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Fishing Gloves: Helpful or a Hindrance?

Simms and Kast Gloves

At times, this is how I feel when it comes to fly fishing and the wearing of gloves.  I have to admit that I have trouble using gloves that cover all of my fingers.  My tactile feeling is so important for me. My sense of touch involving the line, whether it is managing the strip and/or controlling the flow of line while casting, I am hard pressed to wear any sort of glove, whether they are half finger or full finger.

But in really cold conditions, the lack of insulation which covers both my palms and fingers is just as debilitating to my fishing experience.

My hands get cold, I lose sense of feel, and start to think about how cold my hands are instead of enjoying the pleasure of being on the water, fly fishing.

Does this reflect the mindset of others, I wondered? I also wondered if there are options in the retail market to help those of us with this sort of dilemma.

The answer? Yes to both questions.  Others do feel this way, and the world of retail has continued to develop gloves for all aspects of fly fishing; cold conditions, high UV tropical conditions, and everywhere in between.

The main companies on the forefront of fishing glove technology are Kast Gear and Simms. Each of these companies have some really nice products to help you keep your hands comfortable in a variety of fishing conditions.

Kast Gear is a product we brought into our retail store last year.  Colby and his staff are a great bunch of guys who love to fly fish and happen to live in a tough area of the world weather wise.  This caused them to rethink glove use and glove design.  Born was the Steelhead Glove and new for 2014, the MX Pro glove.  These two gloves are completely waterproof, using a patented single layer cut OutDry technology that allows you to completely submerge these gloves and maintain the integrity of the interior.

I have used these gloves, and although they were full finger with some bulk to them [the MX Pro has less bulk], they are a hand saver when the conditions are so harsh you have to cover your hands.  For me, this is January and February in the Pacific Northwest.  Winter Steelhead time in Oregon houses water temps in the high 30’s and air temps in the 20’s, without wind chill.

Tough conditions for sure, but that is the time 20-25lb Steelhead are in the river systems.  You either adapt or you don’t fish.  I chose to adapt.  The Steelhead glove allows me to stay warm, and more importantly, dry, especially if I have to submerge my hand and release the reason for braving such conditions!

These gloves are also the choice of our guide program as well.  They use them in the early season while running boats, pulling anchors and landing fish for clients.  They stay comfortable even though they may not be burning the calories that their clients are.  Happy guides mean happy clients!

Simms has stepped up the game of glove design by teaming up with Montana State University and U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service Researchers.  Simms wanted to test how various glove fabrics could affect fish mucus–the vital outer layer for fish that aid the fish in protecting against disease and contaminates in the water.  Simms hopes that this research will lead the way in the decrease of mortality of fish after release where gloves were involved in the handling of these fish.

During times when the air and water temp are cool, say in the 50’s, I use Simms ExStream Half Finger gloves.   The insulation factor is important to me and keep all but the last digit of my fingers warm.  The half finger design allows me to keep in good contact with the fly line and increases my line control.

The downside is they do not keep your hands dry.  The fabric absorbs water after you are forced to dunk them while landing a fish.  The material tends to holds the water in place within the fleece fabric.  The good news is I can easily “ring” out the water. The soaked material dries relatively fast bringing back the insulation factor once again.  They are extremely comfortable to wear, even when the air temperature rises into the 70’s. Because of the design, no half finger glove can remain waterproof.  So I had to look for other benefits.  The ExStream glove fit all of those check boxes.

In 2014 Simms released the G4 and Prodry glove.  Each of these gloves use GoreTex to keep them completely waterproof.  The ProDry has a removable stretch-fleece liner that makes it great choice for a variety of temperature variations.

Although I haven’t had the pleasure of using these gloves, I hope to try them out this November and test them against Kast Gear’s Steelhead.

Tropical destinations or areas with extreme high temperatures and UV have their own need for a quality glove.  Anglers need a glove that will protect them from these harmful rays as well as the ability to breath in order to combat high heat build-up.  The UV protection doesn’t do any good if you peel the glove off because it is too darn hot!

My personal favorite is in the Simms line: The Solarflex glove.  Lightweight with UPF50 stretch fabric and a synthetic overlay on the index finger to protect both your finger and glove from scorching runs of hot fish.  Whether I am on the Middle Deschutes in July and temperatures are in the low 100’s with UV hitting 7, or walking the shores of a tropical environment, these gloves always come through.  [Recently I have started to couple these gloves with Blackstrap’s sun sleeves.  At a UPF 55+ it dramatically decreases the need to reapply sun screen to my arms but breath extremely well.  You can also dunk the sleeve in water and as it evaporates cools the skin gives a nice refreshing feeling] This is my go to glove when the temperatures crest over 85 degrees or the UV bounces over 5.

Gloves, like sunglasses, are something that we sometimes neglect quality wise.  As Sitka says, “go further, stay longer”, and that is true with any product.  Find the right high quality glove for you and have a more enjoyable time fly fishing in adverse climate conditions.

If you have any questions about these products or other gloves from Buff and Simms please contact our sales staff.

As always tight lines.


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