Layering for Coldweather Fly Fishing
As anglers we are always in search of ways to maximize our time on the water. One of the primary ways that you can make the most out of any trip is by layering properly. The ability to take pieces of highly packable, specialized clothing off as the day moves on will keep you comfortable at all times out on the water, allowing you to fish from sunrise to sunset without breaking a sweat or listening to chattering teeth. But first we need to understand what components one must have in order to make this theory a reality.
The Base Layer:
The Base Layer will be the layer coming in direct contact with your skin. A base layer should be form fitting and snug in most cases because that will maximize its moisture wicking capabilities, (meaning it will draw moisture away from the skin and spread it across the fabric so it can more efficiently evaporate.) Since this is the layer closest to the skin it’s always nice when it doesn’t hold an odor, so be on the lookout for products that are “anti-microbial”. (note: all wool fibers are naturally anti-microbial, but not all synthetics are so make sure to check when purchasing a synthetic garment to see if it does have an anti-microbial additive to the fabric). Also make sure to avoid cotton like the plague in a layering situation. Cottons inherent qualities make it work against you in extreme weather by taking warmth from your body when wet and holding that moisture as opposed to wicking it away. Another thing to keep in mind when deciding on a base layer is to plan on where you are going and whether you will need a lightweight, midweight, or heavyweight base layer. This all depends on you! If you tend to run hot sometimes it’s a good idea to jump down a level based on where you’re going and visa versa if you run on the colder side it could be a good idea to wear a heavyweight base layer when most would wear a midweight.
|Lightweight Recommendation:||Midweight Recommendation:|
The Mid Layer:
The Mid Layer will be the layer that will provides the majority of your warmth out on the water. We like to think about it as the “Loft” layer. This means that we’re going to be talking about fleeces and synthetic down alternative jackets. Why not down you say? Traditional goose down is great for most occasions but as fisherman we need to stray away for one important reason.
Natural down loses all insulating qualities once it’s wet whereas synthetic down will retain up to 95% of its insulating nature even after taking an unexpected dip in that cold water. With any of these mid layer jackets we still want to reduce bulk so it is important to find something that you can still move in. One of my favorites is the Simms Fall Run Jacket.
Featuring the best synthetic insulation on the market, PrimaLoft (which is known for being highly packable and lightweight), it will keep you warm while not having you feel like the Michelin Man waddling down stream.Another great option for midweight layer is a good quality insulated flannel. But just remember, think packable for this layer as well because you might not have it on all day, so avoid bulky mid layers when possible.
|LCO Favorite||Midweight Recommendation:|
The Outer Layer:
The Outer Layer, also referred to as a Shell Layer, is going to be your main protection against the harsh elements. A good Outer Layer should be highly wind resistant and highly waterproof while hopefully being breathable. As far as hitting all these requirements no product is going to be better than ones that feature a Gore-Tex liner. Gore-Tex has been so successful for so long because they were the first to create a membrane that was fully waterproof outside but still allowed for moisture from the body to escape through the fabric. No fishing jacket does this better than the Simms G4 Pro Jacket or Simms Slick Jacket. But they do tend to be a little on the thicker side, so if you are looking for an outer layer that can be packed away in a backpack for a last resort or a backpacker heading into some high mountain water the Simms Hyalite Rain Jacket is an amazing option. This ultralight jacket by Simms also boasts a breathable construction that can easily pack down to the size of an orange in your pack. With any Outer Layer Jacket care for the product becomes very important. With an outer layer the garment is rarely touching your skin so believe it or not, you don’t need to wash them that often. When washed the DWR coatings, which keep the fabric hydrophobic, start to wear away. Another thing that can break down this DWR coating quite rapidly is putting the jacket in the dryer so we recommend that when you do need to wash your outer layer try to wash it on a delicate cycle and hang it up to dry. If you’re jacket does down the line start to absorb water rather than repel it, you can revitalize the DWR coating by washing it with a product like Revivex
Outer Layer Recommendations:
Lightweight Outer Layer Recommendations:
Lost Coast Outfitters Top Layering Picks
Simms Waderwick Core Crewneck
Designed to perform in hot or cold weather, the Simms’ Waderwick Core Crewneck is the first defense in your layering arsenal. Wearing comfortably under jackets or mid layers, or worn by itself on a summer day the shirts versatility is it's...
Simms Waderwick Core Bottom
Between your skin and advanced outerwear, Simms’ new Waderwick™ Core Bottoms optimize comfort thanks to double-knit fabric that mechanically wicks moisture. Four-season performance stems from COR3 qualities such as an odor-killing anti-odor treatment. Two-way mechanical-stretch-knit fabric improves mobility over previous-generation Waderwick™...
Simms Waderwick Core Crewneck
Designed to perform in hot or cold weather, the Simms’ Waderwick Core Crewneck is the first defense in your layering arsenal. Wearing comfortably under jackets or mid layers, or worn by itself on a summer day the shirts versatility is it's real strength. Using the next-to-skin...
Simms Waderwick Core Bottom
Between your skin and advanced outerwear, Simms’ new Waderwick™ Core Bottoms optimize comfort thanks to double-knit fabric that mechanically wicks moisture. Four-season performance stems from COR3 qualities such as an odor-killing anti-odor treatment. Two-way mechanical-stretch-knit fabric improves mobility over previous-generation...
Simms Coldweather LS Shirt
Flannels have been around for ages, but the Simms Coldweather LS Shirt has taken the hardworking mainstay into the 21st century. With the boosted warmth of waffle-lined micro-fleece internals this flannel is manufactured to make that cold steelhead trip feel like a...
Simms Guide Mid Top
The Simms Guide Mid Top is an all-season workhorse built for stalking the stingiest Hot Creek Sippers to a full day of cozy rowing on the Trinity. The Simms Guide Mid Top utilizes articulated elbows to facilitate a wide range of casting styles,...
Simms Guide Mid Pant
Fall fishing is marked by seismic temperature shifts, migrating salmonids, and with their returns, revitalized rivers. As the season morphs find mobility and warmth with the polyester and Lycra charged Simms Guide Mid Pant. Rugged stretch fleece fabric features awesome breathability...
Simms ColdWeather Pant
The versatile Simms ColdWeather Pant is the perfect "one pant" for those winter steelhead missions. Actually any mission where it involves cold. The velcro cuffs allow you to easily slide into your waders keeping you toasty on the coldest days. The...
Simms G4 Wading Jacket
The Simms G4 Wading Jacket is hands down the best wading jacket money can buy. It is designed for the those who fish in the rain. Steelhead guides like Marty Shepard in Oregon wear the Simms G4 Jacket. G4 Pro...
Simms Slick Jacket
The Simms Slick Jacket is the ultimate minimalist fly fishing jacket. With the 3-Layer GORE-TEX giving you the best in water protection the Simms Slick Jacket is what its named, Slick. Two large Napoleon chest pockets to hold all kinds...
Simms ExStream Half Finger Glove
Keep your fishing hands ecstatic and elastic, with the full-time performance of Simms’ Exstream™ Half Finger gloves. EXSTREAM HALF FINGER FEATURES Polartec® Power Shield® Pro fabric is highly water-resistant Water-resistant DWR coated stretch fleece has a high warmth-to-weight ratio...
Simms ExStream Folder Mitt
The Simms ExStream Folder Mitt allows warmth and dexterity while fishing in the cold. Formulated for fishing through the surly stuff, mitts feature Polartec® Powershield Pro™ for potent water resistance and high-loft insulation, while DWR-coated stretch fleece fabric puts unmatched warmth-to-weight...
Patagonia Shelled Insulator Pant
Tough 3-layer, stretch-woven soft-shell fabric is water-resistant and lined with a windproof laminate and soft grid fleece insulation and 50+ UPF sun protection Two front pockets and one rear zippered security pocket Side elastic for proper fit 519 g (18.3...
Simms Downstream Jacket
ULTIMATE HIGH-LOFT JACKET DESIGNED FOR BLUSTERY DAYS ON AND OFF THE WATER The DOWNStream® Jacket blends 750-fill equivalent water-repellent down with PrimaLoft® Gold synthetic insulation for the ultimate in wet and cold weather protection. The Simms exclusive cuff design and body...
Simms Downstream Sweater
PACKABLE, HIGH-LOFT SWEATER FOR BLUSTERY, WET WEATHERThe DOWNStream® Sweater blends 750-fill equivalent, water-repellent treated down with PrimaLoft® Gold insulation for a cold-weather counterpunch. Down insulation placed in essential thermal zones holds heat where it counts, while body mapped 100-percent high-loft...