The Wrong Trousers


The Wrong Trousers.

I love Wallace and Grommet, the attention to detail in their films is simply incredible and as a fly angler one recognises that attention to detail can be all important.  A recent review of their movie “The Wrong Trousers” got me thinking, the simplest little things can make the biggest difference in terms of effectiveness and comfort on the river.

So it is with the choice of fishing pants, and hereabouts we frequently have no need for waterproof waders, the water simply isn’t that cold. Many of the trout streams are easily waded wet and the yellowfish rivers further north are warm enough for much of the year not to need any significant barrier other than that required for a degree of modesty.

Over the years we have experimented with various outfits, there was a time when we all simply used any old pants that were perhaps slightly too good to be put aside for painting and decorating. Some people used trousers that weren’t good enough for painting and decorating for that matter and the occasional soul would wear attire that you wouldn’t put out in the rubbish for fear that your neighbours might see them.

Denim Jeans

It however quickly became apparent that denim is not the thing, denims are cold, heavy and have the nasty tendency to “grab” your legs when wet, usually just as you leap nimbly from boulder to boulder, generally resulting in a spectacular aquatic face plant. The resulting falls are dangerous and more to the point; frighten the fish. The stiff blue fabric also produces the most incredibly painful chafing around your nether regions so denims were ruled out.

In fact we also rapidly worked out that underwear is generally to be eschewed for similar reasons, underpants stay damp when the rest of you is drying out and cause considerable heat loss as your femoral arteries pump warm blood close to the surface of your groin only to be constantly chilled by the evaporation from your wet knickers.. it just isn’t comfortable.RunningShorts

Some people wore running shorts, they are quick drying and don’t chafe, they also provide zero protection from the sun, snakes, horseflies and scratchy bushes and have the considerable disadvantage of nearly always being only available in neon colours.  So you end up, bitten, stung, scratched and still looking like a complete wally.


Pull on pyjama type pants found favour for a while, they were fashionable in the mainstream, and Country Feeling Clothing in Jefferies Bay produced some great ones. They were fairly fast drying, unrestrictive and inexpensive, they just weren’t that durable and over a season it was almost inevitable that the stitching around the backside would give out. We have all suffered the embarrassment of fishing on through the day with our naughty bits swinging free as a result of the failure of a seam or two.TornTrousers

Indeed I did once make it all the way back to town and into the queue in the bank before I noticed the problem, thank goodness it wasn’t my home town or for that matter my parent branch of the bank. One expects the occasional strange look from bankers, particularly if you are in slightly damp fishing gear but the intensity of the stares eventually drew my attention to the issue and I beat a hasty and rather undignified retreat.


Normal shorts are good, they don’t provide much protection from the brush but they do mean that you stay warmer than in long pants and if you can tolerate the bites from the horseflies they provide a good option for our trout streams. They aren’t much use if you are wading deep though, the discarded line as you retrieve has a nasty habit of catching in the hems making casting troublesome so they really only have merit on the shallower runs.

Rugby Shorts

I made the mistake of pulling on some black rugby shorts in something of a hurry last summer. In the African sun you don’t wish to wear black, as the day warmed my testicles were seriously questioning the wisdom of dropping in puberty and I spent most of the day sitting in the stream trying to ward off temperature induced sterility, it was a rather uncomfortable outing I have to say.

Fishing Pants

Over recent years it has become fashionable to wear what are described in the catalogues as “fishing pants”, generally they come in earthy tones which is good from the camouflage angle and have zip off bottoms to allow conversion to shorts which is also an advantage. In fact they have become something of the accepted attire and supposedly at least make you look like an angler. Great for posing for the camera or whilst leaning on the bar telling fishing stories. They just aren’t actually that practical.

The trouble is that they haven’t been designed by anyone who has ever flyfished. They sport all manner of pockets, buttons, buckles and little jangling tags on them that snag the line and cause havoc when your leader inadvertently washes around them.Drowning

They also hold a potentially dangerous little secret,  when wading in fast water at some point, as you get deeper, the pockets fill up with water, billow out like drogues in the current and spin you off your feet, if you are unfortunate, whisking you downstream to a watery grave. It is an angling technique known locally as “drown and across”.

I suppose that at least the police divers would be able to instantly recognise that you were an angler, and you would appear fashionably “outdoorsy” on the mortuary slab but it seems a high price to pay to get “The Look”.


For deep water wading I far prefer ladies lycra gym pants. No pockets, tight fitting, fast drying and extremely comfortable. Of course you look like a bit of a numpty but they do offer a practical solution except that they are almost always black and as a result will scorch your bottom if you wear them on hot summer days.


Right now I am back to wearing olive or beige coloured shorts, preferably ones without too many pockets. I get bitten by the horse flies on occasion and the bush frequently leaves blood running down my legs if I miss the path in and out of the stream, I have more than once become rather sunburned on the backs of my calves, but they offer a fairly practical and inexpensive solution.

One thing for sure, it is very difficult to be both practical and fashionable at the same time and I am one of those anglers who goes fishing to catch fish not to look good in my pictures. Which means that usually by day’s end I look as though my wardrobe was exclusively sourced from some army surplus store and that I have been dragged through a couple of hedges backwards.


It all works well enough, but if the car breaks down on the way home chances are I shall be arrested for vagrancy, I doubt that anyone will offer me a lift.

A variety of books by the author of this blog are available for download from Smashwords.


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2 Responses to “The Wrong Trousers”

  1. Miss P Says:

    Nice post…. it is hard to find the right attire, although I am either in my waders or shorts in the summer

  2. paracaddis Says:

    Thanks Miss P, as you can see, I am not a dedicated follower of fashion. 🙂

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