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WINTER FLY FISHING TECHNIQUES AND STRATAGIES

 

IF YOU'RE LIKE ME, CABIN FEVER SETS IN PRETTY QUICK AND SPRING WILL NOT BE HERE SOON ENOUGH. MOST CHOOSE NOT TO FISH IN THE WINTER MONTHS, BUT THOSE THAT DO SOON FIND NOT ONLY SERENITY BUT POPULAR FISHING HOLES THAT WERE ONCE CROWDED IN THE SUMMER MONTHS TO BE VACANT DURING THE WINTER MONTHS.

 

THER'RE MANY THINGS YOU CAN DO ENJOY THESE TIMES WITHOUT BEING MISERABLE FROM THE ELEMENTS. I WILL COVER SOME OF THE THINGS I’VE LEARNED OVER THE YEARS ON THE GRAY REEF SECTION OF THE NORTH PLATTE RIVER.

 

SAFETY & CLOTHING

 

 

FIRST AND UTMOST IS SAFETY! WHILE FISHING DURING THE WINTER MONTHS YOU ARE EXPOSED TO SOME HARSH ELEMENTS. IT IS WELL WORTH YOUR WHILE AND MONEY TO INVEST INTO THE PROPER CLOTHING AND GEAR.

 

YOU WANT TO FIND NON COTTON ARTICLES OF CLOTHING THAT YOU CAN LAYER AND IN EFFECT WICK THE MOSTURE AWAY FROM YOUR BODY. EVEN WHEN IT IS 22 BELOW ZERO, YOUR BODY STILL EMITS MOISTURE THAT MUST BE WICKED AWAY FROM YOUR SKIN. ANYTHING WITH THINSULATE, POLY PROPOLYENE ETC IS GREAT FOR THIS PURPOSE. I LAYER UP JUST AS IF I’M GOING HUNTING. SIMMS FLY FISHING COMPANY MAKES GREAT UNDER GARMENT CLOTHING, WINSTOPPER FLEECE JACKETS AND SIMMS GORTEX OUTER JACKETS THAT WILL KEEP YOU WARM IN THE HARSHIST OF CONDITONS.

 

IF YOU WEAR BOOTFOOT WADERS, MAKE SURE YOU BUY BOOTS THAT ARE NOT TOO TIGHT. AND WHEN IT COMES TIME TO WADER UP, DON’T CINCH YOUR BOOT LACES TIGHT. THIS CUTS OFF THE CIRCULATION TO YOUR FEET (HINT: IF YOUR BOOTS ARE STIFF FROM THE COLD BEFORE YOU PUT THEM ON, SOAK THEM IN THE WATER FOR A MINUTE). HERE AGAIN SIMMS GORTEX BOOTFOOT OR STOCKING FOOT WADERS ARE THE CREAM OF THE CROP. GORTEX BREATHES MUCH FASTER THAN ANY OTHER BREATHABLE PRODUCT ON THE MARKET.

 

YOU LOOSE MOST OF YOUR BODY WARMTH THROUGH YOUR HEAD. NEEDLESS TO SAY A GOOD STOCKING CAP IS PRICELESS. GLOVES AS WELL ARE IMPORTANT! FOR BOTH THE STOCKING CAP AND GLOVES, I FIND YOU CAN’T BEAT WOOL. EVEN WHEN IT’S WET IT WILL KEEP YOU WARM. IF IT JUST WASN’T SO ITCHY!

 

 

I ALSO FIND BY DRINKING A LOT OF WATER THE NIGHT BEFORE A PLANNED OUTING, I STAY MUCH WARMER. IT INCREASES YOUR CIRCULATION ESPECIALLY TO YOUR EXTREMITIES. DISPOSABLE HAND AND FOOT WARMERS ARE ALSO A GREAT ASSET DURING THIS TIME OF YEAR. LET’S FACE IT, IF YOUR MISERABLE THE FISHING IS NOT GOING TO BE MUCH FUN.

 

WINTER FLY FISHING GEAR

 

I WILL BE BRIEF HERE AS WINTER FLY FISHING GEAR IS NOT MUCH DIFFERENT THAN SUMMER GEAR. ONE OF THE THINGS I TELL MY CUSTOMERS IS SAVE THOSE OLD FLY LINES. WINTER FLY FISHING IS HARD ON LINES, SO YOU MINE AS WELL USE ONE THAT IS ALREADY IN BAD SHAPE.

 

GRAPHITE VS. FIBERGLASS? BELIEVE IT OR NOT, GRAPHITE BECOMES VERY BRITTLE IN COLD CONDITIONS THUS WE SEND MANY MORE RODS BACK FOR REPAIR IN THE WINTER. IF YOU HAVE OR CAN FIND AN OLDER FIBERGLASS ROD, THEY ARE MUCH MORE WINTER FRIENDLY.

 

EVERYONE ALWAYS ASKS ME “HOW DO YOU PREVENT ICE IN THE GUIDES?” SORRY, I’VE TRIED EVERYTHING FROM VASALINE, PAM, ICE OFF PASTE TO ANIMAL LARD AND NONE OF THEM WORK. BUT I DO HAVE SOME TECHNIQUES I WILL DISCUSS IN A MOMENT THAT WILL HELP YOU REDUCE THIS PROBLEM.

 

BEFORE YOUR OUTTING, MAKE SURE YOUR FLY REEL COMPONENTS AND DRAG SYSTEM HAVE BEEN WELL LUBRICATED WITH OIL. THIS KEEPS THE WATER OUT AND THE DRAG FROM FREEZING UP.

 

LET’S TALK ABOUT FLY SELECTION FOR A MOMENT. IF YOU THINK ABOUT IT, MOST INSECT LIFE IS NULL AND VOID DURING THE WINTER MONTHS. FISH IN A RIVER BASICALLY SEE SCUD AND MIDGE ACTIVITY WITH AN OCCASIONAL MAYFLY THAT GETS WASHED OUT FROM UNDER A ROCK. THIS SIMPLIFIES YOUR FLY BOX. HAVE A GOOD SELECTION OF MIDGES IN ALL COLORS AND SIZES ALONG WITH A GOOD ASSORTMENT OF SCUDS. THERE ARE SOME DAYS YOU CAN FIND FISH ACTUALLY MIDGING ON THE SURFACE, SO HAVE A FEW DRIES LIKE GRIFFITH NATS AND SMALL PARACHUTES.

 

 

WINTER FLY FISHING TECHNIQUES

 

 

ONE OF THE MOST CRUCIAL THINGS IN WINTER FLY FISHING IS THINKING LIKE A TROUT. THEY ARE NOT GOING TO EXPEND ANY MORE ENERGY THAN WHAT THEY ARE CONSUMING. WITH THE LACK OF BUG ACTIVITY IN THE WINTER, MOST TROUT WILL HANG OUTSIDE OF SEAMS OR BACK IN THE TAIL OUTS OF RUNS, NOT UP IN THE FAST WATER. THERE IS ALWAYS AND EXCEPTION TO THE RULE, THAT IS IF YOU HAVE A HEAVY MIDGE HATCH THEY WILL MOVE UP IN THE RUN. MY POINT IS, DON’T RUN DOWN TO THE RIVER AN FISH THE SAME SPOT YOU WOULD NORMALLY FISH DURING THE SUMMER. MORE THAN LIKELY, YOU WILL NOT BE SUCCESSFUL.

 

 

SINCE THE TROUT ARE MORE LATHARGIC, YOUR STRIKES WILL BE HARDER TO DETECT. AN INDICATOR IS CRUCIAL AND SET ON EVEN THE SLIGHTEST BUMP. THESE FISH ARE JUST OPENING THER MOUTH AND WILL NOT BE SWINGING FOR FLIES.

 

AS I MENTIONED ABOVE, I HAVE DEVELOPED A SIMPLE TECHNIQUE FOR REDUCING ICE BUILD UP IN MY GUIDES. AND I MEAN SIMPLE! JUST DON’T STRIP YOUR LINE THROUGH THE GUIDES. SIGH! I CAN HEAR IT; YOUR THINKING THIS GUY IS AN IDIOT! THINK ABOUT IT, STRIPPING BRINGS WATER TO THE GUIDES AND THAT IS HOW THEY FREEZE UP. TO AVOID THIS KEEP YOUR DRIFTS SHORT AND CAST THE SAME AMOUNT OF LINE FOR EACH DRIFT. IN OTHER WORDS, I LET MY NYMPH RIG DRIFT ALL THEY WAY DOWN BEFORE CASTING. I SLOWLY LIFT THE INDICATOR FROM THE WATER (THIS CAN SOMETIMES INDUCE A STRIKE SO BE READY) AND WITH AN ACCELERATION, I FLIP THE LINE BACK UP STREAM FOR MY NEXT DRIFT. I’M ALSO ABLE TO KEEP ONE HAND IN MY POCKET FOR WARMTH SINCE THERE IS NO STRIPPING INVOLVED. OF COURSE YOU WILL HAVE TO BRING THE LINE THROUGH THE GUIDES IF YOU HOOK A FISH. IF ICE DOES BUILD UP IN THE GUIDES, YOU CAN SOMETIMES CLEAR IT BY SHAKING THE ROD UNDER WATER.

 

I HOPE THIS ARTICLE HELPS YOU PREPARE FOR YOUR NEXT WINTER TRIP. IF YOU WANT FURTHER INFO OR ADVICE, PLEASE FEEL FREE TO CONTACT US AT THE PLATTE RIVER FLY SHOP AT 307-237-5997.

 

By Mark Boname

 

OWNER PLATTE RIVER FLY SHOP

 

 


 

 

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