what kinds of flies does one use for whitefish ?

Jim Wallace

Smells like low tide.
Smaller BH soft hackle flies (#14 is a good size) fished (maybe nymphed using an incicator) near the bottom in deeper runs and pools.
Hitch hiking on Jim's and Travis' input I have always done well with size 14 BH soft hackle ant. Red abdomen, black thorax with grizzly hackle. Another proven (for me) is a size 12 butcher. Red body palmered with black wet grade hackle. Since I can feel better than see I skipped the strike indicator and go with leader no longer than 7'.

Old Man

Just an Old Man
I found a sure way to catch Whitefish here in Montana. Just stick a size 20 Red Zebra nymph as your trailing fly. Works like a charm. They won't hit the black fly like the red one.
what kinds of techniques and flies does one use for white fish if they wanted to target them for fun in the winter ?
I think someone else just asked this same question (I think) a few weeks ago or so...

Might check the search option in the upper right. Not sure what the thread title was though.

Jim Ficklin

Genuine Montana Fossil
Back home all we ever used were Gray Hackle Yellows & Gray Hackle Reds. I've done well with those out here too, the few times I've targeted Whitefish.


Active Member
I don't think the fly is as important as finding a school and getting a good presentation to them. Then they can be a little difficult to hook since often the bit is very quick and you don' have much time for a hookset. Just like reading water for trout or steelhead, they definitely have preferred holding water and that is the key to catching them.
I catch a lot of whitefish in the winter with a Barr's Tung Teaser ( I like a size 14 ). Any beadhead fished on, or close to the bottom will most likely catch a few fish. For the last couple of weeks egg patterns have fished well on the Crooked and Deschutes Rivers here in Oregon, egg patterns will fish well until late January. I believe the key is to get your fly deep in the water column.
View attachment 35234

I use this fly (bottom photo) because when it gets wet it looks like that (middle of top photo) which resembles these bugs (top photo), which are a favorite snack of Klickitat River whitefish. This is a size 10 hook and matches the standard size skawala stone very well. Unfortunately the Klickitat River has a size 14 hook restriction now, but this fly in a 14 is still a whitey killer. Tom