Your Ice Fishing Clothing Game Plan
Like almost any outdoor activity, ice fishing is best enjoyed (or maybe only enjoyed) when you take time to prepare for it. While you might be able to improvise in the warmer months, being unprepared in winter is a recipe for a really unenjoyable time afield. Cold temperatures, icy winds, and bad clothing don’t mix well. This is compounded even more when your whole family is with you to experience the displeasure. This season, get everyone on the same page and upgrade your ice fishing clothing using the ice fishing tips and clothing system below. You and the family will have much more fun, even if you don’t catch as many fish as you’d like to.
What Makes Good Ice Fishing Clothing?
The days of dressing in cotton long underwear and sweatshirts is mostly gone, but we suspect it’s lingering among a few die-hard anglers out there. The problem with cotton is that it doesn’t wick moisture at all, which is a real issue. Inevitably, we’re going to sweat when we’re ice fishing; usually it happens while we’re being mobile (e.g., dragging a fishing shelter, drilling holes for the family, etc.). When we’re done with the physical activity and sit down to watch our bobbers, the sweat just sits there against our skin and cools off. This slowly robs us of our own body temperature and starts a chilling cycle nobody likes to experience when they’re out on the lake. In no time, we’re ready to pack up again, and it’s not even 9 AM.
Performance clothing, on the other hand, is made of synthetic materials like polyester (or blends with cotton) that wick moisture through the fabric. When we sweat, it is basically transferred through our outdoor clothing to the outside of the garment to evaporate away. This keeps our skin drier and allows us to stay comfortable longer. In other words, you should be able to spend more quality time with your family fishing on the ice. The only time pure cotton could be acceptable is if you wouldn’t be doing much physical work; in other words, you show up just in time to fish in the preheated shelter. Everyone’s got a buddy or family member like that anyway, right?
How to Dress for Ice Fishing
With that introduction done, let’s dive into the specific details of your ice fishing clothing system. Layering clothes for cold weather is the best way to regulate your body temperature. Each cold weather clothing layer is very important, but the system itself is pretty customizable for your preferences.
Start with a performance base layer (i.e., long underwear top and bottom, underwear, socks) next to your skin. This material should always be a moisture-wicking powerhouse since it’s in direct contact with your sweaty skin. That’s exactly its purpose, so make sure that it is snug enough to be in constant contact. If it’s too loose, it won’t touch it enough to effectively wick the sweat out and away. Your first pair of socks should also be a liner sock made of polyester or fine wool, which will transmit sweat away from your feet to keep them dry. Cold feet will send you packing pretty fast.
The next winter fishing clothing layer is the one that you adjust most based on the conditions and your activity levels. This insulating layer (or more accurately, layers) should also pull sweat away from your body, but they should primarily hold your body heat. To combine these qualities and get the best of both, a blend of polyester and cotton or polyester and wool works well for ice fishing clothing. The idea is that you can add or remove one of these layers as you cool down or heat up, respectively. The first insulation layers should be slightly snugger to pull sweat out and away, but they can get larger as they move away from your body. Oddly enough, having fewer layers with some dead air space actually helps hold heat longer than multiple tight layers. Typical insulation layers might include wool socks, fleeces, sweatshirts, or vests. This is where the Moon Shine Camo® ice fishing clothing really excels. For example, pairing a hoodie with a black camo vest provides some great insulation on those chilly winter fishing days. If it warms up or you move into a shelter, you can remove the vest and fish in your sweatshirt alone.
Finally, there’s the outside shell layer that protects everything inside. As far as ice fishing apparel goes, this can be a deal breaker for people. Having lots of insulation is great, but it won’t count for much if the wind cuts through it to steal your body heat and the snow melts on your clothing. The outer shell keeps your heat in and the cold wind out. Find a durable winter jacket and bibs that are water- and wind-resistant, and pick up some high-quality boots with 800 to 1,000 grams insulation. You’ll often find yourself kneeling on the ice and your boots will get slushy water on them after drilling holes, so having waterproof ice fishing gear is a must. That being said, you also need the material to be breathable. If not, all that moisture wicked from your body will stop at the barrier of your shell layer instead of venting out to the world.
Then there are the other critical ice fishing accessories, namely being hats and gloves. Depending on how cold it is and whether or not you’re ice fishing in a shelter, you may or may not need a few pair of either. For example, some anglers like to wear a performance beanie underneath a warmer,
insulating hat. This is good for sitting outside using tip-ups, but it is overkill when you’re in a warm shelter. Ice fishing gloves are a different story. Since gloves can make reeling a cumbersome process, it’s best to wear a very warm chopper-style mitten that you can easily slide on and off. That way, you can quickly remove them to catch a fish and put them back on when you’re done baiting the next hook. Keep a spare hand towel hooked to your waist so you can rinse your hands in the water and dry them off before putting your mittens back on. If it’s really cold, you could put a hand warmer into the mitten.
Do You Have the Right Ice Fishing Clothing?
Well, does the system above make sense? While there are lots of youth clothing options to dress your kids according to the layers above, sometimes it might make more sense to bring a shelter and heater to have a mobile base camp. That way when your kids ultimately get too sweaty from running around (which they will), they can dry off and stay warm inside. It will also keep you fishing longer…just saying.
Looking for an Ice Fishing Camo Pattern?
If you are a fishing enthusiast, chances are you are interested in finding a fishing camo pattern. Undertow™ by Moon Shine Camo® is a fishing camo pattern that emerges your clothing, fishing gear, or even your boat in an underwater and tangled brush world! Check it out below!