The best winter nymph patterns are the ones that inspire confidence

I’ve got nymphing on my brain. I’m hoping to get out this week and scratch that itch, but right now I’m chained to the computer. So here are some of my favorite winter nymph patterns. It’s a short list — I like to keep things simple. These are all high-confidence patterns, which makes them the best nymphs for me. What nymphs do you like to fish in the winter?

You’ll find a lot of tiny bugs in the cold months, especially on a tailwater, so going small with your nymphs is usually a good idea. This late winter beauty fell for a size 18 (2x short) BHPT.

3-10-14 Brown

Frenchie Nymph Variant. A little flash, a little color, a little contrast, a little natural brown means a lot of good nymphing mojo

Squirrel and Ginger Beadhead. Sans bead, one of my favorite caddis emergers. Add a black brass bead and deepwater magic ensues.

G-R Blue Bead Midge. Love this fly in winter when the flows aren’t too high or fast. Make it your top dropper, and if the trout are on small stuff, hold on.

Rainbow Warrior. I like this fly on brighter days. (That’s a general rule of thumb for me: if a fly is based on flash and shine, it won’t do its job as well on overcast days). The Rainbow Warriors are on the cork to the left in the linked shot.

Soft Hackle Pheasant Tail. Sizes 12-14, with a bead, this is my point fly on a two-fly nymph rig. Size 16-20, no bead head, it’s a terrific top dropper. Looks like a ton of bugs in general.

Hare and Copper Variant. What’s there not to like about Pheasant Tail, Red Fox Squirrel, and Hare’s ear? Oh, and there’s a copper bead, too. Sign me up!

Farmington River Mini Report 7/29/15: If only the fishing were this hot

You know it’s hot when you’re standing up to your waist in sixty-degree water and there’s sweat streaming down your face — and it’s only 10am.

I fished from 9am to 1pm today. My focus was on prospecting for bigger trout by nymphing the fast water. No bigguns’, but I did get into an assortment of lovely wild browns, one in the mid teens. I used the drop shot rig under a yarn indicator, with a size 14 olive Iron Lotus on the bottom and a size 16 soft-hackled Pheasant Tail as the top dropper. I adjusted between one and two BB shot, depending on the depth of the water and the speed of the current.

Now that is one impressive tail. Full adipose, nice little kype — this buck is a surely a wild thang. Taken on the SHPT. Why I like indicator nymphing: the indicator never went under with this guy. It was the slightest of takes, almost imperceptible. The indicator just suddenly slowed and twitched. Remember, it doesn’t cost anything to set the hook.

Wild Farmy Brown 7/29/15

Maybe it was the heat. Maybe it was the full sun. Maybe it was the lack of hatch activity. But I blanked in three runs today that I was certain held fish. The other three I hit all produced. Go figure — I did better outside of the permanent TMA. The river was surprisingly busy for a mid-weekday.

If you are heading out in this heat, please don’t forget to hydrate. And while the water is still plenty cold, let’s do our best to get those fish in and released quickly.

A jewel of a mid-summer Farmington brown. I can’t decide what I like better: the halos around the spots, the golden belly, or the parr mark remnants.

Wild Farmy Brown 2 7/29/15

Farmington River Mini Report 5/31/15: Love that Emergency Bag

The Emergency Bag is probably over-named. Perhaps it should be the “Boy Scout” Bag (Be prepared). Or maybe call it what it truly is, which would be the “Spare Clothes In Case I Fall In and Other Miscellaneous Outerwear I Might Need” Bag. But, I’ve always called it the Emergency Bag, and so it is.

The cool thing about the Emergency Bag is that if you go to the river on the one day of the month when they’re calling for the deluge, and it hits, and you’ve forgotten your Gore-Tex rain jacket, that old rubber one you keep inside its blue confines comes in right handy.

So, to the fishing. I had to run a quick errand at UpCountry Sportfishing, and of course rest stops were an imperative on the drive home. The lower river was low (295cfs) cold, and was largely devoid of hatch activity. I managed to hit two spots before the heavens opened, and took one trout on a size 12 SHPHPT. My final stop produced one more take in a good old-fashioned Noah’s Ark downpour, but as I was bringing the fish in, lightning hit close enough to make me rethink the wisdom of holding an aluminum-tipped pole while standing in a river. So I disengaged and sprinted for the safety of the truck. A little shaken, but quite dry. And I owed it all to the Emergency Bag.

Come to papa. Playing tug-of-war with a standard-issue rainbow.

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