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When head out to fishing trip, don’t let a rainy day keep you off of the water. Fishing jackets will keep you comfy, even during the wettest days of the year.
If you get wet, or cold, and generally just aren’t enjoying being outside, then your desire to get out there is going to be seriously diminished. Your fishing jacket will go everywhere you go. It will do more than just protect you from rain. Even on the best weather days you’ll use it to keep the wind off, or protect you from chilly evening or morning fishing sessions. Sometimes you’ll wear it just to protect you while walking through brush, or load it full of gear and use it as a gear bag when you don’t have a fishing pack.
How to Buy the Best Fishing Jackets
Choosing a fishing jacket is a lot like choosing a pair of waders. Comfort, features, breathability, and fabric technology are all important considerations. Most waterproof jackets designed for fly fishing are designed as shells and do not integrate insulation into the interior of the jacket. This allows you to layer underneath it with whatever insulating garments you prefer. Aside from keeping you dry, good fishing jackets are also windproof. This means that the fabric is designed to resist wind from penetrating through the material.
Things to consider when buying fishing jackets
Breathable fishing jackets are made of woven materials that allow air to pass through, but keep the water out. This weave also allows moisture from perspiration to move out through the fabric. The development of waterproof and breathable fabrics like Gore-tex, and Patagonia’s H2No, has drastically changed the face of the fly fishing industry. They allow anglers to be comfortable in all weather conditions and anywhere the fish may swim.
Seams are the weak link in any waterproof garment. Creating the waterproof/breathable material is one thing, but creating a watertight seam between two pieces of material is another.
When you buy an inexpensive “waterproof” jacket, the seams may be stitched and then “critically taped”. Seam taping is a technology that involves gluing a watertight fabric tape to the interior of the garment and therefore covering the seam from the backside. Critically taped seams only cover the high use areas, or the areas most prone to have water penetrate the seam. You can expect these jackets to leak, end of story.
High quality jackets offer welded, or stitch-free glued seams. These seams do not puncture the material and offer improved performance, better durability, quicker dry times, and better compressibility.
Soft shell jackets are not waterproof. It may seem ridiculous to spend good money on a non-waterproof jacket, but they are perhaps the most versatile piece of outerwear that you’ll use. Many soft shells are very comfortable, and have a soft feel to the touch. They’re much more breathable than waterproof shells, and can be worn in all types of weather conditions. Soft shells will usually have a waterproof treatment on the fabric and will offer you protection from a light sprinkle or misting rain. Waterproof shells will fit neatly over your soft shell if a heavier rain moves in.
Many waterproof fishing jackets have zippered compartments. The zippers on more inexpensive jackets may be no different than what you would find on a basic sweatshirt, while the zippers on middle priced jackets may only be water resistant. High-end jackets have expensive zippers that are water tight and fully submersible. High quality zippers are fantastic for keeping your odds and ends dry. The addition of highly waterproof or submersible zippers does drive the cost of the jacket up.
Many technical fishing jackets have built in fly patches and retractors for attaching various tools like nippers, forceps, and hook sharpeners.
Waterproofing and Maintenance
When your jacket gets dirty, the fabric gets stressed and will eventually start to leak moisture through the material. As the dirt gets trapped in the weave of the material, it can greatly reduce the breathability and you’ll notice extra condensation inside that was previously being moved away from your skin and out the fabric.
The best thing you can do for your jacket is to keep it clean. You’ll improve the performance and help it last a long time. Each jacket manufacture has their own recommendations for cleaning them. If you simply remember to hang dry it and wash off any mud, dirt, or fish slime, you’ll go a long way to keeping yourself dry and warm for many seasons.