Wet Dry/Suit help [Archive] - Fly Fishing Forum

: Wet Dry/Suit help

10-07-2002, 08:38 PM
It turns out that I am in the market for a wet suit or a dry suit so that I can better enjoy fishing the salt from a float tube.

There are some great locales for riding the tides out on the NH coast and I am not a big advocate of bobbing around in the ocean in a pair of waders (for safety reasons).

I am primarily looking for a wet suit. Does anyone have any recommendations for the thickness of the neoprene that I should be looking for if I plan on using the suit from May through the end of September?

Does anyone have any brand names or suit features to avoid?

Can anyone recommend a certain brand of suit?

I have found some really cheap dry suits on eBay in the past. Has anyone ever used a dry suit?

Can you recommend a brand?

Thanks for any help that you can offer...


10-07-2002, 09:02 PM
Hi Mike,

As an experienced diver I would go for the dry suit over a wet suit most anyday. Although a wet suit works well, you will stay warmer in a dry suit. If you do go with a wet suit 5mm would be a minimum for the north shore for me. The thicker the suit the more effort it will likely take to move, cast etc... You can prime the suit with a gallon jug of hot water before going in.

In your experiences do you stay dry most of the time?

A wet suit may be all you need if so. I've been submerged in Lake superior waters at 37 degress farenheit for an hour in a wet suit. It took most of the day to recover my normal temperature and normal feeling in areas exposed to the elements. If I had a dry suit I would have been much warmer
I'm sure, But much poorer. Dry suits used to cost 3 to 4 times what a wet suit cost.

Mobility and comfort might be more limited in a dry suit due to the seals at the openings. Either one is likely to be a bit of a burden when casting, due to extra forces required to move the material. Haven't seen the latest designs though.

I'll see if I can find some good sources and brands for you when I get a chance to look.


10-08-2002, 03:47 AM
Seaquest makes suits that are thicker in areas where you need thickness and lighter around the arms for example. There is a large dive equipment store on Speen St. in Natick that has just about everything.

10-08-2002, 06:22 AM
Thanks for the input guys.

I normally go "commando" in the tube - meaning just in a bathing suit and a synthetic top. Note that I normally only fish the salt in the tube from mid-June through August. It can get cold without a glaring sun to warm you up.

The dry suits are really, really expensive. That is what I would prefer but finances just don't make sense with the dry suit. I fish from the float tube maybe 5 times a summer. I also have a kayak so I truly don't need to fish from the tube if I want to be 100 yds offshore.

The great thing about fishing from the tube is that you propell yourself with your legs and you can spin around quickly if you need to cast to cruising fish. This comes in handy when fishing near a gruop of blitzing fish that is moving. With the yak you have to put your rod down and paddle over to the fish and cast once again. In that process I often wind up either:

1. Reeling in and losing time
2. Paddling with my fly line in the water and either snagging some weedy junk or fouling my line.

No such worries in the tube. I false cast as I kick through the water and/or troll with control near spooky fish.

And if you have decent fins you can move pretty quickly. I have even gone upstream in some decent current (inflate the tube as much as possible so that you ride high in the water!).

We shall see how much I use the tube if I have a wet/dry suit next year. The fall fishing in the Beverly area has been stellar and I think that I would be catching even more fish if I was in the tube. Lots of fish in protected spots means for good fishing from the tube. We shall see...

Thanks again.


10-08-2002, 08:05 AM
Mike, I'd go with a wetsuit both for reasons of cost and for safety. When wearing a drysuit there's always the danger that you'll spring a leak(kicking a rock, etc.) and find yourself in real trouble. A drysuit generally won't float and once it starts to fill up with water you go from warm and dry to freezing and wet very quickly, a recipie for shock.

If you go for a wetsuit I'd look at a surfing wetsuit, since they're designed with upper body mobility in mind- great for paddling a surfboard or casting a flyrod.

If you decide to go the surf wetsuit route, drop me a line. My parents own a Surf shop in Kennebunk, ME and they have a pretty good inventory of suits right now.


10-08-2002, 08:12 AM
You can buy a farmer john (5mm)and boots and use your synthetic top... you should be okay for the time of year you will be fishing if you find yourself in the drink. The core of your body will be protected from the cold water. You can always buy 3mm jacket but a 5mm jacket would make casting work and you will get hot. I would forget the dry suit. Just my .02


10-08-2002, 05:35 PM
I was never really planning on a dry suit (cost) and I think that a surfer suit is more my style.

I will give you a call sometime soon Matt. Maybe I can send some business your parents' way.

Thanks for the advice...

10-08-2002, 06:42 PM
Kokotat makes a realatively cheap dry suit for around $350. I got one with dry feet(a must for dry suits).

10-08-2002, 07:35 PM
I've got a Farmer John that has your name on it...
Bring some food for this slightly handicapped, moderately decorated, grossly misunderstood retired old fart and it's yours for the taking!
Worth a try (we're about the same size) and the price is right!

10-08-2002, 08:38 PM

Thanks for the call.

Maybe Big Jim can pick up the sample loot in November and we can iron out a deal from there...

Captain Penguin - you are the man!

10-09-2002, 07:40 AM
You've already got good advice pertaining to the wet/dry suit. I'd concur with the suggestions that a dry suit is too expensive and specialized for a much different application.

For wet suits on the north shore, 5 mm is minimum and 7 mm even better. But with those you'll be boiled in your own juices when outside the water and have virtually zero range of motion for your casting arm.

A heavy farmer john with light jacket is a good compromise, but you will still be submerged in chilly water temps. For awhile that will seem ok, especially if you prime the suit with warm water. Over time however, you will gradually lose body temps. If you're like me, you may have a tendency to get stuck in "Just One More Cast" syndrome. That kind of distraction, and the gradual, almost imperceptible loss of body temp, can allow low level hypothermia to begin. In a way that can be almost more dangerous than being just plain freezing cold. If you're uncomfortably cold, you'll get out quicker. If it doesn't seem that bad, and fish are blitzing, the temptation to stick it out a little longer is great. At that point it's not the cold itself that's so dangerous, but the loss of physical coordination and mental judgement that could get you into trouble. Believe me, as a New England diver who extends his season, I've been there, done that. It's an eye opener when you finally get out of the water and your hands lack coordination to use keys to open a car door! As float tubing in moving open water might already be at the boarder line of safe activity, you wouldn't want to be impaired in any way.

Which brings me to my last point. I'm wondering about the statement that you don't want waders for "safety" reasons. Is that because of the old Urban Myth that waders full of water will drag you down and sink you? If so, reconsider. Water does not sink in water. Waders full of sea water will be, at worst, neutrally boyant. With closed cell neoprene waders, the waders themselves will add a great deal of boyancy. There's an old legend, can't vouch for verity, that the late Lee Wulff once jumped off a bridge into a salmon river wearing his waders to prove this point. And that was in the days of rubber coated canvass waders.
If it were me, I'd go with a quality pair of heavy neoprene waders, a waterproof rain jacket, and a belt around the waist to keep out splashes. I think you'd be warmer long term than you would in a wet suit [emphasize WET]. I believe you'd be just as safe, especially if you used a personal flotation device.
PS What do the Rocky Mountain trout fishers use for float tubing high altitude lakes? Anybody Know? That might shed light on this issue.

10-09-2002, 09:55 AM
Hypothermia is a reel issue and staying dry is the best way to avoid the problem. I agree with mikez about the neoprene waders and a PFD, a must even with the neoprene waters. What's best 3mm, 5mm, or 7mm... I would go for the lightest waders 3mm and layer with thermal underwear and polartec pants.

Doc Duprey
10-09-2002, 09:01 PM
To add to the previous post...

...and a good wader belt.

Hypothermia is no joke. Better to read about your fishing exploits than your obit.

Semper paratus!


10-09-2002, 09:39 PM
Your points about the safety issues of wearing waders while submerged in water are well taken. As a physicist by training I understand the concepts of density as it relates to a wader wearing me sinking to the bottom of the ocean. My true concerns revolve around the strain of swimming in waders and the added weight of water laden waders during attempts to get back into my kayak.

In my experience (jumping into water with the waders on just to see how I fared) the waders are cumbersome at best when it comes to swimming/re-entry in a kayak. My neoprenes are boot foot and that makes any swimming/agility based activities all the more difficult. My breathable Gore-Tex waders were tolerable in terms of mobility etc. but I just wouldn't feel safe if my tube popped and I had to swim 100 yards to shore.

The bottom line is that I am comfortable wet wading/tubing in the summer months (for three hours or less) and I think that I may benefit from a wetsuit during these forays into the salt. I just didn't feel comfy when trying to swim in my waders.

I also have experienced some mildly hypothermic afternoons wet wading on Monomoy. Skinny me has a surface to volume problem that I no longer ignore

All advice/words of wisdom are welcome. Please keep the ideas flowing.

I would be curious to hear what high mountain lakes float-tubers wear while fishing. My old roommate grew up fishing in Jackson Hole. I will ask him.