Critical for any type of cold weather fly fishing experience are the clothes worn to keep you comfortable while you enjoy fishing.“Dress for Success”, “Clothes Make the Man” and all the other clichés are all applicable to cold weather fly fishing. You will need to have the best clothing available, just as you would require if you went skiing and expected to stay warm.
When I began experimenting with fly fishing in the cold, we only had rubber waders, then canvas, then neoprene and finally some of the first breathable waders entered the market in the early nineties. The same transition occurred with raingear and layering as newer better materials became available. Life was good.
Fly fishermen used to think we could have comfort angling in extreme conditions when we wore neoprene waders but in reality when you wore neoprene you would sweat and the body loses heat almost 20 times as fast when wet. Most specialty fly shops today only stock breathable waders because except for a few rare applications breathable waders are the way to go. More information will be posted shortly on wader design, selection and current technology in a future blog.
Layering for Comfort in the Cold
As my old Patagonia rep used to say “dressing for success in the outdoors is like making a great pizza”. Starting with the crust, the base layer is the foundation of any outdoor pursuit. The base layer regulates body temperature by wicking perspiration away from the skin. The Patagonia Capilene synthetic long underwear base layering system offers the fly fisherman a variety of choices for different levels of exertion and temperature that wick moisture away from the skin, breath efficiently and dry fast.
One thing every angler knows is that a great pizza has a spicy tomato sauce. When seeking an effective mid layer look for a piece that can provide you with warmth. Today technical fleece, synthetic and down insulators are best because of the small bulk compared to amount of heat and breathability they offer.
Technical fleece like the Patagonia R1 pant is an excellent choice for under wader wear and the Simms Guide Top is one of the best available technical fleece mid layer tops. Synthetic insulation in both vests and jackets similar to Patagonia’s Nano Puff are great light weight mid layers to wear for warmth.
Let’s go with the cheese, a key element for any tasty pizza. The Simms G4 wading jacket is expensive but if you want the protection of one of the best outer rain shells available on the market for anglers today, make the investment. The garment protects and breaths during torrential downpours and cold weather snow squalls .
Finally, it is time to select some toppings for our gourmet pizza. A hat that is both warm and offers a visor like the Simms Trout Visor Beanie is a good start. The Buff, a colorful sun and wind face shield is another wise investment for a cold day.The Patagonia shelled insulated mitten glove is a new item with the benefits of both mittens and fingerless gloves. Hi tech socks like the Simms light weight liner sock used in conjunction with the Simms extreme wading sock makes for the warmest foot combo. Make sure your wading boots are not too tight or your feet will get cold and tend to stay cold.
All the gear mentioned in this blog is available on line at www.vailvalleyanglers.com or stop by the shop so we help you with fitting and proper cold weather choices for fly fishing apparel at the Vail Valley Angler store in Edwards, Colorado.
Bill Perry, Guide and Content Writer