Once you have a good base layer, you need to add some warmth to your system. While your base layer will provide some warmth, it won’t keep you as warm as you need to be to fish comfortably in the winter. What will keep you toasty warm is your insulation layer.
Insulation can be just about anything that keeps you warm. The fly fishing industry is full of choices. Patagonia, Simms, ExOfficio, Mountain Khakis… Everyone makes insulation pieces these days.
What you choose to wear under your waders can make or break your day. If your feet and legs are cold, it will drive you out of the water and back home faster than you think. Many people will just wear long underwear or their warm base layer underneath their waders, but if you add one more piece you can make it all quite a bit warmer.
Fleece pants have long been the traditional under wader wear. It is warm, pretty lightweight and not too bulky. Sweat pants can also be worn, and Simms makes an excellent pair that is considerably warmer and more durable than what you might already have in your closet.
Patagonia has some great pants with their grid fleece technology. The R1 Pants will wick moisture and keep you warm. Their Shelled Insulator pants are a favorite among the shop guys, and are incredibly warm for their weight and lack of bulk. They also look pretty good if you’re wearing them around town.
Some favorite options for jackets are Patagonia’s Nano Puff or Down Sweater. The Down Sweater is the warmest option, but is a little bulkier than the Nano. Also the down insulation loses a little of its warmth when it gets wet. The Nano Puff has synthetic fill that is less bulky and stays warm when wet. It just isn’t quite as warm. Both of these jackets are available with a hood, and I would highly recommend it. Keeping your head warm will make you feel toasty warm all day.
Simms has a couple good options. Their new Kinetic Jacket has been a very popular choice this year. It has Primaloft synthetic insulation which is super warm without being bulky. Its hood will keep your head warm on the chilly days. Simms Fall Run Jacket, or Montana TechWool Jacket are also great choices.
The great thing about insulation jackets is that they are perfect to wear during the chilly but not quite cold weather of Spring and Fall. You will get a ton of use and wear out of a good mid-weight jacket.