Must Have Flies for Winter Flyfishing

Two men covered with snow are showing a trout they cough on a cold winter day

When it comes to being a successful winter season fly angler you don’t want to be without the patterns that are going to work for you. Days are shorter so is a Trout’s feeding window. Being on the water during primetime is crucial as well. As the days are short, so is the feeding window.

The Rig

One of the better things about winter fishing is that there is a limited number of patters that most of us carry. I usually only have a single box of flies a roll of 6X fluorocarbon tippet, a few split shot and a indicator. However since starting to fish with Tungsten jig flies exclusively as a point fly I have not used a splitshot in nearly 3 years. When streamflow’s are at their lowest point of the year, event a size 18 Tungsten jig fly will get your rig down. Also remember that Trout are going to be holding in the slowest water they can find to avoid over exertion during colder months. I also attach a longer section of 5-6X tippet to my leader, which creates less drag on my rig as it sinks.

Color Does Matter

One thing that science has learned over the years is that Trout see different colors better in the low light situations during winter. When trout are deeper and there is low light during the colder months, black, blue and violet (purple) are often the colors that offer the best contrast for Trout to see. Keep this in mind when you are selecting flies. Also flies tied with artificial materials like tinsel will reflect what little available light there is, which is helpful.

Winter Fishing Tips

  1. Matching the Hatch is a lot Simpler- There is a limited food suply and it’s mostly midges and Eggs. Mysis shrimp, scuds and Annelids are the main food source on a lot of Tailwaters.
  2. Don’t be an Early Bird- The best time to be on the water is usually in the afternoons, after some powder turns in the morning
  3. Finding Fish is Easier- Low flows and clear water makes locating fish easier. They are grouped up in pods in the deeper slower water. Winter is good time to work on your sight fishing skills

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