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Optimal Apparel for Anglers: Performance Pants and Shorts

By: Dan Nelson - September 07, 2017

Columbia force-12 short

For anglers, fast drying fabrics that offer good UV protection are must-have clothing features, but pants and shorts should also include some flex and stretch. They should resist stains and include a few pockets, especially a zippered security pocket.

We found a few new products that perfectly match the needs of active anglers. All these pants and shorts were tested during both wet-wading and under waders.

Columbia Force 12 Shorts (Pictured Above)

Columbia’s Professional Fishing Gear — PFG — primarily targets the gear caster, but the Force 12 line performs perfectly for fly fishers. The Force 12 shorts earned great respect when wet wading, both while bank fishing and fishing from rafts and drift boats. The rip-stop nylon and polyester fabric include some elastic content that offers just a bit of four-way stretch, allowing it give and flex as you scramble over the side of the boat, or around river-side rocks. A fabric treatment, dubbed Blood 'n’ Guts, repels water and stains (whether from cleaning your catch or dirt and brush encountered during an outing). What water isn’t repelled immediately, dries rapidly from the soft fabric.

The Force 12’s design includes a snap-closure security pocket, modest waist pockets, and a deep snap-closure pocket that’s ideal for fishing tools like forceps or pliers — though I found it ideally sized for a smartphone. Dual snaps keep the shorts secure even when busting through rugged riparian terrain. $100 | columbia.com

Columbia Men’s Force 12 Pants

Columbia force-12 pant

The Force 12 pants boast all the same features as the shorts, with the addition of reinforced knee and seat panels on the articulated legs. The legs are also vented to allow greater comfort and faster dry-times, and the fabric provides 30 UPF sun protection. When worn under waders, those reinforced panels aren’t noticeable — they can’t be felt and don’t inhibit freedom of movement. When worn alone for wet wader/drift boat fishing, those reinforced sections provide much-appreciated protection against wear and tear. When kneeling on shore, leaning into a gunnel, or sitting on a casting chair, the panels protect the pants and wearer from abuse. $130. | columbia.com

Patagonia Quandary Shorts

Patagonia-Quandary 1

Though billed as being made for the rigors of climbing and backpacking, Patagonia’s Quandary Short proved ideal for the hiking angler. The contoured waist panel rides close to the body and stays in place as you move. Yet it also sits flat without puckering or wrinkles, making for a comfortable fit under the waist belt of a fishing pack or waders. With six percent spandex content in the nylon fabric, the shorts stretch and give while scrambling over river rocks and boat gunnels. The nylon sports a DWR finish to help shed water and speed drying times when it does get wet.

A zippered thigh pocket secures essentials, while deep waist pockets and two back pockets keep small gear items close. Comfortable worn alone or under waders or a hip pack, the Quandary Shorts are ideal fishing shorts. $69 | patagonia.com

Simms Guide Pants

Simms Guide Pant -1

It makes sense that a company built on quality waders would offer the ultimate angler pant. Whether worn under waders or on their own, the Simms Guide Pants meet the needs of active anglers perfectly.

The pants’ nylon/spandex blend fabric moves moisture away from the body, dries quickly, and features an antimicrobial finish to resist the odor build-up that commonly occurs on apparel that spend time inside waders. The fabric provides 50 UPF sun protection.

To complement the four-way stretch, the Guide Pants feature articulated knees and a gusseted crotch to prevent binding when moving into prime casting positions. That motion-supporting design also proved beneficial for oarsmen working the sticks of fishing rafts and drift boats in fast, technical rivers.

The pants sport a pair of secure cargo pockets, a zippered back pocket, slash side pockets, and an internal cell phone pocket. $80 | simmsfishing.com

About the Author

Dan Nelson

Dan Nelson

Dan Nelson is the fly fishing editor of Gear Institute.com. He is a veteran outdoor journalist based in the Pacific Northwest. Follow him at Google+.

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