A Winter Fishing Lesson

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Published on: Nov. 2, 1998

Last revision: Nov. 2, 2010

and start over. Flipping the fly and split shot straight upstream works best, but also flip to areas quartering in front of you, and work the water thoroughly before taking two steps downstream and starting over. During each drift, watch the slack part of your leader; if it slows, stretches out or seems to stand up, set the hook-you should have a trout.

Fishing with a Float

Short line nymphing is for shallow, rushing water. Most trout park anglers use a float in deeper, slower water, a system that works well in winter as well as summer. Instead of following your fly with the rod tip and watching your leader, as you do when short line nymphing, you are going to be watching the float for indications of a strike. Again, not as dramatic as the guy in the movie who stood on a rock in the middle of the river and cast a beautiful, long line-but it catches fish, and you don't have to be an accomplished fly caster to do it.

Trout park fish readily strike flies and the 80th- or 100th-ounce jigs many park anglers use, but these strikes are often so light and brief that they are difficult to detect. The float helps immensely with that. It also suspends your fly where the fish are. I'm going to tell you how to fish with a float, but I suggest you approach it a bit differently.

When buying your leader and split shot, purchase several floats. Don't buy the smallest ones, but get floats that look large enough to support a piece of split shot without sinking. The higher they float, the quicker you can see a fish strike your fly. Again, you will be placing a small split shot about 6 to 8 inches above your fly. Any wet fly in sizes 10 to 16 will work. A pheasant tail nymph or hare's ear nymph is a good place to start. Flies with a small bead at their head are also good.

You usually are going to be placing the float anywhere from 2 to 6 feet or more up the leader from your fly. In shallow water, you obviously will place it relatively close to the fly so you do not have a lot of slack leader laying on the water. In deep water, where you are wading over your waist, you want the leader below the float to be

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