Skwala Fishing’s innovation and desire to push the fly fishing apparel market in new directions has been a welcome breath of fresh air in 2022. Their Fusion 3/2 Puffy jacket is a game-changer in fly fishing apparel, as is the company’s dedication to designing gear that moves with the angler while on the water.
Which is where their RS Jacket comes into the fray. This is a wading jacket built to do more than cover you in stiff waterproof fabric that’s loud, doesn’t stretch, and rides up when rowing or high-sticking a nymph drift. The RS Jacket is designed to integrate fully with Skwala’s RS Waders, it’s fully waterproof, and is an outstanding outer layer in the worst wind, rain, and snow. Add in the slim design and Skwala’s fantastic product sizing, and I think the RS Jacket is one of the best outer layers in all of fly fishing right now.
Cuts the Wind
In addition to being fully waterproof (Skwala CEO’s Kevin Sloan even boasted that I could shower while wearing the RS and come out dry) the RS Jacket is a fantastic outer layer against the tough Wyoming wind I fish in. It cuts the wind well, while still being breathable so you don’t sweat like a pig.
As with all the gear Skwala makes, the RS Jacket was designed with angler movement in mind. A wading jacket isn’t great if it rides up while high-sticking a drift or bunches up while rowing. So, Skwala used highly flexible fabric that moves with you while you’re on the water.
This goes right into the RS Jacket’s great range-of-motion, which is due both to the flexible fabric and the way it was sewn together. Skwala purposefully assembled the RS Jacket in a way that allows for maximum movement. You don’t notice how important that aspect of design is until you wear something purpose-built like the RS Jacket.
It’s also worth noting here that Skwala chose to go with a slightly different fabric than what you’ll find in other waterproof jackets. The goal was to create something that’s waterproof, but that still breathes. The idea is that by building a breathable garment, your body is better able to regulate its own temperature, keeping you warmer throughout the day.
Pockets, Hood, and Wrist Cuffs
The RS Jacket sports tons of pocket room, including a pass-through pocket built to integrate with their RS waders. If you own both the RS Jacket and waders, the big pass-through pocket allows you to reach in from your jacket to your waders. It’s a brilliant design that eliminates the need to shed layers just to access pockets.
The hood on the RS Jacket is slim, compact, and cut in a way that doesn’t impede your peripheral vision. The cords to adjust the hood are hidden in front pockets so they don’t catch on your fly line, which is a wonderful touch.
Finally, the wrist cuffs on the jacket are internal and fully sealed, meaning you can stick your arm in the water to release a fish and not have to worry about getting wet. And you don’t have to worry about tipping your arms up slightly, only to have water run down your sleeve and soak your inner layers. Including an internal wrist cuff is just another example of Skwala’s wonderful attention to detail.
What Doesn’t Work
I do wish the RS wasn’t a $500 jacket. That’s a steep price, but it’s also one that’s in line with top-of-the-line jackets from Skwala’s competitors. What the jacket offers in performance, features, and build quality may ultimately make the price tag well worth it. However, I do know that price will put the RS out of range for a lot of budget-conscious anglers.
Based solely on its movement-focused cut and the stretch and flex built into its fabric, the Skwala RS Jacket would find itself amongst the best wading jackets currently on the market. But it also cuts wind exceptionally well, while breathing enough so you don’t sweat too much while wearing it. And I particularly love the taped cuffs that keep my forearms completely dry when releasing fish back into the water. Yes, it’s an expensive jacket. But if you can swing it, such a price tag is a lot easier to swallow when it's attached to a jacket as well-built and feature-packed as this one.