As winter is now in full swing, we still have a hard time staying off the water. Winter fly fishing is a great way to have a section of water all to yourself–that is if you are willing to brave the conditions. If you are interested in getting out on the water this winter, we have put together our top 5 winter fly fishing tips with the help of our friends at Grundens

Man in a river winter fly fishing.

TIP 1: Fish Small (Very Small) Flies

In the winter, we don’t experience the big bug hatches like we would see in warmer months with salmonfly, drakes, trico, caddis, etc. The main food source for trout in the winter will be small midges and the occasional BWO hatch, which usually happens on cloudy winter days. Some of my favorite days of winter fishing are when you get caught in a BWO hatch in the snow. It can be pretty epic and downright beautiful. 

Most of the flies I am throwing in the heart of winter are size 20 and smaller midge patterns. These patterns will vary based on your local fishery, so make sure to go to your local fly shop to dial in which specific patterns the fish are keying in on. Some of my favorites that have worked across the country are the classic zebra midge, RS2, black beauties, and the rojo midge

Tip 2: Staying Warm Under Your Waders

This tip is something that has been a game changer to staying comfortable when winter fishing (and one we’ve all learned the hard…or cold…way). If your under-wader pants don’t have a loop for you to throw around your heel or an elastic cuff to keep your pants from riding up when you put your waders on, like the Grundens Bering Sea Pant, try tucking your under-wader pants into your socks. This has the added benefit of helping to trap warmth. That being said, do yourself a favor and pick up the Grundens Bering Sea Pant–you’ll thank us later for staying warm and spending more time out fishing than warming up in the truck!

When sliding on my Grundens Boundary Waders, I want to ensure that my body is fully covered when I step into the cold water in the winter. While you will stay completely dry in your waders, if there is a gap between your sweatpants and socks, you will feel that cold water pressed against the gore-tex. 

Tip 3: Staying Safe

This tip is important year-round! WEAR A WADING BELT! I don’t think I could shout that louder. Not only does a wading belt help trap heat under your waders, but it is the most important safety feature on any pair of waders. The Grundens Boundary Waders come with a comfortable wading belt out of the box. Make sure to have the belt snug around your waist so that if you fall in the cold winter water, your waders don’t fill up. 

Tip 4: Chapstick

Yup, you heard that right! Chapstick is one of my key pieces of gear that I have with me when I am winter fly fishing. If you are fishing in below-freezing temps, the guides of your fly rod will start to ice up, making it hard to cast. By adding chapstick to your guides, it will help to protect against ice build up. 

Other products that work to combat frozen guides are Payette Paste from Loon, Vaseline, Mucilin, or even Pledge

Tip 5: Bring a Hand Towel 

Since we know you will be catching fish left and right, we wanted to share a tip for after you have practiced safe fish handling. Once your hands are wet to release a fish safely, you need something to dry them off. I always carry a small hand towel in my waders during the colder months. You can pick one of these up from any of your local stores, Target, Walmart, or a hardware store; you get the point. They even make these hand towels with clips to attach to waders or your bag for easy access. Staying dry will keep you out on the water longer and keep your hands from freezing. 

What are some of the winter fly fishing tips you always use on the water? Let us know below!

If you are looking for a new pair of waders this winter, check out Grundens Boundary Wader Line! They come in your usual stockingfoot wader as well as a zip fronts! Check them out HERE!

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