Dress Like a Winter Veteran.

31 Oct

If you can do this in 14 degrees of fierce winter weather.










Then you might be able to do this in 14 degrees of fierce winter weather.

Fly Fishing in cold weather can either be a blessing in disguise or an evil bitch that will take half of what you own (fingers and toes included).  Unless you approach it with the experience of a veteran angler. Winter fishing can be the best time of the year to fish since it scares most anglers away allowing for some real solitude, something that is getting more and more scarce.  How you dress will make as much of a difference to your success in winter fishing as your choice of tackle.  A warm body is pivotal to having a clear mind so you don’t decide to strip down naked and attempt to do the back-stroke to the other side of the stream because you think there is a nude beach and 90 degree weather.  As you loose thermal energy, your motor and mental skills will suffer.  Dressing to keep warm and dry will keep you at optimal function getting to, on and off the water.  The key is keeping water out all while dispersing your own perspiration away from your skin.  So let me try and show you how a Veteran dresses from the inside out.  Plus some of that stuff no one has told you about and a little look into the unforeseeable future.

The Base Layer  (basically anything that is touching bare skin)
Water wicking seems to be the popular term for what is basically a thin garment made of Polypropylene or PLASTIC.  Holy shit that Google guy is smart.  So Layer 1 is easy right?  Then why do I still see pictures of people covered in plastic grocery bags.  That would work in the beginning until the sweat turned into ice as soon as you stopped moving. Water wicking and breathing is where Under Armour made its name so we can all thank football (not the kind they play across the pond) for being the greatest and only real sport on the planet.  A snug fit is also just as important to promote blood flow to extremities unlike a superman or spiderman outfit.  Although that would be super bad ass in the summer time.  Basically you need an adult size Onesie made completely out of water wicking material.  Now there is an idea?  A Polar Buff and a thin wind stopping glove (with fingers) will complete your 1st layer ensemble.

The Mid Layer (all that stuff in between, like peanut-butter and jelly)
Now it can get kinda financially complicated with the 2nd layer.  It’s important to stay warm and wick away water at the same time so this layer really depends on how much moving you are going to be doing.  If standing in one spot all day long is your thing, then warmth is the only thing you have to worry about.  When on the move friction of your clothes coupled with generated body heat will cause excessive moisture to build up beyond the 1st layers control.  If the later is the case then fork over the extra cash for synthetic materials like micro fleece.  Remember that I told you this when you’re contemplating trading a testicle for something warm.  Is all that really worth 50-100$?  Take into consideration how cold the water will be you will be standing in.  The colder the water the more #2 layers you will need on.  But wait.  There is a cheaper, all-in-one  SECRET to this layer.

The Shell or Outerwear (Waders, Wading Jacket and Korkers)
The 3rd most important layer of the bunch is your first line of defense.  This is the Meat and Potatoes of it all.  This is where we separate the Frog-Togs from Simms. Although there are a few nice companies in between that will get you there and back just fine at 1/2 the price.  Waterproof and breathable is a must and no exceptions should be considered.

When it comes to waders, basically if your buddy has to skin you like some dead brown animal after a days worth of fishing then your doing the exact opposite of what we have been talking about.  I guess neepers would be fine if you were going to stand in one spot all day long.  I think even Berkley  makes a pair of breathable waders so my only tip is once again you pay for what you get.  Waders should be snug to prevent water drag but not to tight preventing heat generating friction.  Its best to have winter-waders which should be slightly bigger than your fall/spring-waders in order to accommodate all the layering. Something else you will want to be able to do is take a piss without urinating all over yourself.  Spend the extra $ and get a pair that zip down to the crotch (Redington or William & Joseph), you’ll thank me later.

You’re wading jacket forms the roof over all your inner wear.  Like your waders it must be waterproof and breathable with a hood and multiple pockets.  Since your jacket is the outer most shell, it is the most convenient place to carry your gear.  The more pockets you have the better.  Throw on a pair of fingerless fleece gloves or belly up to the bar and get a pair of the Kast Steelhead Gloves which will be the only pair of gloves you’ll need.  Top off with a hat and a beanie if the buff isn’t keeping your ears warm enough.

Last but not least we have boots or as I like to call them Korkers.  I’ll admit I’m a huge Korkers fan and nothing compares to their ingenuity.  Sorry Choda, Simms, Patagonia and all the others but you better scrap what you got and get a little more creative (I wonder how much Korkers made off selling the Boa Patient?).  The key to boots and keeping your feet warm is circulation and friction.  A tight boot will decrease blood flow to the feet and prevent friction between your feet and socks.  A boot to loose means it’s to big and may cause the dreaded polar plunge.  Overall I recommend using studs to help prevent taking a swim.  Personally I think studs make to much noise and noise travels faster and louder in water so I use felt or Kling-On on soles.  It’s better once again to have a warm weather and a larger/wider cold weather pair of boots since layering is the key to comfort.

Layer #4  (all that stuff the Orvis fly fishing guide didn’t tell you about)
This layer is really optional but they are some of the things that experience has taught me to be must-haves during the winter.  Burts Bees lip balm will keep your lips from getting that rubbed them with sand paper wind burn feeling.  Plus the peppermint gives them a nice warm feeling.  CAUTION:  Resist the urge to put Burts anywhere other than directed. Digging for gear can be a giant pain in the ass, especially small gear.  Limit putting your wet hands into your pockets and Get a Moose Knuckle Lanyard and keep the small gear handy.  I’m still in search of the perfect net.  A net needs to be strong, lightweight with a long handle, 2 foot opening and deep rubberized net bag (maybe this should go down in the future category).  Polarized eye wear, which you should wear at all times, will prevent:  A. Sinking a hook into your eye.  B. You have been fishing blind all along without them.  C. When the sun reflects off ice or snow it’s just as damaging to the lens and retina as looking directly into the sun.  Imagine trying to fish after getting a sunburn on your eyes.  If you must carry extra gear in some type of pack I would make it aDry Creek pack from Simms or a Shooting Star from Fishpond (looks cooler and has a removable rain-guard). Another tip here is that if you’re going to carry anything that you 100% can’t get wet is make sure you keep it stored in something that is submergible not waterproof.

The Future of Cold Weather Fly Fishing
A heated fly rod?  It’s not possible…..or is it???  Check it out HERE.  I kind of though that by now some rich asshole would have made an indoor trout stream with constant perfect weather and endless bug hatches probably encircling his indoor saltwater flat.  What if we could create a pair of boots that could somehow keep us afloat on top of the water (I can see the add now…..WWJD)?    Also where the Hell is the X-Box fly fishing Kinetic game so we have something to do after fishing?  Come on Simms….Orvis…Cabelas you’re letting me down on this one.  We have zippers in the front of our waders for emergency #1’s how about a zipper in the back for #2’s?  Anyone else have any of those futuristic fly fishing ideas out there???

Photography hijacked from our Fly Brethren over at…

4 Responses to “Dress Like a Winter Veteran.”

  1. Moose November 1, 2011 at 6:00 PM #

    It’s surprising how few people actually understand and can apply the layering theory.. great post!

    • MurphyK November 1, 2011 at 8:17 PM #

      It doesn’t matter who’s on the label as long as its the right materials. I found my lanyard today that my wife helped me make a few years back. When i put my camera back together i’ll send you a pic. It’s PIMP and I could beat someone to death with it.

  2. Tim Robinsin November 1, 2011 at 7:26 PM #

    are you really going to make snow angels on the road with a loop opti 3L jacket on!? I just got that jacket this year! oh, well…at least now I know its durable as well as sharp looking.

    • MurphyK November 1, 2011 at 8:13 PM #

      There was nice soft grass under the snow 🙂 I took a lot of heat after my “Friends” saw pictures of that jacket. I like it and it blends in well with the winter backgrounds. I was between the black and the color pictured…….the price difference swayed my choice. Good luck on those Erie Tribs!!!

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