Round Up – Winter Walk-and-Wade Fishing

In the late winter and spring, outdoor enthusiasts often have to make a difficult choice: ski or fish? If you’ve had your powder fix for the season, the next few months can be a good time to find solitude and plenty of walk-wade fishing opportunities on local trout streams, as fishing from a boat is still a ways away. Here are some tips to help you fish safely and more effectively during the colder months.

Enjoy the solitude 

Gone are the days of flip-flops and single dry flies. Enter the double-nymph rigs, shelf ice, and access issues. Fishing in the winter is not mysterious, it just requires more effort. The silver lining is that fewer people are willing to put on the many layers of clothes, and that translates to having most of the best fishing holes to yourself.

Be prepared 

Dress in layers and wear quality waders and wading boots. Hats, gloves, and outerwear will work best if they are windproof and water-resistant (see tips on page 30). 

Go deep 

If you want to stand a chance of catching fish in the winter, you must go subsurface. Fishing weighted flies or adding weight to your leader will help. You want your leader and tippet material to include fluorocarbon in sizes 4X and 5X.

Learn the water-haul cast 

Also known as the tension cast, this is effective for fishing clunkier rigs. At the end of your drift, allow the fly line to straighten out downstream. Raise your rod hand head-height, ensuring your submerged flies rise to the surface or slightly under. Then, turn your wrist so your palm is parallel to the water’s surface and make a normal forward casting motion, stopping abruptly like you normally would. As you stop, be sure not to rotate your wrist any further forward and keep your thumbnail pointed up, not forward. Then watch as your weighted fly plops down into the water. It’s not pretty, but if it were pretty Taylor Swift would be singing about it, and everyone would be doing it. 

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