How to Keep Your Hands Warm While Fishing

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Fishing can be one of the most relaxing and fun activities out there, at least if you are warm and comfy.

However, when it starts to get a bit chilly out, such as during early morning fly fishing or mid-winter ice fishing, your hands can start to take a real beating. How to keep your hands warm while fishing is what we are here to discuss today.

Folks, when it comes to keeping your digits warm while fishing, it’s all about having the right pair of gloves, multiple pairs of them, and so much more. Today we’ll also cover how to stay warm while fishing in general.


Ways to Keep Your Hands Warm While Fishing


Let’s now go over all of the ways in which you can keep your hands warm while fishing.

Make no mistake about it, because if it’s cold and windy out, and you don’t follow these tips, your fingers will be cold and hurting within minutes of starting fishing.

1. Waterproof Gloves

Perhaps one of the most important things to get for fishing in cold weather, especially when doing something like ice fishing that is quite active, something that can get your hands wet quickly, is to get some nice waterproof gloves.

Moisture is always a big problem, one that can lead to your hands feeling much colder. Wetness always saps heat out of hands and body parts much faster than head would dissipate if you were dry.

Therefore, a good pair of waterproof gloves is definitely called for here. The longer your hands can sray dry for, the longer you’ll be able to fish in cold weather for.

2. Insulated Gloves

Sure, there are plenty of decent waterproof gloves out there, and yes, they will work wonders to keep your hands dry.

With that said, even the most waterproof of gloves won’t keep your hands warm while doing something like ice fishing, if they don’t have any insulation.

In this regard we would definitely recommend investing a bit of extra cash into a high quality pair of insulated waterproof gloves.

The colder the weather is set to be, the thicker and better insulated those gloves should be. For instance, if you are going ice fishing, try going for some gloves that are rated for double digit negative degrees.

3. Always Dry Hands Immediately

Ok, so even the best of waterproof gloves, eventually, if you fish for long enough, they’ll still probably end up letting a bit of water in.

It’s really only a matter of time. Now, the longer your hands stay wet for, the colder they are going to get, and fast.

Therefore, it is crucial that you always dry your hands off as soon as they get wet. If you don’t they’ll get so cold that even the best pair of gloves won’t be able to keep them warm.

It’s always recommended to bring a couple of dry towels along so you can dry those hands ASAP.

4. Bring Extra Gloves

Alright, so your first pair of insulated waterproof gloves got wet, they let some water in, your hands are a bit chilly, but you did manage to dry them off ASAP with a towel.

What do you do now? Your first pair of gloves is totally soaked, so putting those on again is going to be rather pointless.

When it comes to cold weather fishing, you definitely want to bring along some extra pairs of high quality gloves, and not just one.

Most anglers who plan on spending all day ice fishing or whatever else, will bring along 3 pairs of high quality gloves or more.

You always need to have a backup on hand in case the gloves you have on get wet. People, this is fishing, and if you do it long enough, you can expect all gloves to get wet eventually.

Try bringing a pair of gloves for every 3 hours you plan on fishing for.

5. Fingerless Gloves, Fold-Over Mittens, & Mittens

If a full size pair of full fingers gloves is not right for you, some fold over mittens or fingerless gloves might do the trick.

Fingerless gloves are going to be much better for manual dexterity than full finger gloves. Full finger gloves are nearly impossible to work your lures and baits with. Hooking a worm with full finger gloves. Forget it.

You need those sensitive finger tips to do this kind of thing. Fold over mittens are great in this regard because you can fold the top section down to expose the front half of your fingers for increased manual dexterity, then you can fold them back up to cover your fingers once your done hooking works and tying lures to your line.

Fingerless gloves are ok for semi-cold weather, as they will keep your hands warm, but not your fingers.

You may also want to look into getting mittens, as mittens are by far the best for keeping hands warm, much better than finger gloves, because in mittens, all of your fingers are in the same pocket, keeping each other warm.

However, mittens obviously aren’t the best for manual dexterity.

6. Chemical Hand Warmers

If no normal pair of gloves or mittens can keep your hands warm, you may want to step things up a notch and invest in some chemical hand warmers.

These are like special little pads that you can put inside of gloves or mittens, ones which create a chemical reaction with your skin, and will heat up upon contact with your skin.

No, these don’t stay warm forever, but they’ll provide you with a few good hours of warmth nonetheless.

7. Keep Fingers Moving

One of the simplest ways to keep your hands warms is to keep your fingers moving.

The less your fingers and hands move and the colder it is, the less that blood is going to flow. The less blood flow there is, the colder your hands will get.

Therefore, keep those fingers in constant motion in order to keep the blood flowing, and it should do the trick.

How Do You Stay Warm When Fishing?

winter fishing

Now that we have covered how to keep your hands warm while fishing, let’s talk about how the rest of you can stay warm as well.

After all, it’s not just your hands that are going to get cold.

1. The Time of Day Matters

Yes, we all know that fish tend to bite the best during the wee hours of the morning and when the sun starts to go down.

However, if it is extremely cold outside, dawn and dusk are going to be even way colder than midday.

If you are doing something like ice fishing, or are just fishing on a day when it’s set to be super cold, you may want to aim for some midday fishing when the sun is beaming from above.

2. Pay Attention to Weather

You do also want to pay attention to the weather. Sure, it gets cold in the winter, but just how cold it is will depend on whether or not the sun is shining and how windy it is.

If possible, try to go fishing on a day that should be sunny and calm.

However, if you still want to go fishing in freezing temperatures, on a bad weather day, move on to the next steps below for more help on how to stay warm.

3. Clothing

The most important thing you can do to stay warm while fishing is to wear lots of high quality clothing. In case you did not know, wearing multiple layers of thin clothing is always best for keeping as much warmth in as possible.

You might think that a massive winter jacket is best, but when compared to 3 or 4 separate layers, a winter jacket really cannot compete.

It’s all about layers;

  • The Bottom Layer – The first layer of clothing you have on should consists of some insulation materials, something like Thinsulate shirts and pants. Simply put, it’s probably a good idea to wear some long underwear and a long sleeve top, both made out of materials specially designed for warmth and insulation. This bottom layer should also be moisture wicking in order to take moisture away from your skin. Remember, being wet is going to make you feel a whole lot colder.
  • The Middle Layer – The next layer you wear should be all about warmth, pure warmth. This means that you may want to wear a good pair of sweat pants or jeans, just something that is known for being fairly warm. When it comes to your top half, a good long sleeve sweater or a thick hoodie should do the trick, anything relatively thick that can keep in a lot of heat.
  • Top Layer – The next layer you wear is going to be the outer or top layer. For this, you want to get yourself a good pair of insulated pants, preferably winter pants that are rated for cold temperatures. In terms of your top, wearing a fairly thick, but not too thick winter jacket with plenty of insulation is recommended. Now, if you can go for something like snow pants or fishing pants with good insulation, as well as a well insulated winter coat, both of which are also waterproof, you are on the right track, and may be able to skip the final layer.
  • The Waterproof Layer – This final layer is all about keeping water out. If your top layer, the one discussed before, is already waterproof, then you may not need this. However, even waterproof clothing can eventually let water in, that is unless it is made out of straight plastic. If you want to do everything possible to keep warm and dry, an outer waterproof layer is ideal.

4. Socks & Boots

Your feet are very susceptible to getting cold. After all, you are standing on a frozen lake, in a cold stream, or your feet are just on cold ground. Your feet can lose a whole lot of heat in a very limited amount of time.

Therefore, we would definitely recommend wearing two pairs of socks at once. A thinner inner sock with moisture wicking capabilities, as well as a thicker outer sock for warmth is recommended.

Remember, just like with gloves, it’s essential that you take extra socks with you.

When it comes to your fishing boots, you want a pair that is very well insulated and can easily withstand freezing temperatures.

You also want those boots to be waterproof to keep as much moisture out as humanly possible.

Moreover, the higher up your legs those boots go, the warmer you will be and the dryer you will stay.

5. Hats, Scarves, & Face Covers.

Yes, heat travels upwards, so your head loses a whole lot of it. It’s definitely recommended to bring a solid winter hat with you, one that can easily keep the wind and cold temperatures at bay.

If a normal hat is not enough, try going for one of those winter hats that also has ear flaps to cover the ears and cheeks. Having cold ears is not fun.

If you want to keep your mouth and nose from getting cold, you can also opt for a scarf, or even one of those skiing facemasks that makes you look like a bank robber.

6. Some Cover

If you want to stay warm while fishing, a good idea is to find some cover.

If you are ice fishing, this means fishing from inside of a hut. If you are fly fishing in a stream, try to stick to areas that are fairly heavily wooded and vegetated for cover, anything to keep the wind away (we have reviewed our top 5 fly fishing gloves, on this article) .

If you are fishing on a lake or an open body of water of any kind, try sticking to coves and inlets as opposed to being out in the middle of the open water.

How Cold is Too Cold for Fishing?

cold fisherman

Realistically, if you follow all of the tips and take all of the precautions we have spoken about today, there is no such thing as too cold for fishing.

If it is set to be an extremely cold day, double up. You can always wear a pair of long johns, sweat pants, winter pants, and waterproof rain pants on the outside too, just as an example.

Technically speaking, as long as you are well prepared for the day ahead, there is no such thing as too cold for fishing.

Just think about people who go fishing in the arctic or in a midwestern state like Minnesota. It can easily get to double digit negative degrees there, so extremely freezing cold, and people still go fishing in these conditions.

It all comes down to how well dressed you are.


Even though there may technically be no such thing as too cold for fishing, if you are not well prepared, you’ll be cold and wet within hours or even minutes.

It’s all about how well prepared you are for the day ahead. Remember, if you are fishing in extreme cold, be prepared, or else you may end up suffering from hypothermia or frostbite, or even worse of course.

Just take all necessary precautions if you plan on fishing in sub zero temperatures.

Jason Downs

I created Fishtackly to share my 30 years of fishing experience and knowledge with others with the aim to help, and hopefully get more people involved and educated in this fantastic hobby that I love.