Winter is here and with the cold weather comes more time spent indoors. We’ve put together a few tips that may help you pass the time until your favorite spring spot is ready! If you have more tips please share them in the comment section!ice-pancakes

1. Stock up on your bugs…or learn to tie!

This is probably the most common winter time activity for fly fisherman. With good reason. With less days out on the water and the cold weather driving people to spend more time inside, it’s the perfect opportunity to stock up on your go to flies. You may also want to find a few new patterns to add to your arsenal. If you’re anything like me, you probably don’t stray too far beyond your proven producers. Branch out. You can start by trying some of the bugs we’ve found to be effective. If  you don’t tie but you’ve been thinking about it – do it. This winter. Start. NOW! I believe that tying really helps you become a better angler. I’ve found it incredibly beneficial to be able to tweak patterns to do what you want them to do.

2. Learn to build a rod.

Building your own rod is a great way to put your personal touch on your favorite tool. You don’t need a great deal of equipment and the learning curve isn’t so steep that you can’t pick it up in a single winter. The winter months are a great time to slowly construct your dream stick in time to hit all your spring favorites. With many companies offering rod blanks, anglers have more choices as ever.

3. Clean and organize your gear.

Dirt can actually be damaging to fabrics over time so cleaning your shell, waders, and other gear regularly is a good idea. Your hard-earned gear will last longer. Clean the guides and reel seats on your rods, clean and grease your reels, clean the trashed flies out of your fly boxes, get all the extra splitshot/plant matter/spare flies/ granola bar wrappers/out from the bottom of your wader/pack pockets. Take an inventory of what bugs you need to tie.

Also, contrary to common belief, washing is actually GOOD for all technical fabrics – including waders. Use a good powdered detergent or a technical was soap like Nikwax Tech Wash in a front-loading washing machine. Secure all snaps and tie all straps together to prevent fabric damage. Rinse twice.

4. Plan new adventures/find a new spot.

People often make comments in regards to the fish that we catch. What they don’t see is the hours of planning and all of the fruitless trips. Break out of your comfort zone and find a new place to fish! It doesn’t have to be far away or anything crazy – just find a new spot. There are bajillions of fun opportunities to be had and most of which are time sensitive. Finding a new place to fish is only half the battle. You’ll be better off if you can determine more or less when “primetime” is. It may take a year or two (or 5) to nail it just right but don’t miss out on another year! If you’re a married guy like me, finding time to get on the water can often be challenging. If you know where you want to go and more importantly – when you need to be there – it’s much easier to make arrangements with the boss at home and work in advance! I actually have a fishing calendar so that I can look at any given month and know what’s spots are gonna be on and have ordered them in priority (there’s only so many days in each month!)

5. Research new areas/new species

So this is kind of like #4 but I thought it was worth isolating because many anglers could definitely branch out! Find a new species to target. Most areas should have a variety of target species…at least some combination of trout, panfish, bass, toothy fish, and ahem…carp.  Go after something you’ve never fished for. You’ll become a better angler and you’ll thank me later.

6. Learn new fishing techniques.

Fly fishing offers endless learning and this includes techniques. Broadening your tactics will add enjoyment and likely more fish. Don’t fish streamers much? Learn a couple streamer fishing techniques? Never fish stillwater? It can be quite a challenge and very rewarding…give it a try! Ever try czech-style or french nymphing? What about swinging soft hackles?

Casting is also something that offers lots of possibilities. Youtube is full of helpful casting videos. The underhand cast and other spey-style casts are extremely helpful in many situations and much underused. Learn some new mending techniques and tips.

7. Go fish!

People (non-anglers mostly) are always amazed that I fly fish in the winter time. It can be a great time to catch fish. Hopefully you’re doing it already. If you’re not, then do some homework and find which fisheries near you are the most viable during the winter months. Tailwaters are often a great place to start due to the more consistent water temperatures/flows. Talk to your local fly shop and do research online to find when/what winter hatches are happening. You may just be surprised on the great fishing you can find. Stellar dry fly days and consistent streamer days can all be had during the winter months.

I hope there was something helpful in there. We’ll be doing some follow up posts to provide some of the info we’re telling you to go get! If there’s any topics you’d like to see make sure to leave it in the comment section. If there’s anything else we can do to make your winter better please let us know! Stay warm out there!


About The Author

Chinese Boy

The ringleader at OSF, Nathan likes well-proportioned fish, moonlit walks by the river, and stripping streamers through dark lies on the dreariest of days. View full bio.