From the December 2016 – January 2017 newsletter
Pattern by Lance Egan, Notes and picture by Clint Losee
Used by permission
Hook : Scud hook size 14-18
Bead: Gold or copper tungsten
Tail: Coq de leon or your favorite tailing material
Abdomen: Natural pheasant tail
Rib: Copper wire size br
Collar: Hot pink ice dubbing, or your favorite dubbing of any color
Fly fishing in Winter provides some unique issues that anglers face and some Winter fly fishing tips are always good to have. Aside from the typical cold and wet weather, fish tend to decrease their activity during these cold winter months. That’s not to say that they stop eating though. Fish, speaking of trout here, love a water temperature that hovers in the 50-55 degree mark. Winter water temps tend to drop below that a lot of the time. What that does is simply slow down a fish and they try to not exhaust too much energy in the search of food. So we anglers need to adjust our tactics and flies to compensate.
The general consensus for Winter fly fishing is to slow down. Trout will move slower and our presentation of the fly will need to match this or we might just end up cold and skunked for the day. With the fish moving slower, they will typically gather and group up in deeper, slow moving pools. The river current here is far less and allows the fish to not expend too much energy. The key to that is being able to present your flies deep to these fish. That means heavier flies and more weight.
Another key factor is the insects that are present. During the cold Winter months, insect activity decreases with only a few key bugs being present that those fish key in on. That leads us to match our flies being used to target these bugs that the fish are looking out for and then present them in a way that fish will key in to.
The Frenchie was created by one of the best anglers I know, Lance Egan. The similarities to a Pheasant Tail nymph are definitely there, but this particular fly will outproduce just about any other fly from my experience. It is not so much an exact imitation of an insect but more so a general representation of a large amount of insects. I feel that is a huge key to the productiveness of this fly pattern. It primarily consists of a pheasant tail body with a rainbow sow dubbing and brass colored tungsten bead. Add to that by tying this with a red thread to create a red hot spot near the bead and you have a killer fly pattern that will work year round. One setup that I favor for Winter fly fishing is to rig up a two-fly rig with a Frenchie and red Zebra Midge. I’ll typically fish a size 16 in this as well, but depending on how the fish like it I may switch to a size 18 for the more finicky ones. Play around with the positioning of the two flies and many times fishing those deeper runs you’ll end up pulling a double out of them.
More tips from Clint are at http://theflyfishingbasics.com/