Kayak fishing cold water gear

I get a lot of messages about my cold water kayak fishing gear so I wanted to breifly throw together a quick blog overview of what I wear. I adhear to the three “W’s” when it comes to layering for cold water fishing. I want to be clear here though. Cold water fishing is a multi faceted endeavor that goes well beyond the gear you ware. There is a littany of safety concerns which you should be familiar with before hitting the water that are beyond the scope of this blog post . Bottom line…. cold water kills.

I use the American Canoe Association recommendations to guide what I wear under cold water conditions. Please take the time to review the pages listed below. Pay special attention to the water temperatures that warrent a dry suite. It will definitely help you understand what you need to do to help make your time on the water safer in terms of cold water conditions.

It probably goes without saying, completely avoid cotton clothing when dressing for cold water.

Wicking Layer

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This is the layer against you skin that should help wick moisture away from your body to help slow down heat loss. I use Kokatat WoolCore. Its a really soft wicking material that has some insulating qualities as well. I really like this stuff! I use the tops and bottoms.

Warmth Layer

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The warmth layer provides insulation from the cold on the outside of your dry suite. I use Kokatat’s Polartec OuterCore. It provides great insulation from the cold and is a lot less bulky than true fleece. Again, I’m useing the tops and bottoms.

Weather Layer


This is the layer that protects you and your underlayers from the cold water. If cold water penetrates into your inner layers, you will loose heat rapidly creating an extremely dangerous scenerio. This is why I do not recommend waders and a dry top combonation in cold water. Every person that I’ve known who has fallen into cold water wearing a dry top/wader combo ended up taking on copious amounts of water. The ACA recommends that anytime water temperatures are below 60 degrees you should wear a dry suite. I use the SuperNova Angler Suite. The only drawback to this suite is that it uses a neopren neck gasket instead of a latex neck gasket. This means that it is not as water tight therefore small amounts of water could seep throught the neck seal. I find it good for short single access trip on the river when I’m not far from the bank or my car. If I was fishing “off shore” or in open water, I would wear a dry suite with a latex neck gasket.


Here’s a video that I posted on my facebook page last year that talks about the above in more detail and goes into some tips for your extremeties.


General Cold Water Tips

Here are some great cold water tips from Jeff Little that he posted on his “Pivotshare” site “TightLineJunkeyJournal“. This video is free but there is also a paid subscription that will give you access to some highly informative fishing videos that he produces.

Parting Comments

Remember, there is a variety of other safety precautions and gear that I utilize when fishing during the cold water months. Please make sure that you have the right gear and that you do your homework before venturing out. Cold water kayak fishing can certainly be productive but it can also be deadly!