Fly Fishing in Winter

by | Dec 12, 2018 | Fly fishing guides | 1 comment

Get the most from your fly fishing in winter

With the colder winter months bracing the Kent countryside, trout fishing at Penshurst Park can become more challenging. The metabolism of trout slows as the weather cools and although trout will feed throughout the day they rarely move more than a few inches to take your fly resulting in very light finicky takes that are easy to miss.

Water temperature is a key consideration when fly fish in winter. Trout do not like sudden drops in temperature and will often shoal in deeper water where the temperature is more stable. Longer settled periods of cold weather or a freak warm day will usually lead to trout feeding, often with early mornings and late afternoons yielding greater success as trout cruise in and out of the margins.

In my experience most fly fisherman are most confident fishing a large dazzling lure in winter, as if to tempt the trout into a meal they can’t resist. However most aquatic fly life found during winter is actually juvenile and quite small, presenting an opportunity to fish small nymph patterns preferred by larger rainbow trout & brown trout. Whatever your fly choice you’re more likely to be successful using a slow retrieve with intermittent pauses. Often a very slow figure of eight retrieve is effective or if the weather allows try using a static retrieve with the wind moving the fly. This type of fishing can be challenging and requires absolute patience but take pleasure in using the elements to your advantage.

Some of the fly patterns I fish in the winter are below & available at

Buzzers Damsel Nymph
Crunchers Hare’s Ears
Diawl bachs Pheasant Tails

Things to remember….

  • Cover the fish by fan casting and keep on the move. If you haven’t had any takes in 15 minutes move on to “find the shoal”.
  • Lures can be successful but consider trying smaller flies (black & green).
  • Consider using an intermediate or sink tip line to fish at a consistent depth.
  • Try various retrieves but keep it slow in the cold.
  • Make sure the weather conditions are favourable.
  • If in doubt strike. Slow retrieves usually result in gentle takes. Be ready!
  • Dress warm.

Let me know if this has been useful or what you think in the comments box below…

Hopefully these tips will guide you into trying some different strategies this winter. Tight lines, Luke Wolfe.

Many thanks to A1 Trout Flies for letting us use the pictures.