PODCAST: Winter Skills Series, #4: Nymphing in the Winter — S6, Ep4

by | Feb 5, 2023 | 15 comments

 The Troutbitten Podcast is available everywhere that you listen to your podcasts.

** Note **  The Podcast Player, along with links to your favorite players is below.

In this episode, we dive deep into winter nymphing strategies. Specifically, we highlight what is different and what is unique about nymphing in the winter versus other seasons.

With fewer hatches and with trout that are less willing to move for a fly, presenting a nymph to winter fish is often our best strategy. But having success requires a refined approach, and winter nymphing can seem like the toughest of the year. However, with a great presentation and a good understanding of where fish feed in colder water, trout can be caught. In fact, with these skills, winter nymphing may sometimes provide the fastest fishing of the year.

We Cover the Following
  • Why nymphing is our favorite winter tactic
  • Trout behaviors in cold water
  • More predictable water types, methods and fly selection
  • Low and slow?
  • Trout grouping and trout spreading out
  • Favorite rigs, tight line and indy
  • Favorite flies
  • Fly pairings and placement
  • Long drifts vs short drifts
  • Bobber holes

READ: Troutbitten | Category | Fly Fishing in the Winter
PODCAST: Troutbitten | S1 Ep 14 —  Winter Fly Fishing
READ: Troutbitten | Fly Fishing in the Winter — The Go-To Nymphing Rig
READ: Troutbitten | Fly Fishing in the Winter — The Secondary Nymphing Rig

Here’s the podcast . . .

Listen with the player above, or . . .

Find the Troutbitten podcast on any of these services:

— Apple Podcasts
— Spotify
— Google Podcasts
— Amazon Music
. . . and everywhere else where you listen to podcasts.

You can find the dedicated Troutbitten Podcast page at . . .


Next Time

Season six of the Troubitten Podcast continues next week with episode five. So look for that one in your Troutbitten Podcast feed.

Fish hard, friends.


** Donate ** If you enjoy this podcast, please consider a donation. Your support is what keeps this Troutbitten project funded. Scroll below to find the Donate Button. And thank you.


Enjoy the day.
Domenick Swentosky


Share This Article . . .

Since 2014 and 1000+ articles deep
Troutbitten is a free resource for all anglers.
Your support is greatly appreciated.

– Explore These Post Tags –

Domenick Swentosky

Central Pennsylvania

Hi. I’m a father of two young boys, a husband, author, fly fishing guide and a musician. I fish for wild brown trout in the cool limestone waters of Central Pennsylvania year round. This is my home, and I love it. Friends. Family. And the river.

More from this Category

Fly Fishing in the Winter — The Secondary Nymphing Rig

Fly Fishing in the Winter — The Secondary Nymphing Rig

Every winter our rivers go through changes, and the trout follow suit. Regardless of how much water flows between the banks, I encounter a predictable slowdown in trout response at some point. Call it a lack of trout enthusiasm. Or call it hunkering down and waiting for warmer water. However you look at it, the trout just don’t move as far to eat a fly.

For some, the solution is a streamer — to go bigger. Get the trout’s attention and add some motivation to peel itself from the river bed and move to a fly. It works — sometimes. (everything works sometimes.) But just as often you’re left with an empty net and more questions than answers. I do love fishing streamers in the winter though. I use it as a chance to build body heat, to warm up by walking and covering more water. But my standard approach is a highly targeted pair of nymphs, right in the trout’s window. Served up just right, you can almost force-feed a trout that didn’t even know he was hungry.

Fly Fishing in the Winter — Ice in the Guides?

Fly Fishing in the Winter — Ice in the Guides?

Nothing about having a winter system or using a specific nymphing rig makes any difference if the guides of your rod are frozen. And every fly fisher who has stepped into a winter river with the air temps below, let’s say, twenty-five degrees has dealt with some kind of trouble. Every angler has his own advice about eliminating guide ice too. And here I guess it’s time to give you mine . . .

Troutbitten Fly Box — The Sucker Spawn

Troutbitten Fly Box — The Sucker Spawn

You can get a trout’s attention with a host of different patterns. Bright beads, flashy materials, wiggly legs and sheer size all stand out in the drift, and trout take notice. But interest and curiosity do not necessarily lead trout into the net. In fact, many of the attention getting materials we attach to a hook simply turn trout off, giving them a reason not to eat the fly.

On the other hand, while drab and flat patterns have their moments, it often takes a little sparkle, a little color, flash or wiggle, to turn trout on. The trick then, is finding the right elements to seal the deal — a simple combination of materials that is just enough to convince a trout, but not too much either. Enter: the Sucker Spawn . . .

Fly Fishing in the Winter — The Go-To Nymphing Rig

Fly Fishing in the Winter — The Go-To Nymphing Rig

I walked to the familiar counter and laid a small bag of orange material among the aged fly fishing stickers covering the coffee stained wooden slab. Seated on a stool, the shop manager looked up from his magazine and over to my bag of orange fluff. Then he slowly brought his gaze up to mine. We made eye contact and he grinned until we both slowly chuckled.

“It’s all you need out there right now,” he said . . .

Fly Fishing in the Winter — The System

Fly Fishing in the Winter — The System

Here are my methods for catching trout in my favorite season.

I’ve grown to love these bitter months, not only for the solitude and peace beyond the dead end roads, but for the challenge of a different game. And once you dig in, when you spend some time fighting, and you finally gain comfort against the elements, you’ll find a season more predictable than any other. Because winter feeding options are limited for a trout, and the angler may take advantage of that — if he’s persistent.

The rewards for finding a winter fishing system are both high numbers and larger trout. The range for error is wider. It’s harder to hit the mark. But when you do find the target, success flows freely . . .

Fly Fishing in the Winter — Head, Shoulders, Knees and Toes

Fly Fishing in the Winter — Head, Shoulders, Knees and Toes

Yesterday afternoon topped off at thirty-eight degrees. That’s warm for a winter fisherman. I had five hours until dark, and I knew the temp would drop a bit at the end. There wasn’t much wind, no sun, and I had a long walk upstream to start my day. I thought about all those factors when I lifted the hatch of my SUV. Staring at the big bag of winter gear that goes everywhere with me, I knew exactly what to wear.

What follows here is my own system for staying comfortable (enough) while fishing the winter months. Soft, snowy days in the silent forest, with the solitary song of flowing water passing through are my favorite. I prefer January over July. I welcome the first crisp days of fall and the wool gloves that come with me.

What do you think?

Be part of the Troutbitten community of ideas.
Be helpful. And be nice.


  1. Hey Dom,
    Just wanted to say that your videos, articles, and podcast episodes have helped me a lot.
    I’ve been very interested in getting myself a dedicated mono-rig setup and was wondering, if I am only going to use the mono-rig for this setup, is fly line necessary?

    I understand that it can play a part in weight and balancing out the rod/reel and possibly for increasing the arbor size when reeling in the mono rig. Do you have any thoughts on this?


  2. Another fantastic podcast. Enjoy them all. I have a question. How do you keep the hand warmers in place under your gloves ? Thank you. Keep up the great work.

    • HI Jim,

      We covered that in Episode 2, about your hands. I use wrist bands, sometimes, to keep the heat packs more in place and to keep the heat in. However, the cuff of the wool glove is often enough.

  3. In the winter, today for instance I have been getting into trout with small zebras,juju Baetis 18’s and 20’s.

  4. Hey, not sure if anything has changed on your end, but fwiw, this episode isn’t showing up in the Overcast player as of Feb 6. Which has automatically downloaded every episode to date. I’ll just use the player link you posted above for now, but wanted to give you a heads up. And thanks for all the knowledge and laughs. I look forward to the fresh episodes every Sunday night.

    • Thanks very much for letting me know. I checked into this. Nothing I can do from here. Overcast picks up their feed from Apple Podcasts. So, it’s something on their end. It will probably resolve soon enough.


      • Hey thanks, and yes, turned out is was an issue on their end. Turns out none of my podcasts had been downloading and updating the app solved it. Good episode!

        Also, I found myself on a creek in Western NY yesterday morning with water temp at 32° and air in the low 20’s til the sun popped out. Yes, it was some slow fishing. There were a few sections that required a bobber and my yarn indy (NZ) was icing up and turned into a splashy chunk of crunchy wool. Luckily I had a tiny plastic air-loc in my bag that was a tad more effective though not ideal. Does the Dorsey macrame yarn tend to ice up, or is this just another opportunity for problem solving and adaptation?

  5. I love this series. Just started fishing in winter last year, and really like it. You have not discussed what to do when you fall in winter. Last trip it was 27°, I caught Four nice fish, Was in the Sweet Spot and excited to catch more when I lost my balance and sat down in 18 inches. That was quite unpleasant. My friend got my wading suit and boots off me but my hands are too cold and I couldn’t get anything else off. Fortunately, I had a quilt, but it was an unpleasantly long drive home. I know to never go out alone

    • Hey Doug. Good stuff. But if I waited to have a friend to fish with, I’d fish about a quarter of the days that I do. That’s especially true in the winter. People tell you this about night fishing too — “Never fish alone.”

      Meh . . .

      • I hear ya

  6. Dom,

    This has nothing to do with fishing but I thought you may find it humorous. My feral turned loving cat Gypsy attacks my cell phone when, and only when I listen to your podcast. I’ll start one up sitting up in my bed and she will come from from wherever she is to attack. Now she hears everything from Gospel to AC/DC come out of this phone but you are the only thing she goes crazy about. It’s like Kramer hearing Mary Hart’s voice. Keep the great stuff coming!
    Scott Miller

  7. Good work, guys. Dom, I notice that your B+H experiment is in full swing. Are you using a rather unobtrusive, short shank hook?


Submit a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Recent Articles

Recent Posts

Domenick Swentosky

Central Pennsylvania

Hi. I’m a father of two young boys, a husband, author, fly fishing guide and a musician. I fish for wild brown trout in the cool limestone waters of Central Pennsylvania year round. This is my home, and I love it. Friends. Family. And the river.

Pin It on Pinterest