Proper layering is the key to fishing comfort when the weather turns cold and damp. In order to stay dry and comfortable while chasing steelhead and trout in the winter months it is important to know how to dress, what to wear and how to properly hydrate in the elements.
With all the great products on the market from base layers to outer layers and all that goes on in between you can stay warm, dry and comfortable on the stream in all the weather the upper Midwest can throw at you in the winter months.
Start with the proper base layers: Redington RediLayer Wool and Synthetic Blends, and Simms RiverTek base layers for top and bottom are key. These offer fast wicking, quick dry, anti-microbial features that pull any and all moisture away from the skin to the next layer of high-tech fleece. Remember-cotton is cold and holds moisture against the skin. Proper base layers should be contour fitting and worn next to skin.
The next layer should be a fleece bib, such as the Simms Fleece Bib followed by fleece pants, Redington Fleece and the Simms Waderwick Fleece pants are ideal for this third layer. On the top, we use the Simms Guide Top, or the Waderwick Fleece. All these layers continue the wicking process to pull moisture from the skin to the outer layers and then to the Gore-Tex or other breathable waders to add to the overall comfort.
On top the guides prefer a softshell hoody or jacket like the Simms WindStopper Softshell Jacket or Redington Kispiox Hoody. These provide great warmth without the bulk of other fleece. Then an outershell for rain and additional wind protection. This is a great layer that has handwarmer pockets, hood, and pockets for fly boxes, tippet material and other gear. There are many great shells on the market ranging in price from $129 to $425. We stock all sizes of the Redington Stratus II Jacket, Simms G3, Guide and Freestone Jackets at the shop.
Your feet are also not to be overlooked in cold weather fishing. Start with a liner sock and then a high quality wading sock made with a breathable material. Allow a bit of extra room in your boots to allow you to wiggle your toes for extra warmth, as it is important not to make your feet too confined.
The extremeties are the next thing to focus on properly covering. On top of the head where much of your heat is lost where, at the minimum a stocking cap, preferablably with a WindStopper Lining or even the Simms ExStream hat which features GoreTex Shell, fleece earflaps and a brim for added protection. On your hands wear fleece or wool fingerless gloves, or a fold-over mitt for added protection.
The final step to maintaining comfort in cold weather fishing is proper hydration. Be sure to drink plenty of water! While fishing you are burning calories and using energy to stay warm. Make certain you are staying properly hydrated...stay away from alcohol.
At The Northern Angler we have a knowledgeable staff that can help you with your layering needs and get you out on the stream in the colder months of the year. The fishing is good and the crowds are gone whether you are chasing steelhead or trout, it is a great time to get out, find some solitude on the river. We stock a full range of gloves, hats, fleece and outerwear that will make your next outing more comfortable. Let us help, that's what we are here for!