The Vail Valley has been wetter than normal this summer and the long term forecast is calling for above average precipitation through the fall. As the valley’s temperatures drop each week, the rain will turn to snow. Many fly fishermen will retreat indoors for the season, leaving only the determined, well equipped anglers on the water. These anglers know that sometimes the best days happen in the worst weather, when everyone else is inside.
So the question is “How do I prepare for fly fishing in bad weather?” The basis for not only tolerating cold, wet weather but thriving in it is a rain jacket that will do what it is supposed to do. Keeping an angler warm and dry allows one to fly fish comfortably when the wind blows, and precipitation comes in the form of rain, sleet and snow. This is not an area for an angler to try to cut corners and save a few bucks.
There are numerous fly fishing jacket options and, at first, finding the right one can be overwhelming. As a gear tester and guide, I have noticed that some qualities and features matter more than others. Over the years I have found that nothing beats a durable, tough, breathable, waterproof outer layer when I am chasing trout through the storm.
*Please note some of these products may no longer be available to purchase*
The Patagonia River Salt Jacket
Made with Patagonia’s 4 layer H2No wader fabric, this is definitely their toughest harsh weather fishing jacket. With features like water resistant fly box pockets and water tight wrist cuffs, this jacket is ready for the worst that Mother Nature can offer. The fleece lined chest pockets are a great place to keep a couple hand warmers for a quick break after releasing a fish. Like all Patagonia products, the River Salt comes with their Ironclad Guarantee.
The Simms G4 Pro Jacket
This jacket is loaded with features. With seven storage pockets and two fleece hand warmer pockets, it can handle all of the gear a guide needs for almost any fishing situation. The G4 Pro is the only Simms jacket with water resistant pit zips for that long hike to the next spot or when it is your turn to row. It is made with 3 layer GORE-TEX Pro Shell fabric, the most durable, waterproof fabric Gore has to offer.
If you want to fish in the worst weather, you need the best protection. At Vail Valley Anglers we carry foul weather gear that holds up to the tough conditions we find throughout the year on the rivers flowing through the Rocky Mountains near Vail, Colorado.
These two jackets have set the standard for harsh weather protection for guides and anglers, and have stood up to years of abuse on the water. Make sure to stop by the fly shop to try on both before making your choice. There many other rain jackets available that will perform well during inclement weather. An outer layer that fits well and keeps out the elements is an invaluable tool for the fly fisherman who wants to pursue the fish of a lifetime when the weather turns foul.
Andy “Otter” Smith, Guide and Content Writer