'Size of fly' for cold water winter work.

Discussion in 'Spey Clave' started by fredaevans, Jan 24, 2007.

  1. fredaevans Active Member

    Posts: 3,123
    White City, Oregon, USA.
    Ratings: +121 / 0
    Winter can bring (so what's new?) low cold water flows (high 30's-low 40's). When you have conditions like that what size fly(s) do you turn to?

    Hook size?

    Larger hook, sparse tie?

  2. Skilly Member

    Posts: 196
    Winlock, WA.
    Ratings: +3 / 0

    Assuming clear water. #4 #2 Black Marabou.

  3. Verne Member

    Posts: 76
    Ratings: +6 / 0
    I like pink or pink/orange in clear water for winter fish. Purple or black for cloudy water. Maribou is preferred, size 2 or 4.
  4. fredaevans Active Member

    Posts: 3,123
    White City, Oregon, USA.
    Ratings: +121 / 0
    Interesting you're both using 'larger hook' sizes (2's and 4's). Do you do a 'full tie,' or a fairly sparse one? Prefer an unweighted hook on a sink tip, of a heavy tie on a dry line? (Or an unweighted on a dry line?)

    Asking all these silly questions as those are the conditions we've got down here now (with LOTS of fish in the upper Rogue) and I've blanked the last 4 trips. Been up/down the scale with still 'Nada' to show for it so been wondering if I'm missing the obvious.

  5. bigtj Member

    Posts: 280
    Victoria, BC
    Ratings: +0 / 0
    Assuming we're talking about swinging for adult-sized (8-12lb) steelhead, I use a bunny leech, black with kingfisher blue collar. About 3 to 4" long. #2 gamakatsu stinger hook. I have yet to find a water temperature it won't work in. That being said, the "catching" is usually slower when it is as cold as it's been. Also, the fish move to deeper, slower runs with more structure. So changing the location you fish in cold weather is more important than changing your fly.
  6. Big Tuna Member

    Posts: 1,962
    Wenatchee, Washington
    Ratings: +42 / 0
    I use the same color combination as TJ. I either tie it as a marabou spider w/ kingfisher blue collar or as a tube w/ a rabbit strip tail, spider wrapped black marabou w/ a kingfisher blue collar. I tie the same pattern w/ black marabou, some crystal flash and flourescent blue marabou collar. I typically don't weight mine, but that's partly due to the water I fish. It's my confidence fly.
  7. Will Atlas Guest

    Posts: 0
    Ratings: +0 / 0
    In clear cold water I tend to fish smaller stuff. I like a winters hope on a 1/0 bartleet partridge, or a purple or orange gp on the same hook. Sol Duc is also a good low water tie. Small marabous get the job done nicely as well, although they arent quite as much fun to fish
  8. Salmo_g Active Member

    Posts: 7,544
    Your City ,State
    Ratings: +1,680 / 0

    Cold water conditions often mean dour fish. Dour fish are often reluctant to play. I'd try variety. From size 8 glo bugs and nymphs to size 6 Spade to size 4 and 2 marabou, GP, etc., to large marabou or rabbit fur leeches, all ranging from bright to neutral to dark.

  9. KerryS Ignored Member

    Posts: 6,747
    Sedro Woolley, WA, USA.
    Ratings: +1,775 / 0
    When its cold and clear I find runs that the boon doggers are hitting hard. Thier constant running up and down the run keeps the fish on edge and moving around. When on edge and nervous from all the surface activity they seem to strike out at flies more readily.
  10. fredaevans Active Member

    Posts: 3,123
    White City, Oregon, USA.
    Ratings: +121 / 0
    Getting a chance to 'experiment' with some of the above. Over on the Chetco for a few days and man is the river flow LOW! Running about 1/4 of what it normally would be this time of year. what flow there is, is coming from snow melt.
  11. TallFlyGuy Adipossessed!

    Posts: 870
    Vancouver, WA.
    Ratings: +45 / 0
    For winters I like bigger flies. Orange and reds seem to be a constant formula for alot of fish. Blacks and another contrasting color like red or pink or even blue seem to also be successful. I like tubes or wadington shanks with a trailer hook being a size 2 or even a 1.
  12. Philster New Member

    Posts: 2,477
    Ratings: +3 / 0
    Wow... You expect us clown punchers to have an answer to THAT question :clown: Well I try to remind myself of three things under the vast majority of steelheading conditions:

    1. Under most visibility conditions the fish will "see your fly"

    2. You aren't truly "matching the hatch" out west unless you throwing eggs or stoneflies, and even then who knows if they are hitting because you're "fooling them", or because something went by their nose and WTF, they had nothing better to do...

    3. A fly MAY alarm steelies if it is TOO big, TOO bright, TOO colorful (especially with fluorescents), but as the boondoging comment above states, an edgy steelhead is often a catchable steelhead if your program includes a follow up fly that is less intimidating. Kinda like "stoning" a fish with intruders :)

    So under low clear conditions I do try to show them something with "resident" colors first, meaning colors that would likely be present on critters in who live in the stream. Think about your south-mouths and hardshells. However, my follow up is likely to be a 4" bunny worm to shake things up.

    Here are two of my more subtle winter low flow clear water flies
  13. fredaevans Active Member

    Posts: 3,123
    White City, Oregon, USA.
    Ratings: +121 / 0
    Philster, that second fly (photo above) is 'the cat's meow;' new to me (zero recognition), what is it?

  14. Philster New Member

    Posts: 2,477
    Ratings: +3 / 0
    Hey Fred. I originially came up with it for smallmouth, but it turned out to be an absolute killer on steelies too. The hair can be any of the "varmints": woodchuck, racoon, badger, squirrel, heck, I've tied it with bear. Tie in the tail, wrap a little body, tie in a wing, little body, wing etc. The trick is I didn't want a heavy head so instead of a spun deer or wool just spin some of the same hair in dubbing loop and wrap like a hackle. Super simple, cheap materials, casts great on a 15 foot 1x leader and sinks well for winter work without soaking first.
  15. fredaevans Active Member

    Posts: 3,123
    White City, Oregon, USA.
    Ratings: +121 / 0
    Excellent! You should also put that puppy in the fly tying section ... assuming it's not already there.
  16. Porter Active Member

    Posts: 6,463
    Kenmore, WA, USA.
    Ratings: +522 / 0
    Second fly looks like a :thumb: :cool: