Best Winter Nymphs for Fly Fishing

Winter Nymphs Overview

When you finally make it past the half way point of winter your mind turns to warmer days with fly rod in hand. You then realize you have another two months before the Hendricksons arrive but you really want to wet a line. Get out the winter nymphs. Shake the winter blues on the Beaverkill or Willowemoc. Perhaps find a warm day and winter nymph border water on the West Branch of the Delaware.

Let us tell you our three favorite winter nymph patterns that are tried and true.

Zebra Midge

First and foremost the Zebra Midge might be the easiest fly pattern there is. It legit like two materials and perhaps a weighted head if you’d like. Midges hatch all year round and trout can easily digest these small insects.

The Zebra midge can be tied as big as a 16 but more commonly is created in size 20 and 22. The zebra midge is a simple pattern using just black thread and silver body wire.

Winter nymphs zebra midge

Pheasant Tail

The pheasant tail is always a good option for fishing sub surface. Anytime of year the pheasant tail works and winter is not any different. The pheasant tail is a simple pattern that is highly effective in on the Beaverkill and Willowemoc.

Winter Pheasant Tail Pattern

Winter Stone Fly

The small winter stones start popping in late February as soon as there is snow melt. You will find them in sizes 16 and 18. When walking the banks find patches of snow and you will see the winter stoneflies on the white snow contrast.

Small winter stonefly pattern

How to fish winter nymphs

In the wintertime you should fish using an indicator in slow moving deep water. Try to find the 2-6 foot areas where the water is not totally still but has slight movement. Change your distances to your fly often to figure out the correct depth. Use an indicator that is not “clunky”. The winter conditions usually have gin clear water.


Fish slow water with a lite indicator. Move slow and fish below the trout. Do not cast and slap the water. Make every cast count.

Pro Tip: Use 6x fluorocarbon tippet in the winter time. Fish upstream and move very slow. The bright snow can make you pop out and spook the fish.

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Information on Beaverkill winter river access click here

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