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Base Layers; the Key to Winter Fly Fishing Comfort

Winter fly-fishing needs a little different mind set to enjoy what this time of year offers those who fish during these colder months. Getting the most out of your days on the water during the coldest part of trout season has a lot to do with being comfortable. If you aren’t prepared to deal with the elements this time of year, not only will your winter day be short, but you’ll miss out on some excellent fly-fishing opportunities that winters prolific midge hatches produce.
Here in Utah winter midge hatches produce consistent fly-fishing opportunities. Fortunately, generally speaking, these winter hatches occur during the most pleasant part of the day. That may be relative for January and February and pleasant might

stretch the definition of some aspects of the word, however in reading Webster’s pleasant relates to comfort and that is one of the keys to enjoying winter fishing. 
Although Utah may be known for the “Greatest Snow on Earth”, our winter fly-fishing doesn’t lag much behind. Similar to those who spend a day on the slopes it can only be truly enjoyed if one dresses appropriately for the elements. In either sport it starts with a good base layer. Of all the layers we use to fly-fish in, our staff gets the most use out of base layers like Patagonia’s Capilene 1 Silkweight. These light layering pieces come in tops and bottoms and can be worn just about any time of the year, however as your base layer during the winter it not only adds that first layer of insulation, but it also helps transfer moisture from your body to other heavier layers of insulation extremely fast. This is one of the keys to staying warm during a winter’s day on the water.
The colder the day the more layers you should consider. One of the keys is minimizing the bulk associated with layering, that is why thin multiple layers allows you to regulate and adjust to winter fly-fishing conditions as they change. After starting with Patagonia Capilene 1 Silkweight Crew and matching Capilene 1 Silkweight Bottoms there are a number of good options for a second or an additional layering piece of insulation depending on the temperature range you will be dealing with. The key is managing moisture whether it's summer or winter conditions. 
Another staff pick for base layers in tops and bottoms is Patagonia’s Capilene 3. In tops we prefer either the Capilene 3 Zip Neck or the Wool 3 Zip Necks.  On those trips where a shower isn’t part of the equation, wool layering pieces are not only comfortable, but you won’t smell like you’ve slept in them for an entire week; trust us we have. That is what sets Wool apart from Capilene. They both are excellent layering materials that wick well, but wool doesn’t smell after repeated use without washing as do the synthetic materials.  Patagonia’s midweight layering pieces in combination with a base layer of Silkweight on those cold days is an excellent foundation for helping you to stay comfortable even in the worst of weather.
Another very popular layering piece is Patagonia Regulator tops and bottoms. The bottoms incredibly warm for their weight and wick incredibly well. In tops, they offer several styles that we wear when fishing, but also around the shop and around town when the thermometer starts to drop. Patagonia’s Regulator R1 Pullover or the Patagonia R1 Jacket is the warmest layering piece for their weight that we have found. If there were just two layering pieces of insulation that we couldn’t live without and that get used the most, it would be the Silkweight 1 Capilene Crew and R1 Jacket or R1 Pullover. Both pieces either in combination or by themselves are incredibly versatile and will add to your comfort when fly-fishing year round. We also find ourselves layering with these while hunting or any other outdoor activity.
Finally, an area that doesn’t get much thought, yet has us leaving the water in winter when midge hatches are beginning to peak is your feet. Depending on how much room you have in your wading boots we prefer either a Patagonia Midweight Merino or Expedition Weight Sock. 

Some of our favorite fly-fishing occurs in the winter. We can enjoy winter midge hatches fly-fishing this time of year because we understand how to layer and what to layer with. We feel that for the money, Patagonia makes the best insulating fabrics available to us today. If there was something better, we’d be wearing it.


Cap 1 Crew   Cap 1 Pants   Cap 3 Zip Neck   Merino 3 Zip Neck
R1 Pullover   R1 Jacket   Expedition Socks