This is one of Matt’s favorite flies to fish. The reason being is, it’s the do everything streamer. Whether your fishing for trout or steelhead this fly with catch anything. You can tie it in lighter colors to imitate bait fish and olive and rust to imitate crayfish. It’s an extremely versatile pattern.
If you’ve been reading our Don’t be a Wuss series of articles on winter fishing this is a follow up and puts it all together to make the most of winter fly fishing.
The reason we fish when it’s snowing and it’s so cold our ears are numb and our fingers hurt, is because its fun and worth it. You’ll be blown away the first time you witness a massive Blue Wing Olive hatch in a full on snow storm or 50+ large trout rising to size 26 midges in temperatures below freezing. The key to doing well in these situations is first, as we’ve already discussed, dress appropriately. Then you need to adapt your fishing style to small fly patterns and light tippets. Then have patience.
A crucial part of fishing small flies and light tippets in any condition is casting within your fishable distance. Judge yourself and your abilities realistically. Accurate presentations are key. Can you make that 30 foot cast, land the fly softly and present a drag-free drift to that fish? If you can, great! If you can’t you need to get closer to your target. Most flyfishers cast more than they fish by simply being too far from their target.
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We are fortunate to live in Utah, but during certain times of the year fly-fishing in the cold of winter can be a challenge when it comes to being comfortable. If you dress properly there are some great opportunities to be had during the cooler months of the year, especially fishing our prolific winter midge hatches.
The most important part about a layering system is to have an open circuit. If you layer with fabrics that wick then sandwich a piece of cotton in with them you will have nullified all your efforts to dispel moisture. Although layering is key, cotton is not one of those layers you’re going to reap any benefits from.
In cold weather any moisture will take your body temperature down, in fact 30 times faster when it’s damp. To combat moisture and stay comfortable on the worst of days we prefer Patagonia’s Capilene 1 and 3 as our next-to-skin layers. Coupled with a denser layering piece like the Patagonia Insulator Pant under your waders you will go a long way towards staying warm and dry. Wearing layered clothing that is designed to wick moisture from your body sets up the whole moisture management system to work efficiently. All of us at the shop almost always start with a silkweight layer similar to Patagonia Capilene 1, close to the skin. Through the winter and the remainder of the year it’s our most utilized piece of clothing. When it’s quite cold out add a layer of Capliene 2 or 3. Finish your layers with a synthetic like the Cap 4 Expedition Weight Hoody, Nano Puff, or Down Sweater. All these unique pieces will preserve body heat on the coldest of days. Combining them will give you the versatility to be comfortable in most situations.
Everyone has a different opinion on waders. Truth is that both Patagonia’s H2No and Simms Gore-Tex materials are great options. These fabrics work well together with your layered insulation to keep you warm in cold weather. When it comes to a winter specific waders we lean towards the 5 layer Gore-Tex G4Pro’s. The 5 layer Gore-Tex in the Simms wader tends to insulate better than the 3 layer H2no that Patagonia prefers. The Rio Gallegos is a much more versatile wader in that respect. For an all around warm season and cold season waders the Patagonia Rio Gallegos is quite versatile. Both Simms and Patagonia are revamping their waders for 2013. We think their improvements will lead to some of the best wader systems we’ve seen yet.
The market is flooded with fast-action rods that excel at throwing long lines, big flies and fish warm season hatches well. Dialing in your fall and winter rod is different. Since most of your fishing will be on 6x and lighter tippets and size 20-30 flies, having a rod and a line that compliments the techniques used in cold weather is very important.
This two part piece deals with the changes in season and temperature as we move from peak season to Winter’s short and often cold days. For many these changes affect the gross population of those who fly- fish; opening the gear closet and stowing that rod they’ve been attached to until springs thaw. For the next couple of weeks we will be sending Part I and Part II to this article through newsletters, facebook, and our blog. Stay tuned and we hope you find this helpful.
Warm season hatches bring excitement, big bugs and dreams of “grip and grins”. The summer’s warmth, prolific hatches, and consistent fishing also brings river traffic, picky fish, and fishing pressure. The juxtaposition between cold season fly-fishing and warm season is all encompassing. Where summer brings crowds, winter brings solitude and rewards unique to the season if you prepare properly.