Winter Trout Flies

Winter can be a troubling time for many anglers, especially those who’ve yet to seek out rivers and streams where trout are plentiful this time of year. Fly fishing during the colder months, like any change in season on the water, requires different tactics and, of course, different flies. Today, I’ve listed a few reliable fly patterns for anglers to tie on this winter that will have their fishing rods bent over double in no time.

Any angler who fishes throughout the year will tell you how drastically fish behavior can change when the temperatures fluctuate, and fly fishing is no exception. Fly fishing in winter is challenging for a lot of anglers for this reason, because trout tend to feed below the surface this time of year, which makes dry flies nearly obsolete. Due to this fact, fly anglers should utilize nymphs and other wet flies.

There are, of course, several nymphs and wet flies that fly anglers go to in winter. Some of the more popular nymphs to fish during this season include the Wooly Bugger, Wooly Worm, Hare’s Ear, and the Muskrat Nymph. Other good options include large stoneflies and dragonfly nymphs, which have yielded great results for many anglers, as well. You can find such patterns at your local fishing retailer or fly shop, so stock up on a few this winter.

We’ve all heard the golden rule of fly fishing: match the hatch. However, this doesn’t really help during winter, when you typically don’t see any insects flying around. In this case, it’s time to start looking under rocks in the water in order to distinguish useful patterns from ones that won’t work. Overturning a few rocks will give you an idea of what trout are feeding on and will also help you select an appropriate nymph to entice them with. Of course, there’s never anything wrong with simply asking local anglers, bait shop owners, or using the Internet to research what flies work best on a given river during a specific time of the year.


Winter doesn’t have to be a sad season of marking off days on the calendar until spring. If you’re suffering from a severe case of cabin fever, pick up a fly combo and a few of the flies mentioned above and head out to the river. Just be sure to dress warm. It is winter, after all.