The World's Number 1 Fly Fishing Destination



Streamer Fishing: Winter Patterns and Techniques
Gene Macri

You may use these articles. You can store them. You can read them. You may not change, republish, sell or redistribute these articles in anyway for any monetary gain. You may not add them to your collection and sell them etc. These articles are copyrighted and we will strictly enforce the copyright.

© 2017 E. P. Macri Jr.

Streamer fishing can be very productive even in the winter if the fly angler uses the right winter patterns and techniques.  Most of what has been written on winter fly fishing for trout leads me to believe that there is more theory than successful practice.  Perhaps many of you already knew that and have wondered yourselves about the articles written on the subject.

First you should know the basics of winter fishing.  Read: Winter Fly Fishing, Methods and Techniques on this site. Dress properly and make sure you are on a stretch that you know has a trout population. These techniques and patterns work in both freestone and spring creeks.

First, you will catch more trout by fishing the streamer upstream in the winter. My studies show that you'll get 75% or more of your strikes when fishing upstream in freestone streams and around 60% or more of your strikes when fishing upstream in spring creeks.  Why?  Obvioulsy, in the winter trout are less willing to chase anything in the colder waters.  Even in spring creeks with constant temperature trout seem less responsive to downstream presentations.

Second, you don't need excessively long or light leaders.  You want a leader of around 9-10 feet tapered to 3x or 4x.  You will also need weight either built into the fly or above the fly or a combination such as bead heads etc. and some split shot.

Third, trout are still spookey even in the winter time especially on freestone streams because the waters are often clear and low most of the time.  Spring creeks are basically the same all year. So limit your casting motion and pay attention to the shadows, the sun, and the line in the mirror of the stream.

The 3 Types of Streamers for Winter Fly Fishing

Don't waste time with tons of patterns when fishing for winter trout.  I believe that the following 3 patterns will fill the bill in most situations.  Here they are:

  • Black Ghost
  • Sculpin Pattern
  • Wooly Bugger

Here are my reasons for using these three patterns mostly for winter fly fishing for trout. The Black Ghost is a great pattern when trout are feeding on minnows or other small fish.  I have found this to be true no matter what type water or stream I fish. This streamer is also deadly for brown trout.  So you fish this you are now covering the first phase of what the trout could be feeding on.

Sculpin patterns (and I like Ed Shenk's Sculpin pattern but others will also work) covers the zone of the fish feeding on the bottom of the stream.  Trout feed on sculpins all year but especially in the winter time. So if you fish the bottom of the stream with sculpin patterns and use the Black Ghost as minnow pattern you have now given the the trout two of the major possiblities they could be feeding on at any particular time, and that's important because you are imitating the most likely scenario.

Finally, I like Wooly Buggers in variety of colors and types (bead head, bullet head etc).  The Wooly Buggers are basically an attractor type pattern that lures trout by flash, motion and shape. If trout are going to hit a streamer in the winter these are three types of flies that basically cover the major possiblilites and give you the best chance of success without wasting  time going through your streamer box.

Try the flies in variety of sizes.  Now the best way to do this is to use my famous method of three: Large (may be a 6);  medium (10) and small (14).  You can adjust these to your stream types and areas.

Have a good time winter fly fishing and these three patterns and techniques are based on practice not theory from a guy who has done a lot of successful winter fly fishing.


tight lines



Late August to Late September

Limestone Stream Report and Pod Casts 
Just Click To Get The Latest Info


Note: You Must Have Latest Adobe Flash Player for the Podcasts.

Falling Spring Run


Letort Spring Run


Yellow Breeches


Big Spring

  Green Spring


 Eastern USA Freestone Stream Report




 All Money Goes For Stream Research and Pro Bono Work



Free Fly Fishing Tips, Newsletters and Journals
Just send us your email and you'll receive our free fly fishing tips, newsletters and journals. We will not spam you or sell your name.

   Domain Names for Sale


• Home
• A Look At Bamboo Rod Tapers
• Muddler Minnow and Black Ghost
• The Secret to Buying Flies
• How To buy From Sierra Trading Post and Get the Best Deal
• Wild Trout: Do Fly Fishermen Really Want Them?
• How to Use Weight in Fly Fishing
• Outdoor and Underwater Cameras for Fly Fishing
• Bath County Virginia Property for Sale Brook Trout Steam
• Montana Grayling Final Push for ESA Listing by George Wuerthner
• Spinner Fishing: The Imago Stage and Lack Of It on Eastern Trout Streams
• The Light Cahill: Stenacron and Stenonema
• How to Protect Your Fly Line
• Modern Fly Lines for Fly Fishing
• How To Attach A Leader to a Fly Line Loop
• Why Fly Anglers Buy The Wrong Fly Rods
• Winter Fly Fishing: Methods, Techniques and Patterns
• Terrestrials for Late Summer and Fall Fishing
• Brown Trout and Summer and Fall Rains
• Ed Shenk's The Letort Hopper
• Booking for Private Fly Fishing and Spring Creek Fishing for the Fall
• The Hare's Ear G.R. Wet Fly: Why You Should Have It in Your Fly Box
• Fly Fishing Debauchery
• Catching Big Trout
• Montana Stream Access: Trout Rustling in Montana
• Fly Size For Summer Trout Fishing
• Yellowstone River Hit by Oil from Broken Pipeline
• Fly Fishing Hatches Where Are They In 2016
• Fly Fishing Radio And Podcasts
• Fish Farming and Aquaculture
• Sustainable Living Library
• Steelhead Fishing And Patterns for Eastern Streams
• Wild Brook Trout Booking Reservations for thisYear
• Free Download Page
• Conewago Fly Fisherman
• Conewago Creek Present Conditions
• Conewago Fly Fishers Host Healing Waters
• Conewago Fly Hatches: Early Season
• Conewago Fly Fisher's Newsletter
• Conewago Fly Fishers: Shad Fishing Notes
• Tips For Successful Early Season Fly Fishing
• Fly Patterns: Why Trout Hit Them
• Tips For Successful Early Season Fly Fishing: Part 2
• Early Season Killer Wet Fly Patterns
• Wet Flies For Trout: The Ones You Should Always Carry
• The Wet Fly
• Best Wet Fly Patterns
• Deadly Dozen Dry Flies
• The Prince Nymph by Gene Macri
• The One Fly Method for Late Summer and Early Fall Trout Fishing
• Secrets to Late Summer Trout Fly Fishing
• Fly Fishing Methods: Using the Best Strategies
• Fly Boxes: The Best Fly Box for One Dollar
• Fishing Big Spring by Ron Krista
• Streamers Fishing: Winter Patterns and Techniques
• Trout Hitting A Variety of Patterns this time of Year
• One Hundred Dollar Fly Lines: Are They Worth It.
• Fly Fishing and Guides
• Trophy Fish Smaller Than Years Ago
• Fly Fishing Reels
• Fly Fishing Rods
• Fly Fishing Flies
• Why Most Fly Fishermen Don't Catch More Fish
• Fly Fisher's Free Screensavers
• The Truth About Fly Fishing Guiding And Instruction
• Charlie Fox
• Charlie Fox Page 2
• Stream Entomology
• Gary Borger Interview Part 1
• The Poacher's Rule
• Fly Fishing Small Streams with Charlie Meck
• Fly Fishing Hatch Chart For Small Streams
• Ernie Schwiebert: In Memoriam
• Autumn Mayfly and Caddis Hatches
• The Traveling Fly Fisherman
• Big Spring Stream Surveys
• Stream Temperatures and Trout
• Pennsylvania Fly Fishing Spring Creeks: Guiding and Instruction
• Fly Fishing: Spring Creek Fly Box
• Fly Fishing Pennsylvania Freestone Streams Autumn Fly Selection
• Fly Fishing: Dry Flies: The Adams
• Fly Fishing: Fur Ants
• Fly Line Cleaning
• Fly Fishing Spring Creek Tackle
• Fly Fishing Midges and Small Flies
• About Fly
• Contact Fly
• Resources
• Privacy
• Site Map