Favorite patterns in sub-40 degree water? [Archive] - Fly Fishing Forum

: Favorite patterns in sub-40 degree water?

11-02-2006, 10:01 PM
As winter approaches and water temps start to dip permanently below 40 degrees, what are some of the favored patterns for late-Fall/Winter Steelhead.

11-03-2006, 03:41 PM
I like very large flies with lots of action for winter fishing. Since they should be moving very slow they need that extra movement to attract fish. Marabou muddlers, Popsicle type flies, rabbit fur leaches and such are great producers. I almost always weight them with lead wire or (and flytyer will probably shoot me for this :hihi: ) lead eyes or cones. Lately I have been tying them on metal tubes to help them sink. It is especially important in the Great lakes to get down and move slow since our temps can be so cold. Below is one of my rabbit muddlers that I have used with great success.


11-03-2006, 03:47 PM
Great minds think alike Charlie!

Here is a link to my bunny rat pattern, which in essence is the same design - and very deadly on the swing.


I like the color choices you use.

11-03-2006, 05:36 PM
Charlie, what made you decide on black and yellow for that fly? I'm curious over the color because almost every thing I've seen that was streamer-like in the GL was white with either purple, chartreuse., or more subtle like olive to match the forage.


PS. You can stop the rain dance now.

11-07-2006, 03:12 PM

Good question. Actually it is light orange in color. A friend uses this color combination on a bugger almost exclusively and with great success. So I adopted it and adapted it to some of my own patterns. Purple and orange also works very well in the great lakes. Next time you come up to fish let me know and I will get some to you to try.


Oh, and I hear you on the rain. The Catt has not been fishable for a month.

11-08-2006, 09:29 PM
Charlie you got some sick flies, I just lost confidence in about half my flies!!!

11-13-2006, 07:21 AM
I had to re-register after changing my e-mail. Glad to see some of the regulars still here. I need to learn how to "attach photos" rather than post the entire picture.

On good sized water I also like the Muddler with a rabbit strip wing for cold winter water on a slow swing in frog water. For small streams I don't use it much however and like to pitch Bucktails off the ledges such as this Emerald Shiner pattern along with using some good sized (sz. 6) soft hackle wets.

The fished and beat up purple bugger with red guinea collar and red head would be the go between either size stream. It has been a very good cold winter green water fly for me on both the small and larger streams in sz 6.

I took some fished stuff from my box for comparison. Sorry, the last phto came out fuzzy.
Muddlers- sz 4 & 6
Bucktails sz 4 & 8
Soft Hackles sz 6
Purple Bugger sz 6


Muddler sz 4 (weighted)


Emerald Shinner sz 4


Fished stuff from the box. Cold water winter flies for big and small great lakes tribs.

Take care,
Bill (h2o)

11-13-2006, 09:40 AM
My answer is streamers, streamers, and more streamers. They need to be big (3"+) and bright. Yellow is my favorite color.

11-13-2006, 10:08 AM

I guess it depends what size rivers and water color one is "winter fishing". I really enjoy the hiking smalls creeks during winter snow falls. Although the above muddler I tied is quite large (sz 4 / 4x long TMC 9394) it does not produce well on small streams in all but nearly blown out water. Larger water with larger flows, pools and tail outs it does well. I also use them on a large tailwater for trout when flows of this big river come down to 1500-2000 cfs and I can wade.

On the small streams during winter a sparce (sz. 4-8) bucktail or smallish marabou streamer produces much better for me and others. In fact that is when the bucktails really turn on (winter/small streams) in Emerald Shinner,all white with P hurl topping, Rainbow Trout,Brown Trout,Dace Patterns and I do a peacock hurl over ,black bucktail wing over wine k flash over lilac colored gudebrod metallic braid with red tail and throat thats very good on dark overcast winter days along a small trib. Along with traditional feather wing streamers like the Black Ghost and others.

One would be wise to have some of both (large & small, bulky & sparce) to match differant size streams,flows and water colors.........at least here they would.

I luv the small streams in winter when many anglers are gone.........can't wait :wink: