Float Fly Fishing Gear Guide

Float Fly Fishing Gear Guide

The snow is melting and float season is upon us in the Rocky Mountain region of Colorado or as we like to say #troutcountry. Depending on runoff each spring, mid-June marks the beginning of summer float fishing season. A primetime to get on a drift boat or raft to sling some bugs on the bank in the hopes of finding a large trout lurking below. The summer weather in Colorado is refreshing for most, with an average day being 75 degrees and sunny with a small chance of an afternoon shower. So what do you need to pack to be properly prepared for your trip? Unlike bank fishing or wade fishing, float fly fishing gear differs a little bit. For one, you don’t need waders and boots or even a fly fishing pack.

Whether you are going out on a guided trip with one of our professional guides or joining some friends on a boat this summer proper gear can be essential to a comfortable trip. Below you will find a gear guide that will properly outfit you from head to toe while float fishing in Colorado.

Float Fly Fishing Footwear: 

The summer float fishing season means you can ditch the waders and boots and toss on the lightweight, breathable wet wading shoes or sandals. While flip flops might be an enticing option, leave them at home and reach for a footwear option that provides some more protection for your feet. The rivers in Colorado can be slippery, having a fully closed shoe or something with a little more support and traction can provide more protection for your feet. Chaco’s, Teva’s, or Keen’s can be a great option as most of these sandals have traction soles and straps over the whole foot. Below are our favorite options for float fishing footwear. 


Simms Flyweight Wet Wading Sandal $169.95

The ultimate float fishing footwear option. A lightweight fully enclosed shoe that provides breathable and supportive protection for your feet. If you like to hop out of the boat to wade a run, this shoe is for you. 

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Chaco Z/Cloud 2 Sandal – Men’s  or Women’s $110.00

A classic option and favorite for many. More breathable than a wet wading shoe or sandal, but lacks in protection. If you plan to do some wading while float fishing avoid a sandal. The slippery Colorado River rocks can beat up your feet faster than you could land a trout. 

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Astral Loyak Shoe $90.00

Astral is known for making some quality life jackets and other river accessories. But, their line of river shoes are some of the best float fishing shoes around. VVA Guide Justin Carr probably spends more time in his Astral’s than he does in any other pair of shoes he owns. The Astral shoes are lighter weight than a wet wading sandal or shoe. Yet provide full protection of your foot. They also are made of a material that is odor resistant and shoes drain water extremely well. 

Float Fly Fishing Clothing: 

If you know two things about the weather in Colorado, you might know that the weather can change very fast and it is very sunny/UV index is quite high. Being prepared for the variable weather with some sort of SPF protection is key to an enjoyable day on the water or a couple of days for that matter. To summarize proper clothing for your float fishing trip, for your bottoms lightweight fishing pants or shorts, on top a breathable long sleeve fishing shirt or sun hoody, a buff or sun gaiter, a packable rain jacket or warmer layer and of course a hat and polarized sunglasses. Here are some great picks from the shop at VVA. 


Howler Brothers Shoalwater Tech Pants Men’s $99.00

Stylish, lightweight, and durable, these pants are designed to take you to places that aren’t always dry and friendly. They are quick-drying and made of spandex and nylon. They also have pockets that are fast draining. 

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Free Fly Apparel Swell Short Women’s $64.95 

Comfort is at the forefront of any Free Fly Apparel piece. These shorts are stylish, lightweight, and made from recycled coconut husks with a DWR finish. 


Simms Bugstopper Hoody Men’s or Women’s $79.95 

A staple for many float fishing guides at VVA, the Bugstopper hoody is a bit heavier than other sun hoodies on the market. But, the material is treated to prevent bugs from coming in to bite you. And if they do try the fabric is stitched in a way that the bugs can’t get through to you. The hoody has UPF 50 sun protection and anti-odor resilience keeping you free of sunburn and smelling decent after a long, hot day on the water.

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Orvis Clearwater Shirt Women’s $98.00

Wrinkle-free takes on a new attitude in this tech-minded Clearwater casting shirt for women. This lightweight sun-protective shirt is all you need to keep you cool out on the water. The classic look with modern upgrades. 

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Howler Brothers Guacho SnapShirt  $89.00

Pleated chest pockets, pearl snaps, and custom embroidery, the flagship shirt for Howler Brothers. If you’re looking to get a little classy out on the float trip, this is the one. UPF of 15, quick-drying cotton blend, and a vented back yoke. 

General Float Fishing Gear: 

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Winston Air II 906-4 or 905-5 $1095.00

The latest and greatest from the folks in Twin Bridges, Montana. This rod is the next generation of all-around freshwater fly rods (3wt-6wt). Thus rods can do anything – present tiny dry flies to wary trout on flat water, cast a heavy streamer to the far bank in the wind, launch the entire line when you need it, and make quick, accurate close-range shots. It is the ultimate float fly fishing rod. 


Ross Reels San Miguel Reel 5/6 $595.00

Back in black, the classic reel from Ross Reels has returned with many upgrades. A polished, high-gloss black finish, powerful and smooth carbon / stainless sealed drag system, canvas micarta handle, and a large arbor for fast retrieval and reduced line memory. It is the ultimate trout fly fishing reel. 

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Scientific Anglers Amplitude Trout Taper Fly Line $129.00

The latest creation from the labs over at Scientific Anglers. This line casts, shoots, and mends with more ease than any other fly line on the market. It also floats high in the water column and does not have any memory issues. A knock out of the park for fly line technology. 

Other Float Fly Fishing Gear:

Part of the fun of float fishing is the whitewater ride. As fun as whitewater can be, it prevents one little problem for your gear…it gets wet! Having fully waterproof gear is essential to keeping your personal items dry. Our fly fishing guides all have dry bags to keep your extra clothes and other personal items dry. But, if you are heading out on your own having some waterproof dry bags and fishing bags can be key to keeping your gear safe. 


Umpqua ZS2 Waterproof Boat Bag Large 299.95 or Small $219.95 

The Umpqua ZS2 Boat Bag is the ultimate modular storage bag for anglers, photographers, and travelers. A Water-resistant, non-submersible bag that padded and has sturdy sides, grab handles, and plenty of storage for all your gear.


Umpqua Magnum Boat Box $74.95 

Hoppers, streamers, big stone fly’s this is the perfect solution for big fly storage. Each box features slotted foam internally on the top and bottom lid, and unlike other boxes on the market, one external slotted foam sheet for easy drying, organizing, or quick access while behind the oars. 


Fishpond Thunderhead Roll-Top Duffel $199.95

Nothing puts a damper on a long river trip like a bag full of wet soggy gear. The new Roll Top Duffel keeps your gear dry so you can slip on a dry warm layer at camp and fish the home pool while dinner cooks over the fire. Constructed out of our signature 1680d TPU coated recycled Cyclepond nylon, which has proven itself to be bombproof.

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Fishpond Nomad Boat Net $239.95 

Float fishermen and guides alike need a boat net that is tough, easy to use, and big enough to reach out to monster trout. The Fishpond Nomad Boat Net is all these things and more. From its 30-inch handle and clear rubber net bag to its carbon fiber/fiberglass composite construction, the Nomad Boat Net has been designed to do its job season after season.

Other Float Fly Fishing Gear Essentials: 

There are a few items that are must have’s for every river trip. This includes sunglasses, sunglass retainers like croakies or chums, sunscreen, a buff or sun gator, and a hat. Here are a few of our favorites. 

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VVA Logo Hat $19.95-$29.95

An essential, the shop has a variety of different logo hats. 

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Smith Guide’s Choice – Chromapop Glass Polarized Sunglasses $259.00

Polarized sunglasses are essential to float fishing not only because they help anglers see the fish but they provide vital protection from getting hooked in the eye. The Guide’s Choice offers elite comfort, optics, and durability. Wide temples and an aggressive wrap provide maximum on-head security. While the included detachable sunglasses leash locks down escape attempts. 

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Buff Coolnet UV+ Alexandra Nicole Artist Edition $24.00

The most versatile accessory for any angler. Built for Ultimate Sun Protection, Polygiene odor control and has a 4-Way, seamless, ULTRA STRETCH fabric construction that features UPF 50+ sun protection.

Proper gear while float fishing can make for an extremely comfortable and enjoyable day out on the water. If you are booked on a float trip with us this season, our retail store is fully stocked with the gear mentioned above. So arrive a little early and one of our friendly shop staff can outfit you for a proper day on the river.

Float fly fishing is one of our preferred methods to fly fish the Colorado Rockies, if you are interested in booking a trip with one of the guides follow the link here or give us a call at 1-877-926-0900.

Patrick Perry, Former Guide, and Content Contributor @patperry