Dry clothing and fishing don’t exactly go together. Although fishing requires you to be surrounded by water, there’s no need to get soaked without reason. There are a number of different fishing rain gear on the market that will make sure you catch fish without having to worry about an unexpected downpour.
Fishing rain gears come in all forms and offer a different kind of protection, depending on the material they are made up of. There is fishing rain gear available out there for you whether you want to step out for ice fishing or fishing at a river in mild to hot climates.
List of Basic Gears
Selecting the type of gear is as important as its material. Wearing the right gear when heading out on a fishing adventure will make sure you are comfortable and enjoy your leisure time to the fullest.
Rain Jackets & Raincoats
Rain Jackets are different from raincoats as the former tends to be waist length, whereas the latter can extend under the knees. Both of them are made out of waterproof fabrics that are breathable and will help you enjoy your fishing sessions without worrying about the rain. The most commonly used fabrics include Gore-Tex or coated nylon.
There are some water-resistant variants of these designs too. Water-resistant jackets and raincoats have a durable water repellent layer on the outside that can keep you dry. This layer usually wears down after some time, so if you are looking for a durable and rugged raincoat, waterproof would be the best way forward.
Bibs & Pants
Waterproof bibs are like waterproof overalls and pants to keep the legs dry. Bibs and pants are more suited to places where water is plenty or where one has to work near or around water. These offer little protection to the upper body or torso and are more suited to protect against splashes from the ground than from the sky.
Bibs have been widely used in the past and are still being used on farms as farmers may have to scale their way through the thick undergrowth. Plumbers and other workers that work their way around water pipes also make use of waterproof pants, but these are not very helpful if you face rain while fishing.
Fleece & Sweatshirts
Fleece and sweatshirts are not exactly waterproof, so they offer little protection against the rain. It is breathable and moisture-resistant. Some manufacturers apply a durable water repellent to these wearables so that they can handle drizzle or splashes. Fleece and sweatshirts are not durable against the rain but are comfortable to wear.
So if you are going to fish in someplace where rain is not expected, these can be your minimum fishing rain gear.
Rain ponchos are not the most aesthetic protection against the rain, but they are effective. These are worn like a shawl or a cape. Rain ponchos have an opening for your head and have a one-size-fits-all approach. This can help in keeping your clothes dry, but they can’t perform any warmth or provide any insulation.
Rain ponchos are more of firefighting protection against the rain as compared to the durable and rugged protection offered by waterproof rain jackets that will keep you warm and dry in style.
Materials for Rain Protection
All the rain gears mostly differ in their choice of materials. Where some use a breathable material, others go for a more foolproof approach. Here are some things that you should keep in mind when selecting the material of your gear.
What Does “Waterproof” Mean?
Perhaps the most basic question when selecting a fishing rain gear is, what exactly classifies as waterproof? The waterproof material is one that proves to be a complete barrier against water. It can be a plastic bag, which is not breathable, or an advanced material like Gore-Tex, which can stop a jet of water but allows air and vapors through. There are some materials coated with a water-repellent, also known as DWR (Durable Water Repellent). This coating cannot be called waterproof as it wears off and can only handle light splashes or drizzle.
PVC is as waterproof as anything can get. It is durable and effective against water. It won’t allow any substance through it and hence can keep the most vigorous of downpours out. But, there is a downside to PVC. While it stops water from passing through, it also locks in sweat and can be highly uncomfortable to wear for extended periods.
Breathable Rain Gear
While PVC and other such materials have been in use for waterproofing things, the new approach is allowing air to pass through. Breathable rain gear includes all such gear that allows air in and allows sweat to evaporate. These are comfortable to wear and can be worn for extended periods.
What Does “Breathable” Mean?
All such materials that allow perspiration to make its way out of the garment are categorized as breathable. Cotton and other natural fabrics are breathable. Breathability is a great characteristic to have but having a breathable garment that does not allow water through is a big challenge.
GORE-TEX is the gold standard of breathability and waterproofing. Invented back in 1969, this mesh of stretched polytetrafluorethylene (PTFE) (Teflon) allows sweat to evaporate and make its way out of the garment but does not allow water to flow inward. It is a highly microporous structure that is around 70% air. This property makes it super light.
GORE-TEX is widely used in breathable waterproof clothing. Although GORE-TEX does not allow water through, if it forms the inner layer of some garment, the outer layer needs to be treated with a DWR (Durable Water Repellent). This is used so that the whole garment stays breathable. If the outer fabric is not treated, it will become soaked and won’t allow air through, defeating the whole purpose of GORE-TEX.
GORE-TEX was developed by W.L. Gore & Associates but has since become widely popular. It is being used by various manufacturers in all kinds of garments and accessories.
Construction and Coatings
The aspect that varies the most between raincoats is the construction type and the number of coatings a raincoat has. While most waterproof fishing rain gear has two layers, it is not uncommon to spot some single-layer designs too.
For a single-layer design, people tend to go for a breathable material that has some kind of durable water-repellent or DWR applied to it. The downside to this style is that while it can withstand splashes or a drizzle, it won’t hold very well in the rain. This makes it perfect for areas that don’t get much rainfall and is very cost-effective. Moreover, this DWR layer is not very durable and can easily wear off.
Another variation in single-layered fishing rain gear is that the single layer is not breathable (PVC or vinyl). While this can keep the rain out, it locks the sweat in and is not breathable. These kinds of rain gear can be quite suffocating and cannot be worn for extended periods.
For a 2-layer fishing rain gear, the layer on the outside is the one that can be touched and felt. The waterproofing and breathable aspect is a function of the second layer, which is on the inside. The two layers are bonded together, and the garment is lined with some mesh or some other fabric just to keep the invisible, waterproofing layer safe. This is the ‘quietest’ kind of rain gear that you can get and is great for travel.
The 2.5-layer is by far the most cost-effective and lightweight option out of all. It has an outer layer, just like the 2-layer design. The second layer is a coating applied on the inside of the first layer, and then a fabric layer or a protective inner layer (half layer) is attached to it. This 2.5-layer design is not as breathable as the others but is lighter, and because of fewer layers, it costs less.
If you are more of a rugged person, some manufacturers go the extra mile and replace the inner mesh or layer with a more durable third layer of protection. This adds a little weight and cost to the garment but makes it very robust. This design gives up the coatings used in the other designs and has a waterproof membrane sandwiched between the outer face layer and the inner lining layer.
In terms of performance, the 3-layer design is the most durable that is also breathable and light to wear.
Things to Consider
Apart from the materials and construction of fishing rain gear, here are some other things that you should consider when making the final decision.
Seams can prove to be the Achilles heel of an otherwise great jacket. If the seam is not sealed off in a proper way, there is no use in using a strong waterproof material. Sewn seams are sealed off from the inside to make the coat waterproof. All jackets that claim to be waterproof have taped seams, but it is not a conclusive feature as there are many ways to seal off seams.
Fully Taped Seams
Fully taped seams, as the name suggests, are the best when it comes to waterproofing. A waterproof tape is either glued to the seams or bonded with the seam using heat. This seals all the holes that the sewing process makes. If you want to stay fully protected against the downpour, fully taped seams are the way to go.
Critically Taped Seams
Critically taped ones are different from fully taped seams as only the important or critical seams are taped. To cut the costs and to suit most users, manufacturers only seal the most prone ones. This usually includes the neck, shoulder, and chest seams. This is not necessarily a bad design, as most users do not require extremely rugged waterproofing, which can drive up the price significantly.
Zippers on a fully waterproof jacket are coated to keep the water out. Coated or laminated zippers are hard to handle. They can be tough to zip/unzip and also require a covering to stop the water from entering the zipper track. If and when the coating wears away, the waterproofing becomes less effective. So, you need to tread carefully and check the kind of zippers your jacket has.
Accommodating pockets in a waterproof design can prove to be a costly affair. But, not having any pockets can lay waste to an otherwise great jacket. Travel jackets generally have hidden pockets under flaps or along the seams. Most urban wear ones have pockets just above the belt area for easy access. Utilitarian ones can even pack huge pockets on the inner side too.
You should make the choice, depending upon what you intend to carry and what kind of waterproofing you need for those items. There are some very good waterproof jackets that have external pockets that are not waterproof. Also, there are ones that have pockets on the inside.
As fishing can turn out to be a strenuous activity, it is imperative to have ventilation available on the jacket. Most rain gears have pit zips that allow the air through to the armpits. If you like your jacket to have more ventilation and be more comfortable to wear, then you could opt for jackets that have mesh liners in pockets that allow more breathability.