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Nothing but Fly Gear
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I've been thinking of adjusting my nymphing technique for cold weather trout on the Mad River....Most of us including myself have always relied on the Pheasant tail and caddis combo.....Having read more than once that a trout's winter diet is 80% midges ...I have decided to try a new set up this winter.....put a size 22-20 brassie , herl quill larva or similar midge larva above a Pheasant tail or caddis depending on what the trout seem to want....the midge larva will be un-weighted and the bottom fly will be a bead head and I will have to experiment with the split shot placement ....I think a # 4-5 about 4 inches above the midge pattern should get the whole mess to the bottom and of course the indicator set to depth.....My reason for doing this is simple midges are the most active insects during the winter months....so why not put a midge into my set up..??? I can always adjust the bottom fly from Pheasant Tail to caddis Larva if that's what the fish want......I have noticed during the winter the fish always tend to take the bottom fly and most often they seem to prefer a Pheasant tail as opposed to the caddis.....but sometimes If both fly's drag the bottom it can be a toss up.....One thing for sure midges are the most numerous bug on the mad and are the most active during the colder months...... they may not always be hatching but a sine will show you that the midge is the most abundant food source during the late fall and winter......I've been on the mad during Dec. and Jan. and put my sine in the river.....and the amount of midges I saw was crazy......nothing was hatching but the bugs where still in the drift......and of course my fly box had nothing to imitate them.....hopefully the next few months will either prove or disprove my thinking....but one thing for sure my nymph box will have some sort of midge pattern this winter.
 

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Even though I don't really use many midge specific patterns when nymphing, I do find that in the winter smaller is usually better. Whether you're using PT's, caddis, SJWs, eggs, pretty much everything. With that said, I never count out streamers in the winter ;) It's not a numbers game, but sometimes they look for a higher calorie meal.

Your setup seems like it should work well...
 

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Flymaker, your using your head now and I have a lot of input but don't have the time to write it all out now, lets see where this goes and Ill send you some info in a day or two, or remind me by a PM if you don't hear from me..


Ill just say some of my best winter days have been with some very unorthodox offerings...LOL

Salmonid
 

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I am emergers pattern person but when its very cold out a tiny little black stonefly, size14-20 will just out fish anything pitted against it.
 

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Flymaker;
Your approach on nymphing is spot on. Being a person who is a firm believer in nymphing no matter what time of year it is, unless there is a good hatch to throw dry’s, I target the deeper fast runs in the streams and fish a double rig with an indicator and always have good success. Something that I do and works extremely well is to break the paradigm of using just traditional midge patterns and opt for a combo with attractor patterns. I tie size 20 bead head (5/64) midges and introduce purple, blue and orange into the patterns coupled with strands of crystal flash to make them sparkle and stick out. Because of the faster water I fish, I also like to wrap the hook shank first with some .015 lead to give it the additional weight to get it down fast, adding split shot only if necessary.

Good luck.
 

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El Fly Guy
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I find myself fishing nymphs and midges, but I also like to catch the topwater action too, which is why I'll usually drop a midge or a nymph under a dry fly, which I use as the indicator. The best of both worlds.
 
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