Off-the-river fly fishing

Productive ways to keep your head in the game during the winter months
Ice Covered Stream
Not exactly dry fly season (photo: Armin Vogel).

My waders came off surprisingly quickly. My icy rod left to dry outside. I rushed into the kitchen to prepare a nice warm tea. The winter months had finally arrived. The last feasible fishing trip had been made.

The days themselves get shorter during the winter months. But for us fishermen, they seem to only get longer and longer. The idea that beneath the ice – fat, rested brown trout are lying – is constantly haunting our minds. Some say the cold helps the brain think clearly. If anything, for us anglers, it only serves to jumble our thoughts.

Whenever the conditions allow me to, I go fishing. However, I often find myself in situations where the conditions are unfavorable and in these cases I often can't overcome the urge to go despite the weather. Over time, I have learned many productive ways to quench my thirst for fly fishing when the conditions keep me off the water.

Tie Flies

This is the obvious one, and so a good place to start. But this isn’t really for the folks that are already avid tiers. Those anglers already know that adverse weather days are the days to add to your fly box by experimenting with new ideas. They already know that there's nothing more pleasing than catching fish on an exotic, homemade fly. No, this is for those of you who aren’t already tiers. Take the time to learn to tie flies. And that doesn’t mean you need to invest hundreds of dollars in a fly tying setup. Find your local chapter of Trout Unlimited or check with your local fly shops or angling club, almost all will have fly tying seminars or experienced tiers that will be happy to show you how to tie flies. Tying flies not only gives you a stronger connection to the sport, it is a great way to become a better angler by learning more about fly patterns, the entomology that backs many of them and more.

Ensure your equipment is up to scratch

You don't want to spend time before a trip untangling lines, sorting out your fly boxes or searching frantically for rogue gear. Instead, use your time off the water to order your gear so that when fishing time comes, you can find what you need quickly and efficiently. Spend down time cleaning your waders, checking them for leaks and making sure your backing, line and leaders are up to scratch.

Go to your local fly shop

If you find that you are missing some gear, or that your lines are kinked, or that your waders are leaking – make the most of your time off the river to buy new gear while supporting your local shop(s). You can also often save some money on new gear during the winter months, as many fly shops have winter clearance sales during this time.

Educate yourself

If you do end up visiting the shops, make sure you spend time talking to the vendors – no one knows fly tackle as well as these guys. You never know, you might even make some new friends. If you don't end up in the store, take some time to buy some fly fishing literature or watch instructional videos on YouTube. Not only does this help you spend your winter time immersed in the fly fishing world, it will also make you a better angler when better weather returns.

Listen to a podcast

There are some excellent podcasts available on iTunes that talk about fly fishing. Each is informative and unique. You can listen to them during your daily commute, or simply when you have time to spare.

The Orvis Fly-Fishing Guide Podcast – Tom Rosenbauer
Tenkara Cast – Daniel Galhardo
Anchored – April Vokey

If you know of any other fly fishing podcasts, let us know in the comments.

Explore Media

With time on your hands, why not sort through your past fishing photos and edit them to perfection? Perhaps even create a series of albums. Or, if you film while on the water, now would be a good time to get together your shots and create the montage of your lifetime.

If you don't create photos and videos, use your off-the-river the time to check out others' photography and film work. Watch some of the great fly fishing feature films that have been released in recent times. Go to your local screenings of the International Fly Fishing Film Festival (IF4) and The Fly Fishing Film Tour (F3T).


Just another quick add to the podcasts to survive the Winter months. Fish On The Brain : A Flyfishing Podcast. really well down. Chats with different guides.