Winter Wading

It's all about the approach

Winter Wading

Postby Goosepond Monster » Mon Feb 15, 2016 10:47 am

What do you guys normally wear under your waders during the winter? I'm good on the base layer (smart wool or polyester), but right now I just wear a pair of sweat pants (cotton) over my base layer. I figured there's probably a better option for keeping the legs warm.
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Re: Winter Wading

Postby BtownSmallieHunter » Mon Feb 15, 2016 11:50 am

I personally use several synthetic layers, and vary the amount of layers depending on the air temps. If I get hot, I can stop take something off and keep going. I have quickly learned that just keeping dry and keeping my feet, chest and hands warm are the biggest keys. I've definitely over done it, and swore that my waders had sprung a leak, when it turned out to only be sweat soaked layers. Since then, I've been willing to let my legs get a little chilly, but keeping them dry is most important. If you get cold, moving to the shore and walking around will usually help warm them back up.

Here is an article that touches on a plethora of winter fishing issues. If you scroll down, he talks about winter wear...granted he is writing from the perspective of a kayak fisherman, but there is plenty of tips being shared either way.
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Re: Winter Wading

Postby Norm M » Mon Feb 15, 2016 11:57 pm

Cold Water Smallies Mental Attitudes and Adjustments
You have been hearing about that band of intrepid pioneers who have been pushing the
envelope and catching smallies in cold water. You have noted the increase lately in those
who have joined thier ranks and maybe are thinking surely they can't all be nutcases. Well,
thier spouses may think so but actually except for a couple of them, they are just extremely
dedicated to thier craft.
If you plan to give cold water fishing a try you will need to make mental adjustments from your
warm water fishing mode. The first thing you need to do is to plan on everything being a little
slower paced. This must include the speed you move at, how fast you fish and how many fish
you can reasonably expect to catch. You must also prepare yourself for the cold, mentally,
physically and in dealing with your gear.
Safety is your top priority, hypothermia will kill you, frostbite can cost you fingers or toes and
there are fewer people out and about who can lend a helping hand. IF IN DOUBT, DON'T DO IT.
Listen to that little voice in your head carefully, the cold magnifies the consequences of errors.
Take the time to plan your route in and out of the water before you get in and don't hesitate to
turn around if you encounter anything unexpected. I urge you to be deliberate in your thoughts,
take your time moving and be sure of your footing. When moving on the shore it is a big plus if
you know the ground in snow covered conditions. Stay away from sloping, muddy banks, this is
no time to slip into the water. The shock of the temperature difference between the water and
your body can knock you unconcious, almost immediately in some cases.
When you are wading, the colder the water is the less time you should and realistically can
stand to be in the water. Do not wait until everything starts going numb, get out and walk on the
bank, bending and flexing your body to help the blood circulate better. Use this time on the bank
to review how things have gone and adjust your gameplan if necessary.Stay alert mentally, if you
feel yourself getting drowsy or sluggish, get off the water and back to your car to warm up. It
doesn't hurt to have something to snack on while out fishing to keep your energy up. You may
wish to have a thermos of coffee, tea or hot chocolate as well as some food in the car to help
perk you up between spots.
I use chemical hand warmers right from the start, why let your hands get cold and then try to
warm them back up. I will stick the hand warmers in the hip pockets of my pants to help warm
my torso when my hands are warm enough. I find that alternating the warmers helps me
maintain a better mental attitude.
You should also prepare yourself mentally for the cold, if you are constantly thinking about
how cold you are, you won't be concentrating on location, technique or feeling the pickup. I am
not saying you have to convince yourself it's 90 and sunny, just that you should accept that it's
cold and find a way to deal with it.
Your rod guides will ice up eventually, ice chips will fly off your line into your face as you reel in,
stiff fingers make knot tying a bit more difficult and your casting motion seems off with the extra
clothes you are wearing. Accept them as minor details to be dealt with in your pursuit of large
fish. The more you dwell on some irritants, the less enjoyable your trip will be. Believe me
lipping a large smallie or three makes such nuisances worthwhile.
When you dress, layering is the way to go. There have been wonderful advances in cold
weather wear since the days of your gramp's woolen long johns or union suit. Start with a
layer that wicks moisture away from your body as well as keeping you warm. Sweat building up
on your skin is the last thing you want, that brings down the temps in your body core. Next up,
could be another thermal layer, fleece or polypro, if conditions dictate. Follow up with your
regular outer layer and waders of course, you aren't going to want to wet wade. You might want
to have enough room in your waders to tuck your coat in and keep it dry. There are so many
choices in hats, gloves and coats that you can find something that fits your budget, taste and
sense of style. In my case, I've been told that it's a lack of style but what the heck, I'm warm.
I like polypro socks next to the feet to wick away moisture followed by a good pair of boot socks
for extra warmth and padding. Remember you lose a lot of heat thru your head and neck so a
hat and hooded garment help. In extreme cases a face mask is called for, if you get caught
without one, a bandana around the face helps. Just remember to take it off before you go in
the store.
There are some great articles on River Smallies that deal with all facets of cold water fishing.
Go to www.riversmallies.invision
I highly recommend you read them as they go into much more detail than I have space for here.
You should expect to catch fewer fish but expect them to be larger in average size. Many times
you are fishing for one fish, shoot, sometimes just a pickup or two. A four fish day in December
or January can be comparable to a seventy fish or better day in July. I catch very few small fish,
I'm not entirely sure why. I'll save that conversation for later. So you only catch two fish, if they
are both over 18 inches, that has to put a smile on your face. This is not about numbers, it is
about meeting and overcoming the challenge of catching fish in less than desirable to extreme
I will save technique and location for another article. Just think about the fact that fish are
cold blooded and thier metabolism gets slower as the water gets colder. They are not going to
fight heavy current and won't chase a lure as far. While you need to slow down, that doesn't
mean you have to put the crankbaits away or use smaller lures to catch fish. If you want more
information on these subjects immediately use the search function on your favorite website.
IN FISHERMAN magazine has been covering cold water smallies for 7 years or so, if you
know a subscriber he may let you borrow some back issues. ISA members should take
advantage of the opportunity to look at back issues of the BRONZEBACK BULLETIN online.
The joy of having the river to yourself, the beauty of the winter landscape and learning more
about smallies are reason enough to get out and try it.
Peace be unto you.
Norm Minas aka Creekyknees
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Re: Winter Wading

Postby jballgame » Wed Feb 17, 2016 11:32 am

Long underbritches if it's freezing or below
Moisture wicking socks
Wool socks
Sweats or wading pants
Long sleeve shirt
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Re: Winter Wading

Postby mattdoddridge » Wed Feb 17, 2016 5:54 pm

Under armour base 3.0, a pair of thick redhead blue jeans with fleece lining over that. Works just fine. Can trade the jeans for a pair of cabela's fleece wading pants if water temp is >40.
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Re: Winter Wading

Postby Goosepond Monster » Wed Feb 17, 2016 8:32 pm

Thanks, fellas.

Looks like I need to find a pair of fleece pants, but the fleece-lined jeans are a good idea as well.
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Re: Winter Wading

Postby Dave Lovett » Wed Feb 17, 2016 9:55 pm

Nothing much for me to add except this tip for iced up rod guides. I've used chapstick and wd40 on rod guides to minimize ice with good success. I squirt WD40 on a paper towel and keep it in a zip lock. The chapstick is a little harder to find in my pockets at times, but it's okay on your lips too. :D Also, braid sux in freezing and below temps.
Ignorance is bliss but stupidity is retroactive.
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Re: Winter Wading

Postby handyandy » Mon Oct 09, 2017 12:19 pm

I know this is old but with winter around the bend I figured I'd post up what I've done granted this has been more duck hunting but same applies. Base layer I prefer merino wool of some kind of have various brands I've just bought what I could get good deals on from sierra trading post or other vendors when they have cleared things out. Socks I like poly pro sock liners then thick merino wool socks. If your wader boots are tight with thick socks your better off with thinner ones you don't want your feet or ankles to be constricted at all it cuts circulation and thus makes your feet your cold. Mid layer I have various military cold weather poly pro layers thick and thin to choose being I've been in the Army Reserves the past ten years. None the less you can get surplus military cold weather layers pretty cheap for what they are on ebay. I have thin, and mid weight poly pro bottoms and tops I use. For the legs I like fleece wader pants they are warm comfy and these ones from midway USA they are the thickest I have found for the money and you can sinch the ankles slightly and they have foot stirrups to prevent them from riding up you calves while you put your waders on. ... ader-pants

I have three pairs of them as when I make a duck hunting trip that is multiple days long it's nice to change them regularly. For the top after merino wool base layer and poly pro I have few old camo woolrich wool shirts I like that are warm but not bulky. Fleece/poly pro pull overs are my next preference after the wool shirts. If it's cold enough a winter waterproof jacket follows along with fleece cap and gloves if needed. Fishing I tend to forgo gloves as they usually just get soaked anyways and don't help at that point. My jacket is a older drake waterfowl hunting jacket I've had for a while now it has a waterproof/windproof nylon type material exterior and has a heavy fleece lining. I've also got a natural gear windproof fleece jacket that I like a lot to which was hard to beat for the money. When it comes to layer under waders stick with wool, fleece, and poly pro as it will still retain some of it's insulating properties even if damp. Your clothes under the waders always get slightly damp from body moisture from perspiration you always have some perspiration even if you don't feel like your sweating. Cotton is the worst under waders as it soaks up the moisture and won't help keep you warm after it gets damp.

Also falling in cold water sucks, but it will most likely happen at some point while wading in cold water if you do it frequently. I've fallen in before duck hunting when the outside temp only got to 21 that day we were on the ohio river I tripped on a root going out to fix some decoys. We ended the hunt immediately and headed back cause if you get wet when it's that cold it doesn't take long for hypothermia to get you just pack it in and get back to where you can warm up. I haven't waded for smallies in the winter much as I'm duck hunting mode by the winter, but the same applies for both. Wool may be old school but it's still one of the best insulators especially when wet or damp.
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