While winter is losing its grip on the Rocky Mountains, we still have plenty of snowy days ahead in the next few weeks. Fortunately, these late winter and early spring days will offer some of the year’s best fly fishing. However, when the snow flies, gear becomes more important to success and safety than a balmy summer day.
The following winter fly fishing gear will make your trip to the river safer and more enjoyable.
Good Wading Boots
Stability starts from the ground up, and the right wading boots can make all the difference. Felt soles are fine in the summer months when the banks are dry, but those same banks collect huge amounts of snow during the winter. If you are wearing felt soles, they become an issue not when you are standing in the water, but once you set foot on the snowy bank. If you don’t constantly kick the snow and ice off of your boots, you will end up standing on several inches of compacted snow, making walking difficult.
The solution is a good pair of rubber soled wading boots with metal cleats. Both Simms, and Patagonia make customizable cleat systems. The Simms G3 Guide Boot is a guide favorite for stability and traction. Ankle support and durability are also key features on these wading boots which will stand up to any fly fishing abuse you can throw at them.
Remembering the old safety rule about three points of contact, can also help dramatically on a slippery river bed. No matter how young, fit, or nimble you are, every angler can benefit from using a wading staff. The Simms Wading Staff is collapsible, sturdy, and sharp. Use it to dig in between rocks as you cross from one side of the river to the other, wade slowly and chances are you won’t fall in. Falling and going for a swim might not be a big deal in August, but when water and air temperatures are low, it is a different story. Hypothermia is no joke and staying dry is the best defense.
Wool and Synthetic Layers
If you do happen get wet, your day will most likely be over early unless it is warm enough and you are wearing the right clothing underneath your waders. Both wool and synthetic layers are designed to dry quickly and retain body heat even when they are wet, whereas cotton does just the opposite. Leave the jeans behind when fly fishing and upgrade to something like the Simms Guide Fleece Bibs or the Patagonia R1 pants and similar upper layers.
Listen to Your Mother…Wear Your Hat and Gloves
A good winter hat, and pair of fingerless fishing gloves are the icing on the cake. Body heat escapes more rapidly through your head than anywhere else, so it is essential to cover up with a hat. Since dexterity is key when fly fishing, the Simms Windstopper Foldover Mitts allow the angler to rig, detangle, and fish easily and then cover up while taking a break or walking to the next hole. Without warm hands, fly fishing in the winter is nearly impossible.
Being properly equipped with the right winter fly fishing gear can buy anglers longer days and more time on the water. These pieces of equipment may seem like extras, but they are really essentials for an enjoyable winter fly fishing excursion. Talk to the experts at the Jans fly shop for more advice on cold weather gear and check out jans.com for all of your angling needs.
Brody Henderson, Content Writer