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I am new to fly fishing for trout. I recently completed a handmade fly rod I made in Sports Biology and I can't wait to try it o

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  • I am new to fly fishing for trout. I recently completed a handmade fly rod I made in Sports Biology and I can't wait to try it o

    I am new to fly fishing for trout. I recently completed a handmade fly rod I made in Sports Biology and I can't wait to try it out. Southeastern Minnesots has a winter trout season starting on January 1st so I'm looking to build an arsenal of winter flies by then. Does anyone fish the driftless area or know what kind of flies work well in the winter?

  • #2
    Certainly not dry flies this time of year. Most guys I know who fly fish during the winter in Montana use nymph patterns and fish them "on the swing" rather than stripping. Fish are too sluggish in winter to aggressively attack something that's moving fast. What species will you be fishing for? Hopefully rainbows. Browns are harder to catch in the best of conditions.

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    • #3
      Actually, nymph patterns are typically fished on the swing ... streamer patterns or creature features are stripped. However, I did very well fishing freezing cold water in Alaska drifting a Thunder Creek pattern streamer. Usually better than the guys who were stripping it. Target species was trophy rainbows.

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      • #4
        The trout in the streams around here are mostly browns. Rainbows are stocked here and there but don't get very big. Brookies are only in the small, prestine streams. I can find some water that has rainbows it in though pretty easily. Do dark nymph patterns work better than lighter ones? And does "on the swing" refer to letting the fly drift more that bringing it back?

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        • #5
          Sorry, I have been tied up pheasant hunting. On the swing refers to casting it slightly upstream and letting it drift down. Watch the loop in the line for movement. Stripping is pulling it in rapidly after the cast. Dark nymph patterns usually worked best for me. I liked the hare's ear and black prince. Keep some bead-headed wooly buggers on hand too. Best luck I had with them was dark olive green with brown hackle and brown tail.

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          • #6
            Hope the weather was nicer for you than its been around here! Thanks for the info. I'll defiantly have to look into trying to tie those patterns and fish on the swing

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            • #7
              I would say no swinging. Fish matabolisms (sp?) are slow during the cold water months, and you want to present the nymph slooow, and a Pheasant tail nymph, or a hairs ear nymph should do the trick, in sizes #12-#16. Strike indicators can be used to fish them dead drifted if you prefer. And a Black Woolly Worm can be deadly dead drifted, and not swung, or stripped as it usually is in warm water. Short, say 5 ft. leader on a 10' sink tip, or, a bead headed bugger on a 9 ft leader, and a dryline casting slightly up,or straight out, mend right away, and follow with the rod tip watching the leader for any strike as it can be very subtle on the pickup. A white bugger can we deadly as well. The visibility of white in the clear water is exceptional.

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              • #8
                If you're fly fishing in driftless country you'll want some scuds grey and pink work well. Scuds are a small freshwater shrimp that are in almost all driftless streams year-round and provide a major food source for trout. A "pink squirrel" or any pink/tan scud pattern should work well in winter. If the temps go above freezing you may see midges hatching on the bank and small dries sizes 18-22 midge might draw a strike. The most important thing with driftless is stealth, the fish are very spooky and will scatter at shadows or vibrations.

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                • #9
                  There is a consistent stonefly hatch during winter. You might want to try small black dry stoneflies.

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                  • #10
                    There is a consistent stonefly hatch during winter. You might want to try small black dry stoneflies.

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