The Wading Kilt.

Bear with me here as I’m breaking with standard protocol for a moment. Rather than posting about a fishing misadventure of some sort, or a gear review (which I don’t do, by the way) I’m going to wander off course and talk about something that might initially seem a little out of place on this blog: Kilts.

No, I’m not of Scottish descent, though my maternal grandfather did describe himself as being “Irish, Scotch and Dutch.” My father’s side of my family is fairly well German, and so to claim any Scottish heritage would be blasphemous and wishful. But there’s a lot I like about the Scottish people:

•Their accent is the best (and particularly Robin William’s imitation of it)

•Scotch. While I’m not a huge fan of their whisky, preferring a Canadian blend, I have done some extensive taste testing of several breeds of Scotch at my brother-in-law’s house (he is Scottish, by the way), and a couple weren’t too bad. Recently I had a chance to sample some Glenlivet, and if forced I could probably become a fancier of the stuff.

•Golf. I loathe the game of golf, and if the Scots did in fact invent the game, I won’t hold it against them.The Highland Games more than make up for the shortcomings of golf anyway.

•Bagpipes.  They rock, literally – AC/DC, while from Australia, made sure of that. And Angus Young was born in Glascow.

•Lassie.  She saved Timmy countless times.

Furthermore it’s been said, and Wikipedia (the internet authority on all things everything) supports the assertion, that modern fly fishing is “normally said to have originated on the fast, rocky rivers of Scotland and England.” That’s good enough for me. Then of course there’s the matter of a certain river in the northeast of Scotland, which happens to be the second longest and the fastest flowing river in that country: The River Spey. There is no refuting where Spey casting originated. Suffice it to say there’s plenty to like about the offerings of the Scottish people. Now, add the kilt to the mix.  I’m comfortable enough in my own heterosexual skin to admit that I think they’re cool.

The traditional kilt is, as I understand it, part of a formal Scottish dress uniform. Maybe they’re also worn for casual occasions, but like I said, I don’t really know much about them other than I think they’re cool. I will, however, admit a bit of practical skepticism, as the traditional wool would seem a bit uncomfortable on hot days, and certainly there is the itch factor which cannot be dismissed. But the kilt has evolved over time, as the American made Utilikilt is a testament to.  Men are free to embrace their inner Scot by wearing a garment that would make Carhartt proud.

For those who poke fun at the kilt as being somehow feminine, I would ask you to reconsider your position.  Mel Gibson’s character in Braveheart, William Wallace – was he somehow a limp-wristed cross dresser? What about Liam Neeson’s portrayal of Scottish folk hero Rob Roy MacGregor – just another girly man in a skirt? I think not. I’ve never been one to think of a kilt as a “dress” as a few of my less secure friends on Facebook referred to them in a recent and lively “wall discussion”.  I had simply posted mention of the fact that if I were of Scottish descent I would get me a wading kilt: One made of breathable Goretex-like material, similar to our waders. My statement was met with less enthusiasm than I had imagined. In fact, I’m fairly certain that at least a couple people have dismissed me as being completely daft. Frankly I’m a little surprised at the less than warm reception of my idea. Anyone who thinks a wading kilt would look ridiculous needs to take a good long look in the mirror the next time you’re wearing your chest waders – at least the kilt wouldn’t make your butt look big, and it would be perfect for the wet wading months. A wee tad chilly for winter steelheading, perhaps, especially since nothing is supposed to be worn underneath a kilt (or so I’ve only been told). But if you’re man enough to wear a kilt you won’t be bothered by a little cold weather, and a fleece-lined model could be designed for certain applications.

And the functionality doesn’t stop there. Anglers are constantly searching for the perfect gear-carrying device, be it a vest, lumbar (fanny) pack, chest pack, lanyard (for the minimalist), shoulder sling, etc. So, why not a wading kilt? It could have waterproof zippered pockets for fly boxes and flasks of single malt, retractors for things that go on retractors, a fly patch, loops for spools of tippets, etc. And it could even boast an integrated feature found on fish fighting belts:  One of those reinforced slots for the butt of your rod when you’re playing that really hot fish. Like a big tuna.

Laugh all you want – I think I’m on to something big here. And in a year when Orvis announces their new breathable River Kilt, who’ll be laughing then, eh laddie?


In the meantime I’ll be digging deep into the roots of my family tree to see if I can’t unearth just enough Scottish blood to warrant my wearing of a wading kilt.

Gird your loins, and stay tuned.



  1. Mrs U A

    Oh my! Thank God I’m Irish!! And you’re bro and friends are going to be sooo mad at you for those photos! At least you have good legs. 🙂

    • admin

      I can’t believe you’re still claiming Irish roots…you’re more Kraut than I am, dear. And I don’t think Hal, Large Albacore or Marck (not his real name) will upset. I believe they honestly wish they were Scotsmen so they could get their own River Kilts.

    • Andrea Franklin

      Well I am Scottish and think it’s a fantastic idea: Scottie’s Fishin Kilts (I’m from the deep South) is what I’d name my kilt manufacturing company.

  2. Ed

    Whatever you do, do not wear the kilt whilst fly fishing for Pike. Fingers are one thing……

    • admin

      Ed, thanks for chiming in with your very valid concern. I wonder if the commando policy of kilt-wearing could be amended to allow for a protective athletic cup when fishing for predatory fish?

  3. Patrick

    To follow the stereotype — citing the Studebaker Champion Scotsman, Safeway’s Scotch Buy generic brand, and the McFrugals discount chain (though I can’t figure out exactly how Scotch tape figures into this) — you’re already a step closer to being Scottish with the whole “…taste testing of several breeds of Scotch…” at your brother-in-law’s expense. Smart move my Scotsman.

    My ancestry is decidedly Germanic, it’s that stout heritage that allows me to wear shorts nearly 350 days a year. (Long pants required for Christmas service or other ceremonies, i.e weddings, funerals and the like.) The long-running joke is that I’m a prime candidate for kilts.

    So, Kirk, your piece hits close to home as the joke may become reality sooner than I expect. The Wife is well aware of the Utilikilt and apparently likes my legs. And many times I’ve pondered whether a formal kilt might be my ticket out of wearing slacks at the invariably hot June wedding.

    At least one company offers kilts with “…private fashion tartan(s) designed for anyone to wear, regardless of clan affiliation or nationality.” There’s one for those of Germanic persuasion…maybe we can design a fly fishing tartan?

    P.S. Most of of the moving waters where I fish are cold enough that “shrinkage” might preclude the need for a protective cup.

    • admin

      Pat, So now you’re telling me I don’t have to be Scottish to own a kilt? This could get dangerous. My idle threats to acquire one seemed safe given that I can’t turn up any Scottish blood.
      But now this? Maybe lederhosen instead?

  4. Ed

    this could work


    • admin

      Ed…Ed…Ed…you’ve seen Braveheart, yes? It ended poorly for William Wallace, what with being drawn open. Don’t tempt fate. ; )

  5. Marck

    You gone to far this time. That kilt doesn’t match anything I own. Hal’s river kilt has nice pleats in the front and the color goes with everything plus that wading belt/fanny pack (wow). Yellow would work. That would match the hornet ( the real name) and my banana hammock. The cut is all wrong I need something cut a little higher to show of my legs and maybe slit up the side. The only downside to the kilt I could see besides predatory fish and frostbit. The guy or gal fishing the front of the boat normally the prized position on any river will lose it luster with Kirk on the oars. The visual is quite disturbing

    • admin

      Marck, that was just a prototype. I can have one made just for you. And don’t worry- when you’re in teh bow of the boat you should be concentrating on you fly, not the oarsman’s Thingamabobber.

  6. Jimmy

    Sorry, I have to agree with Marck. His does not have the sofisticated appeal as Hal’s. Marck’s look reminds me of a Drunken Frat bro the morning after. I do like the color on him though, it just needs a blue accent stripe. I like the Idea, and may make them mandatory on my boat- for females only. The thought of fishing from the rear station and seeing the UA reach to net a fish just made me throw up a little in my mouth.

    • admin

      Jimmy, Jimmy, Jimmy…

  7. rich schaaff

    What is next fishnet waders

    • admin

      Rich, only if knotless, rubber fishnet waders. Which would be sorta like wearing latex. I’ll pass, thanks.

  8. Chris Raine

    Well. This is gonna confuse things. Sub wooley MEANS something in NZ. Now you go and wear a kilt made outa wool. And you’re subwooly? Who’s to say now? You? Or the person watchin you wade? I’m just sayin, is all.

    • admin

      Chris, thanks for stopping by and chiming in. I don’t propose a wool kilt be worn on the river, only a breathable model. I know wool is a great insulator when wet, but it tends to smell like a wet dog. As for subwoolly, I’ll admit ignorance. But I do know that in the UK bugger has a different meaning than a bugger stateside, but whatcha gonna do?

  9. Brian

    Well, that’s a whole new slant on “Tackle tart” 😉
    What next, sporran sized fly boxes! (© me, today! )

    Brian, UK

    • admin

      Brian, thanks for chiming in from the other side of the Big Pond! The list of accessories may prove to be nearly endless!

  10. Matt S

    I have actually contacted the makers of Utilikilts with this very idea. They liked it but were afraid there wasn’t enough market out there to justify production. I’m glad to see the idea occurred to someone else.

    Real men fly fish in a kilt.

    • admin

      Matt, I’m not surprised someone else thunk of this idea before- I rarely ever have a good, truly unique idea! At first I thought maybe Simms would be interested, but given their Bozeman roots I think they might pass on the kilt idea. However, I think Orvis would be perfect for targeting the micro-niche market 😉

  11. Rebecca

    So, I’m of the Clans, Scots that is. My Mother is a fantastic bagpiper and Kaitlyn plays the snare drums. They are even in a bagpiping band ~

    So I’ll tell you what. You make those wading kilts and when you are ready to put on a runway show down the riverbank, I’ll pull some strings and have the family, plus 20 other bagpipers, play the music for your debut.

    You will need to design a matching sporin flybag to go with it. The sporin is not only a great accessory, it is intended to hold down your kilt in that all too important zone. Perhaps it could even help in the event of a horrific pike attack.

    • admin

      Aye, this sounds like a grreat plan, Lassie. As for the sporins, is it a one size fits all, or are there different sizes – you know, to hold small, medium, or large fly boxes?

  12. Lori spears

    Kirk, I am sad I missed out on this discussion. Love it. Yes, sporrans do come in sizes. If you were using it as a athletic support . I would suggest being an optimist and getting something larger than you think might be required. You might get a really big fish…

    • Kirk Werner

      Lori, I’m sorry you missed the original discussion, but glad you chimed in- better late than never, eh? As for the sporran, if I ever do fully embrace my inner Scot, I’ll supersize the sporran. Unfortunately since this entry was posted, there has been no development of the River Kilt as I had hoped. Another dream, dashed…

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *