What's the Simms Guide Jacket designed for?
The Simms Guide Jacket is a wading jacket so it's cut a little shorter in the body than a three-quarter length jacket you'd normally wear with trousers. The pockets are higher up to keep them out of the water and it has a cropped appearance.
Obviously with this shorter cut, the Classic Guide Jacket looks a bit funny with trousers, so this isn't the sort of fishing jacket you can wear around town. But it's perfect for its intended function as a wading jacket. The waist is adjustable via a pull cord, so you can keep drafts and water out easily.
Is this an insulated wading jacket?
No, the Simms Guide Jacket is a standard "performance hard shell" and doesn't contain any extra insulation. This means that you can wear it all year round, as it doesn't get too hot in the summer, unlike an insulated jacket.
However, it's quite thick so also keeps the wind out completely and keeps you warm when it's cooler. In colder weather, I wear the Patagonia Nano Puff Hoody underneath mine and that keeps me really warm.
If you're looking for a Simms jacket with the insulation built in, check out the Simms Bulkley Jacket instead. This one is a two layer Gore Tex jacket with extra PrimaLoft insulation, so it's better suited to the spring, autumn and winter fly fisher in the UK.
The Simms Bulkley Jacket also has a longer cut than the Classic Guide Jacket, so you can wear it with trousers on the bank, or while going to the bank, and it doesn't look weird. It's also less expensive at around £299, which is good considering there's a PrimaLoft lining, as a separate PrimaLoft jacket would cost a third to half as much of the price.
What's the Simms Guide Jacket made from?
The Simms Guide Jacket is made from three layer Gore Tex fabric. This means it's quite thick and substantial, but also highly breathable and incredibly waterproof. As it's so thick, it's a bit stiffer than other jackets so doesn't pack down to a small size.
It's really only worth carrying with you when you know it's going to rain. When I'm only half expecting a shower, rather than a downpour, I've been using my Loop Opti Lightweight Jacket instead, as that's thinner, lighter and packs down to a much smaller size than the Classic Guide Jacket.
How waterproof is it?
I tested mine the day it arrived in a thunderstorm of biblical proportions. It was so wet the rain was bouncing 30cm off the ground and the banks had rivers of water running down them.
Despite this torrential downpour, the jacket kept me completely dry inside, and despite the humidity the excellent breathability meant that condensation didn't build up inside either. I was seriously impressed.
There's no way my previous jacket would have kept me that dry and comfortable in such atrocious fishing conditions, and I stayed out longer and caught more fish as a result.
What is the collar like?
There's a really big collar on the Simms Guide Jacket. It comes right up past your chin and keeps the wind off your face and neck when it's cold. It's got a soft lining and it feels warm and cosy once you've got it zipped up.
Most of the time, the collar alone is sufficient to keep my neck warm, but in really chilly weather I use a Simms Stretch Neck Gaiter to keep the cold completely at bay.
And the hood?
The hood is similarly well designed: it's really roomy, has a big peak and three elasticated fasteners to keep it in place when the wind picks up. It comfortably goes over the top of a beanie hat or a cap, too. If you don't need to use it you can also tuck it out of the way by stowing it in the collar.
Does it have any special features?
Yep. One particularly handy feature of the Simms Guide Jacket, which sets it apart from the cheaper Simms Bulkley Jacket, is the Simms Retractor which is concealed in the sides of each of the jacket pockets. These tuck into the bottoms of the pockets and allow you to attach a set of nippers and forceps to the jacket for faster and easier access.
There's also a D-ring on the back of the jacket, to which you can attach your net magnet or net retractor, and a velcro patch on the front to allow you to stick on a fly patch, such as the Simms Super Fly Patch.
What are the pockets like?
There are two chest pockets, a large bellowed back pocket (large enough to take a trout or bass bag, for example), and a heater pack pocket with integrated hand warmers.
The chest pockets are quite voluminous: there's tons of room inside to take fairly large fly boxes, tippet, leaders, priests and any other bits you may need to carry.
While I've tended to wear my Simms Headwaters Chest Pack during the summer months to store all my gear in, with the Simms Guide Jacket I can easily stash everything inside the pockets with no need to carry any extra bags.
How are the cuffs?
The storm cuffs on the Simms Guide Jacket are outstanding. There's a soft, elasticated strap in the cuff that's really easy to do up - the best I've seen on any jacket. They're really comfortable and they're never annoying, even if you do them up tightly to prevent water trickling up your sleeve while casting.
And the zips?
The Simms Guide Jacket uses corrosion resistant YKK zips which are waterproof and concealed beneath a storm flap to keep out moisture and dirt. They're chunky, so dirt and grit doesn't clog the zip up as it does on some jackets with finer zips.
In what colours is the Simms Guide Jacket available?
The Classic Guide Jacket used to come in Simms Orange (a sort of burnt orange shade) and Black Olive (a dark olive brown), however, Simms seem to have dropped the orange one and I've only seen the Black Olive version on sale - that's the one I have.
Dare I ask how much?
Simms stuff is never cheap, is it? However, it's always superb quality and the Classic Guide Jacket is no exception. You can buy the Simms Guide Jacket for £349.99.
While that's quite a bit, you get an outstanding quality jacket for the money, and one that's designed perfectly for fly fishing. I'm really pleased with mine and can see that it's going to give me years of protection from the elements, whatever they throw at me. The only drawback (for a 6'4" person like me) is the slightly short body length. A bit extra wouldn't go amiss here, particularly as I rarely wade that deep.
Available from: Amazon