Something to Think about in Winter

Well, this year, due to the coronavirus, we have had many of our members fishing with just two or three others to be “safe”.  Because of that, it has been a little harder than normal to track and get trip reports.  But by word of mouth, I am hearing that few are having great success. So, it got me thinking.

Are we doing something different? Are we not “concentrating” on our technique and just fishing for fishing’s sake? Are we so engrossed in the latest trend of Euro-Style Nymphing (ESN) by using big, heavy attractor flies?  I had a discussion with one of our more experienced fly fishers and he had some of the same thoughts that I had as I sat and tried to figure out what was going on.  Since I cannot walk beside all of you while you fish to see exactly what you are doing, I decided to examine exactly what I was doing.

I have been fishing more and more using the popular technique of ESN. It is highly effective, and I have been doing well but….  Sometimes this technique has shut down during the day and the trout just do not respond.  But unfortunately, I either continue using ESN or grab another rod and start swinging or stripping flies.  But is that the way to go? Have I forgotten a tried-and-true technique that has brought us many trout to the net in the past? Did I forget how “small” brought us so much luck in the past?

I have gotten away from fishing small flies! Where are the size 18 – 22 flies that have been so successful in the past.  Remember when our number one fly was the size 18 – 20 Primrose and Pearl midge or the Manhattan midge. How about the Yong Special fly? Has it been ignored in your fly box?  Winter season, which we are now in, is prime time for midge fishing. You all know that the midge is the most prolific fly during the winter season. So why aren’t we using smaller flies more? (I know, “I cannot see well enough to tie them on my tippet” – get magnifiers then!!!). Seriously, I think we need to get back to using smaller flies again during the winter season.

If you are dead drifting flies, either by ESN or using an indicator, try using a smaller fly. If you fish two flies, then make sure one fly is your size 18 – 20 size midge variant.  On my next trip, my plan will be to use ESN but with one ESN type attractor fly (dropper) and one smaller midge variant on the point fly (bottom). My thinking? The trout will see the attractor first because of its weight and then have an easy morsel, one he is probably eating daily, floating by next.

So, let us all give it try. Let us get back to using those size 18 – 20 black zebra midges or my favorite the P&P midge. Do not forget to drop down your tippet to 6x and maybe fluorocarbon too. Make sure your drift is perfect, your set is ready for any movement or slowdown of your indicator or any slight change in your sighter and have fun with it.

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About Kenny
Kenny is presently a Captain for Southwest Airlines. A graduate of the U.S. Air Force Academy, he served twenty years in the Air Force as a fighter pilot. He has been fishing all his life but fly fishing seriously for the past 24 years in Alaska, Canada, most of the Rocky Mountain states, and of course, here in Missouri. Kenny has been an instructor for ten years teaching fly fishing as part of men's ministries. He has been teaching at The Crossing Community Church in Chesterfield, Missouri for the past eight years. His passion for fly fishing provides a unique teaching style that brings Christian men together in community. Kenny is married and has three children. Sorry St. Louis, he is a die-hard Chicago Cubs fan.
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