Choosing a kayak is one major step when getting into the sport and is usually the first one people take and then they realise they need something to wear whilst out on the sea/water on it so here’s a few pointers.

The first thing you’ll get thrown at you if asking on social media and the internet is “get a dry suit”, “get a dry suit with a relief zip” then off you’ll go to have you’re eyes widened by the price of them! Don’t panic as its not the end of the world! Yes, dry suits are great for fishing from a kayak but they aren’t the be all and end all of it. There’s full 3mm titanium lined wet suits that make you impossible to sink or even go below the surface without weights and let water in to warm to body temperature so keep you warm. Shorty wet suits for summertime on the sunny sea and even t-shirt and shorts can be worn in summer.

wetsuit on kayak fishing uk
a dry suit next to a wet suit with a shorty wet suit to the right

The majority of newcomers to the sport wear a dry suit though as they’re portrayed as ‘safer’. Recently there was a report of a kayak angler who tipped on a choppy sea and never knew his dry suit was holed so it filled up quickly! He was with a paddle buddy so hung on until the RNLI came thankfully but this is a warning to all dry suit users CHECK IT EVERY TIME YOU GO OUT! Wade into the water and dip to your neck testing for water ingress. Its too easy to stand on a sharp stone or brush past a rough rock edge or even snag a hook into a leg etc.

Dry pants and dry cag are possibly the best way to go going by experience as you can drop the pants if the need arises yet still stay dry if tipped and also remove the cag if too hot whilst paddling and fishing. The key is to dress for the conditions and not for what other people say! Paddling out in a dry suit over high summer will make you sweat and suffer dehydration as well as be very uncomfortable whereas a wet suit will keep you cooler and if you get too hot you can jump in to cool off.

Andy on a Perception Caster in around 2006 – notice the wetsuit, its a 3mm titanium lined suit, impossible to sink or go under the surface its so buoyant! and keeps you warm. I’ll of had a cag in a dry bag in the front hatch. A cag with a wet suit is recommended to keep the wind chill off.

In Winter, a shortie wetsuit isn’t going to keep you warm, a full wet suit with a cag will suffice as the cag stops wind chill. A dry suit coupled with a fleeced liner suit (known as a romper suit in the sport) will be good but you MUST wear the correct gear beneath the dry suit otherwise it will not keep you warm enough!

t-shirt and shorts on a kayak fishing in lake windermere
lake Windermere September/Octbober 2007 it was 70° and I was in t-shirt and shorts.

Just remember that when sitting on a kayak in the cold weather, it isn’t just the cold water that can kill you. The cold air is just as much of a threat! So dress accordingly or hypothermia will set in sending you to sleep and possibly never waking up! How many shore anglers stand for hours on end on piers and rock edges and beaches dressed for the ‘water temperature’? in case they fall in? They dress to keep warm with a floatation suit on hopefully to keep the biting winds out and its no different on a kayak! People who say “dress for the water temperature” on a kayak are clearly inexperienced or ill advised!

The first time I wore my brand new dry suit was in April about 2012 and I was out with paddle buddy Wayne who had also bought one recently and was out of sight but got me on the VHF to ask how I was and it took about 5 attempts to hear the message as I’d dozed off due to hypothermia. It had shut my body down, rod still in hand and when I eventually mustered the energy to reply I told him and he raced over. We paddled to shore and spent the next 15 or so minutes running up and down the shingle beach to warm up. We both had under dressed for the occasion with only a t-shirt or so on beneath the dry suit and the cold air ate into me!


Stay safe out there!

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