Layering with garments made from fabric that wicks body moisture under breatheable waders is the best setup man has yet to invent. I learned this to be true after too many years of cold weather wading in cotton and neoprene. Duck hunting had to be even worse than fishing as scurrying around in calf deep muck to set the decoys and then hustling after downed birds is a workout. Settling steamily into the blind to await the next flight brings on a world-class case of the cold clammies as your body temperature returns to normal but the body moisture created by the exercise cannot escape. I remember peeling my waders when the hunt was over and thinking they must have surely sprung a leak.
Proper layering begins with underwear and Simms offers some of the best with their Waderwick line of tops and bottoms. What we need to accomplish here is covering ourselves in layers that keep us warm and dry without restricting mobility and making us look the Michelin man. Waderwick tops and bottoms are made from material that stretches and also possesses exceptional insulating properties. Of course as their name implies, they wick body moisture too.
Next comes fleece tops and pants and Simms offers these garments in a variety of styles and weights and the Simms Guide Series are my personal favorite for the really cold days. In addition to being made from two-way stretch 300 series fabric for warmth and comfort, Guide Series pants actually have pockets and a zippered fly. Nothing aggravates me more than pants with no fly and no pockets. The tops are of half-zipper style at the neck with a zippered chest pocket. The lining of both tops and pants is soft velour for warmth, comfort, and as you might guess, it wicks moisture.
Not every fishing day that starts cold ends that way. Thank God for afternoon sunshine. This is where layering really shines. Long about midday we often find it necessary to shed a layer. Being able to ditch any combination of four garments under our waders and wading jacket makes it easy to adjust to rising temperatures.
One thing we haven't covered is a plan for keeping feet warm and Simms has you covered with a full line of liner socks and heavier boot socks in a range of styles and weights. I have seen so many winter waders who try to make do with their summer gear in winter and that usually does not work too well. I recommend oversize wading shoes for wintertime as cramming extra layers into your summertime gear will likely leave your feet pinched. Pinching and general tightness of wading shoes will reduce blood circulation and if the pinching doesn't take you back to the boat early, freezing feet will. Be smart when you shop. Slip on a pair of heavyweight socks and waders before trying on shoes. As a general rule, I go up two sizes. They are not only more comfortable and my feet stay warmer, they help me glide over soft mud kind of like skis. Gray-bearded fat men need all the help they can get in this department!
Where to find Simms Fishing Products:
Angler's Edge 5000 Westheimer Houston
Backwoods Equipment 2725 W 7th St. Fort Worth
Cabela's IH 35 Buda / 12901 Cabela Dr. Fort Worth
Fishing Tackle Unlimited/Cut Rate 12800 Gulf Fwy / 8933 Katy Fwy Houston
The Tackle Box 3305 N. Ben Jordan Victoria
Gruene Outfitters 1629 Hunter Rd New Braunfels
Johnny's Sport Shop 101 Boothe Dr. Eagle Lake
Living Waters Fly Fishing 2111 Sam Bass Round Rock
Rockport Tackle Town 3010 Hwy 35 North Rockport
Roy's Bait & Tackle Outfitters 7613 SPID Corpus Christi
Seaworthy Marine 102 South Fulton Beach Rd. Fulton
Sportsman's Finest 12434 FM 2244 Austin
Tackle Box Outfitters 6330 North New Braunfels San Antonio
Tailwaters Fly Fishing 2416 McKinney - Dallas