Judging by the quiet banks in winter most carp anglers seem to give up. The last couple of winters have certainly been harsh and I can understand why some anglers pack in fishing but winter is a good time to be out, carp can still be caught and there’s always the advantage of those quiet, angler free banks!. I think the key to winter carp fishing is to enjoy yourself and you can’t do that if you’re cold!. With this in mind I thought I’d take a look at some of the gear I use to keep myself warm on the bank in winter.
Thermal Suit. I have a Sundridge Igloo 3 to keep me warm in winter, I’ve found Sundridge suits to be excellent and the igloo 3 is outstanding. I’ve had this suit for around 6 years now and most winters I only ever need to wear a t-shirt underneath it’s that good!. The igloo 3 is actually a 3 piece suit consisting of the jacket, trousers and a third ‘sleepskin’ layer which is actually a fleece top for sleeping in. I rarely bother doing nights in winter, I prefer to fish short days so I can stay sharp and move around, I wore the third layer the first time I ever wore my igloo 3 and it’s never seen the light of day since because I was too hot!. A thermal suit will probably be the biggest purchase a winter carp angler will make and a Sundridge thermal suit should be top of the list, they are wind proof, water proof and extremely warm, just what you need on a cold winters day!.
Buffalo Special 6 Shirt. Buffalo clothing has developed a cult following amongst carp anglers, the shirt is actually part of the buffalo ‘system’ of clothing and it’s the choice of shirt for mountain rescue teams, the armed forces, police surveillance and underwater search teams. Being used by such professionals is all the praise this shirt needs really, it’s a superb garment for the winter carp angler. The special 6 shirt or ‘SP6’ is designed to be worn next to your skin, it works by trapping in your body heat and if you add a layer of clothing underneath it you will actually get colder!. I know a few anglers who don’t wear anything else but a special 6 in winter, imagine that, going out and staying on the bank with a single layer on!, well the special 6 shirt is that good and if you’re going to be outdoors day and night in a bivvy then I’d seriously consider getting one of these!. I actually wear mine under my igloo jacket when the weather is particularly bad and any sane angler is indoors with the central heating on!. The special 6 shirt is incredibly light too.
Thermal Fleece Hat. Most of your body heat is lost through your head so it makes sense to wear a thermal fleece hat in winter. I have a couple of fleece hats but the thinsulate fleece hats are the best by far, they are warm and comfortable to wear and I wouldn’t be without one. A fleece hat is probably the cheapest purchase a winter carp angler will make but it’s just as important as everything else when it comes to keeping warm.
Neck Warmer / Snood. Also known as a ‘snood’, for years I did without a fleece neck warmer and I don’t know why?. There’s nothing worse than getting a cold neck, in extreme circumstances it can be pretty painful as you loose the ability to turn your head when a stiff neck sets in, many times in the past I’ve been struck by a stiff neck and I’ve literally had to turn round just to look sideways because I couldn’t move it. I’m sure you’ve all had this happen at some point!. Since using a fleece neck warmer I’ve not suffered at all and they are a great addition to any anglers cold weather clothing. Coupled with a fleece hat you have some great thermal protection for your head and neck.
Sealskinz Socks. Moving down to your feet, it pays to wear two pairs of socks and I prefer a standard pair of Thermal Socks underneath and a pair of sealskinz socks on top of them. Like the SP6 shirt, sealskinz socks are actually made for outdoor enthusiasts, most notably mountain bikers. Sealskinz socks have also achieved a cult following amongst carp anglers, they are ideal for carp fishing simply because they are waterproof!, you can actually stand in the water with these socks on your feet and you won’t get wet!. For a carp angler running out of his bivvy to hit a run at 2am in the morning when it’s raining, they are perfect, no need to panic trying to get a pair of trainers or thermal boots on. I actually use Sealskinz socks in summer too, coupled with a pair of crocs they are perfect for fishing shallow margin swims where you might need to get your feet wet to net a fish safely. I find the combination of standard thermal socks with a pair of sealskinz socks on top of them really keeps my feet very dry and very warm indeed and if your feet are warm, so are you.
Skeetex Thermal Boots. A look at winter clothing wouldn’t be complete without some thermal boots. There are many different types of boots and shoes available to the winter carp angler but my choice is Skeetex Thermal Boots, when I say boots I mean the full on Wellington boot style. Skeetex thermal boots have a fleece inner lining and coupled with the two pairs of socks I’ve mentioned above, they offer excellent protection from the cold. I’ve been using skeetex boots for a long long time now and I’d recommend changing the fleece liners in them every few years, a new fleece lining feels like a new pair of boots and you’ll certainly notice the difference between new liners and ones that have seen 3 or 4 winters use.
Whitby Hand Warmer. This is a great little device, it runs on lighter fluid and will keep your hands warm for up to 12 hours on a full load, I've done a small video to demonstrate and don't forget to subscribe to my Youtube Channel.
Gloves. As with the thermal hat I prefer thinsulate thermal gloves to keep my hands warm, I usually just put my hands in the pockets of my thermal suit but I always have a decent pair of gloves in the outer pockets of my suit, you never know when they will come in handy and if it's a particularly cold day thinsulate thermal gloves can be a big help, specially if you've got your hands wet returning a fish!.
Fleece Hoody. I’ve never bothered wearing a hoody for fishing before but a year or two back I got caught out one spring and the weather turned bitterly cold, I ended up borrowing a fleece hoody to try and keep myself warm and since then I’ve bought a few myself. I don’t buy branded fleece hoodies, just a plain one for £10 or £15 off eBay is enough, for Spring and Autumn when a t-shirt leaves you too cold and a thermal suit is too warm, I find a fleece hoody fills the gap very well and I always make sure there’s one in the bottom of my rucksack just in case the weather gets a bit chilly.
Well that’s it for keeping warm in winter, the carp are still there to be caught and they always look stunning in their winter colours. If you kit yourself out with some good thermal clothing there’s no reason to give up until spring and if you make the effort to carry on going you can be rewarded with quieter banks and bigger carp as they reach their peak weights during the winter months….and you can still be fishing comfortably!.
Tight Lines, Mark.