There are very few days in my fishing career that I can honestly say were just totally unfishable. What it comes down to is dedication and just a little bit of common sense. Here are a few tips on layering that will help keep you out on the water longer this winter regardless of what old man winter has to say about it.
As far as I am concerned mastering the art of layering is what will set your days apart on the water. Understanding different clothing pieces where you can make quick adjustments based on your activity level and changes in the weather.
Each layer serves a function and combining them as a system allows you to be versatile and adjust on a moment’s notice. Your core layers should be your base layer, some type of insulating layer, onto a shell that will protect you from moisture such as wet/heavy snow or rain.
Base Layer Basics
Think of your base layer as your external thermostat. By serving as a moisture wicking layer it helps keep you dry and maintain your core temperature. Cotton is by far the worst offender and should really not be considered a “base layer” of any sort. It tends to retain moisture versus wicking it away from your body which equals No Bueno!!
There are a lot of options out on the market that serve as a good base layers. One of the tried, tested is wool. Merino wool is AWESOME for days that you may not be very active. Rowing down the river, or just slowly moving up the river this stuff will help maintain your core temperature which is absolutely vital.
Simms Montana Wool Core Crewneck
For the more active anglers a polyester based synthetic fabric will probably serve you better. Rather than absorbing moisture, these fabrics wick perspiration away from your skin, this allows it to evaporate versus leaving you feeling soaking wet. This makes it where you stay dry even when you are sweating which is invaluable when you are out in the elements.
Simms Waderwick Core Crew Neck
Insight Into Insulation
Your insulating level of you layering system is just as it sounds. Ideally you are looking to have this layer trap/maintain heat that is close to your body.
There are lots of materials out on the market, I personally look for ones that offer a high warmth to weight ratio. This enables me to maintain a fairly minimal amount of clothing yet I am have no issues taking on the elements.
Here are a couple of great examples of the type of pieces that I have found to be very useful in my arsenal.
Simms Kinetic Jacket Simms ADL Vest
Another material that has been used for years is fleece. Generally fleece is offered in several weights and can provide warmth in a variety of conditions. Some of the advantages of fleece is that even when it gets wet it still has some insulation properties that can save your bacon. The only real downfall to fleece is it does not offer much protection against wind, and for the warmth that it offers it still tends to be a bit bulky. Despite that it is a great material and has served many anglers well for years.
Of all layers this is one that you really do not want to cut corners with. A good shell layering will protect you from the wind, rain, and snow. Most allow some type of breathability while still maintaining a barrier between you and the elements.
If you cut things back to the basics, the name serves as the perfect description of what this layer is intended for – a shell that directly compliments your other layers. If wind or moisture penetrate any of your inner layers thing tend to go south pretty quickly. Breathability of your layers are important because it does not do a whole lot of good to lock moisture out if you are creating issues of your own.
Now that we have briefly covered the basics of shells and their general purpose, understand that not all shells are created equal.
Waterproof shells: Not always the cheapest of options but without a doubt one of the most functional. Look for a material that will breathe yet can handle what you intend on throwing at it. Gore-Tex is an awesome material, any coat made of this material with taped seams is going to be pretty hard to beat. There are many other options that are more cost effective and versatile in their own right. Below I have listed a couple of my favorites that are a must have on any trips I take.
Simms Slick Jacket
Water-resistant/Windproof: These type of shells offer protection against light precipitation yet offer great protection against wind. This protection is a real game changer in certain environments. As we all know when the wind kicks up things can definitely take a turn for the worse.
Simms Winstopper Hoody
Insulated shells: Some outer shells have a layer of insulation built in. Some of the materials commonly used is fleece or a Primaloft type of material. These are some of the best pieces for cold wet conditions when weather is unpredictable.
Simms Bulkley Jacket
Conclusion- This is a very basic introduction to the world of layering. It really is an art, but taking the time and making educated purchases on different pieces can make your time out on the water much more pleasant. Shops are a great resource to get you pointed in the right direction to help you make informed purchases…… support your locals regardless where that may be.