On the Fly: Maximizing your performance on the water

Kirk Webb
On the Fly
When fishing in cold weather it is important to dress appropriately.
Kyle Holt |

I’ve often found that my biggest key to performing on the water is maintaining my body’s comfort level. If I can stay comfortable in a variety of weather conditions, my brain has a tendency to keep focused on the job at hand: catching fish. I’m infamous in my circle of fishing friends for being able to stay out there in the most brutal elements and fishing hard when others give up and call it quits.

Am I Superman? Definitely not. I simply dress right.

Six years ago, I took a road trip to Alcova, Wyoming, to fish Grey’s Reef and the Miracle Mile sections of the North Platte River for five days. We were still young enough and — more importantly — broke enough to make our excursion a camping trip.

No hotels, hot showers or beers while watching TV in the comfort of warmth. The weather was going to be brutal, and we all knew it was going to be a long trip for all of us. But, what the hell, we were going fishing, and nothing was going to stop us.

This part of Wyoming is desolate. We had highs in the single digits to low teens, overnight lows below zero and wind gusts topping 50 mph daily. Tents collapsed, and boats and trailers were even used as wind blocks. It got old pretty fast.

If I ever die and go to hell, I’d imagine it’d be like winter in Alcova, Wyoming. But we still caught some fish.

Everyone got cold, except for me.

How is that possible? Essentially, dressing in multiple layers allows you to add or subtract articles of clothing to maintain your comfort level and regulate your body’s temperature.

I’m very fond of Patagonia clothing. Patagonia started the layering concept and designed the first technical pieces of fleece a long time ago and has remained at the forefront of technical clothing for outdoor athletes and enthusiasts ever since. Years ago, Casey Sheahan, a Roaring Fork Valley local and then-CEO of Patagonia, introduced me to the company’s concepts and materials, and I’ve never looked back. Of course, there are many brands out there to pick and choose from, and each one of them makes a reasonable equivalent to what I have listed below.

My list of cold weather layers and clothing is below.

Base layers: Patagonia Capilene 3 or midweight Merino top and bottom, plus polypropylene liner socks.

Mid Layers: Patagonia R1 top and bottom, Patagonia Nano Puff vest, Patagonia Nano Puff hooded jacket, Smartwool mountaineering socks.

Outer Layers: Patagonia River Salt jacket, Simms G3 Stockingfoot waders.

Hands/Neck: Simms ExStream “convertible” fleece Mmittens, Patagonia fleece balaclava, Simms Windstopper fleece beanie, charcoal-activated hand and foot warmers.

I hope this article gives you an insider’s perspective on the importance of protecting your body from the elements especially when it’s cold outside. I’m a firm believer that if your body’s comfortable on the water, you’ll perform better as an angler.

On the Fly is provided by Taylor Creek Flyshop. It can be reached at 970-927-4374.