Winter Fly Fishing

10 Tips for Winter Fly Fishing

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Here in Idaho, where Broder Fly Fishing is located, we got lulled into a false sense of spring with a week of unseasonably warm weather in Februrary. However, in this first week of March we are getting hammered by snow; mother nature reminding us it's still winter. But that does not mean there is not some great fly fishing to be had, and trout to be caught. In honor of that, here are 10 practical tips you can use to help you catch more trout in the winter. 

  1. Get in their face: Because fish are more lethargic in the winter they don’t want to move very far. A trout in the summer may move a great deal to get a good meal. In the winter they are conserving energy and want the food to be very close. Make sure you are bumping them in the nose, or just above their head whenever possible. 
  2. Change depth in small increments:  This is highly related to the 1st tip. Because you want your nymphs to be right in their face you may find even a small change in depth will result in very different results. Slowly move down or up the water column to find where they are feeding. 
  3. Downsize Your Flies: In winter, trout feed primarily on smaller, more dormant insects like midges and small stoneflies. They can sometimes be painfully small but you may find that downsizing your fly, even while using the same pattern, is the difference between a shutout and a great day on the water. 
  4. Don’t forget your caddis: Caddis? In the winter? Yes. Caddis are present as nymphs in many rivers throughout the winter. You will only find them in their larvae form (could be cased on uncased) but caddis nymphs near the bottom of the river can be a very effective winter pattern. 
  5. Focus on nymphing, but be ready for the hatch: Nymphing is particularly effective in winter when trout are feeding heavily under the surface. Midge hatches are still common in short bursts though so be ready to capitalize when they start looking up. 
  6. Double layer Nitrile gloves over your wool gloves:  Keeping your hands warm is paramount. Especially on days when fishing is good and you are constantly getting them wet. Putting nitrile gloves on your hands (either bare or over gloves) is a great way to keep them dry while protecting fish. If you touch them with regular gloves it can remove their protective slime and cause serious damage. 
  7. Bring the streamer box: Many overlook the fact that streamer fishing can still be productive in the winter. Its best on warm winter days or when low pressure hits. If its getting ready to drop some snow, get yourself bundled up and hit the river with your streamer box. Work everything deeper and slower than you would in the winter. They still don’t want to move far. 
  8. Fish are when you are comfortable: One great thing about winter fishing is the best time of day is typically the warmest. You don’t need to be there at the crack of dawn. Fish when its warm in the middle of the day. 
  9. Keep ice off your guides: Put some natural lip balm on your guides to reduce ice formation. Its not perfect but it does help.
  10. Keep your line in the water: Winter fishing can be slow, but it can turn on in a heartbeat. Stay patient and keep working the water slowly and methodically. My father often told me as a kid that the number 1 rule of fishing was: Keep your line in the water. You cant catch fish if you aren’t out there! So get after it.



Tips & Tricks