Winter Fly Fishing

dipaoro

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By this time of year, I usually pack up my gear and look forward to April. However, I want to keep going with the fishing this year. I am in NJ and fish both locally and in PA.

Does anyone fish all winter long? What flies work best and how do you stay warm?
 

ia_trouter

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Very small flies are a good place to start. Midge larvae and tiny scuds work here. There are actually winter hatches on some water but I don't deal with dry flies in winter. Staying warm is a complicated subject. I dress in layers and found fold-over fishing mitts with chemical hand warmers are nice. Cherry pick the weather for your first attempt. A sunny day not much below freezing is a good place to begin to figure out the challenges. You have to be more committed to fish during winter in a cold region. Expect a sluggish bite because that is what is likely to happen most days.
 

jayr

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By this time of year, I usually pack up my gear and look forward to April. However, I want to keep going with the fishing this year. I am in NJ and fish both locally and in PA.

Does anyone fish all winter long? What flies work best and how do you stay warm?
Even though it is cold, fish still have to eat. Find out what the fish are eating on the streams you want to fish. I know down here in the south, tailwater fishing picks up as the water tends to be warmer than say some bluelines especially when it gets really cold, which isn't as often as it once was or so it seems.

Generally speaking nymphs and streamers and getting them down to the fish work here at least.
 

dennyk

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Good for you! I love winter trout and Steelhead fishing here in Michigan. The streams I frequent during the winter time I don't have to wade so keep that in mind.

As for keeping warm--avoid sweating at all costs, you want clothing that wicks moisture away from your skin. I start with a base layer of silk, followed by heavy merino wool undergarments and 2 pair of merino wool socks over silk socks. Footwear I use insulated Muck boots. For pants I use heavy wool. Upper body I use expedition weight polypropylene with a turtle neck over the merino wool and a light wool sweater over them. This what I wear to leave the house.

Once stream side depending on the temps I'll add a heavy wool sweater and a wool vest if needed. inside the vest pockets I carry 2 air activated hand warmers and use Simm's fleece fingerless gloves. If snow and wind are a problem I'll add a rain shell jacket and wool scarf.

I've been meaning to look into the Simm's G series of winter jackets, but that's down the road. I've been using the above mentioned clothing for years and it still works well. Don't wear cotton anything!!

For flies I go small, scud patterns and zebra midge nymphs with a couple rainbow warriors mixed in. However there are days that Pat's Rubber legs patterns also work well. This year I'm planning on doing more streamer fishing during the winter months. My threshold for temps are anything above 28 degrees. Just not quite as young as I used to be with a toleration for colder temps.

Denny
 
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mtboiler

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I fish all winter. I pre-tie up the nymph rigs I expect to use before I head to the river and wrap them around a small piece of pool noodle. If I get tangled, snagged or tear up a fly, one or two snips of the nippers and one knot later and I am fishing. I now tie everything to either a barrel swivel or a tippet ring in the winter. Quick and easy.
Fish are not as picky in the winter because they do not see as many flies. But they don't move to take flies either. So, the key is to really work a hole that looks fishy well.
 

trev

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I fish winters, started that habit in RI in the '70s. Stay warm just like you would doing anything else outside. A couple of thoughts; water is above 32F, so if the wind is -12F the water is warmer- wade a little deeper. If the guides are icing up submerge the rod, again the water is warmer than the air.
Winters here are warm enough that I can pick mild days, with the ocean right there you should have milder winters than most of the country.
Enjoy, winter makes up 2/3 of the fishing season.
 
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TristianSutton

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Winter is egg season, and within egg season there are sub seasons of eggs, fresh eggs, fresh dead eggs, and old dead egg season

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Bigfly

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Eggs?
Each to his own.....
To me, eggs are for people who don't know their bugs, or how to swing.
If it got any easier.......
the fish'd volunteer.
Like mugging Girl Scouts for cookies.......

Jim
 
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TristianSutton

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Eggs?
Each to his own.....
To me, eggs are for people who don't know their bugs, or how to swing.
If it got any easier.......
the fish volunteer.

Jim
I know my bugs, but I'd rather catch numbers and sizable fish, yesterday was a great eggsample 90% or the trout I caught cared less about my actual nymphs they wanted that egg

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Bigfly

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90% or the trout I caught cared less about my actual nymphs they wanted that egg...

Hence the mugging for cookies comment.

Jim
 

TristianSutton

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90% or the trout I caught cared less about my actual nymphs they wanted that egg...

Hence the mugging for cookies comment.

Jim
You keep limiting yourself I'm gonna go find some more big fish with junk flies

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okaloosa

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Eggs?
Each to his own.....
To me, eggs are for people who don't know their bugs, or how to swing.
If it got any easier.......
the fish'd volunteer.
Like mugging Girl Scouts for cookies.......

Jim
just a wee bit elitist ;)
 

Bigfly

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Wasn't a put down, so much sharing that it is a low hanging fruit approach...
And perhaps cultural....
Out here, we generaly don't fish eggs, and gloat about being a good angler....
There was a guide here who fished a worm and egg all year-round.
The others guides gave him grief as a non fisher.
And, fishing an egg over spawners is low low low.
But have fun......


Jim
 

TristianSutton

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Wasn't a put down, so much sharing that it is a low hanging fruit approach...
And perhaps cultural....
Out here, we generaly don't fish eggs, and gloat about being a good angler....
There was a guide here who fished a worm and egg all year-round.
The others guides gave him grief as a non fisher.
And, fishing an egg over spawners is low low low.
But have fun......


Jim
At the end of the day fishing is a blood sport, no reason to not take the easiest path

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ryc72

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judgmental flyfishers are such an insecure and peculiar bunch. i know this sport has deep roots of elitism but i dont understand why anyone ever has to say something to the effect of "that fly/method is beneath me thus making me not only a better fisher than you but a person of better character as well..." just makes absolutely no sense whatsoever. and its always the judgy people that come out and start with "i dont care how you fish, you can fish however you want but........." and so what if a guide uses eggs and worms for their clients....what difference does that make? from what i can gather from talking to guides in montana and wyoming, they guide a lot of "never evers" (first time ffishers). if im a "never ever" client, i want my guide to be giving me the best shot at catching fish. i can say with 100% certainty that if i were a "never ever" client and i found out that the guide was was doing something deliberate to not give me the best chances at fish id be pretty pissed off. and mind you, that guide is trying to hustle a living...last time i checked he didnt get tipped extra by saying "you know we probably couldve caught a lot more fish by using an egg/bead/worm but man that one 14 incher we caught on the pheasant tail....thats what will keep you coming back...." shoot, even as an experienced angler, if im on vacation and i paid $700 or so for a day of guiding and i thought the guide was holding back because hes too good to fish eggs or worms im pretty sure i would never hire that guide again and certainly not recommend that person.

i think egg flies rock and love fishing em. tons of fun and can be very effective. not always...but in the fall/winter, often. and im not afraid to put on a pink squirmy as well. i dont think ive ever once thought "shoot...i feel so hollow catching this 20 incher on a squirmy worm...if it were on a size 18 pheasant tail id be complete..."
 

okaloosa

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Wasn't a put down, so much sharing that it is a low hanging fruit approach...
And perhaps cultural....
Out here, we generaly don't fish eggs, and gloat about being a good angler....
There was a guide here who fished a worm and egg all year-round.
The others guides gave him grief as a non fisher.
And, fishing an egg over spawners is low low low.
But have fun......


Jim
If by "out here" you mean California (AKA "fruit and nut land") I guess I understand...;)

I dont fish over spawners but I know my trout here love their "spaghetti and meatballs"...
I fly fish with what works as long as it is ethical and legal....being a fly fisherman is elitist enough for me, I dont go overboard
by saying "only drys" or "no eggs"....but to each his own and BTW, I appreciate your tongue in cheek humor even if I dont always agree with you....
and as I tell my wife often "I am a fly fishing wh*&e".....
 

jpbfly

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I'm lucky to live in a region where it's never or nearly never really cold.The trout season is from march till mid september then it's closed.I'm also lucky because when it's closed I have some rivers and streams with chub and dace which are open twelve months out of twelve.I've seen some nice hatches in winter ...:)Photo0832.jpg
Photo0831.jpg
 

cpiercem

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I haven't winter fished for a couple of years, but it can be fun to get out and catch a few. Or just to get out.

I prefer a tail water or spring creek.

I wear some older neoprene waders that I have from ages ago with some fleece wading pants. I have also used breathables with longjohns and wading pants. And a good wading belt. They keep you warm too.

In some ways I prefer the neoprene simply because when I slipped on some ice and went for a swim a few years ago, I didn't freeze to death. The tight neoprene really limited what water came in and also the water that got in warmed quickly. I was comfortable enough that I continued to fish for a couple of hours. On the other hand they are heavier, harder to get into, and restrict movement more. Not worth it if you don't already own a pair.

Here in Idaho I mostly use midges, dry and nymph, along with some small blue winged olives.

I usually pick a warmer day that hopefully gets above freezing. Also it seems to help if you go in the middle of the day. The fish get more active then.

I really hate iced up guides so on days that aren't above freezing, I try to limit the line going through my guides.

I too have my flies already tied onto tippet and wrapped around a piece of foam pipe insulation that I have put some slits in to hold the line.

Wool socks for my feet, and either neoprene gloves, or a combo made up of dish gloves over or latex under wool or poly liner.
 
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