Winter time can be a great time to fire up the space heater in the tying dungeon and crank out flies meant for warmer times, but it's also a great time to hit your local river to target feeding fish! If the water is warm enough not to be completely iced over, the fish are still there and they eat all winter in order to keep calories flowing. Nymphing through slow runs is a great way to catch lethargic fish, but you will also have plenty of opportunity to cast dry flies to rising fish. Below we have listed some of the flies that we always have in our fly boxes for a day of winter fishing.
For more information on winter fishing tactics, check out this clinic we did in the shop HERE.
The Bunny Midge is one of our favorites because you can tie them from size 18-30 proportionately. More importantly, the fish really love to eat these things on some of the picky tailwaters we fish.
This has been Curtis' go-to for many many years, and the fish still haven't caught on that they shouldn't put this really simple fly in their mouths. It's made of minimal materials, and the fish eat it year after year. We like to fish it behind a more visible pattern because it sits nicely in the surface film.
This should be a staple in any winter fly box. It's also a pattern that has proven itself year after year, and even though it's the simplest fly on the planet, the fish have always found it to be a great midge substitute. Tie them with a wide array of colors and beads to match your local midges.
This is a pattern that I got from Charlie Card one freezing day on the Green River in Utah. He had been producing really well that day, and he showed me that he was fishing something similar to this fly in a size 16 or 14... I was reminded that there are still some bigger bugs in the water year round.
This is a great fly for when the fish are keying on midge adults or emergers on the surface. It's also dead simple, and it will give you appreciation when you go back to tying "normal" sized parachute flies.
Even though you might not see many baetis AKA blue winged olives AKA BWOs hatching in the winter, the nymphs are still hanging around, and the fish eat them. Many times they are close to the same size and color as the midges, so it's kind of a good "between" pattern that will elicit strikes.