how to catch rainbow trout in the winter

How to catch rainbow trout in the winter

If you are passionate about fly fishing you will no doubt like me want to fish all year round.

When it comes to the winter season, many anglers tend to think that its extremely difficult to catch rainbow trout but i beg to differ!

In fact, fly fishing in winter is one of the best times for me to catch rainbow trout and in this article we will go through some helpful pointers on how to catch rainbow trout in the winter

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Fly Fishing Winter

where do you fish for rainbow trout in the winter?

Generally in the winter when targeting rainbow trout, i tend to stay fishing in exactly the same places i fished in the spring and summer months.

A good lake, stream or river will still have trout ready to be caught, but you just have to be a little more patient and step up your tactics a little.

What i mean by this is the type of flies you will be using , how you present the flies to the trout when casting and how the lighting conditions are on the day in question,  and whether you need to change up to a floating fly line or sink tip fly line.

what Methods work to catch rainbow trout in the winter?

I usually start off with a sink tip line when fly fishing in the winter just because i firmly believe from experience that the trout tend to lay low and deep down into the water vs summer when they are extremely active and aggressively hunting on the surface where food is in abundance.

During winter the food is a lot more sparse and trout tend to conserve their energy so only really prey on food if it comes near by to them where little to no effort is required to eat. 

With this in mind i tend to use buzzers and bloodworm patterns as my go to flies.

Starting out i cast the fly into the water and allow it to sink with the assistance of the sink tip fly line. Once i feel it has reached a depth i wish to fish and where the trout may be laying, i then begin a slow retrieve or figure of 8 retrieve as my father taught me.

Using this technique allows the fly to stay in the water longer and attracts the lazy rainbow trout who would rather have the meal presented right in front of them than go hunting for it.

I may if i feel i have found the right depth also use a floating fly line and attach a strike indicator to the leader and then allow the weighted buzzer or bloodworm fly to again sink to that depth and monitor the strike indicator for bites from a trout.

Further to using a single fly, ive also found that attaching 2 flies to the rig has increased my catch rate during winter.

You can do the same easily by tying on a short piece of leader (a few inches) to the end of the hook of the first fly in your rig and thus having the second fly hang loose below. The 2 fly presentation can help to lure in a curious trout and entice them to bite.

Ive found these methods work best for me in the winter when im trying to catch a rainbow trout. 

Feel free to give these methods a try for yourself and let me know if you have some success also.

Bloodworm fly pattern

what flies work for rainbow trout in the wiinter?

From many years of experience, i favor a trusty weighted buzzer or bloodworm pattern for targeting rainbows in the winter to early spring periods.
Occassionally an egg fly pattern can work also.

I’ve had great success using these patterns and continue to use to them to this day year in and year out.

The colors i like to use are usually variations of red, dark green and fluroescent colors (in case the lighting from the weather is dark on winter days).

I also used nymphs in the past but i always tend to have a higher success rate with buzzers and bloodworms.

what clothing should i wear in winter for fly fishing

I highly recommend wrapping up warm when fly fishing in winter and depending on where you are located in the world, the winter temperatures can be extremely harsh.

I tend to favor Sage Fly Fishing light weight gore-tex jackets , fleeces and neoprenes for waterproof protection in my fly fishing clothing kit, as these tend to be light weight and more confortable to wear.

A warm wooly hat always helps and a set of gloves to keep your hands and fingers warm during the times you may be standing whilst retrieving and waiting for a bite.

Hiking or solid walking boots are my favoured choice of footwear as these offer waterproofing and warmth as well as stablility and comfort.

Sage Winter Fly Fishing

Should you fly fish in winter?

Absolutely you should fly fish in winter and dont be put off by the weather or darker days!

Some of my best fly fishing has been had during winter as well as some of the larger trout ive caught to date.

Like with anything im sure you are passionate about, nothing should stop you from enjoying the things you love in life!

Tight Lines and Screaming Reels!!

Looking for a new fly reel?
Check out our fly reel guide here >>