The Nymph Alternative

More winter trout know-how.

  • By: Chad Mason

If wind puts fish off dries in the winter, you don’t need to abandon the steam and go find a hot toddy. Instead, keep fishing: trout usually take nymphs or pupa patterns below the surface. My winter favorites are the Black Beauty in size 20, and the Pheasant Tail in size 16 or 18. Either can be drifted along the bottom or suspended a short distance below a small foam indicator or buoyant dry fly.

During winter, don’t expect to find many fish in fast water. This is not the time to shotgun a heavy nymph through the riffles. Even in a spring creek, fish metabolism slows during winter because the water is colder in all reaches of the stream except right at the spring source. Consequently, trout typically hold in places where they can relax. They are not on the prowl; they are merely feeding opportunistically. Focus on slow pools, eddies, and off-current areas where trout pick midges and mayflies from the edges of the main current.—Chad Mason