When you’re on the water this winter being comfortable and staying dry is just as important as which fly you use, or what system you are fishing on. Here a few things to keep in mind when layering, as well as a few of our favorite layers.
Warm hands, feet, and head make for a warm body
The unprotected and often the first part of your body to get cold when fishing in cold weather are your hands, feet and head. Always bring a beanie with you for winter fishing, even if you don’t wear it all the time. If you feel your body temp dropping, throw your beanie on and keep that precious heat in your dome. Next would be hands, most anglers can’t stand fishing in gloves, so bring a pair along and wear them between runs or when you are rowing down river. We prefer the Simms Windstopper Fold-over mitt, and the Simms Wool Half-Finger gloves. Even wearing them for short stints will help keep your hands warm throughout the day. Finally we get to your feet, this one is simple. Wear a single pair of thick insulating socks, such as the Simms Exstream Wading sock. In the most brutal conditions you can wear two pairs of sock, but keep in mind sweaty feet will be cold feet. Most times a single pair is all you need. Also, make sure your boots are not too tight. If they are they will cut down on circulation and make your feet much colder!
No Cotton Allowed
When layering your upper and lower body keep any and all cotton out of the equation. The key to stay warm during the coldest days, especially the wet and cold days, is to wear warm, breathable non-cotton layers. As you hike and move around you will sweat and if you are wearing something absorbent such as cotton, the fabric will hold that sweat creating a brutal chill factor that will send your body temps plummeting. The fix for this is easy, wear a comfortable poly-layer against you skin such as Simms Wader-wick Crew Neck on top and Simms Wader-wick Crew Pants on bottom. Follow those up with a warm fleece layer such as the Wader wick Thermal Top and Bottoms, or The Simms Guide Fleece pants down low. These will keep you much warmer after you take a digger trying to cross that “shallow” looking tailout.
Insulation and Waterproof Shell
Next in the line-up for layers would be an insulated or “puffy” jacket and a waterproof jacket. Our personal favorite insulated jacket is the Simms Fall Run Jacket made with Primaloft, its warm even when it is soaking wet and packs down to nothing if you need to drop a layer, or the Rogue Fleece Hoody. For a solid waterproof layer look at the Simms Guide Jacket or Simms G3 wading jacket. Both jackets are made out of Gore-tex, and are waterproof and breathable. Or you can combine the best of both worlds and pick up the Simms Bulkey Jacket. This option combines a waterproof wading jacket with a Primaloft interior, creating an oh so toasty jacket just begging to be worn on wet, cold days. These two layers are key because they will be the first layers dropped when over-heating.
Choose layers that will allow sweat to escape, as well as keep you warm if you are wet. Don’t ever wear cotton as a “layer” especially against your skin. Last but not least, always dress warmer because you can take layers off, but you cannot put them on if you don’t have them. Also, carry an extra set of clothes to change into at the car, boat, or in a dry bag in your day pack. These extra layers might rarely get used, but in the case of falling in at the beginning of the day being able to drop the wet and put on dry layers allows you to keep fishing and avoids a major backcountry health situation.