8 Gear Tips: Cold Weather Fishing Clothing

8 Gear Tips: Cold Weather Fishing Clothing

Winter fishing poses a thrilling challenge for dedicated anglers undeterred by gusty winds, wet snow, and frigid temperatures. However, inadequate winter fishing gear can leave anglers shivering more than casting. AFTCO has crafted a comprehensive layering guide to equip anglers with the knowledge of what to wear fishing in cold weather.

Winter Weather Layering

When it comes to winter fishing, each clothing layer plays a crucial role. Understanding when and how to layer cold weather fishing gear is essential, whether it's the base layer, mid-layer, or outer shell. As temperatures drop, adding layers becomes imperative for anglers to retain warmth. Adapting to changing temperatures, anglers can strategically remove or switch to lighter layers to stay comfortable as the weather shifts.

1. Base Layer

The base layer is the foundation of any winter fishing layering system as it sits closest to the skin. Base layers insulate your body’s natural heat and prevent it from escaping. Universal base layer options for anglers include Samurai, Air-O Mesh, and Adapt.

Another type of base layer is the "first layer." AFTCO's F1 base layers boast a hexagon-patterned lining, trapping heat while efficiently removing moisture. The raised hexagons retain warmth, while the pathways between them facilitate moisture-wicking so anglers remain comfortable.

Genuine base layers, like the F1 Midweight Pants and F1 Zip-Up, are thermal essentials designed for cold weather fishing. Crafted from recycled fabrics with integrated moisture-wicking properties, they maintain warmth without causing overheating. When choosing a base layer, consider the fit; a snug fit equates to better insulation.

F1 Baselayer

2. Mid Layers

Mid-layers are ideal for adapting to fluctuating conditions during cold weather fishing trips. When the sun emerges in the afternoon and the wind subsides, anglers have the freedom to shed their Reaper or fishing sweatshirt. Conversely, when the wind intensifies and temperatures plummet, adding the Crosswind Puff Jacket or Forge Jacket provides the needed warmth. Mid-layers are versatile, and keeping one in your boat in case of unexpected weather is always a good idea.

3. Outer Layer & Shells

The outer layer is pivotal for your day on the water, available in three primary types: soft shells, waterproof, and insulated. It serves to repel harsh elements and safeguard the underlying layers.

For milder winds and rain, anglers benefit from a soft shell as their outer layer. Offering breathability and flexibility, soft shells are designed to move with you. Whether you opt for a waterproof fishing jacket or a pullover, both shield you from the elements during cold weather fishing expeditions. The Reaper Windproof Jacket, equipped with three layers of protection and DWR water-repellent features, withstands light winds and rain. Its hexagon fleece lining ensures exceptional warmth retention. Adjustable shock cords on the hood and hem allow anglers to tailor the fit according to their layering preference. It's also available in a women's version.

Women's Reaper Windproof Jacket

When facing heavy winds and rain, waterproof rain gear becomes your essential outer layer. Keeping water from seeping through your clothing is crucial to staying warm and dry. The Barricade jacket and waterproof fishing bibs form a top-tier rain suit, crafted with a three-layer 20k waterproof fabric and a DWR water-repellent finish for superior protection. Alternatively, the Mariner Jacket, tailored to saltwater conditions, features a three-layer build with 10K waterproofing and armpit vents for enhanced breathability.

For even more protection, gear up with the Barricade Elite series. The Barricade Elite Jacket, with a four-layer 30K waterproof membrane, provides robust defense against heavy rain all day. With waist and hem cinch adjustments, anglers can customize the fit. The Barricade Elite Bibs feature Aqua Guard zippers at the chest and thigh pockets, using the same 30K waterproofing throughout.

For superior winter fishing layering, opt for an insulated outer layer that delivers crucial warmth. The Hydronaut Insulated Jacket features foul weatherproof elements for comfort in tough conditions, offering Tricot handwarmer pockets, an integrated face mask, and adjustable shock cords for hood security. The Hydronaut Insulated Bibs stand out with adjustable Velcro shoulders, alleviating neck and shoulder strain often experienced with other waterproof fishing bibs. Equipped with a waist adjustment system, a thigh plier pocket, and a DWR water-repellent finish, these cold weather fishing bibs ensure versatility and comfort. Say farewell to shivers and embrace comfort in any conditions with the right cold weather rain gear.

4. Insulated Fishing Gear

In biting cold and strong winds, opt for the highest level of protection: insulated gear. Layering is key to staying warm. Start with the Samurai as your base layer and add the F1 Midweight Quarter Zip for mid-layer warmth. Follow it up with Crosswind and complete the system with the Insulated Hydronaut Jacket on top. For lower layers, begin with the F1 Midweight Base Layer Pants. Add the F2 Midlayer Fleece Pants or the Hydronaut Insulated Bibs based on preference.

The number of layers depends on weather conditions and personal warmth tolerance. If you warm up quickly, consider skipping a layer initially to avoid overheating. For those who feel the cold more, adding an extra layer ensures comfort, with the option to remove it later.

5. Situational Examples

The weather on the water remains unpredictable, and even with experience and local knowledge, Mother Nature will keep you guessing. For dry and cold conditions, choose the Hydronaut Insulated Jacket, equipped with hand warmer pockets and 140g insulation. This jacket, along with matching bibs, is also perfect for ice fishing. It boasts a two-layer nylon shell with 30K waterproofing to keep water out, even during snow or sleet. Whether you're on Lake Michigan or your favorite local spot, don your insulated gear before heading out.

In wet and cold conditions, consider the Barricade, a three-layer jacket with 20K waterproofing and a DWR water-repellent finish. If you tend to feel cold, layer with fleece. The outer shell plays a crucial role in preventing rain, sleet, or snow from seeping into underlying layers. Regardless of fishing conditions, layer up and select your outer shell accordingly. Consult the winter fishing gear layering guidelines below, and good luck on the water.

General Layering Guidelines

  • Mild Temps: (45º F-70º F)
    • Base Layer: Air-O Mesh
    • Mid Layer: Reaper Fleece
    • Outer Shell (no rain): Reaper Windproof
    • Outer Shell (rain): Mariner
  • Cold Temps: (32º F- 45º F)
    • Base Layer: Samurai
    • Mid Layer: Forge
    • Outer Shell (rain or no rain): Hydronaut Heavy Duty
  • Frigid Temps: (Below 32º F)
    • Base Layer: Adapt
    • First Layer: Coastal Layer
    • Mid Layer: Crosswind
    • Outer Shell (no rain): Hydronaut Insulated
    • Outer Shell (rain): Barricade

6. Hats

Before heading out on a cold day, make sure to keep your ears and head covered. The ears, being highly sensitive, can potentially suffer from hearing loss due to prolonged exposure to freezing temperatures, though this typically occurs in extreme cases. Much like wearing sunglasses on bright summer days, wearing a hat during winter is crucial. Swap your Canton Trucker for an AFTCO beanie like Jumbo or Summit for the winter season.

7. Cold Weather Fishing Gloves

Anglers' hands face constant exposure to the elements, making it challenging to cast, reel, or change a lure if fingers are numb. Combat these conditions by gearing up with winter fishing gloves like the Hydronaut Gloves or the Element Cold Weather Gloves, featuring with a microfleece lining for added warmth. The Helm Insulated Gloves are an excellent fishing glove for milder winter days. For extra warmth, layer the Helm Gloves underneath the Element Gloves.

AFTCO Helm Gloves for Cold Weather Fishing

8. Footwear

Experienced anglers understand the importance of proper footwear during long hours spent on the water. For winter fishing, keeping your feet warm is essential. The Ankle Deck Fishing Boot is 100% waterproof with a comfortable insole. Pair these boots with high-quality socks like Smartwool to ensure warm and cozy feet even in the cold.

AFTCO Ankle Deck Boots

Other Cold Weather Gear Tips

When facing extended periods on the water in challenging conditions, it's wise to pack hand and feet warmers such as Hot Hands. Sudden chills can strike unexpectedly, and having these disposable warmers readily available can swiftly restore your comfort. Additionally, consider a fishing mask or balaclava to shield against windburn.

Whether preparing for a chilly day in the Midwest or milder conditions in Southern California, AFTCO ensures anglers are equipped for any water adventure.