Monday, December 12, 2011

Sunday Tippets (on Monday!) by The River Damsel!

There's an old saying out West that if you have a good partner, who watches your back and pulls their weight, you've got a friend "to ride the river with." Emily Blankenship (or The River Damsel for those of you who don't yet know her) is such a person. Although we've only met once, we've had a lot of conversations on Skype, Facebook and through emails, not to mention our blogs. I love Emily for her heart and her sincerity (Ok and her fishing ability). She really truly cares about people, especially those that call themselves her friend. I am extremely pleased to have our Damsel here with her Sunday Tippets. My hope is your overwhelming response will hasten her return to her Adventures in Every Riffle.

Well, here we are!!  I seem to have gotten lost...and Howard found me!  And he asked me to write a little diddy over here during my "hiatus".  (We will get back to The River Damsel soon...promise!)  I would do just about anything for Cofisher...even give him my last bun hand warmer.  Which leads me to my topic today... Are you ready for the winter???  Do you have the desire to get out there one last time to do a little fishing before the real cold sets in?  Or maybe you are a hardcore fisher like myself that has a year round passion for our finned friends.  No, Howard...I'm not settling for an aquarium to look at in the winter. 

One of my first fly fishing lessons taught me a very important principle in dressing for cold weather fishing.  You don't have to be COLD!!!  It's all about layering up and having the right material against your skin.  And if you keep your head and feet warm, the rest of your body should keep warm too.  Didn't your mother ever tell you that?

Now, we don't have to be all decked out like an Eskimo...(Although I do like their traditional fur lined coats and boots!)  Here are a few suggestions from my winter experiences and although they are tried and true for me, it might still not be your cup of cocoa. It's not for everyone.  But, never know until you have tried.  Right?  And then if you don't like winter fishing...just cozy on up to the fireplace like Howard and tie flies or plan out your spring river trip. 
Those are fun things to do too!

The Damsel's Winter Fishing Tippets:

1.  Your Noggin ~ It needs to stay warm... I recommend the Under Armour Artic Fleece Beanie.  Even in the bitter cold, it works overtime to regulate your core temperature—keeping you outside longer.  I started using this beanie under my ski helmet and now it is my winter fishing buddy.  I don't leave home without it.  You can add another wool cap over it for extra warmth.

2.  Your Body ~ Thermal underwear and base layers...There are many brands out there, but I prefer anti-wick and a material that releases moisture.  There is also the option of Polertec fleece which keeps me the toastiest.  You can wear the fleece against the skin or over the top of your base thermal like I do.  And another option is over at T!'s place, where Mike did a review on Merino thermals.  And the debate over whether T! is the model for this fine thermal wear is currently going on... And keep layering until you reach your sweatshirt or winter coat.

3.  Your Hands ~ I thought that I had the corner on fleece...I wear it from head to foot.  I originally wore fleece fingerless gloves which were warm, but after handling fish and such,  I got wet and then got cold!  I then moved on to wool fingerless mittens...kept me warm, but they were too bulky for me and flies would get stuck in them (others have better success, I'm sure)  Finally, two weeks ago, I found my solution.  Patagonia neoprene gloves!!  I cut off the top of the first two fingers so that I don't have to remove them.  And I must 18 degrees, my hands stayed warm.  The best glove that I have
tried.  And I can move in them and dry them off.  And they don't slip on the rod handle!

4.  Your Feet ~ This is the most important part, especially if you are in the water.  If your feet are cold...well, you are miserable!  My first fly fishing teacher taught me one thing that has stuck all this time.  Fleece socks.  I have a longer pair and a shorter bootie pair.  Put these on first by themselves, or with a Merino wool or a thicker wool sock over them...and you are set for the day.  My feet are NEVER cold.  Nothing like happy feet...  

So, there you have few little tricks in staying warm on the water during the winter...there is a peace and serenity during this time of the year. Nothing like standing in the middle of the river with the slow, soft snowflakes coming down on your face.  Or take a sunny day if you prefer!  This is the time that the tungsten nymphs come out along with the midges.  The BIG Browns start stacking in the pools and behind the rocks...These are some of my most favorite days of the year!!  See you in the spring, Howard...