Choosing the right pair of gloves for your winter fly fishing endeavors can be frustrating unless you know exactly what level of protection and insulation you need. After trying out several different brands, sizes, and styles, I have noticed that not all cold weather fly fishing gloves are created equal. The best gloves that I have found are able to keep my hands warm and dry in bad weather without becoming cumbersome or hindering my ability to perform basic fly fishing and rigging operations. Before you choose the perfect hand protection for cold weather fly fishing, you need to consider where you fish the most and what winter techniques you most commonly employ. For example, a Rocky Mountain trout angler who uses fine tippets and tiny flies and changes rigs several times each day may want fingerless or half-finger gloves, while the BC steelhead angler might want a full finger, waterproof glove.
The new Patagonia R1 Gloves are the thinnest and most form fitting waterproof fishing gloves ever made. They feature a 1.5 millimeter neoprene exterior for water resistance, and a polypropylene interior for insulation. They protect your hands in cold, wet conditions and allow you to control your rod and line just as you would with bare hands. These are a must have if you are swinging steelhead flies or stripping streamers for big fish.
Patagonia’s next offering for cold weather fly fishermen is the Shelled Insulator Fingerless Gloves. These insulated, water resistant gloves leave the thumb and index fingertips uncovered so that you can feel your line, tie on a size 22 biot midge, and release fish without taking the gloves off. In my mind, this makes them a better choice for trout fishing than the R1 gloves.
This year, Simms introduced cold weather fly fishermen to their ExStream series of fishing gloves, which includes the Flex Glove, the Foldover Mitt, and the Half-Finger Glove. They are made with Polartech Powerloft Pro fabric and coated with a water repelling DWR so that your hands stay warm and dry when you are assaulted with moisture from every direction. Each one provides a different level of protection and dexterity so that you can pick the perfect pair for your specific fishing conditions and techniques. Both the Flex Glove and Foldover Mitt let you gain temporary access to your fingertips so that you can swap flies or untangle rigs without taking them off, and then cover up again to warm up. For more information about these gloves, check out this detailed review of the Simms ExStream glove line by Vail Valley Anglers guide Brody Henderson.
The Simms G4 Glove offers the highest level of protection possible for when mother nature delivers her very worst. The GORE-TEX XTRAFIT fabric is fully waterproof and extremely pliable, and the debossed goat leather palms with Pttards Olitac overlays improve your grip – even when soaked. When you venture into exceedingly cold and wet fishing conditions cold hands are not an option, and the new Simms G4 Gloves are the best protection you can get.
Warmth, fit, and dexterity should be the deciding factors when shopping for cold weather fly fishing gloves and the best way to find your perfect glove is to try on several pairs. Make sure to stop by Vail Valley Anglers in Edwards, Colorado to try on and get a closer look at all of these great fishing gloves.
Andy “Otter” Smith, Guide and Content Writer