Winter Fly Fishing


15 min read

While winter fly fishing in the winter may seem daunting, it can be a great time to fish. The cold weather can make the fish more active, and the scenery is often breathtaking. Here are a few tips to help you enjoy winter fly fishing.

The equipment needed for Winter Fly Fishing

When it comes to winter fly fishing in winter, there are a few key pieces of equipment that you will need to be successful.

First and foremost, you will need a good quality winter fly fishing rod and reel.


A good quality fly rod and reel are essential for successful winter fly fishing. The rod should be matched to the type of fish you are targeting. A selection of flies is also important, as different fish will be attracted to different types of flies.

Standard Winter Fly Fishing Combo Starter Kit, 5 or 6 Weight 9 Foot Fly Rod, 4-Piece Graphite Rod with Cork Handle, Accessories, Die Cast Aluminum Reel, Carrying Case, Fly Box Case & Fishing Flies

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If you're planning on doing some fly fishing in winter, there are a few things you'll need to make sure you have to be successful.

There are many different types and brands of winter fly fishing gear on the market, so it is important to do your research to find the best gear for your needs. In addition to a rod and reel, you will also need a selection of flies, a tippet, and a leader. The type of fly you use will vary depending on the type of fish you are targeting.

Hat, Gloves

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Add a hat, gloves, and boots to keep your extremities warm. The most important thing to remember when fly fishing in winter is to dress for the elements and be prepared for anything. With the proper equipment and clothing, you can enjoy a successful day on the water even when the temperatures are below freezing.

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There is a special type of equipment needed for fly fishing in winter, because the fish are sluggish and the water is colder.


You'll also need a good pair of waders to keep you dry and warm., as well as some waterproof boots. In terms of flies, you'll want to have a selection that includes both nymphs and streamers. Nymphs are good for imitating the larvae of aquatic insects, while streamers are designed to look like small fish or other baitfish. You'll also need a supply of weights and split shots, as well as some leader material.

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Waders come in different materials, such as neoprene or rubber, and different sizes to fit your height and weight. Wading boots with felt soles are also important, as they help to grip the slippery rocks and keep you steady on your feet.

Here are more of the essentials:


Jacket: A jacket is essential to keep your upper body warm. Look for a jacket that is waterproof and windproof. Hats: A hat or beanie will help keep your head and ears warm.


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Boots: Boots will help keep your feet warm and dry, and they’ll also provide good traction on slippery rocks and streambeds. Again, there are a variety of materials and styles to choose from, so pick the ones that work best for you.


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Sunglasses: The sun can be just as harmful to your skin in the winter, so make sure you have a hat that will protect your face. And because of the glare of the water.

Lastly, don't forget to pack a lunch and some hot drinks, as you will likely be spending a few hours out in the cold!

Best Baits For Winter Fly Fishing

Winter Fly Fishing midge flies

When they grow up, the trout are always reminded by their cannibalistic parents to "eat your balls because they'll make you big and strong." Flies are essentially the most important food source for trout. Flies are the main part of a trout's diet from November to February. Midges are a major year-round food.

They hatch at low temperatures and hatch in the thousands. Basically cockroaches. When aquatic insects are less active in winter, opportunistic trout engage in floating midge larvae. Because flies mature and develop year-round, trout depend on them for easy pickings.

Winter Fly Fishing Skeriks Shuck and N Jive Midge

You'll usually find swarms of these guys over slack water. Remember to use a light tip and direct the slow-moving water after a pool.

Tungsten Rainbow Warrior Midge

One of the most successful fly fishing patterns for trout, the Tungsten Rainbow Warrior Midge fly pattern combines a tungsten bead with some flash to produce impressive results.

Zebra Midge for Winter Fly Fishing

[caption id="attachment_2259" align="aligncenter" width="300"] First, two zebra midges are tied with orange bodies.[/caption]

Zebra Midge flies have been around for decades and good reason - they catch fish. We like to include a Zebra Midge in our nymphs as the first nymph followed by a heavier tungsten bead fly. Mold larvae can be found at almost any level of the water column at any time, so we make sure to keep a wide variety of this pattern in our boxes. Everywhere is a reliable trout fly in streams, rivers, and still water.

Thin blue midge for Winter Fly Fishing

This lightweight midge larva pattern is another wet fly we recommend for our nymphs. Although you can fish this fly near the bottom with great success, it is best fished near the surface in slack water. On some days you may see trout feeding near the surface and sipping on adult midges on top. A great tactic would be to drop the Thin Bluefly off the back of a dry fly and cast it to trout feeding both off the top and just below the surface.

Use Two-Flying Nymph for Winter Fly Fishing

The two-fly rig is an important technique that not only helps you perform better on subsurface flies but also improves your odds. Well, of course with an extra fly in the water you are more likely to catch a trout, but let's not make this a numbers game. Trout doesn't know numbers. It comes down to the performance of each fly. Trout will only move a few inches to eat an insect, so you need to make sure your fly is presented within those few inches.

With the dual-function nymph rig, both flies work together to get down into those narrow feeding lanes. The heavier larva/nymph pattern pulls the lighter emerger/pupa down.

Winter Fly Fishing with Egg flies

From October to December, brown and trout spawn. During this time, opportunistic trout will lie downstream of reproductive activity to spread egg clusters.

CAUTION: Please do not target the trout for the red. Redd is the spawning bed and is characterized by overturned gravel (usually light). Please leave these trout alone so we can look forward to future generations as they make more trout.

Great search patterns

Beaded Egg Fly

This fly is extremely effective during the spawning season in heavily loaded streams. This fish flies downstream of the spawner to a waiting trout. Although during a heavy hatch of mocha or batis, they will often be ignored.

Beadhead Veiled Cabalerro for Winter Fly Fishing

The two-tone body with a thin outer 'shell' will blend perfectly into the water to make a realistic offering that trout will find irresistible.

Baetis ( Blue Winged Olive ) for Winter Fly Fishing

Baetis nymphs (BWO) are some of the most common nymphs in the United States. During the winter months, you may find BWO hatching during a few days of warmer temperatures.

BWO Foam For Emergence for Winter Fly Fishing

Foamers are great for selective trout, which is great for winter because most of the action is in slower, looser water. They look great with the tapered segmented body and have an amazing profile from almost every angle. Foam parabens also sit low in the surface film, just like the natural. We like to use these blue-winged olive flies in the winter in especially small sizes and often add more than one dry fly - a multi-dry fly.

Dirty hipster for Winter Fly Fishing

This barbie-free euro nymph is scattered all over our site and recommended everywhere, and for good reason. Catch fish. In this particular case, the small-size olive variation is a fantastic blue-winged olive nymph pattern. You can use this however you like, but for us, we like to fish this under a small indicator with smaller nymph ties tied over it.

Beaded Soft Hackled Hare’s Ear for Winter Fly Fishing

This is a variation of the classic Hare's Ear nymph pattern that you usually know. Tied like soft fennel, the crimson partridge fly pulses and moves just like the way newly emerged nymphs bob and wriggle their way to the surface. Alternatively, you can also add a non-beaded version of the Hare's Ear Soft Hackle to the top of your nymphs or the back of a dry fly.

WD40 Emerge for Winter Fly Fishing

WD40 flies are fantastic drugless patterns that we fish all over our nymph. You can add it on top, on a dry fly, or leave a heavier nymph, but as long as you have it on the water it works wonders.

Water worms for Winter Fly Fishing

Aquatic worms are completely natural and are a chosen part of the trout's diet. They are found in streambed sediments and are persistent throughout the year. We prefer the Squirmy Wormy to the San Juan Worm because its flexible body provides more movement. They may not be as durable, but when winter fly fishing gets tough, you call out the big guns. When looking for trout we use flashy patterns like this to see if the fish respond. Once the trout become more selective we move on to more natural-looking patterns like the pheasant tail.

Improved Squirmy Wormy for Winter Fly Fishing

Moldy worm flies are great - they wiggle and squirm like no other worm and fly fish like crazy - but the durability of the material they're made from is their downfall. They will deteriorate even when well cared for or even left in mild heat. Trust me, we've recycled hundreds of dozens of these models before they ever hit the shelves. After talking to several fly designers about material options, we made flexible worm flies that last longer by using micro chenille on the body rather than the soft plastic worm.

Firebird Sparkle Worm for Winter Fly Fishing

A heavy worm pattern we like to use in deep water for big browns and rainbows. The added flash and sparkle create a wonderful contrast that creates interest. Sometimes all you need is a bright fly.

Scuds & Sow Bugs for Winter Fly Fishing

Trout can be found eating cheat and seeding bugs year-round. In streams with abundant underwater vegetation, these shrimp usually take up most of the food pyramid (sorry about the carbs). During the winter months, trout depend heavily on decoys to make it through the winter. We tend to find that the most natural colors perform better in winter: olives, browns, blacks, and grays.

Scud beads for Winter Fly Fishing

There are so many cheat patterns to choose from, but this simple design is incredibly effective. It features a lightning stripe on the back and copper ribs for added durability. The presentation of this deceptive pattern is enough to foolhardy winter trout holding deep. Just get that fly rolling near the bottom.

Streamers and Baitfish for Winter Fly Fishing

Trout are known not to chase in winter. They try to exert as little energy as possible and still get what they need. That being said, you should refrain from stripping and instead slay or flick your fly. Think like bait, be bait. Give the line a slight twitch so it adds some movement to your streamer. Most trout will not go through streamers either out of hunger or territorial instincts if they are presented correctly.

Tip: Cast over the pool and let your line swing down and across so it looks like your fly is trying to avoid lunch. After the swing, let your line stand up and troll your fly for a bit; this pause in movement will give the impulsive trout a chance to catch the fly.

Beaded Woolly Bugger for Winter Fly Fishing

Of all the streamers on the market, it's hard to beat the classic Bead-head Woolly Bugger. We usually like to fish a darker wooly bug in black or olive in a smaller size, coloring it and swinging it through deep pools that we know the trout are holding.

Euro Tungsten Jig Bugger for Winter Fly Fishing

This super boogie jig pattern not only has a pulsating motion from the marabou tail but also spinning tags on rubber feet. Masterfully designed, the combinations that make up the Tungsten Jig Bugger make this one of our favorite winter patterns and flies for our Euro Nymphs. You can rock it, dress it up, or wear it anywhere.

The techniques of Winter Fly Fishing

Many different techniques can be used when fly fishing, and the type of technique that is used will often depend on the type of fish that is being targeted. Some of the most common techniques include using a floating line, using a sinking line, and using a strike indicator. Floating line is often the best choice for beginners, as it is the easiest to control and can be used to fish in a variety of water conditions. A sinking line is best used in deeper water, where the fish are likely to be holding near the bottom. Strike indicators are used to help locate fish that are hiding in cover or deep water.

The best places to go, Winter, fly fishing in USA

Deep in the heart of winter, when the snow is falling and the air is cold, many people might think that fly fishing is the last thing on their minds. However, for those passionate about this sport, there is nothing better than heading out to their favorite spot and casting a line. Here are some of the best places to go fly fishing in winter:

1. Yellowstone National Park - Yellowstone is home to some of the best fly fishing in the country, and the winter is a great time to fish here. The park is huge, so there are plenty of places to fish, and the scenery is stunning.

2. Alaska - Alaska is another great place to go fly fishing in winter. The state is full of beautiful rivers and lakes, and the fish are huge!

3. Colorado - Colorado is a fly-fishing mecca, and the winter is a great time to fish here. There are so many great places to fish, and the scenery is breathtaking.

4. Utah - Utah is another great place to go fly fishing in winter. The state is full of beautiful rivers and streams, and the fish are always biting.

5. Montana - Montana is the ultimate destination for fly fishing in winter. The state is full of world-class trout streams, and the scenery is simply stunning. These are just a few of the best places to go fly fishing in winter.

So get out there and start exploring!

Here are more places to go fly fishing in winter:

1. The Green River in Wyoming The Green River is a great place to fly fish in winter, as it is home to a variety of trout including cutthroat, brown, and rainbow trout. The best time to fish here is typically from mid-December to late February.

2. The San Juan River in New Mexico The San Juan River is another great option for winter fly fishing, as it is home to a large number of quality trout including brown trout, rainbow trout, and cutthroat trout. The best time to fish here is typically from mid-December to late February.

3. The Madison River in Montana The Madison River is yet another excellent option for winter fly fishing, as it is home to several different trout species including brown trout, rainbow trout, and cutthroat trout. The best time to fish here is typically from mid-December to late February.

4. The Henry’s Fork of the Snake River in Idaho The Henry’s Fork of the Snake River is a great place to fly fish in winter

The dangers of Winter fly fishing

One of the biggest dangers is hypothermia, which can occur when a person is exposed to cold water or air for a prolonged period. When the body temperature drops, it can lead to confusion, drowsiness, and eventually unconsciousness.

  • Another danger of fly fishing in winter is falling through the ice. This can be especially dangerous if the water is deep or if the ice is thin and breaks easily.
  • In addition, cold water can cause cramping, which can make it difficult to swim to safety.
  • Finally, winter weather can create hazardous conditions for anglers, including strong winds, ice, and snow.

These conditions can make it difficult to see where you're casting, and can also cause problems with your equipment. Despite the dangers, many people enjoy fly fishing in winter because of the challenge it presents. With proper safety precautions, fly fishing can be a safe and enjoyable winter activity.

Tips for Winter Fly Fishing in the cold

Although fly fishing is often thought of as a summer sport, there are plenty of opportunities to fish in the cold weather months. Here are a few tips to help you enjoy fly fishing in the cold:

Layer up: It’s important to stay warm when fly fishing in the cold weather, so make sure to wear plenty of layers. A good base layer, like Merino wool, will help wick away moisture and keep you comfortable.

Wear proper footwear: It’s also important to wear the right footwear when fly fishing in the cold. Be sure to wear boots that are waterproof and have good traction to prevent slipping on icy surfaces.

Use the right gear: In addition to wearing the right clothing. A good quality fly rod and reel are essential for cold-weather fly fishing. Be sure to also use a heavier weight line to help you cast in the wind.

Finally, it’s important to be prepared before heading out to fly fishing in the cold. Make sure you have all the gear you need, including extra line, flies, and tippet. And, be sure to let someone know where you’re going in case of an emergency.

1. Dress in layers. This will help you stay warm and dry.

2. Use hand warmers. These can be placed in your gloves or pocket to help keep your hands warm.

3. Use a wading staff. This will help you keep your balance and prevent you from slipping on icy rocks or riverbanks.

4. Be careful of ice buildup on your line. This can cause your line to snap when you are casting.

5. Fish slower than you would in warmer weather. The cold water will make the fish less active, so you will need to work harder to get their attention. With a little preparation, you can enjoy fly fishing in the cold and catch some great fish. Dress warm, be safe, and have fun!


While fly fishing in the winter has its challenges, it can be a great time to fish. The key is to dress warm, fish slowly, and use lighter tippets. With a little preparation, you can have a great day on the water. If you follow the key points provided, you can have a great time fly fishing during winter.