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4 methods for adapting to cold-weather fly fishing - Golden Fly Shop

4 methods for adapting to cold-weather fly fishing

Here we are. The sun is starting to set at 5pm and we're staring at winter right in the face. You’ve likely began to make adjustments in your daily schedule based on the time change but keep in mind that, as an angler, your fishing strategy also needs to adapt seasonally.



Here we are. The sun is starting to set at 5pm and we're staring at winter right in the face. You’ve likely began to make adjustments in your daily schedule based on the time change but keep in mind that, as an angler, your fishing strategy also needs to adapt seasonally. 
While there will be warmer days on the horizon,  gone are the days of simplified hopper-dropper rigs, single caddis dry flies, and bugs hatching that consist of any size greater than a #20. For the most part, as winter sets in, there are a few rigs and fishing techniques worth learning for successful (and cold) day on the water.
So you’ve been catching fish on a hopper-dropper or dry-dropper rig all summer, but you’re intimated or just plain confused on how to rig a standard nymph-rig setup under an indicator. We are here to help. Indicator rigs are beneficial to anglers during the cooler months of the year because of the increased level of adjustment over a fixed dry-dropper rig and the ability to GET ON THE BOTTOM. 
To make best use of this rig you need to actively adjust your indicator position, weight of the flies, and the placement of your intended drift to thoroughly cover a piece of water. First, you should plan to affix your indicator along the leader roughly 1.5x — 2x the depth of the water you’re fishing. Doing so will get you close to the bottom where most trout will be holding during these next few months. You will know you’re near the bottom when you begin to see constant feedback from your indicator on the surface. If you’re constantly pinning to the bottom,  make a 6’’ — 8’’ adjustment on the indicator until you feel like you’re hovering just off the bottom with your weighted flies. 
When using heavier tungsten or brass bead-head flies you can often achieve this deep dredging technique without split-shot. In many cases we are fishing unweighted and simplified patterns like baetis, worms, eggs and midges which require the assistance from split shot or tungsten putty to successfully drift the channel along the bottom. Guide Brandon Vazquez had this to say about a recent guide trip on the South Platte: “My takeaway from Deckers recently has been to never overlook the simple patterns. Basic tailwater flies are easily overlooked with the plethora of new fly options out there. The classic unweighted Black Beauty gave us the most consistency today."
If you would like a demonstration on how to setup the terminal tackle aspects of a nymph rig be sure to swing by the shop for help!
Many associate fall as the best time to fish streamers. This is not wrong. With that said you should keep in mind that fishing streamers should be a part of your technique arsenal on nearly every trip. For example, when fishing an out-and-back route from the parking lot you could work nymph rigs moving upstream all morning, then turn around in the afternoon and rip a streamer on your way back. 
Some river’s are better than others for streamer fishing but with enough patience, and a variety of techniques in your arsenal, anglers can fins success on streamers nearly all year long. Similar to nymph fishing, the key to finding success on streamers this time of year is getting the FLY DOWN.
Two effective methods for presenting a streamer in the colder months are dead-drifting and swinging. When water temps hover below 45 degrees most trout behave in a lethargic way. As this occurs, stripping and over-animating a fly can yield little to no results. Instead, try dead-drifting a wooly bugger or leech pattern (with or without an indicator) with small twitches here and there thought the run.
In addition to dead drifting, swinging streamers across the current and down will often produce solid grabs. The key here is to move methodically one step at a time in between casts so as to slowly position the flies within the area that a trout is holding. Sometimes, it takes inching the fly across their nose to entice an eat mid-winter. Small sculpin imitations, leeches, deep-diving baitfish and even wet-flies can produce grabs. 
As winter begins to settle in a lot of anglers shift their gears. While we dig our waders and puffy jackets out of storage for the crisp days ahead many anglers are starting to focus on fly tying. Tying your own flies is a great way to affordably fill an entire box of confidence patterns but it’s also a great way to show something different to those heavily pressured tailwater fish.
For some of us at Golden Fly Shop, the cold air and need for additional layers is a sign of the times to start cooking our food with a hint of cajun seasoning and a side of 9 to 10 weight rods. 
Over the past few years, the Lousiana Marsh has become somewhat of a second home for us. From our very first experience, we were consumed by the bayou, its abundance of life, the people, and of course giant Bull Redfish.
Redfish or Red drum is a perfect adversary for any angler looking to change up their winter fishing experience. These fish tail in the shallows, they corral groups of baitfish, and they push v-shaped wakes of water at anglers waiting in the ready-position on the bow of a shallow water skiff…What’s not to like about that?! Redfish are known to feed aggressively and will quickly test the integrity of any 8-10 wt rod.
For the 2021/2022 Fall & Winter season, Golden Fly Shop is offering guided Redfish trips in Louisana for those looking to mix things up. If you are not sure how to get started, we've got your back! From the moment we connect about your Redfish goals, we will assist you in every aspect of your booking to make sure you are prepared for everything the Lousiana marsh has to offer.
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