If you’re wondering how the anglers in the 2015 GEICO Bassmaster Classic presented by GoPro managed to fish an entire week wearing gloves to protect their hands from the bitter cold, you’re not alone.
We’ve received several inquiries from readers about which gloves the anglers used and how they were able to cast, crank and land fish without actually touching their reel-and-rods.
It seems some anglers have a good answer for the question, while others are still searching.
Chad Pipkens, a Classic angler from Michigan with ice-fishing experience, gave some solid advice on the subject. He uses Guide Series TecH20 gloves, and he says they’re perfect for the kind of extreme conditions the competitors experienced on Lake Hartwell.
“A lot of guys try to use really tight gloves, but tight gloves do not keep your hands warm,” Pipkens said. “You also don’t want the fingertips to be too long, because you won’t be able to hold your rod right.
“These gloves I use are pretty thick, so they keep your hands really warm. The tip of your finger goes almost to the end, and the tip is hard like a finger. They give you full control.”
Going a step further, Pipkens used his non-reeling hand to keep a hand warmer pressed against his reel-and-rod.
“I just wrap it around where my hand is going to be touching the reel, and that makes a big difference,” Pipkens said. “A lot of people say that keeps you from feeling a strike. But if you fish enough, you know what a strike feels like. I’m more concerned about keeping my hands and making them function.”
He said the hand warmer doesn’t get in the way of landing big fish.
“It’s not attached to my rod,” Pipkens said. “If I hang a big fish, I can just let the hand warmer drop.”
Another native northerner, Troy Diede of South Dakota, said he’s found he can get away with using whatever type of glove is most comfortable as long as he takes every possible step to keep the rest of his body warm.
“I use hand warmers just like a lot of other people, but I don’t stop there,” Diede said. “I use foot warmers and wear wool socks to keep my feet warm. Then I wrap the ends of my feet in tissue paper inside my socks to soak up extra moisture that the socks can’t handle. That keeps your feet from getting wet and makes a big difference.
“Then I even keep an adhesive warming patch – like the kind advertised by Shaquille O’Neal – over my heart. That actually warms the blood just a little bit as it’s pumped all over your body.”
From there, Diede said he can use most any pair of gloves that allows him to fish comfortably.
“I spent most of my time during the coldest weather fishing in thick Under Armour gloves,” Died said. “Then when I had to make a 20-mile run downriver, I would put on a pair of Carhartt mittens. That made a huge difference.”
Diede also kept a special hand warmer made by Zippo in his pocket and used every opportunity to warm his hands when they were free.
While those anglers who were more accustomed to colder temperatures were prepared for the experience, it was still a learning experience for some – like Alabama angler Coby Carden .
“I had never fished in gloves before – never, ever,” Carden said. “I was trying to get acclimated to it, and the first thing that happened to me on the practice day, Wednesday, was I reached down for my cranking rod and dropped it in the water.”
Carden stuck both arms into the frigid water and managed to retrieve his rod-and-reel, but he realized he still needed to do some experimenting to find the right gloves.
“I tried the neoprene gloves with the fingers cut out, but I swear I think my hands were colder with those things on than they would have been if I had been wearing no gloves at all,” Carden said. “Finally, I just sent my wife to Bass Pro Shops and told her to buy every pair of gloves they had.
“On that first day of the Classic, I probably went through five or six pairs. Every time one pair would get wet or my hands would start feeling cold, I would switch them out.”
Carden said the combination that worked best for him was a thin, “spandex-type” glove on his left hand and a regular glove on his right hand. He covered both hands with a thicker pair of Simms gloves when he was moving from spot to spot with his outboard.
Virginia angler John Crews also carried multiple pairs of gloves – and like Carden, he couldn’t find a perfect solution for keeping his hands warm and fishing comfortably in temperatures that dipped as low 10 degrees on the opening day of the tournament.
“There is no right answer on gloves – yet,” Crews said. “I have 50 pairs of gloves or more. None are just right.”