Fishing images have all-but disappeared from my social media feeds this winter but there’s no need to give up providing you wear the right gear. Okay, I’ll only set out if I think I can negotiate the journey safely and even then there’s the usual precautions in the boot, snow shovel, spare clothing, flask, etc. I’m not suggesting you do anything stupid but keeping warm is simply not an issue these days. Let me run you through my gear.
First and most important is the base layer – a Sleepskin two-piece undergarment. You wear this thermal layer next to the skin and don’t wear any other jumpers or jeans over it. Sounds mad but it works superbly well. It’s a bit like a tack suit in design.
Over this goes the coat/ bib and brace outer layer. That’s it. This will be sufficient to keep your body warm, trust me. Bib and Brace trousers keep the small of your back protected and give a double padded layer over all your vital organs. Easier to have a pee than with a one-piece.
Then we move on to extremities. Feet first. I swear by hotfoot boots, the lightweight ones. Yes, they are a bit ungainly, hence they are often referred to as ‘moon’ boots when you walk in them. Inside I’ll wear a simple pair of regular socks. No need for anything special.
Hands. It’s keeping the back of them warm that matters. Neoprene fingerless gloves do the job perfectly. The Daiwa ones have rubber palms so you don’t get them soaking wet when handling fish.
Neck protector/ warmer. A snood or collar/ scarf thingy. Mine was given to me by Stewart McMath of the Scottish Pike Anglers Alliance, now Esox Scotland, I believe. It was slightly too long in length and often left a tiny triangle exposed for the elements to get in near the clavicle so I cut two slits, one each side and it now has a ‘tail’ front and rear that prevents any drafts getting in. Will pull up over your chin, moth and nose on windy days. Essential.
Head: Wear a hat, preferably woollen. Cover this with your hood.
A flask comes in handy but to be honest I usually make do with cold drinks. I’ve only carried a flask twice this winter.
And that’s your lot. I braved the Beast from the East and Storm Emma wearing no more than this gear and guess what. I had the whole river to myself, I still caught and never once felt cold. Might not be everyone’s cup of tea but it saved me having to moan on Facebook about being desperate to go fishing like so many others did. You should try it, just be prepared and take care on the banks.