What To Wear Pier, Boat, and Wade Fishing? (Women Too)


What should women and men wear while fishing at the pier, on a kayak or boat, or wade fishing?

A lot of us have this question – what to wear while we are fishing? But most of us just wear whatever and hope that it’s OK. It probably is OK, but here’s how to be better prepared.

Below I will tell you exactly what I wear when I’m fishing and suggest what women can wear as well. Let’s get into this!

What Should You Wear While Pier Fishing?

If you don’t have a boat or a kayak I strongly suggest you get very familiar with pier fishing. Pier fishing is amazing for so many reasons. Basically, you have everything you need on the pier and sometimes even more than you need.

A pier like the Sunshine Skyway Fishing Pier in St. Petersburg has everything and you can pull your car right up onto the pier! The pier is an old bridge connecting Bradenton and St. Petersburg that was used prior to building the large bridge we use today called The Sunshine Skyway Bridge.

A Fishing Pier is one place you’ll find both men and women fishing. Wearing the right clothing and gear is pretty essential on the pier because you’re in a different set of environmental circumstances. Fishing in Florida always involves the hot sun. You will need protection on your head, neck, face, top of your arms, and top of your back so you don’t burn too deeply.


The Hat

For men, a Boonie cap is nearly perfect for fishing. You probably don’t have a back of the neck covering with your hat, but you can just use a button-down shirt with a high collar and flip it up. Or you can just lather your neck with sunscreen.

Long-sleeve Shirt

I typically wear a very lightweight long sleeve shirt that has sun protection built into it. Something that has at least 50 SPF.


For my legs, I wear surf shorts or long shorts with deep pockets preferably in the front and back. I sometimes wear a fishing vest but it’s probably overkill because I can lay out all of my gear in the trunk of my car or on my car, on a chair, on the ground, or anywhere else. It’s hot to wear a fishing vest on a pier.


I almost always use running shoes whenever I fish at the pier because I am on my feet 80% of the day and I need something very comfortable. When I don’t wear running shoes, I wear those sports sandals like Nike or Adidas.


Woman wearing a dress at the fishing pier. What not to do.
A dress at the fishing pier? Uhm, no.

You’ll quickly realize I’m not an expert on what women should wear anywhere but I do have just a few suggestions for what you might wear and not wear at the fishing pier.

There’s really no reason in the world why a woman can’t just wear what a man wears if you don’t care what you look like. The women I see at the fishing pier are not in nice clothes. They have flip-flops or sandals, they have shorts, they have a long sleeve shirt or a short sleeve shirt, and some of them have a hat over their hair.

Let’s not sugarcoat this at all, you may get fish pieces, fish feces, food, bird feces, and other nastiness dropped on you and your clothes at the fishing pier. Oh, and how could I forget blood?

All of these things will find their way onto your clothes and the clothes you wear for your first pier fishing trip might become the same clothes that you wear on every fishing trip because they get ruined the first time and you don’t want to ruin other clothes. Keep that in mind when choosing an outfit!

What Women Probably Shouldn’t Wear on a Pier

Now, there is a rather large percentage of women who will wear bikini tops and bottoms on the fishing pier because they see this primarily as a tanning opportunity and could give a toss about fishing. Men, if you are coming with your teen daughter, I’d suggest you talk her out of a Brazilian bikini for her outfit or you’re going to have more company than you wanted.

If it’s your wife, well, who am I to say? And it gets damn boring sometimes up there! Joking, joking…

Take this as you will, but a woman in a bikini is going to get a lot of attention on the pier. Like flies to honey. If I can say that.

Sun dresses? Please women don’t wear a dress of any kind the wind is often strong and it won’t be any fun for you to try to hold your dress down for three or four hours of fishing.

It’s probably worth mentioning that the male versus female ratio on a fishing pier is almost always about 85% to 15%.


I’m not sure whether I have spent more time on the fishing pier or on my kayak, but I can’t tell you which one I’ve had more fun at. Owning a kayak that you can drop into the ocean or any large body of water and go have fun all day if you want to on the weekend is really something special. I hope some of you reading this experience it!


What you wear on a kayak probably isn’t that important except that now your legs are horizontal to the sun and you might want to wear some sort of Columbia outdoor pants that cover your legs.

Hat and Shirt

Your hat and shirt can be the same when fishing from a boat or kayak as when you are fishing from a pier. Something that covers your head and neck is ideal for a hat. Some people wear a wrap around their neck to block the sun. Some pull up a facemask over their lower face to protect themselves.

Sun is reflected off the water and you’re close to the water so the potential exists for a wicked sunburn after just a couple of hours or even less if you have sensitive skin that burns fast.


For shoes, on my kayak, I always wear thick-soled sports sandals. I mean thick, like an inch. I stepped on a venomous stingray barb once and I vowed to never let that happen again!


I think good polarized sunglasses are essential when fishing from a kayak or other boat. I love to be able to see what is lurking below, even when it isn’t something friendly. It’s good to know what’s there and a good pair of glasses will help immensely with that.

Sunglasses with polarization to cut sun glare and allow you to see fish in the water.
Polarized sunglasses cut glare and help you to see fish in the water. Like magic.


Wade fishing is sort of a different beast. First off, if you haven’t read my short story about how I almost killed my girlfriend while Wade Fishing it’s appropriate that you do so now. This way you’ll know what not to do.

Some type of hat is essential. That, and some 50 SPF sunblock for your face and the top of your arms, if you are wearing a short sleeve shirt, will help a lot. Something for your neck too, of course.

Some kind of shorts are OK. It doesn’t matter if you have pockets or not because you don’t want to put anything in your pockets – it might float right out or fall out. Money is one thing that immediately comes to mind that I’ve lost on the flats.

On top, I almost always wear a simple T-shirt with a pocket on my chest. Two pockets if possible like a fishing shirt has. I also always wear a fishing vest because you have very limited space for where you can put everything like hooks, sinkers, floats, and even line, and leader.

All of these things you have to store somewhere when you are wade fishing and really the only place to do it is on your vest.

Wait, that’s not true. I also remember hooking lures to my hat and not being able to easily remove them later!

For your shoes, please wear something with a very strong sole that cannot be punctured by a stingray barb, broken glass, hypodermic needle, or even a nail in a piece of wood sticking up.

I have encountered all of these things while Wade Fishing and the only problem I ever had besides the stingray that one time was a small nail that went up through my shoe puncturing my foot. It wasn’t too bad, but not exactly an ideal way to start the day.

As I said earlier the stingray barb in my foot was one of life’s worst memories.

You may want to wear something long-sleeved and long pants. Some people really don’t like the feeling of crabs crawling over their feet, crabs touching their legs, fish nibbling at their leg hairs, and maybe other things brushing a leg every once in a while.

I always wore some running shoes or very hard sandals and I got used to crabs crawling over my feet eventually. It livens the day up, that’s for sure.

Sunglasses are also helpful while standing in the water fishing because you’re low to the water and can see really well when the sun is behind you or on your left and you’re looking right, or the sun is on your right and you’re looking left.

Good polarized sunglasses also take away a good portion of the glare and give your eyes a break from eye strain. Get some!

Other Essentials To Bring With You Fishing

  • raincoat or poncho
  • lip sunblock
  • sunglasses strap/holder so you don’t lose your expensive glasses
  • tweezers for all kinds of things
  • waterproof bag to keep money and electronics dry
  • change of clothes at the car because sometimes you WILL need it!
  • a big bottle of freshwater to rinse off with before you climb into the car

Key Takeaways

You can wear what you want to fish on a pier, go wade fishing, or fish from a boat or kayak.

The main idea is to protect yourself from the sun which can be relentless and stuff in the water you might walk on and hurt yourself.

About the Author

My name is Vern Lovic. I grew up in Pennsylvania fishing for trout in the streams and bass in the lakes. I’ve fished both coasts of Florida for more than a decade, but I’ve been primarily on the West Coast around St. Petersburg. I fish mostly from a Kayak and pier along with wade-fishing and shore fishing but I occasionally will go out on a boat with one of my friends.

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