The best anglers don't shy away from a little cold weather. It's not just about the catch; it's about the thrill of braving the elements. Whether you're chasing a specific fish or joining a seasoned group, you'll need cold-weather fishing gear that keeps you warm, dry, and ready for whatever Mother Nature has in store.

Winter fishing gear requires more than just insulation. It's  knowing you can land that big catch while staying comfortable and dry. This guide will walk you through what to wear fishing, the different types of gear, and what to look for when gearing up for your next cold-weather adventure. Whether it's windy, wet, or winter, we've got you covered.

Building a Warm Foundation with Base Layers

When you're out there braving the cold, wind, or rain, your base layer becomes your second skin. It's your first line of defense against the elements, and it sets the tone for your adventure. Depending on the quality of your base layers, you can add as few or as many other components as you need to stay warm, comfortable, and dry.

One key aspect when choosing a base layer is breathability. It also needs to effectively deter moisture, heat, cold, and other unwanted things. Moisture-wicking properties, like those found in Free Fly's fishing apparel, help keep you dry by wicking away sweat, rain, or water while providing excellent insulation.

Locking in the Warmth with Mid-Layers

Man and Woman fishing in Free Fly fishing hoodies

As you venture further into the great outdoors, your mid-layer becomes your trusty sidekick. It's there to lock in the warmth and keep you comfortable, no matter how harsh the weather gets. Your mid-layer is the second set of apparel after your base layer. Mid-layers are a must when the weather is particularly cold or windy to stay comfortable and warm.

While your base layer needs to be light and breathable, mid-layers have another objective. Of course, moisture-wicking is still important, but insulation is the key here.

Because the base layer is designed to breathe, the material can get damp or cold in wet and windy conditions. That's where the mid-layer comes in. Your mid-layer should insulate you properly from the elements so that it reduces the chance that it will reach your skin.

If you are wearing a  sleeveless undershirt as your base layer, a great mid-layer would be a long sleeve fishing shirt that is made from a soft material for next-to-skin comfort—like the Flex Long Sleeve. If your base layer is a little more significant, like a short sleeve shirt, you could reach for a fishing hoodie with a relaxed fit—like the Flex Hoodie.

Weatherproofing with Outer Shells

Man and Woman fishing in Free Fly's Gridback Fleece Jacket

Once you've got your outfit together, it's time to assess the situation. If you feel it is not yet cold enough for another layer, you may be ready to move on to another factor in your trip planning. If you are fishing in cold weather, particularly in the winter, you'll likely need a third layer or an "outer shell."

Your outer shell is the final piece of the puzzle. It's the protective shield that ties everything together, keeping you dry, warm, and ready to take on whatever Mother Nature throws at you. While the other layers are flexible, breathable, and warm, your outer shell serves an entirely different purpose: embracing the challenges of the outdoors and blocking out the elements as best as possible.

Free Fly's Men’s Cloudshield Rain Jacket and Women's Cloudshield Rain Jacket are practical outer shell examples. Designed to fit comfortably over your mid-layer, a rain jacket can keep you warm and dry from rain, waves, and splashing water.

A great way to assess your outer shell is its effectiveness, its noise level, and the comfort that you get from it. The material should be 100% waterproof and keep you dry during a downpour. Outer shells should be made of comfortable fabric that feels light and airy, with enough insulation to keep you warm. Jackets should be quiet to avoid that "crinkle" sound that is bothersome and could compromise your fishing experience.

Finally, your outer shell shouldn't be restrictive. While some layers can insulate you entirely, it is ineffective if it impedes your ability to maneuver or cast your rod.

Keeping Your Feet Dry and Warm

Man and woman fishing in Alaska while wearing cold weather fishing gear

Once you have all your upper and lower layers covered, your feet are the last important part of your body.

If you’ll be on your feet all day, navigating tricky terrains and casting from different angles, your footwear needs to be comfortable but also provide the insulation necessary to keep your feet warm. Look for insulated boots with proper waterproofing and an excellent grip to maintain stability on rocky terrain and slippery surfaces.

Even if your boots are well-insulated, bring an extra pair or two of thick socks. They’ll come in handy if you get water in your boots and need to change them out.

If you'll be walking or standing in water during your trip, you'll need a pair of quality waders to keep your legs and feet dry. 

Stay Warm with Free Fly

Braving the cold, rain, and wind for a fishing trip? Gear up with Free Fly’s men’s and women’s outerwear to stay warm and dry when you’re out on the water.