LIKE it or not, one of the key factors that dictates how much winter carping we do is how much harder it is to be comfortable when the temperatures drop.


Sitting huddled up in thermals with the wind chewing your ears off isn’t exactly appealing compared with being in shorts and flip-flops.

There’s no such thing as bad weather, only the wrong clothing, as Billy Connolly claims… Up to a point it’s true, and while people do feel the cold to different degrees, spending money on the right cold weather clothing can make the world of difference to how you feel about getting the rods out after November, rather than taking the easy option and giving it a miss.

Here’s Angler’s Mail carp ace Colin Davidson’s hit list for kit that will keep you warm and fishing effectively, instead of counting the hours until you can get into the car and go home.

Super smocks
BUY yourself a Buffalo Special 6 smock from a camping or outdoor clothing specialist. These Pertex shell tops are used by climbers, hill walkers, the skiing mob and, more importantly, mountain rescue personnel, the fire service, Police and armed forces.
They are lightweight, thin, comfortable, incredibly warm and waterproof into the bargain. Buffalo smocks work most effectively when worn close to the skin, to maximise body heat getting to them. A thin base layer and one of these over the top is the best start you can make for winter clothing, and with a heavyweight fleece or jacket over the top should keep you ‘toastie’ in all conditions. I’d suggest the genuine article is the best £100 you can spend, rather than looking to save £20 and not getting anywhere near the same quality. Mine’s been keeping me warm for six or seven years now and is still doing the same job winter after winter.

Layer basics
FISHING has finally begun to acknowledge some of the all-weather comfort basics, and thin thermal base layers are more and more widely available through tackle shops and the angling trade. Get a good thermal skin layer on under the rest of your clothes and you’ll feel a world of difference in comfort. They’re not glamorous, and might make you feel a bit like a gymnast, an extra from Mamma Mia, or a Tesco value sausage, but no-one else has to see them (unless that’s what you’re into…) and they give you the best possible start in the heat retention stakes.

SUFFER cold feet? I used to terribly, and no matter which boots I bought and how super duper they were meant to be I still had cold feet. Get yourself down to your local Scats, Mole Valley Farmers or similar and sneak in amongst the horsey mob and Range Rover brigade to dig out a pair of neoprene-lined wellies. Mine are Aigles, which aren’t cheap at around £90-£100 but, again, you get what you pay for, and they are on their fifth winter and still as good as new. A pair of full-length fleece welly liners to go inside them is a huge help in retaining heat. You can also pick up neoprene wellies from Wychwood in many tackle shops, and they even come with a bit of camo on them, if you think that is a bit more carpy!

Peripheral pointers
STAYING warm is about the complete picture. I once moaned about cold feet and an ex-army mate of mine told me to get a better hat. He was right – your body withdraws heat from your extremities to keep the important bits warm. A good thermal hat is essential, and a great source of fun to me each year. I’ve also been well impressed by heavyweight fleece neck warmers, which are better than a scarf and stops heat pouring out of the top of your clothing. A good pair of four-season socks, such as Brashers (Tackle Box, Dartford, 01322 292400), are enough if you have welly liners and neoprenes. With less good footwear, use a thin pair of socks with a thermal pair over the top for maximum insulation. Gloves I can’t get on with at all when I’m fishing, I’d rather stick my hands in my pockets, but each to their own.

Brace yourself
A QUALITY lined bib ’n’ brace is standard issue for winter carping, and much more versatile than all-in-one suits, especially when you want a pee. They are more practical because they allow you to regulate layers easily, depending upon conditions and what you are doing. Walking to a swim with all your kit on will just get you sweaty, wet inside your clothing and then cold. With a bib and brace you can add the jacket or top thermal layers when you get there instead. Mine’s the Wychwood Epic clothing bundle, which I’ve been quietly very impressed by. Soft, comfortable, very warm and breathable, there’s a puffer jacket with a 450 gr filling (more than most sleeping bags) and a three-quarters length waterproof combination to go with the bib ’n’ brace. They do the job perfectly over the top of the base layers.