'Size of fly' for cold water winter work.

fredaevans

Active Member
#1
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?

Etc?
 

fredaevans

Active Member
#4
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.

Fred
 
#5
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
bigtj said:
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.
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.
 
W

Will Atlas

Guest
#7
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
 

Salmo_g

Well-Known Member
#8
Fred,

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.

Sg
 

KerryS

Ignored Member
#9
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
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
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.
 

Philster

Active Member
#12
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
 

Philster

Active Member
#14
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.
 

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