I was thinking about how cold was the coldest day I have ever fished and then that made me think about what warm winter clothes I have and I really don’t have a lot. I do remember the coldest I have ever fished was on New Year’s Day 2011 when Dave Hancey and I went out and when we got to the river it was -13. We had driven for about 2 hours so we decided as much as it would suck we would wet a line even if it was only for a few min. We ended up staying for about 2 hours but no joke it was freaking cold. I also remember that day I had some old fleece pants that I wore under my waders and I layered up with a few long sleeve shirts under my hoodie and jacket and I was surprisingly pretty warm. The one thing I really can’t do is wear gloves fishing when it is cold, I have tried many many times before but I just can’t stand having them. Trying to cast, tie on flies and handle fish with gloves is just to annoying. I will bare through the coldness with my hands and not wear gloves so I am not all cumbersome, I think my hands are probably just as cold even with gloves. Overall that day I wasn’t really that cold. I do experience on those cold days that if I am fishing for the whole day that my core temp drops after a few hours but my toes, legs, arms and head don’t freeze. I have never owned a pair of nice layering wading pants, like $80 Simms fleece wading pants, so I don’t know if the more expensive ones work better, even though I do believe you get what you pay for. All I have are your basic long sleeve shirts and that one pair of fleece pants, most of the time I wear my jeans to fish even in the winter.
So, with my not so made for winter fishing apparel I was going to give out a few tips on how to stay warm winter fishing. Probably what I will say isn’t a new revolutionary way to stay warm but for those that don’t fly fish in the winter because they don’t like the cold maybe you will reconsider after a few of these tips.
Not in any order of importance, because they are all a must, here is the list.
Hand and feet warmers are a must to have at least in the car. Most of the time I have a few in the car and will put them in my bag. You can pick some up at really any store for a few $ each. I bought a variety pack which included hand, toe, and body warmers.
Hat and beanies are also something you never want to forget. I say hat and beanie because if you just have a beanie on those bright winter days then it makes it harder to see. The sun will creep into through the top of your sun glasses and you will wish you had a beanie with a brim or a hat under you beanie.
Two to three layers or shirts is a good number. If you have nice warm undershirts then two i am sure is plenty. I like to have a under armour type thermal shirt to start then just another long sleeve shirt on top. I find that for me that is plenty.
Hoodie or hooded jacket on top of your shirts will help with wind or just the supper freaking cold days. I put on a thinner hoodie just to block the wind on my neck. I also put on top of my thinner hoodie a jacket as a final layer. If I wear my nice thick hoodie sometimes that is my final layer.
Wool socks will for sure help keep your feet warmer and make sure you get wool socks. I will occasionally put two pair of socks on but even with two I find that my feet no matter what are going to get cold regardless of one or two pair and with two pair my toes get squished and start to hurt.
Fleece pants help not only with the cold but they don’t seem to be as restricting as jeans.
Gloves that are thinner neoprene or just don’t really get in the way when casting, stripping line or landing a fish are good. I know it is easier said than done but just don’t get your hands wet and you should be fine.
Check out my list of warm winter gear on Pro Guide Direct