After a few trips fishing in steady rain, I wondered if it was finally time to review a wading jacket. I scoured the web a bit and found an L.L. Bean Wading Jacket that seemed to fit the criteria I was looking for – the Emerger II.
Now came the hard part – finding a good rain storm to fish in. It seemed like I waited for ages. However, then the heavens opened, and man did they pour. So much so that the rivers became unfishable here in Colorado and we experienced significant flooding. So much for wishing for rain…
In the end this review took much more time and effort than I anticipated as I wanted to get a good test of the equipment and I’m blessed to live in a state with some pretty incredible sunshine. What I found instead in my review is that this wading jacket is a great all-around companion in undesirable fishing conditions.
I opted to go with size Large in the Tall version. The medium probably would have been a bit of a more sized fit, however, I wanted to room as I often back a decent amount of gear in my vest and wader chest pocket. It turned out to be the right choice. L.L. Bean did a great job with ensuring this wading jacket is sized appropriately to account for the gear that you might be carrying with you. The sleeve lengths were perfect and the chest area was sufficient while still leaving the ability to cinch the waste band
The style of the Emerger II L.L. Bean Wading Jacket is geared towards doing two things well; pockets and waterproofing. With two main breast pockets, the Emerger II wading jacket is set up to hold some of the larger portable fly boxes out there. While fishing with the jacket i left my entire vest aside and just used the cargo areas of the Jacket. I was able to adequately fit all the items I needed.
Additionally each Breast Pocket is designed with two side fleece-lined zipper pockets to fit the smaller items or to warm up your hands. On the left side pocket there is a also a waterproof smaller pocket that would be well suited for a camera or fishing license. Most creatively, there are two fabric loops on either side of the breast pockets that contain locations to attach clippers or other smaller accessories you would normally attach to your vest.
With fully taped seams and quality stitching this L.L. Bean wading jacket keeps water out. The waterproof feature I enjoyed the most however was the lightweight adjustable neoprene cuffs. Sticking your hand in water while fishing in cold weather is bad enough, but getting a wet sleeve because of it just plain sucks. These neoprene cuffs do an excellent job at keeping water out of the sleeve and wrist area and keeping the warmth in the Jacket. By far my favorite feature.
I fished the jacket in more wind than I did rain. I was very impressed with how warm it keeps you on the river – though I won’t go as far as calling this a winter jacket as its not. Really its designed to be fished in the rain – but with suitable clothing on underneath its been a good winter jacket for me.
Who needs a vest?
Overall, I think the thing that struck me most in this review was the lack of any type of a vest that is needed when wearing this jacket. It even has a D-ring on the back to hold your net. While some might be tempted to wear a vest underneath or even a pack over top, I would recommend against it as it genuinely isn’t needed.