With ice fishing season just around the corner, it's about time to start thinking about what gear you might need to replace, most importantly your fishing bibs. If you need an upgrade in the bib department consider these seven features that you will not only want but need in your next pair of ice fishing bibs.
These unequivocally important features include ample waterproofing, reinforced knees & bottoms, hand warming pockets, large storage pockets with a storm flap, flotation, an adjustable inseam, and of course a double zipper.
Waterproof fishing bibs are non-negotiable when it comes to ice fishing, we all know the equation (wet) + (cold) = one unhappy angler. For most of us it didn’t take but one time to learn our lesson from this mistake, but for those of you who forgot, here’s an extra reminder (you’re welcome).
Though you probably aren’t planning on going for a swim during your next ice fishing outing, you can experience some melt on the top of the ice or fresh snowfall, not to mention all of the lunkers you will be pulling out of the water. The more waterproofing you have when surrounded by freezing water the better.
Waterproofing Ratings For Clothing
Water resistant, not waterproof
Very light rain drizzle, mist
1K - 5K
Waterproof, but not under any pressure
Light rain, snow
5K - 20K
Waterproof under moderate/considerable pressure
Moderate to heavy rain and snow
20K - 40K
Waterproof under heavy pressure
Constant heavy rain and snow
Completely waterproof/non-porous material
Being submerged underwater
Remember, as the waterproof rating increases the breathability rating decreases. So you will need to strike a balance between both, waterproof fishing bibs with low breathability will cause you to sweat, and end up wet.
It’s no secret that the majority of ice fishing is done from a sitting position or on your knees, this is why these areas need to be even more heavy-duty that the rest of your fishing bibs. Ice can be sharp and can cut through subpar materials like a hot knife through butter, so why not have these high-traffic areas reinforced to keep the cold and wet where it belongs, on the outside of your bibs.
There's nothing quite like the feeling of multiple rods bending in half at the same time, in which case you need to think fast and act even faster. If you are as dedicated to setting the hook as we are here at WindRider, it's not a stretch to imagine yourself diving off of your bucket to grab as many rods as possible.
This is where the Cordura reinforced knees really earn their keep. Cordura is a synthetically woven fabric that is usually made from a blend of nylon and natural fibers like cotton. It blends the best of both fabrics as an extra strong material, it is lightweight and water-repellant like nylon yet strong and resilient like cotton. It really is the best of both worlds, especially for an extra layer of reinforced fabric on a high-traffic area like the knee of your fishing bibs.
This same material is used on the bottoms of the bibs as well. While you might not think of the bottoms of your bibs as a high-wear zone, they are. Just think about every time you have to get up to rebait, set a hook, net a fish, or toss your buddy a beer, that's quite a bit of movement, right?
Hand Warming Pockets
While you need all of your appendages functional when ice fishing, it is especially necessary for your hands and fingers to work without cramping and freezing. Once you feel your hands getting cold and clammy it’s only a matter of time until they get stiff and cramp up, rendering you useless as an angler. How do you expect to bait your hook, set the hook, or remove a hook from a fish's mouth if your fingers are frozen?
Whether you are ripping lips left and right or sitting in silence waiting for the bite to commence, you are going to want some pockets that will keep your digits functional. Fleece-lined pockets may just seem like a luxury, but in fact, they are a necessity, especially on subzero temperature days.
Think about it, the longer you can keep your hands warm, the longer you will be able to stay out on the ice, giving you more chances to catch your limit. No matter if it is dumping snow or you are pulling fish after fish through the ice, you will need to keep your hands nice and toasty.
Large Storage Pockets With Storm Flaps
You will also want to make sure your ice fishing bibs come equipped with large storage pockets in addition to hand warming pockets. You don’t want your lures, line, and other tackle taking up your precious hand-warming space, so be sure to purchase fishing bibs with ample storage space. Ideally, you will want deep thigh pockets with storm flaps over the zipper.
The storm flap provides a few benefits for your pockets:
- The storm flap covers the zipper, allowing water to sheet off of the flap instead of soaking into the zipper.
- The storm flap also prevents snow and ice build-up from freezing your zippers open or closed.
Fishing in inclement weather can require a variety of different tackle and equipment to stay on top of the ever-changing conditions. You never know what you might need or what the fish will be biting on each day, so it’s best to bring more instead of less. One of the worst feelings is knowing you opted to leave a piece of tackle at home that you needed because you didn’t have any room to bring it.
You should be looking for ice fishing bibs with multiple deep thigh pockets, so that you can at least have some organization of your tackle in each pocket.
The most dangerous part of ice fishing? Going through the ice and drowning. Ice fishing bibs that float provide peace of mind that few other things in this world can. You need to know that if you break through the ice, you will stay afloat.
It doesn’t matter how strong of a swimmer you are, or how thick you think the ice is, there is always a chance that you can break through. If you are considering buying ice fishing bibs that don’t float, go home, go to back bed, and hope your common sense is working a little better tomorrow.
What Happens When You Fall Into Freezing Water?
Hopefully, you will never have to experience this unfortunate event, but you should be fully aware of what is going to happen when you fall into water that is just a hair above 32℉. The sharp temperature drop is going to immediately send your body into shock, this includes your muscles locking up and hyperventilation.
Even if you were the swim team captain once upon a time in high school, it's not going to do you much good here because you won't be able to swim or breathe. Your suit's flotation is going to give you enough time to power through this initial shock and formulate a plan to get back onto solid ground.
The correct way how to size fishing bibs can prove more confusing than one would think, especially if you aren’t a “standard size”, and considering that every human is slightly different in size, how do companies expect you know what will fit the best? This is where the adjustable in-seam comes in. It allows you to further tailor the size of your fishing bibs so that they fit better, leading to less wear and tear.
Let's take a look at this example to illustrate how the adjustable in-seam is so helpful.
We can see that both anglers weigh 200 pounds but angler 2 is five inches taller than angler 1. Now let’s say that they would normally both have to buy their bibs in a Large because of their weight. Angler 1 is going to get the short end of the stick (get it?) and his bibs are going to drag everywhere he walks, creating an unnecessary amount of wear on the pant leg.
Between walking across the ice and climbing in and out of the truck his pant legs are going to start to fray prematurely. With the adjustable in-seam, he can shorten the pant leg so that it doesn’t drag across and catch on every obstacle between his front door and the fishing hole.
Last, but not certainly not least, is the modern marvel known as the double zipper. These two-way zippers are absolutely necessary when it comes to staying warm and dry, especially when nature calls. It’s never good to get caught with your pants down, especially in subzero temperatures where the wind cuts to the bone. Because this type of zipper zips from both directions, you can be assured that your bibs won’t be open, to let in the elements, for any longer than need be.
The double zipper has the added benefit of easy access to your base layer as well. Say that you pulled a trophy walleye through the ice and you need to get a picture to show your buddies but your phone is in the pocket of your base layer…not to worry! You can quickly grab your phone, zip up, and snap the pic all before losing precious heat.
When the time comes for you to purchase your next set of ice fishing bibs, make sure they come equipped with the seven most important features comprehensive waterproofing, reinforced knees & bottoms, hand warming pockets, multiple large storage pockets with a storm flap, flotation capabilities, an adjustable inseam, and double zippers.
- Ample waterproofing will keep the cold rain and snow outside of your fishing bibs, where it belongs. Be sure to balance this with breathability to prevent sweating.
- Reinforced knees and bottoms will extend the life of your bibs, ensuring that the most high-traffic areas don't develop holes or tears, keeping you drier for longer.
- Fleece-lined hand warming pockets will keep you out on the ice longer, giving you extra chances to catch more and bigger fish.
- In addition to hand warming pockets, you will want multiple deep storage pockets on the thighs to carry all of your tackle and equipment. Make sure they are equipped with storm flaps to keep the zippers functional and the inside of the pocket dry.
- Floating ice fishing bibs may save your life, so don’t skimp on this! At the very least, they give you enough time to get your wits about you to formulate a plan to get to solid ground.
- Adjustable inseams will also prolong the life of your bibs by preventing them from dragging on the ground.
- Double zippers will keep you warmer for longer as well as give you access to your base layers.