What started with a rather bunk October, from my experience and chatter in the shop on weekends, has become a fairly spectacular Fall. We have another month or so until Winter begins around the holiday season. Temperatures are trending colder and that means flies are trending smaller. Hours of available light will dwindle a little more before the sun swings back in the right direction, so consider more time on the fly tying bench before the ratio of sunlight turns that corner right before the new year.
Zebra midges, WD40s, RS2, Mole fly, and caddis larva become the backbone of the Winter fly box. We still have time and temps in the day for streamers and wooly buggers, of course, but even our bead headed offerings shrink to #16 and #18. Consider some split shot when these tiny offerings are not getting to the bed of the river where they can be found by energy conscious trout. The South Branch is up today thanks to last night's rain, but coming back down quickly, so once it stabilizes, you may skip the extra weight in shallow runs and riffles. They won’t move a whole lot for food when things are freezing topside, but they can continue to feed in slower currents and deeper pools. Once the sun is off the river, trout may return to deep water and slow currents to hold in. Sculpin, scuds, minnows, and crawfish are protein rich and usually fairly heavy. It is wise to try sinking a fly more efficiently if these deep runs are short in length.
Tungsten beads and tandem rigs can work as bait and anchor. I leave it to other interweb venues to debate which to have first in the set up, or whether to use tippet rings and run 7x to lighter flies like banners in several water columns, or, perhaps, a crawfish by itself? Like just about everything else, there is no one “right” or “best” way. The fun is figuring out what works for you. Think about changing the approach depending on the situation and the condition of the ol’ shoulder joint. If the riffles are running low, an upstream cast, fishing the flies back to you, work to counter the lack of depth.
South Branch Outfitters can get everyone ready for their Winter drift approach: under an indicator or high sticking with a Euro rig. The variation of Euro Nymphing rigs is evolving with trial and error on the competition beat. Some like a braided core line from RIO; others prefer to build their own tapered leader and we have everything one needs for that, too.
Stay warm out there! We have fingerless gloves, undergarments, and vests to help keep off the cold. Layer up and tuck in; tight lines!
Oh, and yeah, the Winter Stocking, including a rather larger and infamous prize fish, is coming soon.
See you out there!
-- Roy B.