Get the fly down with tungsten putty instead of lead shot

There are plenty of environmental reasons to switch from lead shot when weighting your trout rig for nymph fishing. We like tungsten putty for a few reasons:

tungsten putty

  • It’s non toxic. Biting lead shot to crimp them on the line isn’t a great idea. Tungsten putty just presses on the line.
  • It’s non abrasive. Splitshot abrade your leader, tungsten putty doesn’t. Who likes losing fish to ratty line?
  • It’s easy to remove and reuse. Mash shot with pliers and it’s pretty much over. Just pull off tungsten putty and mash it back into the container. Repeat.
  • You’re never stuck with the weight you don’t need, or without the weight you do. Just add a little or remove a little until you find your sweet spot.

Winter trout fishing: 3 tips for cold weather success

Winter’s not just for tying at the vise (although you should be getting your spring patterns together) or hunting for elusive winter steelhead, it’s prime time to hit the water without a lot of competition and explore your favorite watershed from a new angle. Here are three ideas for making the most of the chilly months.

winter isn’t all about one of these…

Think lazy fish – what were you doing during snowpocalypse?

Cold-blooded fish have to take extra care to conserve energy in chilly water. Whereas you’d focus on fast riffles and drop-offs in the summer, look for pools and runs three to eight feet deep with flows moving at a walking pace to find fish hunkered down.

Sink some eggs – a big baked potato and giant bowl of chile are where my thoughts are when its cold.

I know what you’re thinking, but egg patterns can be very successful in the winter months. Whitefish spawn in winter and trout key in on their eggs for an easy shot of protein. Use a small weighted pattern to get down where the fish are.

Offer a meal – make it worth their time.

It seems counter-intuitive to throw big flies to cold fish, but streamers present trout with the opportunity to eat a big meal. And, for big fish, the deal is too good to pass up. Tie streamers on a long leader and keep them moving. Here are some great patterns to try:

  • Sculpzillas
  • Doli Lama
  • Bunny Leeches
  • Muddlers
  • Zoo Cougar

Winter Skwala skating success


Late winter brings out Skwala stones that present some of the earliest season dry fly fishing. When Skwala flies skate, they get crushed.


Work your way downstream, drifting the dry fly as normal. At the end of the drift, let the line come tight and let the fly skate across. When your fly is directly downstream, you’re not done yet. Strip the fly back, letting it wake as it goes. We get some big hits on these flies from hungry trout on the retrieve.


Dry Flies – the basics to have in your box


Part I: The fly box – The main problem with dry fly storage is damaging the hackles (squishing or flattening your fly). If you put them into foam incorrectly you risk bending the hackles and altering how the fly floats. The safest way to go is a compartment box – but you have to keep in mind that a windy day can eat a lot of flies. The other boxes that work well are slit foam style from Umpqua – UPG and Scientific Anglers that are built to hold tall dry flies.

10: Royal Wulff

Might be too low for this classic, but it’s on the list. I use this fly in a size 20 during the Deschutes caddis hatch and size 12 on the Blitzen in the fall.

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Fly Fishing Crawfish Patterns

Crayfish, crawdad, mud bug, crawfish: Names that describe one of the most under-utilized flies for both bass and trout. This staple food source in many rivers and lakes rarely gets any room in a fly box for some unknown reason. People have caught countless bass and mega trout on this common crustacean. I am specifically going to talk about tying and fishing this fly for smallies, but just about everything can be applied to trout.

A crayfish is a forage feeder that mainly eats small fish, nymphs, and decomposing flesh (fish, crayfish, dead animals, waste). They are nocturnal and sometimes move around during the day. They like to hide in cover like a bass in places like rocks, rock piles, erosion control areas, bridge pilings, algae, root systems and undercut banks. A crayfish, because it is a crustacean, has to molt to grow so for a time they are extremely vulnerable.

Tying the fly isn’t hard and you have a number of options for imitating the crayfish.

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