Published Aug 2, 2022 11:36 AM
Fishing gloves are made to optimize an angler’s fishing experience in conditions that would otherwise make it difficult to fish. Choosing the right gloves for when and how you fish is crucial to getting the most out of any pair. Fortunately, recent improvements in material science helped create some of the most technically advanced gloves to hit the market. These can be divided into two main categories: gloves for winter fishing and gloves for sunny conditions.
Winter gloves vary widely in design and features, but are all built to keep the angler’s hands warm, dry, and dexterous. Sun gloves are designed to protect you from the sun’s harmful UV rays. Regardless of what style of glove you need, the best gloves fit well, dry fast if they get wet, and protect your hands from the elements. In a sport that relies entirely on the use of your hands, investing in a good pair of gloves can keep you on the water in less-than-ideal conditions.
Things to Consider Before Buying Fishing Gloves
Like other clothing, fishing gloves vary widely from manufacturer to manufacturer. Look for gloves that fit well, are built for the weather you plan to use them in, and won’t inhibit your style of fishing. Any glove that meets these requirements will help keep you fishing comfortably.
Gloves vary dramatically in size between companies. Anglers with shorter fingers may want to size down to allow a better feel in the fingertips. Others might prefer a larger glove to prevent constriction. Most sun gloves are fingerless, so make sure the glove fits your palm correctly.
The conditions you’ll be facing on the water dictate the type of fishing gloves you need. Convertible gloves are a great option for cold weather anglers because they allow you to expose your fingers when needed. If you wade-fish in winter, you may prefer a waterproof pair of gloves to keep you dry. Summer fishing requires gloves that are UPF-rated and breathable to keep you cool in the heat.
Think carefully about the type of fishing you’ll be doing and if the glove design will enable you to fish correctly. For instance, a convertible mitten is great for warmth, but fly anglers may find their line constantly snags on the mitten when casting. In this instance, a pair of wool fingerless gloves may be the best option. Other types of fishing may require a grippy glove or a breathable glove. Some centerpin fisherman like waterproof gloves to keep their hands dry during the winter when reeling in after a long drift.
- Material: Spandex/Synthetic Leather
- Sizes: Small-Extra Large
- Design Features: Padding for line stripping on fingers
Why it Made the Cut
The Orvis Sunglove is lightweight and breathable, perfect for hot summer days when the UV index is high.
- Gray color prevents them from getting too hot
- Added padding around the fingers prevents line burn
- Not as breathable as other gloves tested
Fishing in the hot sun can make your hands sweaty and expose skin to UV rays, which are intensified by the sun reflecting off of the water. If you go on an extended fishing trip, when you’re on the water day after day, protecting your hands from the sun becomes crucial. The Orvis Sunglove is an excellent choice for such situations. The lightweight construction and padded fingers help you handle a flyrod and line easily, but the gloves are great for all types of fishing. This glove has a UPF 50+ protection rating with a lightweight feel that won’t affect how you cast, whether fly fishing, spin fishing, or baitcasting. Added padding around high-wear areas mean the gloves will last through plenty of fishing trips.
- Material: Polyester and Suede
- Sizes: Small-Extra Large
- Design Features: Foldable mitten for easy finger use
Why it Made the Cut
The mitten section keeps your fingers warm when needed and tucks away to expose fingerless gloves, so you never sacrifice the ability to use your fingers while wearing them.
- Sleeve stores the mitten section out of the way when folded back
- DWR coating repels water
- Separate thumb cover adds dexterity
- Not wool lined for added warmth
Convertible mittens have gained popularity for winter fishing because folding the mitten section back allows finger access. One common problem is that the mitten section can snag line when you’re fishing. Fly anglers especially have this issue because the line tends to wrap around the mitten when shooting the line. The Orvis Softshell Convertible Mitts solves this problem with a unique sleeve on the thumb and hand that allows you to tuck away the mitten and the thumb cover when folded back. This creates a smooth surface that prevents anything from catching when casting or fighting a fish. The mitts keep your hands warm and the DWR protection keeps them dry. This is my go-to glove for winter steelhead fishing with a Spey rod. Swinging flies requires you to use your hands to manage and shoot line long distances, and this glove allows me to effectively fish a run, warm up my fingers, and do it all again.
Best Saltwater Fishing Gloves
- Material: Polyester and Spandex
- Sizes: Medium-Large and Large-Extra Large
- Design Features: Rubberized texture for extra grip
Why it Made the Cut
A great all-around glove for saltwater anglers who need sun protection and extra grip when a fish is on the line.
- Textured grip is great for getting a hold on big fish
- Well ventilated
- Long wrist for added coverage
- Fingers are shorter than other sun gloves
Big fish, nowhere to hide from the sun, and wet conditions all are factors when saltwater fishing. The Huk Pursuit Sun Glove is designed to keep you fishing through it all. Small vents on the palm side allow the glove to dry to keep you cool on blistering-hot days. A rubberized grip that runs the entire length of the front section of the glove. That will help you get a grip on your rod, the boat, and everything else. On a recent trip to Big Pine Key during the tarpon migration, that added grip made all the difference when trying to leader feisty fish. Any tarpon angler knows that grabbing a 100-plus-pound fish by the mouth is a chore but the Pursuit Sun Glove definitely made it manageable. The glove also features an extra-long wrist—a plus for when you’re too focused on fishing to realize your sleeves are bunched up and you’d otherwise be burned.
Best Waterproof Fishing Glove
- Material: Nylon and polyester with a wool lining
- Sizes: S-XXL
- Design Features: Rubberized grip and waterproof design
Why it Made the Cut
Lightweight, warm, and waterproof gloves that allow you to fish comfortably and effectively.
- Fully waterproof
- Great finger dexterity
- Touch screen compatible fingers and thumb
- Can be challenging to tie knots with them on
Any angler who fishes in the winter knows how wet hands can make you miserable quickly. Standing waist-deep in a river and casting is a sure way to leave with wet and freezing hands. The Gill Fishing Waterproof Gloves are the first pair of truly waterproof gloves that I’ve used to stay warm. Other gloves with DWR coatings will keep you warm for a while, but the constant water spray from a reel will leave you freezing in minutes. The Gill Fishing glove features a fully waterproof design that keeps water out even when submerged. A wool lining wicks away perspiration while keeping your digits warm. Unlike most waterproof gloves, the material is relatively thin for fishing with the gloves on. Even when using a centerpin or fly reel, I have had no issue fighting a fish. When you do catch a fish it’s important to remember to take the gloves off if you plan to handle the fish and release it. Fish have a protective mucous coating that gloves will rub off, leaving fish susceptible to infection.
Best Fly Fishing Gloves
- Material: Polyester and spandex blend
- Sizes: XS-XXL
- Design Features: Padded fingers for line stripping and open palm for airflow
Why it Made the Cut
The stripping guards and open-palm design of this lightweight glove make it perfect for fly fishing.
- Built-in stripping guards
- Lightweight and breathable
- Snaps to keep the gloves together when you’re not wearing them
Feeling the line is an important part of casting a fly rod, so many fly fishermen hesitate to wear gloves. To solve this issue, Simms created the lightweight SolarFlex fishing glove, which has features beneficial for fly fishermen. The thin glove material is great for getting a good feel on the fly line and drying fast when wet. In addition, Simms placed two padded stripping guards on the index and middle finger for managing the line. When a big fish takes a blistering run, the line can burn your hand if you’re not careful. This feature prevents that from happening and improves the longevity of the glove in these high-wear areas. The open palm design improves airflow and dramatically shortens the amount of time it takes for the glove to dry out. When you’re done fishing, snaps on the glove will keep them together and prevent one from walking off.
In my time fishing in fresh and saltwater, as well as while working as a fisheries biologist, I have gone through countless pairs of gloves and am very particular about the ones I buy. My priorities are gloves that are comfortable to wear for a long time, dry fast, and offer excellent protection from the conditions in which I’m using them. When making my decisions, these are the criteria I use when considering fishing gloves:
- Fit: Do the gloves run true to size and how comfortable are they?
- Features: What features like padding or texturized grips do the gloves have?
- Durability: Are they built to withstand many seasons of tough abuse?
- UPF Rating: If they are sun gloves, what is the UPF rating to protect against UV rays?
- Breathability: Are the gloves breathable to keep your hands from sweating?
- Warmth: For winter gloves, how warm are they for below-freezing conditions?
What are fishing gloves useful for?
A: Fishing gloves have a variety of uses, depending on the seasons and species you fish for. Sun gloves are great for warm weather fishing when you want to protect your hands from UV rays. Winter anglers may want a pair of gloves to keep their hands warm and dry when the weather is less than ideal. They help you get a grip on your fishing rod, grab handles, paddles, and other objects. The right pair of gloves can go a long way to protect your hands and keep you comfortable.
Q: Should I handle fish with gloves?
A: If you plan on catching and releasing a fish, do not handle it with gloves. Fish have a mucous coating on them that protects them from harmful bacteria. Handling a fish with gloves will remove the slime coating, leaving them susceptible to infection. Remove gloves and handle fish with wet hands to maximize their chance of surviving after release.
Q: How do I clean fishing gloves?
A: Most fishing gloves can be cleaned like any other article of clothing. Simply put them in the washer with laundry detergent. You may want to air dry the gloves instead of machine-drying them so they don’t shrink.
Q: Are neoprene gloves good for fishing?
A: Neoprene gloves are great for keeping your hands dry and warm, but aren’t great for fishing. Most neoprene gloves are bulky which can make fishing challenging or even difficult. Convertible mitten-style gloves are a good choice here. They keep you warm and give you the option of using your fingers to tie knots and work a rod and reel.
How you fish greatly influences what glove is best for you. Warm water anglers should look for lightweight and breathable sun gloves to protect their hands and stay out of the sun. Anglers that prefer to chase cold water species like steelhead prefer a winter glove that keeps them warm and dry regardless of the conditions. Make sure the gloves fit you perfectly so you can get the most out of them.