12 Ways to Make the Most of the Off-Season

Fishing Winter Blues
Brrrr… Photo: Kyle Shea

Got a case of the winter blues? Anxiously waiting for fishing season to roll around? We figured some of you might be snowed in and/or looking for a way to scratch that fishing itch before your next trip, so we thought we’d offer a few ideas to help make the most out of this off-season.

Off-Season Fishing Ideas

  1. Learn to switch-hit. Being able to cast with your non-dominant hand is beneficial whether stalking trout or chasing bonefish. We’re not talking about shooting into your backing here – just aim to accurately place a forty foot cast or so. This is a great goal to aim for during the off season as all you need is an open area and some ambition. Some of us are more ambidextrous than others, but try it out, you may find it easier than you think!
  2. Learn to spey cast left handed.  If you love fishing with a two handed rod, try learning to cast with your hands in the opposite position (if you don’t already). Take it slow and concentrate on the mechanics of the cast and odds are you will find it is not as difficult as it seems. Being able to switch hit with a spey rod is extremely useful as you no longer have to rely on casting across your opposite shoulder. Also, you will never think twice of which side of the river to fish from since you can chuck off a dominant side no matter what!
  3. Learn to whip finish.  For you fly tyers out there, try learning a different technique of whip finishing. We have found that the majority of tyers out there either know how to whip finish using a tool or by hand, but not both. If you fall into this category, try using the down time to learn the opposite technique, as both techniques have their advantages. There are many videos out there for each and would require no more than ten minutes and some practice to learn.
  4. Organize.  Organizing your gear is a great way to ease those fishing withdrawals. Try organizing your gear into your vest or pack you will hit the water with first so that it is ready to go the second it is time to fish! Doing so before the season will also allow you to inventory your gear to help decide what you might need to prepare for the upcoming season or trip.
  5. Maintain gear and lines.  If you haven’t already, try using this time for a little gear maintenance. Clean fly lines, tune-up reels, re-treat your waterproof gear, clean out your fly box, and so on. It will pay dividends in the long run.
  6. Learn to nail knot without a tool.  Even if you only ever use a loop to loop connection, knowing how to correctly tie a nail knot is still very useful. A nail knot works for more than just attaching your leader to your fly line. It can also fix a blown loop in your fly line or be used to create loops in your sink tips. However, did you know you don’t need a tool, tube, or nail to tie one? Check out how here!
  7. Learn to tie.  Don’t know how to tie but have always wanted to? There is hardly a better way to help pass the time during the off-season than spending some time at the tying bench. Anyone can learn and there are many starter kits out there that are reasonably priced and straight forward.
  8. Create your own fly pattern! If you already tie flies, try using your time at the vise to spin up a few of your own design. It is extremely rewarding to catch a fish on a fly you tied, but even more rewarding to fool a fish on your own pattern.
  9. Deal with those Hero Shots! The off-season is a great time to go through all your fishing inspired media from the season before. It is also a great way to reminisce on the good times and get excited for those to come. Organize and edit all those photos and videos you meant to get back to now before you start making more!
  10. Plan that bucket list trip.  Want a great way to cure cabin fever? Try planning your trip of choice for the coming season! Thinking about Alaska, British Columbia, or the Bahamas? Drop us a line and we can help you with that
  11. Practice some line management.  If the weather is not very inviting but you want to better yourself as an angler, try practicing some line management techniques inside. If you like to fish with a two handed rod and haven’t learned already, try learning the old climbers trick for managing your running line. All you need is the first two sections of your rod and reel. String your line through your stripping guide and out across your floor. This is a great way to learn such techniques as there are no fish in the picture to distract you.
  12. Get Out There and Fish! Got a bad case of the winter blues? The absolute best way to cure this is to simply get out there and fish! The winter time can be an extremely rewarding time of year to fish as often times you get the entire river to yourself. Don’t fall victim to the belief that winter steelhead are the only game in town this time of the year. Take to your local trout stream and try your hand at some winter trout fishing. In fact, if you are a fan of switch rods, try swinging for these winter beauties. Click here to check out why.

Or, Kill Time with Some Videos


  1. Tom Ehrhard says

    13. Read. Read a book. Read a book about fishing. Read a good book about fishing. Read a classic book about fishing.
    One could do worse, for example, than immersing oneself in Steve Raymond’s _Steelhead Country_ (1991). As a taste of what you can expect, here’s a classic piece from Raymond:
    “It is relaxing while fishing to let one’s thoughts roam in random patterns, to let ideas, memories, and images come and go in infinite variety like dreams in the night. But no matter how far afield my thoughts may roam, they always return eventually to fishing–the fishing that I am doing, or have done, or still hope to do.”

  2. Paul Conklin says

    14. Go to one of the many Fly Fishing Show’s.

    15. There’s no down time, there’s steelhead to be caught.

  3. says

    There is no offseason…just a constant struggle between the speyrod…the bow…and the camera.
    I prefer winter fishing. Love the fog.Love the son’s rays low on the horizon!
    #2 is stupid…cack handed is superior to all casts! I don’t alow some dude
    in UK a couple hunderd yrs ago to influence my casts!


  4. Bruce Mahony says

    I didn’t know there was an off season. 50 years ago when I lived in the snow country of Oz we cross country skied into the spots and camped for the weekend. Admittedly the bloke I fished with had been in the British Sky Paratroopers in WWII so he knew what he was doing and was a good teacher.

    Caught a lot of fish as well.


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *