Winter Fly Fishing Gear Checklist [2020]

Winter fly fishing isn’t a joke. Choose the wrong gear for the water and no amount of evening festivities will turn your day around.

Choose the right winter fly fishing gear, however, and you’re in for a rewarding experience like none other. For the most part, we tried to keep your budget in mind with this gear checklist. With that same thing being said, however, there are certain things (like your undergarments) that we just won’t skimp on.

Here is the best gear for your winter fly gear checklist: 2020 

How to choose the right fly fishing gear for winter

The biggest key, if you don’t have it and it’s listed here.. buy it. The absolute last thing you want to happen is landing in Denver only to discover you left your base layer top sitting on the dresser at home. If that’s the case, go buy another right away.

As a general rule of thumb, your actual fishing gear can carry over from the summer (including your waders). We kept the boots on a budget, while going pricier on the base layer/outer garments.

You’ll thank us for that once you’re on the river.

Winter Fly Fishing Gear Checklist

Korkers Wading Boots

Korkers Wading Boots

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

If you can’t buy these gloves on Amazon, check Cabela’s.

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 them 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 pants on Amazon. Or, if you just refuse to conform.. I’ve had really good luck with the Under Armour Base 3.0 leggings, 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.

This jacket has three layers to it designed with the fishermen in mind.  The layers allow for heat to vent out of the jacket, regardless of the temperature.  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.

Check out the Freestone Wading jacket here. 

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.

This pack has 18 liters of space (weird way to measure imo) but regardless it has some space to fit a bunch of stuff.  This pack is water resistant which is the best part of this sling.  It’s also made by Simms, and Simms doesn’t mess around when they make gear.

This thing has a lot of pockets plus a place to hold your fishing net vertically on the pack without any hassle.  This is a must on your winter fishing checklist.

Buy it on amazon.

Related: Plan Your DIY Trip To Wyoming This Summer 

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!