When asking anglers about winter fishing, one might encounter many different opinions. There are those that enjoy it immensely and those that believe winter fisherman are crazy. If you are of the latter opinion it’s in your best interest to make sure you understand how to dress for warmth and be comfortable on the river before you decide to spend the winter tying flies and hibernating.
Staying warm and dry by layering clothing is key to enjoying yourself while fishing on those cold winter afternoons. Layering gives you the option of adding or removing clothing based on temperature and activity level. Your basic layering categories are as follows:
Base Layer or “Next-To-Skin” is the first part and maybe the most overlooked part of staying warm. Base Layer clothing is designed to keep you dry by ventilation or by “wicking” way moisture. Not all Base Layers are made equal, material is what sets them apart.
- Wool – Best – Provides the best breathe-ability and insulation
- Synthetic – Good – Provides good breathe-ability and insulation
- Cotton – Avoid – Provides some insulation and very little breathe-ability
Insulator clothing should be worn over the Base Layer to provide warmth. This should also be non-cotton piece to still promote breathe-ability. The weight of your insulator pieces should be chosen by activity level.
Outerwear is the final piece you put on and provides protection from wind and precipitation. Choose your Outerwear based on conditions. If you are fishing in wet and humid conditions a heavy duty rain jacket will provide the greatest protection from the elements. If you are fishing in cold dry conditions a soft-shell jacket provides excellent warmth without bulk.
Gloves, Socks, and Hats
Don’t forget any of these. Your hands, feet, and ears are the first things to get cold. Taking care of these extremities will keep you noticeably warmer and on the water longer. Make sure you layer your socks by following the same Base Layer and Insulation system and discussed before, but still provide room for ventilation.
Winter fishing can be very productive and if nothing else it is a good opportunity to expose yourself to sunshine on short winter days. With the right clothing it doesn’t only have to be for the “crazies”.