What to Wear Fishing in Cold Weather

Wearing jacket for a cold weather fishing trip.

As an avid angler, you’ve probably been out on the water in all types of weather. But, how do you prevent your love for fishing from coming at the expense of your health, especially when it’s cold?

Fishing in cold temperatures presents a unique challenge and can be very rewarding. However, it is crucial you wear proper clothing that keeps you warm while you try to hook your targets.

But, what is the proper fishing attire for cold weather?

Keep reading to discover our guide to dressing to keep warm while you fish in the cold.

Fishing in the Cold: What to Wear

Whether you’re ice fishing, fishing in stormy and rainy conditions, or when it is just cold outside (such as during the winter), staying warm is essential. Furthermore, wearing appropriate clothing can make the difference between an enjoyable fishing experience and one that ruins your fishing journey.

Here are a few essentials to have on when you’re fishing in the cold:

Base layer

Your clothing base layer is your first line of defence against the cold. So, it is essential that you get it right.

Since your base layer is the closest clothing item to your body, it is best to wear an attire that insulates (keeps your body heat in) and fights the cold outside. Furthermore, we recommend choosing a material that removes moisture from within as you don’t want to get damp when the weather is freezing.

The best material that does all these things is wool. You can wear both a wool shirt and pants so that they protect and insulate you. 

Pro tip? Ensure your wool base layer is comfortable and does not create friction with your skin or the next layer of clothing. Also, it does have to be thick, only thermal.

Insulated socks

Next, keeping your upper body warm will not do you much good if your feet are cold. Therefore, you need to wear a pair of socks that insulate your feet.

Some anglers even find that wearing two pairs of socks works most effectively. 

The first pair will be the base layer and is usually very thin as they only need to help wick away the sweat. Then, you can wear the second socks over them. On the other hand, the second pair should be thicker so it can insulate your feet and keep out the cold.

We recommend choosing thick wool socks as the second layer (or only layer) as they are very comfortable and well-insulated.

Mid layer

The middle layer of your fishing attire does the dual job of preserving your body heat and fighting to keep the cold away. Therefore, it should be thicker than your base layer.

You’ll find that a clothing item made of thermal fleece or thicker wool usually does the trick. If you want to go for gold, choose something with a turtleneck or hoodie so it can also keep your neck warm.

You can wear denim or wool joggers for your legs, depending on which you feel more comfortable wearing. Remember, your pants should allow free movement of your legs.

Shell jacket

A shell jacket is a thick, usually waterproof, jacket that reaches down to your hips and is an excellent finish for your fishing outfit in colder temperatures. But, make sure your shell jacket is not form-fitting as you want to give some allowance before you base and middle layer. So, wear something that isn’t too tight.

Besides, you also want to wear a jacket that doesn’t tighten your arms so that you can cast your lines comfortably. In other words, ensure your shell jacket allows you to carry out your complete line-casting motion conveniently. This is especially important if you’re fly fishing.

Head Gear

Do you know that you can lose up to 10% of your body heat through your head alone? 

The head holds a significant percentage of your body’s heat. Therefore, you cannot afford to neglect your head when dressing up for winter fishing.

Thankfully, a snowcap or wool fishing cap should do the trick. 

In addition, covering your ears goes a long way in keeping you warm. So, wear something (such as a balaclava or a ski mask) as extra protection for your ears.


Your hands (and feet) lose heat faster than you think. Therefore, as a rule of thumb, you should never go fishing in cold or wet conditions without wearing a good pair of waterproof and insulated gloves.  


Now for the final item — your footwear.

We recommend wearing boots that are a size bigger than your regular shoe size. This is so they can accommodate your extra socks layers without becoming too tight and making you comfortable.

In addition, ideal fishing boots for cold weather should have a felt inner lining to help retain heat and slip-resistant soles. Also, they should have higher-than-normal to help your feet stay slightly above water or snow.

Final Take

If you follow this guide on what to wear when fishing in cold weather, you’ll find that you can stay warm for longer despite the harsh elements. Of course, this means you’ll enjoy your fishing better and will be able to take your time to hook your prize fish.

However, if you feel like you’re getting too cold for comfort, it is usually best to seek warmer conditions. No fish is worth your health and safety.

Do let us know if you have more questions!

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