Rain gear for Alaskan fly fishing trip

Chase

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Headed to Alaska this summer for the first time. Iliamna Lake for a week to fly fish. Everything I read says to bring the best rain jacket you can afford, all say Gore-Tex by name. This will be my first time to fly fish, so I am hesitant to spend the money for a Simms or similar wading jacket that I may only use occasionally. Waders, boots, etc are being provided. My tentative plan is to buy rain gear that I can use during hunting season and use it on this fishing trip. I'm leaning towards the Kuiu Yukon or Chugach. Any opinions on the Kuiu rain gear compared to Gore-Tex? Anybody that can advise me as to potential pitfalls of using normal rain gear instead of a wading jacket? Thanks in advance.
 

Kaitum

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My Gore-Tex never kept me dry after multiple days of rain in Alaska. Helly Hansens did. Didn't have my Kuiu Chugach long enough to really put it through a test in AK but I do really like the jacket. Go with HH Impertech if you don't want to spend the money on a Kuiu. Doubt you'll be disappointed with the Chugach though.
 

sneakypete

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I have the kuiu Chugach I believe, and they just had a 15% off sale. I wore it in BC on a horse back moose hunt! It worked perfectly. I bought it in the brown.
 

Gellar

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When I lived in Alaska, if we were fishing and did not have to hike a long ways we wore Helly Hansen Impertech. If the waders they provide are anything less than chest waders I would get a longer rain jacket.
 

cedahm

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I've been floating in Bristol Bay and more recently, the Y-K delta, every other year since 98, and the absolute most miserable I've seen someone was a guy on the 06 trip wearing the rubberized HH commercial fishing gear on a trip where it rained solid 7 out of 8 days. It for sure keeps rain on the outside, but the guy who wore it was wetter from the condensation inside than everyone else was from the rain. If you were just fishing from a boat with someone else rowing and such, it would probably be fine.

The statement you've heard - "buy the best you can afford" is, verbatim, the first line of a lengthy list of things that we send 'new guys' on our trips. It's followed closely by "don't bring any cotton on the river". You can replace the term 'Gore-Tex' with 'Waterproof/Breathable' since a lot of companies are making their own version that is (generally speaking) the same stuff and just as good as the companies licensing it directly from WL Gore. All of the WP/breathable stuff will lose effectiveness over time or as it becomes saturated.

The most common place guys get wet is up the arms from handling fish, etc and water then wicking all the way up the arms. A lot of the fishing-focused jackets now have very solid seam closures and rubberized cuffs to prevent this, whereas most of the hunting jackets don't. Not sure about Kuiu.


Wading length vs Full length depends on the conditions you think you'll face. If it's early kings or late silvers, you'll be wading deeper than normal and a wading cut jacket makes sense otherwise a good portion of the bottom of the jacket is going to be in the water. If it's mid-season trout fishing or mostly fishing from a boat, the full length is a little more versatile, since full-length makes more sense in most other (non wading) situations. Unless you plan to use it almost exclusively for fishing, I'd buy full length.

I'd frankly be more nervous about rental waders and boots. Even the highest of the high end lodges won't necessarily catch every pinhole leak, seam rupture, etc. in their gear as the season rolls along.
 

Bambistew

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When I lived in Alaska, if we were fishing and did not have to hike a long ways we wore Helly Hansen Impertech. If the waders they provide are anything less than chest waders I would get a longer rain jacket.

What he said.

One thing to consider, if you go with Goretex make sure to either bring a spare set, or get it dried out each night. Once it saturates it will not keep you very dry. IMO, Goretex sucks balls in high humidity conditions if you can't dry (cabin/fire/etc), and is terrible if you're wearing a pack. The contact will wick moisture right through it.

I would love to try out the "best" gear there is such as Kuiu or Sitka so I can finally put that question to bed. One thing that surprises me is the cost Kuiu/Sitka, they're actually quite a bit cheaper than other outdoor companies gear for supposedly the same technology/fabrics/etc. This is the burning question. If they are really that good, why are they so cheap? IMO, I think the anecdotal performance of Kuiu/Sitka is akin to people thinking it must be good because everyone else says so. Kind of like the guy that ends up with a bugged out taxidermy mount, he think it looks great because its his.
 

Nutrioso

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Just adding to the "buy the best you can afford" chorus. I know there are a lot of opinions about Gore-Tex pro and con, but I have fished a bunch of days for steelhead in pouring rain ( and a couple weeks for rainbows in the Bristol Bay region) and I can attest nothing will handle the AK weather like a purpose designed Gore-Tex fishing jacket. There is no question that Gore-Tex is waterproof. The waders you use in AK will be made of Gore-Tex or some equivalent, and fishermen have spent hundreds of hours wading in the stuff staying about as dry as you can be while submerged in water. The most important part in my experience, though, is not so much the type of waterproof membrane, but the design details. Cuffs that seal out running water, a hood that cinches tightly around your face but doesn't block peripheral vision (which you will need at Iliamna to keep an eye out for the Bears), and hand warmer pockets placed high enough so they don't fill with water to become useless are all part of staying dry and comfortable. Most rainwear designed for hunting or for fishing out of a boat doesn't have these critical features. Rainwear built by Simms and other quality firms does. A trip to AK is not cheap, and I think you will be much happier with a top quality Gore-Tex rain jacket built by Simms or Orvis or equal. Pretty tough to be on that trip of a lifetime, soaked to the skin, with the float plane or raft not leaving for hours.

Iliamna is beautiful. I wish you a great trip.
 

jims

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I've been going to Alaska on a regular basis....both fishing and hunting. HH rubberized is fantastic for boats and if you aren't hiking. I wear chest waders while fishing rivers so am covered on bottoms. My preference for tops is Marmot Precip. You can get jackets in brown or green colors for around $50. It's possible to get a discount code for 20 to 30% off Sierra Trading's already incredible price. I've had just as good luck with MP as my camo Sitka raingear. I can guarantee you won't find a better breathable rain jacket for the price! They work so well and are so cheaply priced at ST that I've bought 3 jackets and 2 sets of pants.

One thing to make sure with your rain jackets is they have pitzips. You will get wet from the inside out if you don't have them! As mentioned above it's also important to have tight Velcro or something else tight around the cuffs. A nice hood and ventilation in the back is also a plus.
 

Chase

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Thanks for all of the great information. The sealed jacket cuffs are a detail I would have overlooked. I do know that the lodge is providing Simms chest waders and boots.

I'll be at Iliamna the third week of July. Anybody have any input on what the fishing is like, what will be running, etc? My boss is taking me along on the trip as he was invited by business associates, but you must book in pairs. He isn't really a detail guy so I'm a little starved for info other than knowing the dates and name of the lodge. I'm very excited for the trip. Thanks again for all the help.
 

Kaitum

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I'm assuming you'll be targeting rainbows...? The peak of the sockeye run in the Newhalen River (right next to Iliamna) is right around July 15th. I think the Kvichak peaks about three weeks prior to the Newhalen. Most of the tributaries flowing into Lake Iliamna on the north side should be packed with sockeye, at least staging at the river mouth. Might be a bit early for coho at that time. Always plenty of Dollies and grayling around when you get tired of rainbows.
 

Chucknduck

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Since you are going to a lodge I don't think you need a fishing specific jacket with water tight cuffs. You'll have a place to dry wet sleeves and have extras to change into. I spent 5 summers in that area on the water everyday. Goretex is your friend in Alaska. If you don't mind me asking what lodge are you going to?
 

Chase

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Chucknduck - Iliamna River Lodge is the place we are headed. I believe this is their first year operating from this lodge, but the same guys own and operate Rainbow River Lodge, where the other guys in our group have stayed several times.

Kaitum - As far as targets, I'd like to try to catch everything I can. As this is my first trip to Alaska, it's all new to me. The only trout I've ever caught are stocked trout. I fish a lot here in Oklahoma, but I realize crappie, catfish and bass fishing are not quite the same.
 

cedahm

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Kaitum - As far as targets, I'd like to try to catch everything I can. As this is my first trip to Alaska, it's all new to me. The only trout I've ever caught are stocked trout. I fish a lot here in Oklahoma, but I realize crappie, catfish and bass fishing are not quite the same.

You're entering a whole new class of trout. Those Bristol Bay rainbows are really not even the same species as a stocked rainbow.

You should be at the very end of the Kings and the middle/end of the Reds, with some Chum. The pinks will be showing up as well, since it's an even-numbered year. Egg fishing for trout and dollies behind staged up reds should be excellent.

And as noted by Chuck - since you'll have 4 walls and a roof, most any good goretex jacket should suffice since you'll be able to completely dry out on a nightly basis.

Have a great trip. Such a great part of the world.
 

Chucknduck

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I worked at a lodge right next to rainbow river lodge. Don't know if illiamna river lodge is in a different spot or operating out of the old rainbow river lodge. Been a long time since I was up there so some things have changed. I worked mostly on the copper river. It has great trout fishing and only get sockeye salmon run. They were a fly out lodge so they had access to more rivers than us. If that's the case you can basically pick what fish you want to catch each day. You're going to have a great time regardless and I'm very jealous of you. I miss that place like crazy was some of the best times of my life but life and family get in the way. I always have the urge to get back. Please let us know how the trip went and give us some pics
 

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