Winter Fly Fishing Gear Checklist [2020]

by Darby @ Fly Fish And Camp | Last Updated: January 24, 2020

Winter fly fishing can go one of two ways, very cold, wet and miserable, or warm, dry and enjoyable!

A lot of that comes down to the gear that you choose to wear out to the fishing hole.  Now I will say depending on whether the fish are biting or not can play a role in how enjoyable the fishing is!

Overall though, fly fishing in the winter isn’t a joke.  Choose the wrong gear for the water and no amount of evening festivities will turn your day around…

Here is the best gear for your winter fly gear checklist

Winter Fly Fishing Gear Checklist

Everything on this list is recommended to purchase from my perspective.  It’s going to provide you with the best comfort for fly fishing while the snow and cold keep others cooped up inside

That is not to say that all of this gear is super cheap, but it’s some of the best.

Let’s dive into it.

Compass 360 Point Guide Z II Breathable Chest Waders

The Compass 360 Point Guide Z ll waders are probably going to be one of the best purchases that you will make for fly fishing in the winter time.   They’re made with premium quality material that is breathable but very resistant to water.  Bottom line, you aren’t getting water in your boots when you walk into the river.

Compass 360 Point Guide Z II Breathable Chest Waders

These waders feature two chest pockets to throw some of your favorite trout flies in.  The pockets also have a built in hand warming system to keep your fingers from freezing for after you tie a fly knot or whatever.  I’d recommend throwing some hand warmers in there to increase hand warmth quickly!

The Compass 360 Point Guide Z ll also come with a one year warranty.  If you for some reason have any issues with them they’re as long as it was a manufacture defect.

Winter fly fishing without high quality waders is a little bit sketchy in my opinion simply because if you get cold or wet it becomes dangerous quickly.

Buy the Compass 360 Point Guide Z II Breathable Chest Waders on amazon.

Korkers Wading Boots

Korkers Wading Boots

This is for those of you that do not wear waders while fly fishing during the winter!

One of the most important pieces of your winter fly fishing gear list, wading boots. Chances are, if you’re like most fly fishermen, your winter wading boots are going to be different than your summer boots.

With that in mind, buying the boots and studded sole combo from Korkers is your best chance to stay under $160 for both.

Best of all, should you decide to stay in Korkers, the soles work with any Korkers model (that offers interchangeable soles). Make sure you purchase these 1 size bigger, at a minimum. Grab a pair of Smart Wool socks to go with these and you’ll be good at just a size bigger.. if you go traditional wool you may want to be 1.5-2X bigger than your normal shoe size.

Buy the boots on Amazon.

If you get the boots.. get the studded wading soles as well. Cleats are cheap and they’re the most important part of your winter boot setup.

Orvis Foldover Gloves

Orvis Gloves

Warm hands while fishing is quite far more enjoyable than freezing cold hands!

Quit skimping on gloves for the river. I get it, nobody likes fly fishing in gloves, but you chose to hit the river during the winter. For the record, I typically take two pairs of these for the water.

They’re $35, you won’t go wrong here. Easy to manipulate your fly line, easy to flip back and tie and best of all they’re not super bulky getting in the way of anything and everything you do.

Now, for the record, gloves are really more of a personal preference thing for most winter fly fishermen, but these flip backs from Orvis more than do the trick. I’ve heard of others using a full neoprene like the glacier glove, for me personally taking gloves on and off gets to be quite the hinderance but it is an option.

Buy the Orvis Foldover Gloves  on Amazon.

Drake Base Layer Pants

The best kept secret on this entire list, I actually got this recommendation from a friend of mine who is a pretty hardcore winter water fowler.

At $50-55 (depending on where you get them), these pants were pretty much built for life under your wading system. As you can see, they won’t ride up during the day.

These pants are designed to wick moisture from the skin and it actually works pretty well.

Cover them with something a bit lighter or a second pair (depending on where you’re going and the temperatures) and you won’t be more comfortable in freezing water.

Buy the Drake base layer pants on Amazon. Or, if you just refuse to conform.. I’ve had really good luck with the Under Armour Base 3.0 leggings. I wore them on an Alaskan moose hunt and they performed well.

Under Armour 3.0 Base Layer Top

As I just mentioned above, I wore a complete Under Armour 3.0 base layer system while on a 11 day hunt in Alaska and absolutely loved it.

The 3.0 system is built for “extreme cold”, however, in trying to stay as light as possible for anything under 30(ish) degrees I’d stay with the 3.0. It’s never a bad idea to add something a little lighter to your bag or even your pack, just in case you bump into a little sun on the river, but for the most part this setup is going to suit the average (and even extreme) fisherman just fine.

And on top of it, the 3.0 isn’t as expensive as it used to be.

Must buy for any outdoorsman or woman.

Buy the 3.0 system on Amazon.

Simms Freestone Wading Jacket

The Simms Freestone Wading Jacket is an absolute must for winter fly fishing.  It’s lightweight, waterproof, and will keep you warm throughout your time on the river.

Simms Freestone Wading Jacket

This jacket has three layers to it, all designed with the fishermen in mind.  The layers allow for heat to vent out of the jacket, to keep you from overheating.  It’s very comfortable and you’ll stay nice and cozy despite the weather.

Like the name says, this jacket is also for wading in to the water without getting wet.  All of the seams are closed 100% Simms claims.  It’s also very practical for fishing in, this jacket has two pockets up on the chest to store fly boxes and other gear.

Plus, as a bonus, this jacket has Simms warranty that’ll fix any manufacture defect free of charge.  If you are looking for an elite level jacket for winter (or any bad weather) fishing here you go.

Buy the Freestone Wading jacket on amazon. 

Simms Ambidextrous Fishing Sling Pack

Some fishermen have used and loved a fishing sling pack, I’m one of those guys.  I’m a big fan of how simple it is to spin the sling around on my back to my chest to grab something, then spin it back.

Simms Ambidextrous Fishing Sling Pack

This pack has 18 liters of storage so it has some space to fit a bunch of stuff.  It’s water resistant to keep your gear dry throughout the entire day.  It’s also made by Simms, and Simms doesn’t mess around with their gear.

This pack has a lot of pockets throughout the storage plus a place to hold your fishing net.  If you want an easy to carry, gear at your disposal, water resistant pack – get this one.

Buy the Simms Fishing Sling on amazon.


Related: Must Have Fly Fishing Gear For 2020

Winter fishing can be either a blast or miserable

A lot of it is going to come down to what gear you are taking out to the water.  If your gear is going to keep you wet and cold the entire time, it’s going to be difficult to enjoy yourself.  This list should give you a couple pieces of gear that’ll help you stay nice and warm when the weather hits a little bit harder than you planned on!  Good luck my friend and tight lines!