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How to Stay Warm while Winter Fly Fishing for Trout
Winters in most states are brutal as temperatures drop to the negatives.
While others are huddling next to fires inside because of mercury-bottomed thermo readings, some anglers take this chance to get the best the season offers in their favorite spots.
Adventure in the cold is rewarding, and knowing how to stay warm winter fly fishing will increase your comfort levels and ensure you are casting more without an issue.
Trout angling doesn’t stop with icy temperatures.
Brownies are somewhere in the middle of the fall, and on waters like the Madison River, rainbows are cruising up from Lake Hebgen and increasing pounds from eggs.
Maybe, it is time to try out Yellowstone National Park, as most fish spend winter days in Madison and other waters in the park – it was just a brief mention, not a detailed fly fishing location post.
On waters like the South and Henry Fork, trout feed more on top as they gallop blue-winged olives, and the epic midge hatch during this time.
Browns are known for their aggression when protecting redds.
The angling population frowns upon casting to spawning trout, but chasing brownies not on reds is fantastic with massive, gaudy streamer flies.
Above all, you need to know how to keep warm when fly fishing in winter.
It is one thing to experience iced fly-angling rod guides and a different one if hypothermia visits you.
Die-hard fly fishers who cast in single-digit temperatures understand the importance of staying warm throughout their outdoor hours.
Are you a winter-curious fly fisher? Here are some easy ways to ensure you don’t lose finger dexterity, are warm, and are far from the risks of hypothermia and cold-related diseases.
Quick Post Navigation
- Dryness is Key to Staying Warm
- Ensure your Extremities Are Warm
- Hats aren’t for Summer Only
- Use Hand Warmers Properly
- Fleece and Microfleece Garments
- Hydrate and Rehydrate
- Take Fishing Breaks
- Layering is Key
- Black is ‘Hot’
- Skin Exposure is for Beach Days and Vacations
- Never Underestimate the Importance of Company
- Food! Food! Food!
- Light a Fire
- More Tips to Keep Warm Winter Fly Fishing
- Wrap Up
Dryness is Key to Staying Warm
You must be as dry as a bone to remain warm in the winter.
It sounds like a no-brainer to some, but the tiniest leak in your jacket or waders can be disastrous.
And if you have no change of gear or your truck is a long distance from your fishing spot, prepare to freeze like a popsicle.
The water temperatures in winter are not warmer than icing, and a slight trickle will soak the warmest woolen socks.
What else is left than packing and ending your day shortly after you started it?
Check all your winter gear for holes and burst or weak seams, as these are the primary culprits for moisture entry.
Get good quality fabric tape that works on wader material and have a roll on standby because accidents are unpredictable, and you are better off saving the day with it.
Your winter fly fishing gear must hold up well to the brutality out there if you expect to be warm while fishing in them.
Keeping your hands dry isn’t negotiable.
Your finger dexterity is vital since your hands are in action throughout – fixing flies, reeling in a fish, throwing those streamers, and everything you need to do.
Warm, waterproof fly fishing gloves are necessary when catching or realizing a fish.
Bring a hand towel in your wading jacket to dry your hands in case you are out of the gloves when handling trout.
Ensure your Extremities Are Warm
Your ears, nose, feet, and hands are the most affected by winter cold as you fly fish.
Let’s not argue about warm socks and whether you should carry them – that is final!
Use gloves and warm socks under your waders.
Wool dries faster than most materials; however, the general rule is to understand your ABCs.
If you can’t pick anything else from these tips, Anything But Cotton.
Cotton soaks faster and dries slowly – hence, no angler should wear it close to their body when winter fly fishing.
Hats aren’t for Summer Only
Leave your fedoras for fancies, and have a ski or wool cap when casting in winter.
The cold can be disrespectful and do away with most of your body heat through your head.
Your bushy hair won’t even protect you at this point.
A mask, buff, or similar covering supplements your lid, thus ensuring body heat retention.
Use Hand Warmers Properly
Some hand warmers are designed to be activated when opened – this is an incredible option for fly fishers, but avoid putting them under gloves.
Putting them in your coat or jacket pockets is ideal, and if your mittens or gloves are wet, you can warm up your hands and fingers.
Whoever said it is wrong to put your hand warmers near the feet lied to you.
Under wool socks is another secret place most anglers didn’t know.
Fleece and Microfleece Garments
The ABC rule is vivid.
Fleece or microfleece garments in your upper and lower body are the way to go.
Have three to five pairs of winter fishing pants made from fleece – each should have a different cut and thickness.
Wear the thickest under your fishing waders if you suspect a further drop in temperature when outside.
Thinner fleece works well in warmer winters.
Hydrate and Rehydrate
Winter welcomes soups, broths, teas, and all hot drinks.
Plenty of water to drink is necessary, even if it is cold.
Leave hot coffee and teas for when you are indoors because they are diuretics, and you’ll be answering nature’s call every few minutes – no disturbances when casting in the cold, please!
Avoid hot alcoholic beverages a few minutes before or during fly fishing.
FACT: Alcohol feels warm but lowers the body’s core temperature, which you want to avoid.
Take Fishing Breaks
Take breaks from time to time, even on the water.
You trust your waterproof gear, wool socks, and winter layering skills.
But, continuously standing in almost-freezing water will affect your body heat.
Layering is Key
Layering is a skill all winter anglers need to master.
Besides keeping you warm, layers help with body temperature regulation.
Being too warm means your perspirations increase.
If temperatures drop further, sweating will make you cold.
Ensure you can remove or add more layers as you fish throughout the day.
Utmost comfort means extended fishing periods.
Black is ‘Hot’
It isn’t exactly how you thought after reading this, but darker colors are known to retain heat more than brighter and lighter ones.
Some winter days come with sunshine – soak it all up, friend.
You can do this by wearing dark-colored gear on such days.
As these gear retain the soaked heat, it is transferred to your body, keeping you warm (but be careful about what happens as explained in the point above this one – regulate! regulate!).
Skin Exposure is for Beach Days and Vacations
Freezing days will need you to cover up as much as possible and expose less skin.
Good for you if you can cover up fully, including some fly fishing sunglasses for winter and a mask that hides your face from the enemy and the cold.
Open skin gets cold faster than you think, and overexposure causes hypothermia and frostbite in worst cases – these aren’t like bug bites that you shouldn’t care about.
Never Underestimate the Importance of Company
One of the reasons for fly fishing deaths in winter is drowning.
Solo fishing is a favorite for most anglers, but try casting with a buddy when it is cold.
It is tons of fun; however, in case you tumble and fall in an ice-cold lake or river, someone will be closer to drag you to safety or call for rescue in case more hands are needed.
Then, you can find a way of getting warmer once you are out.
Food! Food! Food!
Pack something to eat – it could be healthy snacks or real food.
Nibbling on something will keep your core warmer because your stomach muscles are in motion.
A warmer core means more blood getting to your feet and hands.
Light a Fire
You can build a fire on the fly to beat the cold.
Bring a lighter and a fire-starting material if you will stay outdoors longer.
Stash them in your fly fishing jacket or vest if your truck or car is far.
Your waders might decide to end their life and try to end yours by bursting a seam and allowing water to seep through.
Or you or a buddy might dunk, and the quickest way to prevent winter damage is by squatting near a fire.
Just remember to put out the fire properly before leaving.
More Tips to Keep Warm Winter Fly Fishing
A catch-and-release tool can help you do the basics of handling trout without wetting your hands.
Rig up all your rods at home so that you don’t have to tie knots and expose your hands to the cold.
Apply lip balm, lemon pledge, or paste to rod guides to prevent ice formation.
We always assume elementary ideas because they are almost cliché, but wait until it is your turn to face the winter music.
Comfort might be your primary goal during casting in the cold but safety shouldn’t be neglected.
You want to enjoy these endeavors instead of dreading them, especially if you are a novice to fly fishing in winter.
It is crucial to know how to stay warm in winter fly fishing for you to enjoy all the experiences, not hate it with the first attempt.