Best Flies for Winter Trout

winter fliesWow. November is this Friday! Where did the fall go? In many parts of the country, bass anglers are storing their gear and preparing their boats for the winter. However, fly anglers seeking trout know that the arrival of colder weather brings the onset of prime trout fishing. To capitalize on the active behavior of these cold water fish, though, you’ll want to be sure to use the most efficient flies for the season. Throughout my years as a fishing associate, as well as a writer for Live Outdoors, I’ve had some great conversations and learned a lot from seasoned anglers, and today, I’ve provided you with a list of some of the best flies for winter trout fishing, according to some of my old coworkers, who collectively have over 100 years of fly fishing experience.



English Pheasant Tail Nymph (sizes 18 and 20)

Fly anglers I’ve spoken with agree that this version is far more effective than the American version, which tends to be bulkier, for imitating the slim Blue-Winged-Olive mayflies and small brown stoneflies that are common in winter.

Disco Midge (sizes 20 and 22)

This guy mimics the tiny midge pupae that hatch all winter long, particularly in western tailwaters. You can fish this one in the surface film for risers, but it tends to be more effective when fished deep, with Sink Putty on the leader.

Flashback Scud (size 16)

In spring creeks and tailwaters that contain scuds—tiny freshwater crustaceans—this fly is your go-to.

Micro Stone (size 14)

Small stoneflies often hatch during the winter, so the nymphs will be active in cold waters.

Vernille San Juan Worm

In red and tan colors, this fly imitates worms that get washed away when water rises slightly during dam releases on tailwaters.

Dry Flies

I Can See It Midge, gray (size 22)

This fly is so named because it’s a floating midge pupa pattern that you can spot on the water, due to its orange parachute post.

Griffith's Gnat (size 20)

The Griffith’s is a great fly to use when adult midges move along the water’s surface, especially when they congregate and form clumps.

Cannon's Bunny Dun (sizes 18 and 20)

This fly is a common favorite among fly anglers.


Bead Head Lite Brite Zonker, white (size 8)

This is one of the favorite streamers among the fly anglers I used to work with, due to its effectiveness in tailwaters, where light-colored shad and alewives get washed through turbines.

Moto's Minnow, Dark (Size 10)

This small, dark fly creates a lot of action, even in small currents, which is important when you’re fishing slow, still winter waters. Its coloration is a perfect imitation of the sculpin, a small baitfish common in freestone streams.

Well, there you have it. A few winter fly recommendations from some of the most knowledgeable and experienced fly fishermen I know. If you’re looking for ammo for your trips to the river this winter, then I’d tie on a few of the flies listed above.