I threw on Simms’ Bulkley Jacket for the first time on a recent winter steelhead trip. The weather forecast pointed towards cool, damp conditions on the coast – the perfect situation to test out a Gore-Tex two-layer/PrimaLoft ONE insulation combo jacket.
For the past eight years I have been fishing in the the trusted Simms Guide Jacket. The short, bombproof raincoat has kept me dry and comfortable in almost every fishing situation; continuously proving itself as a reliable fishing companion. But it has now been challenged by my new companion that proved to be almost as bombproof while having added benefits.
The two-layer Gore beaded water and kept me dry all day while the PrimaLoft was warm and comfortable. The pockets are structured the same as the Guide Jacket – two large vertical chest pockets and two hand-warming chest pockets, aka clean and simple. I favor simplicity over fancy gadget accessories, and this jacket aligns brilliantly with my preference. No outside zippers, coils, or retractors to snag your line on – a huge benefit when fishing out of a boat (where this jacket excels) or bombing long spey casts with multiple loops of line in your bottom hand.
The designs I found to be the most beneficial were the PrimaLoft insulation and length of jacket. The loft is heavy enough to add the comfort of down, but light enough to avoid the overheating and annoying bulk often associated with larger down or synthetic coats. You are able to wear this jacket with multiple layers underneath to control temperature and still move actively and unrestricted. As for the length, it is NOT short. Yes, the shorty wading jacket is a must in some situations, but it tends to be a single function jacket. On the other hand, the Bulkley is long enough to be worn around town while being functional during long days on the water during the dead of winter. As for the negative, the two-layer Gore-Tex feels short on the durability scale for anglers who are excessively tough on their gear.
Overall, the jacket performed. It kept me warm, dry and comfortably fishing all day long. I didn’t run into any frustrating situations where I wanted to sit down riverside and tailor the jacket to my liking. It beaded water, stayed warm, and handled fish goo like a champ. Lastly, it is the first virgin piece of gear I have taken on the water and caught fish with (I am hyper superstitious about new gear and steelhead fishing, so that counts for a lot in my book).