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Top 5 Consistent Winter Stillwater Trout Flies (Tim Joyce Guest Blog)

Top 5 Consistent Winter Stillwater Trout Flies (Tim Joyce Guest Blog)

New to fly tying? Use discount code WELCOME10 or click this link to get 10% off your first order at www.upavonflyfishing.co.uk

With the vast array of patterns available to the modern-day small water angler, things often become confusing. Fly selection is only the first obstacle. Once you have selected the correct fly, you need to know how to fish them. Multi-internationally capped angler and full-time Guide Tim Joyce shares his Top 5 winter still water flies and the best ways to fish them to offer you the best chance of success this winter. 

Tim Joyce is a full-time professional Level 2 Fly Fishing Coach specialising in bespoke beginners and improver days at Chigboro fisheries in Essex. A multi capped England Loch style international he guides on Grafham Water and other Midlands reservoirs. Why not follow him via the links below or book a day on the water for more top tips:

www.flyfishing-essex.com | Facebook | Instagram | Twitter | YouTube

Winter still water fly selection for me is narrowed into two categories. Lures are an obvious choice in cold water when natural food is scarce.Often tied with lots of movement and fuss, winter lures are designed to stir the trout from their winter torpor and provoke an inquisitive aggressive response even on the coldest days.

Nonetheless, one of the only food sources available to trout year-round is the Chironomid (Buzzer), and for this reason, I find a couple of buzzer patterns invaluable during winter. Best fished on those bright still days when the sun warms the surface a little. These conditions can encourage small, localised buzzer hatches, with the trout often quick to capitalise on this winter bonanza, and so should the angler.

Here are my top 5 winter patterns for UK stillwaters:

1: Blue Flash Damsel

Basically an Olive lure with a little flash. A bit more subtle than some lures and good on pressured or clear lakes where fish have become used to brighter offerings. However, it can be tied using anything from; a long shank 10 to a tiny 14. My personal favourite is a heavy nymph hook in a #12. Like any fly, there is no set way to fish it. But, my preference is as a single fly on a 15ft leader of 6lb fluorocarbon and a steady to slow figure of eight retrieve.


Hook: Dohiku Nymph HDN 302 #10-14

Thread: Nano Silk 50D 12/0 Olive

Tail: Olive marabou

Body: Upavon 10mm Blue flash damsel Straggle Hackle

Bead: 3.2mm Metallic blue

Flash: Blue Holographic Tinsel


2: Flexi Worm

A brilliant little lure for winter. The legs provide lots of movement and attraction when twiddled or pulled on a floating or intermediate line and can often provoke some big aggressive bow-waving trout when fished fast just under the surface. The Flexi worm is very versatile. It is just as effective when presented static under the indicator at mid-depth or on the deck when trout are feeding on winter blood worms. I would advise any angler to have a variety of colours in your box with; red, pink and olive being my top 3.


Hook: DOHIKU Wide Wet HDW #10

Thread: Globrite no 5 for red, Globrite no 1 fpr Pink and Nano Silk 50D 12/0 for Olive

Legs: Upavon Flexi Floss Red, Pink and Olive

Finish: 3 coats of Upavon Brush On Varnish


3: Yellow Dancer

You could also put the cat’s whisker in with this one. We all know the effectiveness of a white lure in clear water during the winter. I like the dancer as the hackle gives the fly the appearance of bulk without the weight and mass of the fritz. The dancer can be dressed slim, with a long tail that really moves and pulses in the water. Like any lure, fish this as you wish. Nonetheless, this is especially effective when bounced near the bottom with steady 1 foot pulls, making the fly lift and fall whilst putting to work the long tail that gives the fly its name.


Hook: DOHIKU Wide Wet HDW #10

Thread: Nano Silk 50D 12/0 White

Tail: White marabou

Underbody: Upavon Pearl Braid White

Hackle: Yellow cock hackle

Rib: Silver wire

Head: Upavon Countersunk Metallic Brass bead 3.2mm Silver


4: Crisp Packet Buzzer

The effectiveness of buzzer patterns in the winter are often overlooked. Buzzers are present in lakes year-round, and trout are consistently searching for an easy meal. The crisp packet is a classic bulky buzzer that stands out in coloured water, with those bright orange wing buds giving the fish a trigger point to target. Again effective in all sizes. Nevertheless, I want to give the fish a reason to look. So, three size 10s fished under the indicator with the flies spaced evenly would be my favoured approach. 


Hook: Dohiku Nymph HDN 302 #10-14

Thread: Uni 6/0 Black

Rib: Silver wire

Cheeks: Orange crisp packet / fluro orange goose biot

Finish: 3 coats of Upavon Brush On Varnish or Upavon UV Reflective for its additional properties 


5: Black Hot-Head Tadpole

 A classic winter pattern. The green and black combination is a known fish killer. This fly has plenty of movement without being too bulky, just like the Dancer, perfect for those winter lakes coloured by rainfall or snow melt. The black hot-head tadpole is best presented slowly on a floating line with a long leader or a fast intermediate on a short 10ft leader of 6lb fluro in deeper water. If you are fishing a shallow section of a lake, the green bead can be switched to a collar of green micro fritz to reduce the weight of the fly. Fluro orange or chartreuse beads work well too.


Hook: DOHIKU Wide Wet HDW #10

Thread: Nano Silk 50D 12/0 Black

Tail: Black marabou

Rib: Silver wire

Body: Upavon Pearl Braid Green

Hackle: Black Hen

Head: Upavon Countersunk Brass Bead Fluro Green 3.2mm


Final Thoughts:

Picking just 5 flies for any season is always difficult, and of course, there are far too many local patterns to mention here. Other flies that could have easily made the top 5 are snakes. Snakes are a popular fly on small waters, reservoirs and concrete bowls throughout the winter. Furthermore, small Zonker and minkie patterns. Again, great lures that can be tied heavy for general fishing or very lightweight and fished in the margins for the last of the fry feeders. However, it would not be a winter fly fishing blog without mentioning the bung! Essential flies hung under the indicator include but are not limited to; eggs, wotsits, mop flies, and shammies. All have their merits and will all score well this winter.

 If you liked this then read: Top 6 Consistent Stillwater Trout Flies
New to fly tying? Use discount code WELCOME10 or click this link to get 10% off your first order at www.upavonflyfishing.co.uk
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Matty Ice - December 2, 2022

Outstanding information! Thanks Tim!

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