For some winter is a time for skiing, ice climbing and snowmobiling. For others, fly fishing season never ends. Here at Greater Yellowstone Flyfishers
we fall into the second category and focus on Montana fly fishing year round. Not only can winter be a great time to build rods, read fishing books and make repairs to your fly fishing equipment, winter fly fishing excursions can be both fun and successful. Here are a few tips for your next winter flying fishing adventure
#1 Footwear is Critical - If you head out to fish Montana waters in your summer fishing waders, you'll find your feet are cold. Wearing extra socks and squeezing your feet into your summer fishing boots is a good way to ensure cold toes due to decreased circulation. Instead, purchase a pair of winter fly fishing wading boots that are a size larger than your summer boots. This way you can wear extra socks and not compromise circulation.
#2 Layering in Imperative - Wear synthetic warm layers on both your legs and upper body. There is no place for cotton in winter fly fishing as it gets cold when wet. Start with a pair of long underwear and then layer fleece insulation on top.
#3 Use Hand Heaters - Chemical hand heaters can be a great addition to your winter fly fishing equipment. Store them in a pocket that you can easily access for a quick warming of the hands.
#4 Keep a Warm, Dry Set of Clothing in the Car - In case of emergency, be certain to always have an extra set of clothes in the car. Its not a bad idea to have an extra rod in the car in case the fish are bitting but your first rod is icing up.
#5 Keep your Rod and Line Free of Ice - Use one length of fly line and strip the line in as little as possible in an effort to keep the guides free of ice. Your casting ability will be limited by such technique, but you'll be ice free. Should you experience icing, dip the guides into the water to melt the ice. Also, hold the rod tip high to reduce excess water on the flyline and rod guides.
#6 Drift Nymphs Close to the Bottom - Fish tend to be sluggish in winter and you are going to need to get the nymph right in front of their noses to entice them. Drift your nymph close to the bottom to help increase your odds of landing a fish. Most of the fish are congregating in the deeper holes in medium current streams.
#7 Use a Net - The air temperature tends to be colder than the water temperature during Montana winters. By using a net you can prevent shocking or freezing the gills by keeping the fish in the water during a release.
Follow these tips to help make your next winter Montana fly fishing outing a success. In winter you can enjoy your favorite fishing spots without the crowds.