much in the way of protective clothing. Kayak fishing is nothing like kayaking the rapids. That being said, even in the most pleasant weather, wearing the right clothing can make all the difference between a great day fishing and feeling frustrated because you are not comfortable or you are too hot or you are too cold, or you are constantly taking clothes on and off as the temperature changes during the day.

Even in the summer, days can start out chilly and the afternoons end up being blazing hot. Weather forecasts predict temperature in the shade and not directly under the sun on the top of a reflective surface.


Kayak fishing is not all about exertion. Sometimes you will be paddling about to get where you want and at other times you may be waiting for the fish to bite for hours. This presents the kayak angler with some challenges. You will need clothing that allows freedom of movement when you want to but also keeps your body at the right temperature whether you are paddling to your next destination, fighting a hard battle against a hooked up target or sitting quietly waiting for the fish to bite.

It is difficult to find clothing that can suit all these requirements and so most experience kayak fishos know they need to add and remove clothing layers depending on what they are doing in the moment or to suit the time of the day.

Avoid clothing fabrics that soak up water and stay wet. T-shirts and jeans do just that. Clothing that you normally wear is definitely not suitable for kayaking. You might feel comfortable in the sun wearing a t-shirt until the wind picks up and the next thing you know you are freezing.

The next thing to avoid is anything that is difficult to put on or take off. Wetsuits might seem appealing to the newbie kayak fisho but they soon find out that traditional wetsuits don’t work well for kayak fishing. However, neoprene (the stuff that wetsuits are made of) does have it a well-earned place in kayak fishing. Let’s get started from the bottom to the top.


Kayak fishing footwear has a lot to do with what you will be doing on the land before you get in and when you get out of your kayak. The best shoes to suit both walking and kayaking are neoprene boots with a rubber sole. Remember, if you want to stand on your kayak when fishing you will need a flexible rubber sole. Boots don’t do much good when you need flexible grip and they don’t help much if you need to swim. These are the factors you must consider. Another option is to wear rubber sandals with velcro straps over neoprene socks. You must have a pair of those funky sandals still lying around somewhere, right?


Swimming shorts or board shorts are great in the warmer weather. They make for great under-shorts because they should be made of a material that dries easily. Remember you might be getting wet between your legs while kayak fishing!


Now we are getting into the clothing that really counts when kayak fishing. Your board shorts can provide insulation that dries out faster than other types of shorts. And that is what you should be looking for in your pants. You want something that dries fast and/or provides insulation against the cold or breathes. If you can afford it, there is nothing better than real kayaking pants. They have a true waist with neoprene around the waist and around the ankles. If you want to wear waders, it is important you get a belt for them so they do not inflate if and when you get under because that is extremely dangerous and a very easy way to drown, especially in fast moving water. Nevertheless, waders are just about the only way you will stay completely dry from the waist down on your kayak and are best only worn when kayaking shallow water – make sure they are closed on the top.


Rain gear or fishing jackets need to be breathable more than keeping you dry unless you are kayak fishing out in the rain (which is not fun by the way). You might want a jacket just to keep you insulated in the morning, but as most people go kayak fishing in warmer weather you will probably only be using it in the morning or towards the evening. Whatever you wear on your upper half you should make sure it is easy to put on and easy to take off.

Paddle jackets are very useful for kayak fishos. The seals on the wrists stop water from running down and up your arms as you paddle. Gore-tex jackets are excellent for providing insulation, breathability and keep you dry.


If your outer layers are protecting you against water, you can’t really go wrong with underlayers. Fishing apparel, including fishing shirts and long sleeve fishing shirts, still offer some of the best protection from the Aussie sun while allowing perspiration to leave the fabric. Neoprene is generally a little too bulky to be worn on the top when you are out kayak fishing.


Sports or fishing glasses are an absolute must. Not only do they protect your eyes from the intensity of UV sun rays, they help you see clearer and deeper into the water. Experienced kayak fishos always wear quality fishing glasses.


Wearing a hat or cap goes without saying. If you are wearing a cap you want to make sure you have a collar to protect the back of your neck. It is also important to consider the material the hat or cap is made of. Some fishing caps are made of similar materials as other fishing apparel and offer breathability as well as protecting against harmful UV rays from the sun.


Gloves are a tricky issue. You probably only want to wear gloves when the weather calls for it. However, it takes some skill to handle fish when you are kayak fishing. A fish grip will keep your hands protected. Some kayak fishos like to wear those sports gloves with the fingers cut off because they protect the palms while still giving freedom of movement. You can always go with a pair of top notch fishing gloves.

Okay, so in the end it comes down to what works best for each individual. Some people are more resilient to the weather conditions than others. Nevertheless, in Australia, we must take all measures against the powerful sun because sunstroke is common amongst newbie kayak fishos. Fishing apparel certainly has its place.


Is there anything you can add? Let us know.

Bill Matthews

Bill is as green friendly as they come. He's travelled the world, loves kayak fishing and camping.