Best Flies for Winter Fishing

Nymphs:

  • Assorted FliesEnglish Pheasant Tail Nymph sizes 18 and 20. This version is far more effective than the bulkier American version for imitating the slim Blue-Winged-Olive mayflies and small brown stoneflies common in winter.
  • Disco Midge sizes 20 and 22. Imitates tiny midge pupae that hatch all winter long, particularly in western tailwaters. You can fish this one in the surface film for risers, but it's usually more effective deep, with Sink Putty on the leader (as are all of the nymphs listed here)
  • Flashback Scud size 16. In spring creeks and tailwaters that hold tiny freshwater crustaceans called scuds, this fly is essential.
  • Micro Stone size 14. Small stoneflies often hatch during the winter, so the nymphs are active in cold waters.
  • Vernille San Juan Worm. This fly in both red and tan imitates aquatic worms that get washed from the streambed when water rises slightly during dam releases on tailwaters.

Dries:

  • ICSI (I Can See It) Midge. Gray, size22. A floating midge pupa pattern you can spot on the water because of its orange parachute post.
  • Griffith's Gnat size 20. Great when adult midges skitter across the surface, especially when they form clumps. 
  • Cannon's Bunny Dun, Baetis. Sizes 18 and 20. My favorite imitation out of many for winter Blue-Winged-Olive hatches.

Streamers:

  • Bead Head Lite Brite Zonker. White, size 8. This fly has become one of the favorite streamers of the fly fishers on our staff. It's particularly effective in tailwaters, where light-colored shad and alewives get washed through turbines.
  • Moto's Minnow, Dark. Size 10. This small dark fly wiggles in even the slightest breath of current, important when you are fishing nearly dead-drift in winter. Its coloration is a perfect imitation of the sculpin, a small baitfish common in freestone streams.
Share/Save/Bookmark

Other Resources