PODCAST: Winter Skills Series, #2: Your Hands — S6, Ep2

by | Jan 22, 2023 | 28 comments

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Cold. That is what defines winter fishing. We acknowledged in the last podcast that the cold — or really the inability to deal with it — is one of the main reasons anglers stay home.

So that’s why I think any in-depth discussion about winter fishing really has to start with how to stay warm. If you’re so cold that you can’t function normally, you just won’t fish well.

In next week’s podcast, we’re going to get deep into all of it — keeping your whole body warm, from head to toe. And not just warm, but ready for fishing, walking, wading and hiking a little. But in this episode, we’re starting with your hands — just your hands. Because there’s a lot to this. And maybe nothing is more important.  We need warm hands — working hands — to fish in the coldest weather we encounter and stay out there, catching fish and meeting the challenges that winter fishing can bring.

In This Episode, We Cover the Following
  • Why fly anglers need two hands
  • The benefit of body heat
  • Something is still going to hurt
  • Keep your hands dry
  • Does everyone need gloves?
  • Types of gloves
  • Wool, fleece, nitrile
  • Heat packs (Hot Hands)
  • Using your pockets
  • Wrist bands

READ: Troutbitten | Category | Fly Fishing in the Winter
PODCAST: Troutbitten | S1 Ep 14 —  Winter Fly Fishing
READ: Troutbitten | Fly Fishing in the Winter — Your Hands
READ: Troutbitten | Winter — Something Is Always Going to Hurt
READ: Troutbitten | Winter Pregarme

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Next Time

Season six of the Troubitten Podcast continues next week with episode three. So look for that one in your Troutbitten Podcast feed.

Fish hard, friends.


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Enjoy the day.
Domenick Swentosky


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Domenick Swentosky

Central Pennsylvania

Hi. I’m a father of two young boys, a husband, author, fly fishing guide and a musician. I fish for wild brown trout in the cool limestone waters of Central Pennsylvania year round. This is my home, and I love it. Friends. Family. And the river.

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  1. As a winter fisherman, I use thermal gloves with fingers out. I suggest also that the most important thing you can do for winter fishing is to install an EZ-P waterproof relief zipper in your waders. http://www.troutboomer.com

    • I just purchased the zipper waders ( my gortex Simms are new but a size too small ) I thought to order the same size mediums I used prior that actually fir nice but the newer model simms were tighter around my calves.. not sure yet but likely will enjoy the zipper relief feature too.. I also bought second pair of studded steel vibram sole cleat soles for the ice snow slippery fall wet or dry leaves of fall season.. felt sole wading boots are good summertime but glad I have that steel stud traction option now..I’ve fished all my teen adult life almost every weekend .. I fish therefore I am.. I learned to keep warm ice fishing for decades so I can suggest really good keep warm tips.. 1) feet hands always get cold first.. hands are easier to warm up than feet .. once the feet get cold it’s tough to get them warmed up… suggest if wading more than a few hours even in the spring or summertime tailwater ..best is a good pair wool socks ..fleece pants good underlayment.. best is a bootfoot chest wader like a cheap pair of neoprene cabelas for the winter and those exceptionally cold early spring days .. I only wear them if parked close to a stream.. hate walking far and certainly would not be hikng and distance from vehicle to stream in bulky boot foot neoprene chest waders..sure they are the ultimate though for any stream below 5o degrees.. Gloves are easy to find on amazon .. get the fingercut gloves with and without the mittens the ones without the mittens for fishing ..they can be cheap dollar store jersey gloves you scissor cut the thumb index and middle tips like only 1/2 in..is all.. the other dual finger mitten gloves I use are glacier gloves also plenty other brands on amazon.. around 10 to twenty usa$,, .. all good.. I doubt i want to bother with battery socks.. I use my wool socks or maybe thin polyester and a wool sock ( one thin sock and wool over the thin polyester) .. But yes by far boot foot waders will last best for 30-40 degree wading.. when you shiver it’s time to wrap it up and warm up in the vehicle.. I bought a small coffee maker and inverter to plug in a fresh hot cup if and when I ever get the chance to go on my ventures .. I’m glad I still enjoy all these years my favorite passion is fishing in the mountains.. it’s not even catching fish but just enjoying the beautiful nature wildlife weather.. I think wind is the worst element be it any kind of fishing in especially winter chill factor temps.. Okay enjoy ..keep em coming Dom.. I’m doing knot line strenght tests.. trying my P-line 4lb ”like 5x I guess.. I still have un opened spoolsof 100% flourcarbon in 2lb 4lb 6lb even 8lb different brands too.. Fished all the New City water systems in the Catskills all six for over forty years..also all their feeder trout streams and especially tailwaters .. this euro nymphing stuff is relatively new to me.. lol

  2. Dom,

    What about keeping an extra set of fingerless gloves with you? Do you or don’t you?

      • Thanks. I thought so. The other day I was fishing for wild brook trout. I caught one and I put the removed glove under my arm so I could release the fish barehanded. Unfortunately, I forgot about the glove and downstream it went. Next time the glove goes into the top of my waders. Keep up the great work. I learn or relearn something every podcast.

  3. Just listened to part two of podcast on winter fishing. Great stuff.
    Here’s a tip, take an old pair of swollen socks and cut the foot off. With the upper remaining part fold in half. Now you have a wrist band with a pocket to hold a heating packet.


    • Right on. My buddy, Josh, does that. I like the wrist bands a little tighter.

  4. Great stuff as always. I use the big super warmers and I put them on my neck. I find that they keep me warmer or I feel warmer than if I put them on my wrists. I’ve always been a no glove guy but I have the Simms fingerless mitten gloves that I have started using walking to and from the water when the temp is much below 30F. I just don’t like things on my hands when I fish. I ordered a pair of the wool ones from the Troutbitten shop and I’ll see how they do. Thanks for all the great info!

  5. If my feet aren’t frost bitten and my neck is warm I’m good to go.

  6. Hi Dom, Thanks for all the tips and podcast. Really enjoy listening to you guys. I have not tried the wrist placement but I will next time out. I do use the hot packs and try different places like in the palm of my glove but as you said it is bulky. I do carry a extra pair of gloves and keep them under my arm pits to stay warm and ready to go. they stay put there and get nice and warm. Im ordering a pair of the For River gloves off your site cause the ones I have now are not really good wool. thanks again for all you do and best of luck and wishes to you all.

  7. Hi Dom, enjoy all your podcast and reading material, learning a bunch of stuff, don’t know if you spoke about wading boots yet, but I learned a hard lesson the very first time I went fly fishing in the winter, first boots felt bottoms trail was muddy and some snow,all good until I stepped on a small ledge with some snow on it, down I went save my rod, but landed on my left elbow, needed rotor cuff surgery, learned my lesson. Felt & snow don’t mix.

  8. Great stuff. I spent a few winters working in the oil field in NW PA. You are right, the heat is in the tools. Have you tried taking niacin? I haven’t taken it for this purpose, but I know that every time that supplement sneaks it’s way into my systems I feel like I am burning up. It might help a little on the sub 10 degree days.

  9. I would also like to say thank you for treating us like adults and having enough respect to allow us decide what level of risk we are willing to live with while pursuing an activity that we love. You assume we are responsible enough to do what is necessary to mitigate any additional risk associated with fishing in the winter. Driving to work in the dead of winter is far more sketchy. I would much rather die on the river than an interstate

  10. Just listen. Very good. I do alot of lake fishing-even in the winter. It is my feet. When they get cold I am miserable. I wear insulated neoprene socks. Works great.

    Thanks for the podcast. Just love them

  11. I like how the Dom communicates! Hello everybody.. I am experience some forty years ice fishing.. wading for steelhead and at age 61.. I stay warm but still know when it’s time to take a break and not challenge the elements…( age & experience) when the ice freezes the guides I won’t bother risking ice shore or even thin ice lakes especially river ice etc.. I also recommend studs cause felt isn’t safe for walking ice, snow or even wet fall leaves .. felt stay home and cleats or studded wader boots for winter stream fishing.. No safe ice this 2023 so far lol.. I rather wait for safe conditions be it lake or stream.. finger gloves combo velcro mittens are good always a backup second pair .. I actually cut the dollar store untility cotton dark brown work gloves with the slip resistant dimples but yeah no sense in flyfishing if it’s below zero and ice forms on line reel rod.. looking forward to learning this euro nymph syuff.. it is totally new to me.. but I’m thirty years experienced in traditional fly fishing.. I only been fishing all of the Catskill ny reservoir systems these years.. wish someday to visit and tour pa streams but my place/hideout is in colchester county sullivan county green county ulster county New York.. know all them like my jersey backyard..I consider myself professional trophy stream and reservoir like any diehard..I tiried all that salmon river ice shelf cleat heavy neoprene boot waaders way to go but sheesh experience knows .. lol..wait for the 40 degree days

    • Hi John. Good stuff. We have some tips coming along in the next few episodes to deal with that ice in the guides and often eliminate it. Then you don’t have to wait for the 40 degree days. We have that right now this winter — warmer temps in the 40’s. I’m wishing for 20’s. I thoroughly enjoy it.


      • I like that ,, yes tips.. not really afraid of the freeze.. I wish I could get away.. I have elderly to nurse daily here ..unless a sibbling is here to take my place.. this is going on two years since ..anyway..that’s my personal situtation.. we all have to deal with it sometime or other in our lives.. yeah Dom .. you communicate well and I read you good buddy! tight lines thanks for sharing too!

  12. Very timely advice! As a new fly fisher I always wonder if I have the proper gear to keep me warm. Hopefully, by the end of Feb. into early March I will finally have enough to try steelhead ally.

  13. Never thought I’d be fly fishing is sub-freezing temps – but I am and it’s a lot of fun. The fox river gloves are great. I will point out that you have to be aware of frostbite and your fingertips. I was out just this week and I believe I had some frostbite on the tips of my index finger and thumb on my rod hand. It was pretty cold – high teens – and I had some issues with a partial fall-in – my mistake and I probably should have called it a day but…

    Anyway just be aware that once your fingertips are really cold you can’t really feel the frostbite – but you will feel it when you get back in the truck and they start to warm up. Luckily I think it’s pretty mild and should heal up fine – and I’ve learned my lesson. Take the time to warm up those fingers every once in a while.

    Also frozen reels and tippet spools suck 🙂

  14. Great stuff! I have to disagree with you on one thing though. As a former EMT I can tell you that nothing, and I mean nothing, comes close to being as likely to kill you in the outdoors as hypothermia. So yeah, it is more dangerous. Much, much more dangerous. Doesn’t mean I don’t do it, but you gotta be really careful. Freezing temps and near freezing water will kill you quickly. If you break an ankle falling in the water in summer, you can get to the bank, maybe hopp to your car or wait for help and probably be fine. If that happens in proper cold temps, you will not be alive by the time help gets there if you are unlucky. Fishing happens in remote places often. Still, I do it, just think two or three times if you really want to take that iffy step you wouldn’t think twice about in summer.


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Domenick Swentosky

Central Pennsylvania

Hi. I’m a father of two young boys, a husband, author, fly fishing guide and a musician. I fish for wild brown trout in the cool limestone waters of Central Pennsylvania year round. This is my home, and I love it. Friends. Family. And the river.

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