Layering for Winter Fly Fishing with Patagonia Gear

It takes a strong constitution and a true dedication to go out fly fishing in winter. You’re going to want to wear more than your Hawaiian shirt and waders. So, let’s take a look at what gear is designed to help you out in some of the coldest water climates fish-able.

You not only want to stay dry, but warm. You also need the flexibility of being able to move to cast your line. Some winter clothing will stiffen you up like a straight jacket, and that just won’t work!

First off, think layers and no cotton.

Avoid Cotton

Most of us think of cotton as ideal in any weather, but the truth is cotton absorbs water, and quickly. Even if you’re thinking about a cotton undershirt, if it gets wet, you’ll be wet, and with the temperature being near freezing, well, you’d freeze! Ditto with your socks. If your feet sweat or your boots take in a little water, you’ll feet will remain cold and wet. So, no cotton.

Underwear and Second Layering

For your primary layer, close to the skin, consider a wool/synthetic blend, unless you are allergic. If that’s the case, go straight synthetic. Choose long johns or a tee shirt, whatever is comfortable for you.

Fleece works well as your second layer. A long-sleeve fleece shirt or pullover will insulate you from the cold but still allow breath-ability. Try fleece pants for under your waders.

Waterproof Outerwear is Your Best Weather Defense


Wear breathable waders, no matter the weather. Take a look at some convenient fleece-lined waders as another option. Patagonia has a terrific line of waders for men and women perfect for the winter season. On top, you’ll want to add an insulated wading jacket, preferably with many pockets. Some people like to wear a raincoat, which is fine, if it doesn’t encumber your ability to cast.

Two-Sock System and Boots

Even in cold weather, when moving around a lot your feet may still sweat. Wear thin, synthetic socks closest to the skin. Add a second sock layer of warmer wool or wool-blend on top. This can be a little more cumbersome than what you regularly wear, so you may need to purchase additional boots a size up for comfort and to avoid cutting off the circulation to and from your ankles and feet.

Speaking of boots, your wading boots are the most important part of your fishing wardrobe any time of year. First off, you need to be shear footed. Secondly, your ankles need to be supported to avoid twisting, so you can stay on your feet. You don’t want to end up sideways in the water or on the rock, especially not in winter. You need traction and you need comfort, so make sure they aren’t too tight.

With this in mind, boots are one item you should loosen the purse strings for! We all know the expression, “if momma ain’t happy . . .” well apply this to your feet. If your feet ain’t happy, the rest of you won’t be either!

Topping It Off

Winter is not your typical baseball cap weather. You’re going to need a warm woolen or polyester beanie, or a fleece-lined hat with a brim if you’re expecting a sunny, yet cold day. Don’t forget your sunglasses.

Nobody really wants to fish with gloves on. Most are cumbersome and bulky, but they don’t have to be. Patagonia makes cold-weather fishing gloves that allow your hands to stay warm and nimble.

patagonia gloves

If you would rather your fingers be free, consider fingerless mittens or gloves with fold-over flaps to provide protection and warmth during your quiet time, but still have the ability to fold back in order to tie a fly, change your gear, or for unhooking your catch. Patagonia’s neoprene fingerless gloves with an open palm are just one example of these gloves.


Remember proper fish handling: Wet your hands and remove your gloves to prevent injury to the fish.


No matter when or where you fish, especially in winter, it’s best to bring backup clothing. If you get wet down to the skin, you are going to be too cold. Depending on where you park and how far you need to walk or hike to your fishing destination, you may be able to simply leave your backups in the truck. Consider taking extra gloves and socks and, perhaps an undershirt, along in your pack, which despite the weather should always also be equipped with water, snack food, and a first aid kit.

AvidMax carries all your winter, spring, summer, or fall fly fishing gear. We know fishing because it’s what we love to do. Shop the AvidMax site, take a look around, and if you have any questions, contact us or give us a call at 866-454-5523. We’re here to help you with all of your fishing and outdoor apparel needs.

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