After months of staring at tiny midges and praying for warmer weather, anglers are ready for winter to break. 

At first, winter is a uniquely fun time of year to be out on the water:  snow falling and the icy temperatures seem to be worn as badges of honor that only the hardiest are fit to display.  Little thought is given to the size #24 midges that are often required and the slow days when trout are lethargic. By February, most are drained from this drudgery, and the once exciting aspects of winter fly fishing are now seen as deterrents. That all starts to change in late winter as the first signs of spring start to show themselves and anglers turn to these four flies to catch trout! 

CDC Pheasant Tail

This is a classic nymph pattern that comes back into favor with the first sign of snow melt. The CDC adds a little flash to pique the interest of trout more willing to move out of their feeding lanes to chase down flies.  It’s a fantastic pattern to use as the point fly in a triple nymph rig when you want to combine bigger, flashier flies like this with winter midges. 

Green Weenie

A Pennsylvania favorite, the green weenie is a killer fly for late winter.  While most stick to using it during summer when inchworms abound, this can be a great time to use this fly.  Watch for warmer temperatures in the extended forecast, and on those more frequent nice days trout will be much more apt to move distances to take flies like this one! 

Orange Single Egg

Late winter and early spring is the time that suckers begin to spawn in watersheds around the country.  When that happens, trout go crazy gorging themselves on protein-rich sucker eggs. As a general rule of thumb, anglers are advised to use eggs any time fish are spawning, and that certainly holds true in late winter. 

Rainbow Warrior

Few flies are more effective in late winter than the rainbow warrior.  It’s slender enough to be discreet in the water but flashy enough to stimulate interest among trout nearby.  Its thin body will create a fast sink rate that’s key when targeting late winter trout holding in faster riffles and runs. 

While nymphing in late winter is still the name of the game, to anglers transitioning to bigger flies it is sure to be a welcome relief.  Trout, looking to shake off the chill of winter, will quickly devour these larger offerings. The ice and snow might still be present, but the action will continue to pick up each day and that’s sure to be true for those who have these four flies on their rig!