4 Tips for Better Winter Trout Fishing

by | Feb 24, 2024 | Fishing, Tips, Uncategorized | 0 comments

4 Tips for Better Winter Trout Fishing

Winter can be a challenging time for some anglers. Here are 4 tips for better winter trout fishing to increase your catch rate.

Winter can be a fantastic time of year to fish. As long as the temperatures are bearable and the river is free of ice or slush ice. This time of year offers you fish that are dumb and hungry since they haven’t been getting the fishing pressure as they do in the summer months. It also offers more solitude and no pesky bugs or mosquitos. While the most productive winter fishing is done nymphing, there are places and times when you can find dry fly fishing with trout sipping midges in the soft water. If temperatures are higher, you may even find the fish willing to eat streamers. So plan on nymphing but be prepared for dries if you see fish rising and have some streamers and a sink tip on hand if you decide to fish streamers. We’re going to focus this post on nymphing as it is typically your best bet.

Here are 4 tips for better winter trout fishing that will increase your catch rate. We’re going to focus this post on nymphing as it is typically your best bet.


  • Read the water. Focus your fishing on the right kind of water. Soft but not dead. Think alongside the softer water. Look for the deeper buckets and runs and fish them slow and methodical. Start your drifts in close and gradually present your casts farther out.
  • Set up your nymph rig starting with the indicator about five feet above your first fly. Tie on your second fly about twelve to eighteen inches off of that. You can tie the second fly off the bend of the hook or if you like, eye to eye because some fishermen like to know that nothing is obstructing the hook gap. I like strike indicators that I can move on the leader to adjust for different depths. The screw type works great and doesn’t put a kink in your leader.

Montana Winter Trout Fishing

  • Being in Montana, we have lots of rivers with stoneflies present year-round. I like to use that larger point fly to attract fish but also if it’s a fishery that is home to stoneflies, you’ll get plenty of fish to eat the stonefly nymph. For your second fly, you’ll have plenty of options. You can keep it simple or more imitative. Experiment with it and let the fish decide by seeing what they prefer to eat.
  • Make your casts upstream or up and across. Strip up the slack as your strike indicator gets within ten to fifteen feet from you and put a nice mend in the line to reduce the drag on the flies. A dead drifted fly will outfish a dragged one every time. I like using a stacked mend method because it will get the fly dead drifting farther upstream, getting your flies down faster and in the strike zone. If you’re fishing a longer run, feed line through the rod to feed more line into the drift to make it as long as you need. The more time the flies spend in the water, the more you’ll catch.

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Here are some of my favorite winter nymphs. For a more in-depth list check out my Top 10 Nymphs for Catching Trout.

  • Pat’s Rubber Leg Stonefly Nymph
  • Rubber-legged Hare’s Ear Nymph
  • San Juan Worm
  • Zebra Midge
  • Pheasant Tail nymph
  • Prince Nymph
  • Perdigon
  • Spanish Bullett
  • Three Dollar Dip – Serendipity
  • Rainbow Warrior

With this information, you should be able to increase your catch rate and enjoy a great winter day on the water, perhaps all by yourself, so get out there and catch some trout!

For more fly fishing information and guided fishing in Montana please visit Fishtales Outfitting.






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