Streamer Fishing: Winter Patterns and Techniques
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Streamer fishing can be
very productive even in the winter if the fly angler uses the right winter patterns and techniques. Most of
what has been written on winter fly fishing for trout leads me to believe that there is more theory than successful
practice. Perhaps many of you already knew that and have wondered yourselves about the articles written on
First you should know the basics of winter fishing. Read:
Winter Fly Fishing, Methods and Techniques
on this site. Dress properly and make sure you are on a stretch that you know has a trout population. These
techniques and patterns work in both freestone and spring creeks.
First, you will catch more trout by fishing the streamer upstream in
the winter. My studies show that you'll get 75% or more of your strikes when fishing upstream in freestone
streams and around 60% or more of your strikes when fishing upstream in spring creeks. Why?
Obvioulsy, in the winter trout are less willing to chase anything in the colder waters. Even in spring creeks
with constant temperature trout seem less responsive to downstream presentations.
Second, you don't need excessively long or light leaders. You
want a leader of around 9-10 feet tapered to 3x or 4x. You will also need weight either built into the fly or
above the fly or a combination such as bead heads etc. and some split shot.
Third, trout are still spookey even in the winter time especially on
freestone streams because the waters are often clear and low most of the time. Spring creeks are basically
the same all year. So limit your casting motion and pay attention to the shadows, the sun, and the line in the
mirror of the stream.
The 3 Types of Streamers for Winter Fly Fishing
Don't waste time with tons of patterns when fishing for winter
trout. I believe that the following 3 patterns will fill the bill in most situations. Here they
Here are my reasons for using these three patterns mostly for winter
fly fishing for trout. The Black Ghost is a great pattern when trout are feeding on minnows
or other small fish. I have found this to be true no matter what type water or stream I fish. This
streamer is also deadly for brown trout. So you fish this you are now covering the first phase of what the
trout could be feeding on.
Sculpin patterns (and I like Ed Shenk's Sculpin
pattern but others will also work) covers the zone of the fish feeding on the bottom of the stream. Trout
feed on sculpins all year but especially in the winter time. So if you fish the bottom of the stream with sculpin
patterns and use the Black Ghost as minnow pattern you have now given the the trout two of the major possiblities
they could be feeding on at any particular time, and that's important because you are imitating the most likely
Finally, I like Wooly Buggers in variety of colors
and types (bead head, bullet head etc). The Wooly Buggers are basically an attractor type pattern that lures
trout by flash, motion and shape. If trout are going to hit a streamer in the winter these are three types of flies
that basically cover the major possiblilites and give you the best chance of success without wasting time
going through your streamer box.
Try the flies in variety of sizes. Now the best way to do this
is to use my famous method of three: Large (may be a 6); medium (10) and small (14). You can adjust
these to your stream types and areas.
Have a good time winter fly fishing and these three patterns and
techniques are based on practice not theory from a guy who has done a lot of successful winter fly