Have you ever been out on the water completely unprepared for what mother nature had in store? Fly fishing is supposed to be fun, but if you're out there shivering all day, well, I don't have to tell you that just plain stinks. There are times I've just sucked it up and endured cold, wet conditions the whole day, while other times I couldn't take the punishment anymore and called it quits early. Hey, I love to fish, but I gotta draw the line somewhere!
Jackets come in all shapes and sizes, but with today's materials and designs, it doesn't take a big, bulky one to really take the edge off biting temps. The new Grundens Midway Hooded Softshell Fishing Jacket is just such a garment. It's a "light duty" jacket with an "active" fit, which all basically means it's fairly streamlined and lightweight. Although South Florida obviously isn't known for cold temps, I did have several cold, wet days to really give this jacket a solid test.
First things first: the design and construction. The jacket is made using 100% polyester and has just a hint of 4-way stretch for added mobility. Both windproof and highly water-resistant, there's also hook and loop velcro wrist cuff adjusters, cinch-cord adjustable hood, cinch-cord adjustable hem with in-pocket adjusters, exterior chest pocket, two hand pockets, interior mesh pockets, and an "MP-3 friendly" interior pocket. Inside, there's also a really soft and comfortable inner liner throughout.
Quality was excellent with my sample jacket as I had zero gripes with the construction.
Luckily, I had this jacket handy for not just a fair amount of cool weather, but some much-needed wet weather as well. In fact, we had one of our wettest weekends in quite a while just weeks after I received my Midway jacket sample.
While it's not marketed as a straight-up raincoat, I found that the coat does VERY well in a light to moderate rain. Not only does the jacket insulate extremely well for a relatively thin garment, but it also repelled water much better than anticipated. In fact, one day I gave the fly rod a rest and was tossing conventional baits in rain and wind gusts well over 30mph, and I stayed nice and dry. In addition, my phone, wallet, and keys stayed dry in the outside pockets as well. For a full day heavier rain event I'd still gravitate towards a serious rain jacket, but it was good to know the Midway can work well in a pinch.
The performance was great, but for me I'd rate the fit slightly lower at "good." Was it comfortable to fish in? Absolutely. I just felt the cuffs were a little wide for me (I have thin wrists) and I wasn't super fond of the velcro cuff adjustments as they bunched the cuffs up a little bit. Of course, results will vary here!
The adjustable hood and hem came in handy. The hem is adjusted with pull tabs located inside the zippered hand pockets, while the hood uses pull tabs that are on the inner sides of the collar flap. Both the hood and hem also have a little button on each side within the fabric that you can push to release the cords back out for more room. For both, I'd prefer the adjusters to just be on the outside of the jacket for the easiest and quickest access.
The Grundens Midway Hooded Softshell Fishing Jacket did its job really well and I actually preferred wearing it over my more expensive foul-weather jacket from "the other guys" as I found it to be warmer, more comfortable, and surprisingly the inner pockets stayed drier. The Midway comes in a broad range of sizes from XS–5X with prices from $99.99 to $109.99. Colors include Herringbone (tested) and black.