The 6 Most Recommended Fly Fishing Jackets

Published on 01/26/2023 · 8 min readNeed to stay warm and dry while out on the water? Fly Fishing Expert Rylyn S. details what makes a great jacket, and lays out his top picks for you to consider.
Rylyn S., Fly Fishing Expert
By Fly Fishing Expert Rylyn S.

Photo by Jack Murrey

Whether fishing in the harshest conditions in the winter or on a rainy day in the spring, everyone needs a fly fishing jacket. These jackets are packable, weatherproof, and even loaded with features that will be handy while chasing that dream catch wherever fly fishing will take you. If you are looking for a new all-weather jacket or jacket that is specifically designed to fit perfectly with waders, you are in the right place.

These jackets come in many materials that ensure comfort on the water by keeping you dry and warm. Many fabrics like Toray and GORE-TEX have set the par for quality jackets. Manufacturers like Simms use materials made in the USA, while companies like Patagonia and Orvis use their materials and textiles, yielding a high-quality product and waterproofing.

We will dive into what makes them great jackets and everything to consider when using these on the river, stream, or lake. Additionally, you will find the most recommended fly fishing jackets on the market.

What Is Waterproofing, and Why Is It Important?

Waterproofing is essential in fly fishing from head to toe. Like those breathable waterproof waders you are wearing, that wading jacket should also be waterproof. Let’s face it. When fly fishing, the environment isn't always favorable. It can be cold, raining, or snowing, and a lot of splashing if in the rougher water.

Wading jackets are specifically designed to fit over your waders and are typically shorter than your everyday jacket, preventing it from getting submerged while out wading.

Wading jackets are made from breathable layered materials like nylon and polyester to repel water quickly and provide enough maneuverability while casting out on the stream. Some companies even add an extra layer of protection, like a polyurethane membrane, for added water resistance.

Also, wading jackets come with features to keep those valuables from getting wet. They provide pockets and attachments for fly boxes, tools, nippers, and even waterproof pockets for keys and cellphones.

What Should I Look for in a Jacket?

Breathability

When fishing in damp conditions, sweat and condensation are significant factors when looking for a wading jacket. In its basic form, breathability refers to how quickly it can expel moisture from the inside of the jacket to the outside without removing its waterproofing ability. Here in the Ozarks, it can go from 20 to 60-degree weather quickly. Therefore, breathability and lightweight are essential, especially when expelling the extra heat and moisture in the rain.

Water Resistance

Wading jackets are not wet suits. They are like rain jackets; you may still get wet if you take a tumble in the stream. These are not designed to be fully submerged in water, as the fabric cannot expel massive volumes of water at once. If you dip your elbow in the water while releasing a fish, you’ll be fine but don’t expect the wading jacket to protect you from a swim. When picking a jacket, I recommend looking for solid water protection around entry areas with an adjustable hood, wrist cuffs, and waist adjustments, as these are the most susceptible to water.

Wind Resistance

Wading jackets with wind resistance is almost always a given. If a wading jacket is water resistant, it will also be wind resistant. This is critical to keeping you warm and dry in fishing conditions.

Mobility

Hiking into remote locations, in a drift boat, and casting all day, you’ll need mobility in your wading jacket. Insulation is essential but finding the proper insulation not to take away from their mobility is also important. I suggest also adding base layers that can be removed later if needed. Don’t expect all wading jackets to keep you warm alone on the water. I layer up to provide the opportunity to shed layers during the day.

Affordability

Getting into fly fishing can be overwhelming and, as you know, could get quite expensive if you let it. Like all fly fishing gear, there is a product within all budgets.

Top Fly Fishing Jacket Picks

1. SIMMS G3 Guide Wading Jacket

Upon the release of the award-winning Simms G3 Guide Waders, its companion was born. This jacket's most significant advantage over the others is the three layers of breathable GORE-TEX membrane material, adding to its durability. Also, the new and improved four-way stretch material provides the best mobility in any wading jacket today. This is the best jacket for anyone rowing, casting, pulling up that anchor, or netting fish over the size of the raft. This jacket is a workhorse and will keep the water out while keeping you comfortable.

Of course, a tremendous wading jacket has storage compartments, but only a few. Unfortunately, some jackets can have too much storage, making them bulky and taking away from their functionality. This jacket provides just enough with two oversized chest pockets providing a place for a fly box with a hidden retractor and a sunglasses tether in the other with waterproof zippers. Also, the two-hand warmer pockets and fly patch are a great touch that provides a place for your hands or valuables with a woven drop-in bag.

2. Simms Freestone Wading Jacket

Here we are again with another Simms product. The Simms Freestone Wading Jacket performs better in the wading jacket world and provides even more affordability. Simms has mastered the art of waterproofing and breathable fabric with various materials. This wading jacket uses welded seams and Toray technology, which can also be found in their Simms Freestone Waders.

This jacket will withstand freezing temperatures along with harsh weather conditions. It has an adjustable cuff and a waistline cord for an even better fit. Two exterior storage pockets and an additional interior pocket protect your keys, phones, or wallet.

3. Orvis Pro Wading Jacket

When wearing the Orvis Pro Wading Jacket, you sometimes do not even realize it. But, for mobility, this is one of the best. Orvis is well-known in the fly fishing industry and known for its quality products. Orvis is a one-stop shop for fly fishing, with even hunting or casual wear products.

Unlike any other, one innovative feature of this wading jacket is the zippered side allowing access to your waders. As a result, you don't need to unzip the jacket to reach the gear inside your waders. The adjustable storm hood is also a great feature adding even more to its functionality. Also, two interior and two exterior pockets provide enough storage while on the water.

4. Orvis Ultralight Wading Jacket

The Orvis Ultralight Wading Jacket is a full-featured jacket designed on the feedback of anglers. The most important feature of this jacket is in the name; it is ultralight and highly packable. This is a jacket you pack in your dry bag, backpack, or away in the drift boat. It’s accessible when you need it. This jacket weighs less than 7 ounces, making it one of the lightest jackets for wading.

You will also like the dolphin-style neoprene cuffs feature on this jacket which adds even more waterproofing when landing fish or quickly grabbing something on the bottom of the stream. The welded three-layer shell, breathable nylon shell, and the YKK Aquaguard zippers add to its overall waterproofing and protection. No more wet shirt sleeves after landing or releasing fish.

5. Skwala Carbon Jacket

Skwala announced its launch in March, 2022 and has made strides. This new fly fishing apparel and gear company debuted in the same town as many renowned brands in Bozeman, Montana. Skwala uses a proprietary fabric and has opted away from the typical choice of GORE-TEX, which was an intentional choice for Skwala. Instead, Skwala designed their fabric from the ground up in their RS wader and wading jackets.

The four-way stretch provides enhanced mobility, and the hydrophobic cuffs keep the water out. The jacket itself weighs less than a pound and is packed with features. I recommend this jacket for warmer conditions as much as I do for colder conditions. In those colder conditions, it is recommended to size up and layer up for more warmth and layer down in the warmer month to increase ventilation.

6. Redington Wayward Guide Jacket

This jacket is packed with features and is an excellent addition to anyone's arsenal. The sleek design adds to its mobility and functionality with waders. It features oversized front zippered pockets for storage space and handwarmer pockets. This jacket is an anytime, anywhere jacket with a casual touch for hitting the town.

The Velcro sleeves provide even more protection from the elements and add to what a significant jacket needs. One advantage that this jacket has over the others is it's affordable. It has everything you need for an all-season jacket and holds up with some of the best in the industry. Although it may lack features of the others in this list, it gets the top done effectively.

Closing Thoughts

A wading jacket is something every fly angler needs. It is an excellent addition to any pair of waders and protects while on the water. Remember that mobility and breathability are critical features for all wading jackets, so it comes down to which is best for your situation. If you need help, contact one of our Experts here at Curated. We would love to help you find the perfect gear for you.

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Have a question about the article you just read or want personal recommendations? Connect with a Curated expert and get free recommendations for whatever you’re looking for!

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Simms Men's G3 Guide 3L Jacket
$599.95
Simms Men's Freestone® 3L Jacket
$329.95
Orvis Men's PRO Wading 3L Insulated Jacket
$349.00

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