Alternative methods for Winter fishing
Many people think winter time fishing mainly consists of brightly colored nymphs and egg patterns in obnoxious colors such as pink, orange and red are the keystone to tempting trout into feeding. Sure, this may work but, there are more productive and fun methods of presenting flies to fish that need a little more coaxing. After all, big fish don’t become big because they’re stupid. Time to match wits.
I’m talking about drifting or contact nymphing small, heavy streamers. Recently, I’ve been at the tying desk toying around with mini versions of popular “junk” streamers that are in the realm of 5-8 inches. To be completely honest with you, I’m not a streamer junkie by any stretch of the imagination, in fact it’s probably one of the last methods I think about while I’m on stream. However, there is something to be said for dead drifting mini streamers. I’m a fan of small imitative sculpin patterns in natural color schemes that vary somewhere in the realm of olive and tan. Anything from 2-3 inches is plenty big enough for my needs.
Weighting the flies;
Being that I’m tight-lining these flies, they need to be considerably heavy for their size. I tend to do this by oversizing the dumbbell eyes or adding wraps of appropriately sized non-toxic wire behind the dumbbell eyes. These flies need to sink, after all freshwater sculpins tend to live on the bottom for most of their lives and you better believe that trout know this.
I’ll have to admit; our new streamer hook is probably my favorite for these types of flies. The wire, hook gape, Teflon finish etc., is probably the perfect concoction for these types of flies. I usually tie slider style streamers with this hook. Also, Tiemco makes two heavy gauge wire hooks that make excellent choices for streamer options as well, TMC 5262/5263. Shanks are also a good choice as well, Flymen has collaborated with Greg Senyo on a product called Senyo’s Micro Shanks, these are meant for the inclusion of stinger hooks. Also, a note worthy point here; I’m mostly using articulated shanks here for the body of the fly. Why? Simply because of the movement. The Fish Spines from Flymen as most know, were made for the Game Changer. A mini sculpin tied with these benefits greatly from this tying method.
When you talk about fishing streamers it’s usually in the realm of stripping line, fair enough since it’s pretty much commonplace to do so. However, when a fish’s metabolism slows down during the winter the need to feed is not as prevalent as it would be in the warmer months of the year. Still, the fish needs to eat to stay alive. Moving sizable fish in the winter time can sometimes be a chore and from the fish’s perspective, finding food can also be a chore. A large fish, or almost any fish in the colder months isn’t going to expend much energy in order to find its food. Enter the angler, here in part lies your presentation method. A meaty snack drifted deep on a tight line through suspecting holding areas will almost surely produce the goods. Upstream presentation is a must here. Don’t be afraid to twitch your fly every so often to induce some absolutely savage strikes.
The fly pictured above is a work in progress. Keep an eye out for this to be available in the autumn of 2018
Written by: Fulling Mill Technical Manager, Eric Kelley