- Vibram Soled Wading Boots – Walking through the snow with felt soled boots after getting them wet sucks! Unless you like walking on the equivalent of icy stilts or clicking your heels together like Dorothy to knock the ice off every other step then stick with the felt.
- Cleats!! – Simple, cheap and easy to install. They help on those super slick river bottoms like no other. But where they truly help in the winter is on icy river rock and scaling steep, snowy slick trails. Cleats are the inexpensive and well worth the time to put in.
- Gloves- I hate wearing gloves fly fishing! Whether Spey fishing or tossing midges, gloves are a hassle. But when it is 25° out, comfort outweighs utility. Finally I have found some that I like and actually can tie tippet and flies on while wearing them. The Simms Exstream Flex Gloves and the Kast Steelhead Gloves work pretty darn well.
- Flask – A stylish one always impresses! I have actually been able to get into a great steelhead run on the Umpqua because of my flask. Hint: Just sit on the bank behind someone who is fishing a spot you would like to swing and pop open your little friend.
Cold anglers can hear this sound at 200 yards. Be willing to share and Viola’! You are in the run.
- Wind Resistant Shell – Fork out the coin and get a warm one. Make sure it says something like; “Stops Hurricane Force Winds” on the label. An insulated one is even better. I would be wearing a Simms Bulkley Jacket if hadn’t been commandeered by my significant other last week on the Crooked River. So I have been fleecing up and wearing a G4 Pro Jacket and staying warm just fine, Alaska tested so to speak.
- Base Layer – Every fly fisherman has their favorite base layer. I prefer soft and cozy that keeps my back warm while wading deep. Honestly; the best investment in comfort I ever made was the Simms Guide Fleece Bib. Warm and comfortable, this base layer exceeded my highest expectations when I was guiding in Alaska and for steelhead in the winter. If you chill easily, this is the one piece of winter gear that I would buy first.
- Switch Rod – Simple put this will keep you shallow and give you options to use streamers, nymphs and dry flies. Ben and Bryce have been trying out a bunch of them. Ben’s favorite is the Winston BIIIx Microspey in the 5wt.
which Ben has been using with streamers and some dries on The Deschutes this winter. He has been raving about how he hasn’t been over his knees because of how easy it is to control line on the water with this rod. Bryce has been using a 10’ 6” 4wt G Loomis PRO-4x Switch this winter on one of our swifter rivers. The Metolius has hard to reach seams and pocket water that take long casts and then quick, hard mends. The PRO-4x is perfect for this type of extremely technical water. Couple these rods with a Rio Switch Chucker Spey Line and you will be set for the rapidly changing winter conditions.
- Rod Rack – Winter fishing entails a ton of moving around some of the time. Fish are schooled up in spots or are very scattered when the weather is cold. Having a great rack on your vehicle will save you from experiencing BRS(Broken Rod Syndrome), thus saving you having to buy a beer for your Rainbow brother who had to loan you his spare rod. A good magnet, vacuum or roof rack also gives you a safe place to put your rods while your warming up in front of the heater in the vehicle with..see #4.
I am sure I missed a couple of things, like hand warmers and such. This list was built from a very small sample size – the 11 of us here at Stillwater Fly Shop. Right, wrong or indifferently these are the main items that we thought would make your fishing in the winter elements a little more comfortable and fun. We hope these items will get you out there to take advantage of the lack of anglers on your favorite water.