Tips: What Flies to Use in Winter

Winter is here and if you look at the Missouri hatch charts they end in October.  So, does that mean we should stop fishing? Obviously, the answer is a loud NO.  Winter fishing, here in Missouri, can be the best and most rewarding time to fish. The number of fly fishers on the water decreases dramatically and the trout are still hungry. So what flies should we use during the winter months? Let’s talk about it.

Let’s start with midges. If you check all hatch charts, midges hatch all year round and make up a large portion of the trout’s diet during this season. Midge larva, emergers and adult dries, in small sizes, are your best bet. Flies in sizes 18-24 in black, red, brown, olive and yes, our famous P&P midge should do well. Watch for hatches in the late morning or afternoon when the weather warms up.

Next let’s talk caddis. The caddis usually will not ‘hatch’ in the winter but once in awhile we see a few ‘strays’ moving about. So, does this mean we leave the caddis flies at home? No. The caddis larva are still active on the river bottom and can be a prime source of food for the trout. Good flies to use are caddis larva or cased caddis in sizes 14-16.  Good colors for Missouri are bright green, olive, and brown.  Fish them deep near the bottom.

The mayflies in the winter consist pretty much of Blue Wing Olives (BWO). You can fish them as a nymph or dry. These tiny mayflies, usually size 18-22, have white wings and olive/dark olive bodies. Like midges look for them to hatch during the warmer parts of the day. Other than the BWO, you can use mayfly nymph patterns with success.

Missouri has some stoneflies so if you fish them use the nymph stage. Stonefly nymphs in sizes 8-14 in colors of black, olive, or a mottled black & yellow will do well.  I like drifting them using a wet swing technique.

Don’t forget scuds, worms, and egg patterns. A two-fly rig with one of these flies on top and bottom fly a midge can be very effective.

Don’t miss winter fishing here in Missouri. I feel that it is the best time to fish here. Our winter temperatures can be mild at times so watch the weather and GO!

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