Hodgman has been making fly-fishing clothing in Massachusetts since 1838. It returns to the UK market in 2017 with a new range of cold-weather wear and a big reputation. But is it any good?
The Aesis is an outer shell fastened to an insulated jacket – shell and jacket can be worn alone or together. The inner jacket is made with Thinsulate, a synthetic insulating material that continues to work when wet. I found this layer very warm. Last winter, on the banks of Rutland Water when the weather turned milder than expected, I often removed it and wore just the shell over my fishing shirt. I was then grateful of the inner jacket’s warmth when returning to the car as temperatures dropped near freezing in the gloaming. In dry weather on the Wye, the jacket also worked well on its own, although it doesn’t have the same wealth of features as the outer shell.
It has two hand-warmer pockets positioned high on the chest so that you can still access them when the jacket is tucked inside chest waders. There is a pair of zip pockets near the waist and a zipped chest pocket. The inner security pocket has a flap and velcro closure, and this becomes the inside pocket when the two jackets are worn together.
The inner jacket zips into the outer shell with loop and snap fastenings at the collar and sleeves, which keeps it from moving around.
The chief ingredient in the shell is Hodgman’s breathable, waterproof and windproof V-TecH fabric. There are two layers of V-TecH, with a micro-fleece lining and taped seams. The main zip has two outer flaps, one with a rain gutter for extra deflection; and there’s a third flap on the inside. Zips can let in wind and water, but the flaps make this nigh impossible.
The hood is detachable and adjustable. It has a nice wide brim that easily fits over a cap. I have stood in a heavy downpour with large dollops of rain tip-tapping on my lid without a single drop rolling down my neck or anywhere else inside the shell.
The cuffs have a tight rubber seal that can be pulled tighter with a velcro fastening. These are very good at keeping out water, even if fully submerged for short periods when returning a fish or turning over a rock. If you have big hands I would check they are not too tight before you buy.
There are plenty of pockets, four on the chest – two top-opening flapped pockets and two side-opening zip pockets. All four will take a large fly-box comfortably. Underneath the flaps is a D-ring on which to hang accessories. I don’t like hanging things off the front of a jacket because they can get in the way at the worst moment, so the fact the rings are covered appeals strongly. If you like to keep forceps attached at all times, you may prefer retractors to D-rings.
Also high on the shell are a pair of fleece-lined pockets, positioned deliberately high to be useful when deep wading. For some these pockets can be positioned uncomfortably high – it depends on your physique – but for a person of my size (medium-short) they are entirely comfortable, not to mention extremely welcome on cold days.
There is a velcro fly patch on the right side with a removable magnetic bar. It will temporarily hold flies, nippers, even forceps if they’re not too heavy, and that makes the job of switching flies easier.
The shell has what Hodgman refers to as a Range of Motion fit: its contours aren’t restrictive. I have used the Aesis with single- and double-handed rods and at no point did I feel impeded. The shell also fits well over additional layers should you need them, though I found the addition of the inner jacket is more than warm enough over a shirt in
This jacket is versatile, warm, waterproof, comfortable to wear, accommodates a full casting action and has plenty of pockets on the outer shell for storage. The fact that insulation can be added or removed throughout the course of the season, or the day, is very handy. I’d recommend this jacket for all fishing throughout Britain and Ireland, especially for the river angler. Sizes: small to XXL.
Contact: Pure Fishing. Tel: 01665 602 771. Web: hodgman.com