In Belgium and Holland we rarely get such a long prolonged spell of blast freezer weather, small reservoirs usually get it the hardest and the waters often freeze – Here’s a quick overview of my favourite winter fly patterns and techniques.
Early morning lures…
It is a commonly held view that the winter months is the time for pulling lures, but angling pressure is very high on our reservoirs and lures are only effective during the first hour of a typical winter day’s fishing. I take great joy in putting a fast intermediate line with an Humungus Martini Cat on a 15 ft fluorocarbon leader, takes can be savage with plenty of action – follows and pulls which keep you going in the cold conditions. But, when the takes are drying up it is time to fish static with buzzers, small booby blobs or FAB’s.
Water temperatures plummet as the frosty nights set in, so you must find warmer water where the trout are still feeding. Buzzers and bloodworm are abundant close to the bottom, love it or hate it, fishing buzzers under the bung is definitely the way to go to catch winter trout. It’s the simplest of methods to fish, find the depth and the fish, and sit tight… The flies themselves come down to personal preference and should be changed to match the conditions, but these winter fly patterns have always fished well for me.
What Buzzers to fish under the Bung?
So how do we set up a bung rig? In depths no deeper than 5 ft a Nugget Traffic Light Black buzzer (Size 12) or Nugget Black & Red buzzer (Size 10) often do the job. A single weighted buzzer stays better the feeding zone especially when it is windy. In deeper water the usual way is to have a short leader to the bung then 3’ to the first fly a further 3’ to the second fly and another 3’ to the point fly. This gives an overall leader length of around 12’.
On the point, I always use a weighted fly like an App’s Bloodworm (Size 10) or a Wiggly Worm (Size 12) and two unweighted buzzers on the droppers, like the Crank Shank Black (Size 12) and the Specialist Red buzzer (Size 14). Instead of 3 flies, you can also fish with two flies if the fish are spooky. As the indicator, a Bung Foam does the job perfectly.
On a water where angling pressure is high the trout can get very spooky. I tend to fish with 3lb or even 2lb Fulling Mill Fluorocarbon leader, this may seem very light, but with the right fly fishing tackle, you can have great sport.
What to do in the colder times of the day?
Buzzer fishing like this is at is best during the ‘warmer’ moments of the day and that is usually between 11am and 2pm. Later in the day when the conditions are dropping, you’re best off fishing static with a single booby like a Blobby Coral spot or a FAB Biscuit. Many Boobies and FAB’s are tied too big… Fishing smaller flies can be very effective on pressured waters. To fish this way I use Fulling Mill XTRA Copolymer 4X or 5x as it sinks slower than fluorocarbon and it keeps the fly in the feeding zone for longer. The length of the leader depends on the depth of the water but as a rule of thumb I ‘present’ the fly about 3ft from the bottom. Winter fly patterns.