Staying Warm

Posted on October 16, 192000 at 04:31:27:

Staying Warm

Late Fall and early Spring anglers may encounter conditions that are uncomfortably cold and often dangerous. Fortunately, today's angler has a great selection of clothing to ease the effects of the elements. There is no need to be uncomfortable.

Heat loss to the cold water angler comes primarily in the form of conduction. When a warm object is in contact with a cool object heat will flow from the warm object to the cool object until a temperature equilibrium is reached. Secondarily, heat loss may occur through the process of convection. This is when air currents carry away water molecules found at the surface of the skin causing the body's average surface temperature to drop. Poor circulation may be another cause for cold and discomfort.

Anglers can combat the effects of conductive heat loss through the use of appropriate insulation. The first line of defense is your waders. They need to provide as much insulation as possible. 5mm neoprene waders are excellent for cold water fishing. Under the waders you should consider insulation. One needs to be especially careful not to add so much bulk that circulation is impeded. Fleece pants and polypropylene under wear are comfortable, non restrictive and prevent moisture from accumulating at the surface of the skin. Don't forget warm socks. To prevent poor circulation be sure to fit a pair of waders and shoes with your insulation and warm socks on, before purchasing.

A good deal of the heat lost while cold water fishing occurs at your upper body. The majority of this is lost through your hands and head. Obviously one needs to consider a hat that covers the ears and provides insulation. I prefer a wool or fleece hat. These materials retain their insulating qualities even when wet. I have yet to find the perfect pair of gloves. I have tried full fingered neoprene gloves. They make shooting line very difficult and I cannot get the sensitivity that I like of 'feeling' the line. I most commonly fish with a pair of wool gloves with cut off fingers. Yes, they do get wet but still retain their insulating qualities and allow me to have the sensitivity that I demand. Because my fingers are exposed I prefer to have a warm dry place somewhere above waterline where I can warm my hands every now and then. A wading jacket with hand warmer pockets works well for this purpose. To combat evaporative heat loss through convection it is important to wear garments that allow perspiration to move away from the skin. Polypropylene underwear wicks moisture away from skin. Fleece or wool will continue to transport the moisture and provides insulation. Finally, a Gore Tex shell will allow the moisture to escape while preventing water from entering. Gore Tex is an excellent choice for a wading shell.

Be sure to avoid taking a plunge. Carry a wading staff to provide you addition balance and another point of contact. The quick plunge that refreshed you back in July could be life threatening in November. Always plan for the worst and bring a complete set of warm dry clothes. Be sure that you can get them on if cold and numb. A pair of oversized, insulated, coveralls are good to throw in the vehicle as emergency back up.

Keep warm! If you have any questions or comments regarding this article or fly fishing in general please feel free to contact me at Northeast Anglers Inc. 1-800-558-7658 or

Gary D. Scavette is a registered Maine guide, USCG licensed captain and the president of Northeast Anglers Inc.

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