Most fly fishing is done while wading, and while wearing chest high waders.

While wading rivers for trout, steelhead and salmon, much of the lower half of your body will be immersed in water that will be more than 20 degrees colder than your 98.6 degree body temperature. As an example, 78.6 degree water is lethal to most salmonid fishes. Even 68.6 degree water temperature is pretty warm for trout and char. Water temperatures from 45 to 65 degrees are most comfortable to most trout, and salmon. There are instances where trout and steelhead are caught from water that is colder than freezing. Locally, winter steelhead are most usually caught from water that is 34 to 47 degrees.

Modern waders and outerwear are made from fabrics that do a great job of dispelling perspiration, but have very little insulation for keeping your body warm. Your body temperature is best protected by layers of insulating underwear. This underwear must be able to move perspiration away from your skin. This will enable your breathable outer layer to do its job most efficiently. Wool is proven to be the superior material for your base layer (the layer next to your skin). This is because the microbes that cause body odor and skin infections hate wool. You will simply feel drier and cleaner with a layer of wool next to your skin. Next, add layers of polyester microfiber fleece.

  • Water temperature = 70-60: 1-layer Merino wool base layer.
  • Water temperature = 60-50: 2-layer Merino wool base layer + polyester microfiber fleece layer.
  • Water temperature = 50-40: 3-layer Merino wool base layer + 2-layers polyester microfiber fleece

Often during winter, the layers covering the lower half of your body will be heavier than those layers covering the upper half of your body.

Cotton clothing absorbs and retains moisture. Never wear cotton clothing during cold weather.

Fleece is great for lounging at home or at the lodge.

Fishing guides know a lot about polyester microfiber fleece layering, because they live in it a significant amount of time when they are working. They, and their closest friends, also know that it is the most comfortable material to wear while lounging and relaxing between fishing trips. Fleece is warm and soft, doesn't bind or pull hairs. It fits like your own skin. It is comfortable and fashionable when fishing, hunting, and at the ski lodge.