Why you should start wearing fishing Gloves right away
When you think about standard fly fishing gear, fishing gloves is probably not something you would come up with immediately. Certainly, there are things much more important for you on average fishing adventures, a nice pair of waders or good quality wading boots for example. After you put vests and fly boxes on the list, and all the stuff you could come up with, even then you might prefer fishing without gloves. Honestly, I had the same mindset until one really cold experience, trying to catch steelhead under demanding conditions.
When freezing temperatures will not stop you from going fishing, no matter if it is ice fishing or fly fishing, it is important that you bring the right equipment with you. If you ever tried tying a knot with completely numb fingers, you probably know, that this doesn’t really improve your fishing experience in the long run. A good pair of fishing gloves will keep your fingers warm enough and with some practice, tying knots with them will be almost as easy as without them.
Speaking of practice, the first time wearing fishing gloves will definitely not feel natural to you. Even more, it will feel awkward, your hands will feel bigger and executing fine motor tasks will be a challenge. You’ll probably want to take them off again immediately. If you keep them on your hands though and stand through a couple hours of fishing, you will get used to them and at some point, complete forget that you wear them at all. After a few days on the river with gloves, you might even be able to tie knots without taking them off.
All that being said, you do not have to wait for freezing cold temperature to get used to wearing them. Even a slightly colder day will do the trick and give you the chance to practice using them for a few hours without too much sweating. Once the really cold weather hits, you will be prepared. Fishing with gloves won’t be a problem and you can spend hours outside, doing what you love without numb and cold hands limiting the fun.
Variations In Fishing Gloves And Where They Perform Best
When you made the decision to buy fishing gloves, there is a good chance, you will be overwhelmed by the huge selection you can choose from. Probably the first thing you will notice is, that you can choose between two main options.
This option is a good choice if you plan on fishing during really cold weather. When temperatures hit single-digits and freezing cold arctic winds are present, you want the best insulation possible. Don’t underestimate how big the difference between full and fingerless gloves can be here. Full gloves will keep your hands a lot warmer, since they cover your whole hand, leaving no room for cold winds or water to reach your skin and cooling down the blood circulating. Sometimes they come with slits, giving you the chance to poke your fingers through to make knot tying easier.
The other main option you have are fingerless gloves, which only cover half of your fingers or do not have fingers at all. They will keep you less warm than full gloves, but provide the benefit of not limiting fine motoric skills at all. Tying knots will be as easy as usual and it is always nice to feel the fishing line directly on your fingers. They also remove the problem of worn down casting fingers, since this area is in constant contact with the braided line, it has to withstand the most abrasion and usually breaks down first. If you won’t fish in arctic cold winds and just need something to keep your hands warmer this is a good choice.
They are also often worn as a form of UV protection, by people fishing in really sunny areas, since you will not sweat as much as with full gloves on your hands.
The best compromise between those two variations are convertible gloves. They will give you the chance to adapt to different conditions and if you do not feel comfortable tying knots with fishing gloves, they usually allow you to quickly fold back their top part, making it a lot easier to perform such tasks.
Different Materials And Their Benefits
First of all, it should be mentioned, that there is a really big difference between fishing gloves and gloves to handle fish. The latter is made to process caught fish and therefore will protect you from knife cuts or worse accidents that can happen while cleaning your catch.
Fishing gloves on the other hand, are definitely not made to withstand such conditions and are usually noticeably thinner, giving you the ability to execute fine motoric skills. While they will protect you against fish spines, for example when you handle cods, as soon as you start processing fish you should switch gloves, or be careful and wear none at all. Fishing gloves come in a variety of materials to choose from, all with different advantages.
Neoprene Fishing Gloves
The same material often used for waders or wet suits is also a popular choice for gloves. Neoprene insulates exceptional, even when wet. This is a big difference compared to other materials, that often lose any ability to insulate once they are soaked.
Neoprene gloves are usually thicker than their counterparts made from different materials. If you do not use fingerless gloves, tying knots is pretty much impossible while wearing them and you will have to take them off for such tasks. Keep that in mind when you choose the thickness, which is most of the time between 1mm and 3mm. The thickness will also impact the longevity of the material around your casting finger, especially with braided line you will see the material wearing down fast here. 3mm is a good choice for ice fishing gloves since your hands will not get wet constantly and it will definitely keep you warm enough.
Neoprene fishing gloves also take a long time to dry once they are soaked. Especially during really cold weather, this can be annoying and you might prefer a pair made from fleece which you can wring out quickly, making them almost completely dry again.
It is worth mentioning, that neoprene is one of the materials, that does not shrink over time. You should make sure to buy a pair that fits comfortable since tight gloves can limit the blood circulation which will let your hands cool down a lot faster making them pointless.
Fleece Fishing Gloves
Often used for jackets, fleece is known for its ability to keep you warm even during freezing temperatures. What you have to keep in mind here is that these jackets are usually meant to stay dry. Fishing gloves that are not completely waterproof will eventually get wet, which limits the insulating effect of fleece. As mentioned earlier, once fleece gloves are soaked it is surprisingly effective to just wring them out and put them back on.
They often come with a DWR coating, which is also used in GORE-TEX, making them waterproof and therefore keep your hands dry. Additionally, that also blocks out wind pretty effectively. If you pick GORE-TEX gloves you will also have the advantage of breathable material, which will prevent sweating on slightly warmer days.
Wool Fishing Gloves
An old classic are wool gloves. Really popular in the old days, they still keep your hands warm and insulate well. The downside here is, that they soak up with water pretty fast and do not block out wind as effectively as the other materials. Even when completely wet they still provide decent insulation. Wool is often used for fingerless gloves since it is not really durable when in constant contact with braid sliding over your casting finger.
Features To Look For
When you made a decision in terms of material, there are still a lot of different features to choose from. All adapted to varied conditions, where someone might need fishing gloves. Making the right choice here is essential, since you do not want to end up with waterproof fishing gloves when you initially planned to use them on warm sunny days out on the ocean.
As mentioned earlier, some gloves covering your whole hand come with finger slits, where you can poke your fingers through. If you struggle with tying knots, this can be feature making your life a lot easier, since you do not have to take off your gloves every time. You will get used to your gloves at some point, but it can not hurt to have this option.
One of the most important features, gloves with enhanced grip on the palms is something you should look out for. You are used to the exceptional grip your skin provides and when you wear gloves you do not want big changes. Manufacturers use different ways to achieve this, some use rubber and others use different leather types. Both can work and are features you want to have.
Waterproof Fishing Gloves
As soon as cold water hits your skin, you lose warmth. Most fishing gloves only repel water, but when you release a fish slowly and in the correct way, your hands will enter the water for quite some time. In this situation, only waterproof fishing gloves will do the trick, if you want to keep your hands dry. When you pick waterproof fishing gloves, you should make sure that the collar is tight and the sleeves are long enough to end under your jacket, preventing water from entering that way. Waterproof fishing gloves do a great job during really cold weather.
Reinforced Casting Finger And Key Areas
The casting finger is definitely the area which has to withstand the most abrasion over time. Braid constantly slides over your gloves here and without reinforced sections, you will see the consequences surprisingly fast. Keeping that in mind it is a good idea to look out for gloves with said feature, since it can improve the overall longevity of your gloves noticeably. Overlays can also be useful in other key areas such as palms that require higher durability.
Fishing gloves are an excellent way to protect your skin from the sun, therefore reduce the UV rays reaching your skin. When you see people fish saltwater on sunny days, they often wear all kinds of different cloth to avoid the sun. Long sleeves and face masks are common, even on hot days. A pair of thin fishing gloves can be a great addition here. A lot of manufacturers offer a product only for that occasion, which provides decent UV protection, even though the material itself is fairly thin to avoid sweating. Said that, your fishing gloves should also come with a certain amount of UV protection to protect the material they are made from, improving their longevity.
Buying The Right Product
With all that information it should now be easier to chose a pair that fits your needs best. Again, keep in mind, that it will take practice until you get used to your new piece of equipment. With every hour wearing your fishing gloves, you will notice them less and eventually forget about them, while still having comfortably warm hands. No matter if you need them for UV protection on the open ocean or as ice fishing gloves, to keep your warm, they are definitely a good investment.