Winter fish have small strike zones which means your fly has to get down quick and start working at the right depth to seduce a reaction. The more in tune you are with what your fly is doing right off the bat the more successful you will be.
Being methodical in this type of water doesn’t mean working to length and implementing the exact same swing each step. Instead you will be much more effective by varying your swings while you work very slowly through a piece of water. There are 3 basic swings we like to utilize in any key piece of water.
The first swing is a traditional quarter down pulling the fly off the bank. The 2nd is a quarter down swing with feeding 2 stack mends after the cast. The 3rd is a cast upstream with a mend, and high stick it until fly ticks bottom and swing it out.
Fly weight and tip selection is extremely important when fishing this type of water. We prefer to use a heavier fly and a shorter tip to get the desired depth. This gives you more control over your swing.
For rod selection we like to carry two set ups. A short switch rod in the 11 foot to 11’6 range with your favorite line match, and an 8 weight, 10 foot single hander matched with a 325 skagit short, or a skagit switch. We rig each with a different Mow tip and hit the river. If you have some fresh fish coming in and you use these techniques you will surely increase your catch rates. Good luck on the water.