Winter can be an incredibly rewarding time to be out on your favorite trout stream! 

With fewer people sharing the water, the winter months offer up a fantastic opportunity to enjoy relative solitude and put a few trout in the net.  The action typically doesn’t match that of spring and summer, but there are plenty of fish to be caught by the hardy folk willing to brave the elements.  One of the issues with this season is that trout are lethargic and unwilling to move too far for their food, thanks to the increase in calories burned doing so.  Having the right fly, or flies, is paramount for those wanting to find success during late December through February.  Here are four absolute killer nymphs that will catch trout throughout the country! 

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Zebra Midge

You’ll find this nymph on just about every winter nymph list, and for good reason!  It’s one of the deadliest patterns out there and should be carried in both copper and silver.  Much of its value comes from the versatility in the ways it can be used.  Whether the lead fly in a triple nymph rig or trailing underneath a BWO dry fly, it’s going to produce fish for as long as it’s in the water! 

Image from Pat Dorsey Fly Fishing

Sparkle Wing RS-2

The Sparkle Wing has everything you’d want in a winter trout nymph.  Its slender profile means it cuts through the water and sinks quickly with the help of a small split shot, and the strand or two of flash do just enough to catch the attention of a trout without being so over-the-top to spook them.  It’s a great imitation of light-colored midges or even small BWOs that so frequently dominate the bug life during winter. 

Image from St. Peter’s Fly Shop

Copper-Ribbed RS-2

This pattern flies a little under-the-radar, but it’s very well-known among certain angler circles in the West and is becoming increasingly popular everywhere.  It’s a relatively simple fly, but it works quite well to imitate midges or small mayflies.  The lightweight nature of the Copper-Ribbed RS-2 makes it a prime candidate to be the trailing fly on a multi-nymph rig since it will catch some of the water currents and move freely along the bottom of the stream.  That little extra movement can be enough to garner the attention, and hopefully strike response, from any trout nearby. 

Single Egg

Winter trout are all about conserving calories while consuming as many as they can.  That makes protein-rich eggs a terrific option for nymph rigs during winter.  Browns and brookies spawn in the fall, cutthroats and rainbows in the spring, but there are enough random spawning fish during winter to make it well worth your while to carry the egg box.  As a bonus, other species like suckers can begin to spawn in winter, and that fresh influx of food into streams can be something trout key in on when winter sets in. 

Running deep nymphs during the cold of winter can be very effective for catching lazy trout that are anxiously awaiting the arrival of spring.  Drift, presentation, and location are all important now just like they are during other times of the year, but perhaps no factor determines success quite like fly selection.  These four nymphs are proven trout magnets, and they’ll produce results when fished in your favorite stream throughout these long winter months!

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