5 Reasons to Swing for Trout This Winter

Winter Fishing for Trout
Catch trout, stay warm. Photo: John Travis

Let’s face it, winter trout fishing is hard.

If you are crazy like us, odds are you are not going to sit around and twiddle your thumbs until your next trip to Alaska or B.C. – you’re going to fish! Having hailed from all over the Northern U.S. and Canada (Alaska, Washington, Maine, British Columbia etc.), our guides have chipped our share of ice off the guides in search of winter fish.

You don’t have to live next to a river teeming with winter steelhead to get some time on the water this winter – take advantage of your local trout rivers! If you are considering chasing some winter trout, it might be in your best interest to try a switch or small spey rod. Here are a few reasons why.

  1. It’s Warmer! A huge benefit to swinging flies with a switch rod (or small spey rod) in sub zero temperatures is that it is warmer! This often goes unnoticed, but swinging flies requires less line management than classic dead drift or nymphing techniques on a single hand rod. Simply make your cast, mend, and tuck that off hand back into your hand warmer pocket as you fish the swing. Also, swinging flies is also much easier while wearing bulky gloves since less fumbling around with your line hand is needed.
  2. Less Wading.  The last thing you want to do on a frigid day is wade deeper than you have to. With such low water temperatures, wading too deep can be dangerous if not just plain uncomfortable. Comfort is important in enjoying your fishing day and should be considered. Spey casting allows you to stay close to the bank while still reaching those prime lies. Since there is little to no back cast required in a spey cast, fishing up against shore structure is not an issue as it might be with a single hand rod.
  3. Slow Presentations.  As water temperatures drop, the fish’s metabolism slows down – way down. This means that they are very reluctant to move for food. Moving too far to eat during this time of year requires too much energy. Therefore, it is essential that you put your fly right in front of them in order to strike. Swinging flies allows you to slow your presentation down while still covering a lot of water (see reason 4).
  4. Cover More Water.  As we mentioned before, slow presentations are key to catching fish in cold water. While dead drift style nymphing can be very effective, it can take a long time to cover water. Swinging flies allows you to efficiently cover every inch of water while still slowing your fly down enough to interest sluggish trout.
  5. Practice.  If you are new to switch or spey rods, winter is a great time to practice. Odds are you will have the entire river to yourself and will not be as tempted to reach for the single hander when the hatch is on and the fish start busting on top. Better yet, if you are considering joining us next season in Alaska or British Columbia, winter is a great opportunity to get ready for your trip.  While there are just as many opportunities with a single hand rod in Alaska and B.C., we swing a lot of flies up there – mostly because we find it a heck of a lot of fun!

More on Swinging for Trout



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