There are a lot of really good “ice-fishing” jackets on the market and if you make a check list of all the important attributes of them you’ll see things like: High-tech insulation, durable outer layer, full-cut sizing to allow layering, ample pockets in the right places, a slick lining to allow easy on and off, adjustable cuffs and others.

            What’s often missing is waterproofing. Makes sense since most ice fishing isn’t done in a rainstorm or is done inside some sort of shanty or portable shelter. Why go to the expense of using the same waterproofing layers or fabric treatment needed by duck hunters or early or late season open water anglers? 

            It’s that lack of waterproofing which makes using an “ice fishing” specific insulated jacket (or jacket and bibs combo) a poor choice for the earliest open water action on the Great Lakes. Whether it’s the Fall Brawl in late November on Erie or ice out brown trout in Door County, Wisconsin, cold water anglers need all the features important in an ice fishing coat along with a waterproof outer shell.

            I used a Gill Winter Angler Jacket for my end of season fishing last year and when my boat slides off the trailer in mid-March in search of early season cohos here in southern Lake Michigan, I’ll be sliding back into my Winter Angler Jacket. (I also have matching bibs.) I fish out of an open boat several days a week and seasonal March winds and April showers guarantee precipitation from above as well as spray from choppy waves as I head for the warm water hotspots that concentrate the cohos. From my experience last fall, I know Gill’s multi-layer XPLORE waterproofing technology in the outer shell of the jacket will be up to the task.

            If, like me, you are a function over fashion kind of person you’ll appreciate it comes only in “graphite” color – basically black. While I think a bright red, yellow or other color of suit looks good, I know from experience, after a few trips, after a few flopping, bleeding fish, perhaps spill or two of coffee, that gaudy garb can start to look a little used. I also know, when the sun is shining, those sunbeams are being absorbed by my black coat to add a measure of warmth.  

            All the other boxes mentioned earlier are checked, as well. Well thought out pockets, cuffs, lining, insulation, hood closures, zippers and storm flaps make the Gill Winter Jacket a perfect choice. Available at many retail and online outlets as well as directly from

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