What to Wear Fly Fishing in the Winter

What to Wear Fly Fishing in the Winter

Would you rather write the fishing report or read the fishing report? 

That’s the conundrum for so many anglers during the cold winter months.  Sure, the fish are out there and probably willing to eat, but is it really worth it during that snowstorm that brings several inches of snow and freezing temperatures?  The answer to that becomes much easier when you’re armed with the right gear and clothing to combat the harsh conditions of winter! 


Of all the things that threaten to end the day early, cold hands and fingers is at the top of the list. The inability to comfortably tie on a new rig and the stinging of frozen fingertips grinds a day of fishing to a halt.  During these winter months, I like to bring two pairs of gloves with me. The first pair is fingerless wool, which allows me to stay pretty warm and still maintain a level of function. For those extra cold days, the second pair is a wool mitten that flips down into gloves.  When I’m casting, my off hand is in mitten mode for maximum warmth, but it’s still really easy to switch into the gloves for retying or unhooking a fish!


Keeping feet warm in winter is the toughest thing to achieve.  Numb toes that feel more like blocks of ice than extremities is a miserable feeling, and it’s really hard to combat.  When it comes to dressing for warmth, wear two pairs of socks. Typically my bottom layer is just a regular run-of-the-mill athletic sock followed by thick wool socks.  Having two layers helps a ton, and walking around out on the stream keeps blood circulating, which is about the best you can do when water temperatures are hovering just above freezing. 


Dressing in layers, and having more layers available in the car, is key to a day out in winter.  Weather can change in an instant, and even a few degree drop can be debilitating to the cold weather angler.  Companies like Simms make some fantastic layering options that are lightweight and warm. A classic winter layering system for me is a long sleeve tee, fleece quarter zip, hoodie, and then a jacket to cut the wind and, if necessary, repel precipitation.  Another jacket, usually a puffy warmer option, extra hoodie, and fleece layer are stashed in the truck just in case it’s colder than anticipated or even worse, a fall in happens. 

Some of the best action of the year happens during winter, and there is incredible solitude to be found for those brave enough to battle the conditions.  Arming yourself with the right gear makes all the difference, however. How much fun you have in a given day often starts with your choice of what to wear before even leaving the house!

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