If you have ever fished with me you obviously know that I can’t leave the truck without at least a few hundred flies if not thousands. More than once I have been forced to a bank side seat only to watch on as fish fed recklessly while the one magic fly rested in a fly box back in the truck or worse at home. Over the years I have condensed my selection and discovered better techniques for organization so I don’t miss out on these critical moments. My personal approach to a framework of organization has become general and seasonal for the most part. During the cold months I will usually carry a few boxes full of what I would consider standard patterns including Rubber Legs, Wooley Buggers, San Juan Worms, and even Glo-Bugs. Since most of us who are fishing during the winter probably know and have a varied selection of the general patterns mentioned above, I thought I would share a few of my favorites that don’t always make the average list and could be applied just about anywhere in the world.
1.) Pink Scud – Some say because of its color that fish are eating it for an egg. I can agree with that…sometimes. At least it is a guilt free approach of fishing an egg. Either way there are various colors of this “freshwater shrimp” and pink is my favorite for winter. If you are going to fish a spring creek or tailwater with weed beds, this one better be an option.
2.) Hot Spot Sow Bug – This is a variation of a few sow bug imitations. I originally used the fire orange colored thread so that when the fly got wet the orange would illuminate through the dubbing, but it also accentuates the bug from other naturals, “triggering” a reaction bite from the quarry. Once again, for the most part, this is a spring creek or tailwater bug.
3.) Emerging Midge – I originally created this bug by combining a couple of trigger features from two other proven patterns during this past hunting season but I wasn’t able to actually test it until December. A friend of mine eventually exercised its ability and it has become one of my “go-to” midge imitations, especially on the tailraces of the Missouri and the Bighorn Rivers.
4.) Buzz Ball – Created by my personal favorite fly fishing author and theorist, Gary LaFontaine. Not only do I chose this pattern because it can be applied for just about any small insect hatch but that it shines during midge mating clusters and it’s a great dry fly to hang a light nymph off of in larger sizes.
5.) Olive Sculpin – We are definitely in the midst of the major “streamer revolution” and there are countless variations of the same goal. They all work, but during the winter I like to keep it small and simple and almost always fished on a sink tip or a full sinking line.