The Christmas season is upon us and this normally signals the first large Midge hatches of the winter. If you don’t see fish working the surface on the Big Wood this week, you will very, very soon. With that in mind, let’s review some favorite winter dry fly techniques and patterns.
The Trailing Shuck Midge or the Tie-Down Midge (sz.20) are flies you must have in your fly box for winter. These are best paired and fished with the Griffiths Gnat or Midge Cluster (sz.16). The idea here being that the Midge fly is too small to see as it sits in the film with very little profile. The Griffiths Gnat on the other hand stands out like a sore thumb against the winter glare on the water’s surface.
With this set up anglers can fish a fly they can see, and still set the hook on a fish that comes up near that fly, with the idea that anything rising within a foot of the highly visible Gnat will be eating the Trailing Shuck pattern. Fish these flies on 6X tippets and tie about 18 inches of 6X between the two patterns.
Stealth is also a key to fishing the Midge dry. Because the fly is so small, it becomes important to be close. Casting accuracy is at a premium when fishing dry in the winter and the closer you are the better. One of the biggest mistakes winter dry fly anglers make is trying to walk right up on a spot because the glare on the water gives a false sense of cover. Anglers using a low profile approach and natural colors in their apparel will catch more fish.
The places to look for rising fish in the winter include slow moving riffles that are thigh to waist deep, back eddies and any heavy foam-line. The times to look are between the hours of 11:00 a.m. and 5:00 p.m.
The Big Wood is normally the first to have big hatches in the winter. The South Fork of the Boise and the Lost River also have decent dry fly action all winter, although the action is not daily like it almost always is on the Big Wood. Silver Creek, has decent Midges but unfortunately the biggest hatches are after the season closes in the spring. The Creek does have incredible Streamer fishing in the winter for anglers looking to catch true trophy trout!
Happy Winter Fishing Everyone!