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Clothing Tips For Winter Kayak Fishing | Dress For Success
10:11AM 2nd May 14

Winter Fishing – Dress for Success with Shelley Bradish-Cooney

With cooler months you can still enjoy some fabulous fishing – the key is in your preparation.  The secret to feeling comfortable on the water is to dress with layers, and  consider fabrics that will block the wind and keep you warm even when they are wet.  Give some thought to the fact that you may start out in temperatures that are close to 0 degrees, but may rise throughout the day to 18 degrees.  In my opinion being too hot is just as bad as being cold, so here is what I have found useful.


A properly fitting top layer is an investment piece that you can enjoy for years if you care for it well.  I find in the coldest months of June, July and August that I will wear a semi-dry top that offers a breathable membrane that will shed water.  It needs to fit loose enough to wear one to two layers of wool underneath.  The wool serves to wick moisture away from my skin, and still keeps me warm when it gets wet.  If you are not as sensitive to the cold, I have a backup winter top that is lined with wool, has an internal membrane and is close fitting (Sharkskin is a brand to look out for) – the benefit is that it makes less noise when you are paddling or mechanical jigging. I have a dry top that incorporates rubber seals at the wrists and neck, and find I just overheat with this on, although I imagine that if I lived in the South Island it would come in very handy.


  • I/R Zephyr Jacket - The Immersion Research Zephyr is a breathable, lightweight jacket that's ideal for kayak fishing and general kayaking, find out more HERE
  • Sharkskin Rapid Dry -  These are the perfect top for warm weather. They are water repellant, breathable, high vis and stop you getting sun burnt! find out more HERE
  • Sharkskin Climate Control Top - 100% windproof to allow you to enjoy your watersports all year round in any weather. The Climate Control garments use compression technology in the arms and shoulder area which is great for muscle recovery. Find out more HERE


There are a couple of options for dressing from the waist down.  Neoprene bottoms are one option, and the second is a breathable membrane pair of pants that you can put a warmer layer on underneath.  NRS and Kokatat are two brands I have experience using and these will keep you warm throughout the winter.  When you are paddling you will generate heat in your upper body, but the legs remain fairly stationary so a warm underlayer is essential.  These pants have cuffs at the ankles and waist that allow you to secure the fabric but will not trap water – an important consideration if you fall out of the kayak and need to swim. 

  •  Made from ultra breathable, waterproof 2.5 HyproTex fabric, the NRS Dry Pants are comfortable, durable - the best value around. Find out more HERE 

Care Instructions

When spending $200-$300 on tops and bottoms it is critical to treat these fabrics with respect.  I will rinse mine in fresh water at the end of a session to remove salt and blood, and once or twice in the season will immerse the fabric in the laundry sink to soak in NikWax Tech Wash (available at most outdoor stores).  This detergent is suitable for waterproof membrane fabrics.


The range of booties on the market is extensive, but when it comes time to buy I recommend having room to wear a woollen sock.  Possum socks have hollow fibers and are great insulators, and will provide extra warmth when your feet are wet.  Your feet will likely be wet all day, and do not really move in the kayak.  To keep your booties from smelling I will soak mine in the laundry sink for a couple of hours every few months with a capful of Dettol.  This kills the bacteria, and will not damage the neoprene.


  • Waterproof Sock - Keep your feet dry and warm with these amazing SealSkinz socks.Waterproof so you can launch your kayak and keep your feet toasty warm! Find out more HERE
  • Magic Marine Boots - These are fantastic Boots for Kayaking. Find out more HERE
  • NRS ATB Boots  -  Also excellent boots for kayaking. They have a tough sole which make them very comfortable, especially when walking over rocks and stones. fisn out more HERE
  • NRS Dry Boots - The NRS Boundary Shoe is knee high, waterproof and warm. Individually tested to ensure waterproofness. Find out more HERE 

(From a safety perspective wearing a fluro item on your head is essential – Stuart and I have been fishing over 3km apart, and I can always spot him by his cap.)


The head is a great regulator of heat as 40 % of heat is lost through your head.  I will start out the morning with a warm brimless hat that will not get in the way of my headlamp, but progress to a brimmed hat when the sun gets up.  To keep the back of my neck warm I consider a Buff as essential kit.  During the winter I wear one made of wool.  This clothing item is easily removed when you warm up

From a safety perspective wearing a fluro item on your head is essential – Stuart and I have been fishing over 3km apart, and I can always spot him by his cap. 


  • 2c Legionnaires Cap - Provides High visibility, serious protection from the elements with SPF50+ high wicking. Two LED lights in the peak are angled downwards (so as not to shine in people's eyes). Find out more HERE
  • Kalahari Full Sun Protection Hat - Sun protection for your head and neck & a good piece of safety equipment too, the high vis colours are easy for boaties to see. find out more HERE
  • Viking Beanie - A quality Swazi NZ made Beanie to keep your head toasty warm after a day on the water! Find out more HERE


This is the part that I struggle with most in the winter.  I have been known to take a hot water bottle on the water with me, just to try and get my hands warm (yep, I can hear the violins playing as I write this).  It pays to look for gloves that have neoprene backs on them for extra warmth, but you still need your fingers free to tie knots.  I have a couple of pairs for winter trips, so I can start the day with a dry pair.

  • NRS Gloves - The NRS Boaters Gloves are ideal for kayaking. Lightweight backs, tough palms and three-quarter fingers. Great protection from sun and blisters and excellent finger dexterity. Find out more HERE


Off the water - lets not forget about warming up after your paddle, combine the Viking Beanie with the Viking T Shirt and Hoodie to not only be the warmest but the best looking kayaker at the boat ramp or BBQ after a paddle ;-).  Click the images to see more info and prices


I hope that you have found this information useful, if you want to discuss this topic and more think about visiting the Viking Stand at the Hutchwhilco boat show (May 15-18). Stand # 582. They are also giving away 6 x $2000.00 Viking 2+1 packages & 1 x Profish 440 Package  (early bird ticket sale prize)  during the course of the show.

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