When we talk about swinging flies, most people initially think of anadromous fish like wild Steelhead or King Salmon. Another species we like to chase in the winter with our two handed rods are resident trout. Despite the cold water temperatures in wintertime causing the metabolism of a trout to slow down, they are still going to be more opportunistic to feed than say a Steelhead that has just entered the freshwater on its way to spawn. Because of this, a good way to trigger a response when swinging for trout is to add a little movement. Here are a few of our favorite ways to do this.
- Use Your Rod Tip. You can twitch the end of the rod tip to add extra movement throughout your swing. This can imitate a wounded or fleeing baitfish which are appealing to trout as again, they are actively feeding, not just migrating to spawning grounds.
- Speed Up Your Swing. Occasionally throwing a downstream mend or leading your swing some with the rod tip can cause your fly to move faster in the water causing a fish to want to eat it before it gets away!
- Slow Your Swing Down. Opposite of the previous point, often times we will add an upstream mend or add slack to get our flies to sink more. This can be very useful around structure and drop offs. Regardless, winter fish sit deep in the water column.
- Don’t Ignore The Hang Down. Resident trout will often follow throughout the swing then strike at the very end. A good way to take advantage of these fish is to slowly strip your fly in after your swing has completed. Often times that fly will get smacked on your first strip.
The point here is to never be afraid to mix it up. Occasionally try something different from the slow, uniform swing. The classic swing is a great way to get a reaction from a King Salmon on the Kanektok and can catch plenty of trout as well, but some of the time we just like to switch it up and have been rewarded for doing so!
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