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As many of the larger reservoirs close their doors to trout anglers over the winter, small still waters, which largely remain open become the focus for the still water fly angler.
These small still waters can provide some fantastic fishing over the winter months but you may need to change your approach to maximise success.
Fly choice – My own personal preference is to fish buzzers, midges, and bloodworm patterns through winter as this is about the only reliable hatch that continues through the cooler months. That said, any natural pattern such as pheasant tails, shrimps or caddis can be successful. In my opinion, the depth and speed of the fly are probably more important. In the sporadic hatches and rises that occur during winter, dries can be successful too, try matching the hatch – the chances are it will be midges.
Cold water and fish metabolism – As the water cools, the metabolism of the fish slows meaning it requires less food. Fish, therefore, become less active in searching or chasing food. This means that you may have to fish with a static or very slow moving fly – stripping lures will not pay dividends for fish that do not want to chase their supper!
Static flies and slow retrieves –
There are a few ways to present a static fly:
1. Use an indicator. It’s not everyone’s cup of tea but it does a very good job in cool conditions. Set the depth of your fly to where you suspect the fish are feeding and let the fly and indicator just drift with the ripple.
2. New Zealand style. This is where a large bushy dry is fished on the surface and a length of dropper is tied directly on to the shank of the hook with a small nymph or buzzer suspended underneath. Many fly anglers feel more comfortable using this method as fish can be taken on the dry as well as the nymph. Check out our klink & dink fly – it’s perfect for this kind of fishing.
3. Sinking line with booby and a short leader. Using this method, the heavy sinking line should sink to the lake bed. A short leader of around 12 inches is used with a single booby fly. The buoyant booby will pop up just above the lake bed and can be fished static or with a very slow retrieve. This is a deadly method if the fishe are hanging around the bottom of the lake in very cold conditions. Keep the line nice and tight to detect the take and strike quickly to avoid any deep hookups.
Enjoy your winter fishing and tight lines!