20- Top fly patterns and fishing tips for rough and difficult conditions

Top fly patterns and fishing tips for rough and difficult conditions

We all have those trips when the weather is grim and the fish refuse to play ball. But what can we do to stack the odds in our favour? Whether it’s an unusual fly pattern or a complete change of tactic, you have nothing to lose by trying something different! Here are six flies to try when the weather is awful or the chips are down, along with some useful flyfishing tips to keep the trout coming through autumn and winter.

Never say never: adapt your game and grim conditions needn’t mean a dry net. 

Apps Bloodworm, Black with Yellow Butt (£0.65)

Most anglers have cottoned on to the value of having some red bloodworms in their box these days. They are superb for dicey conditions and less than clear water. Red usually gets the nod, but have you tried black? It’s a great colour in just about any scenario - and with the same attraction and long fine legs of the classic Apps, this pattern is an excellent one to try when the fishing is hard. Try a slow retrieve, with the odd sudden pluck. 

Rainbow Bead Head Worm, Red (£0.65)

Another good “get out of jail” fly to fish slowly with the odd burst of life. Lots of movement and useful for muddy, unappetising conditions on any small stillwater. 

Mini Fritz Lead Head, Cat’s Whisker (£0.65) 

With a small size and heavy head, these patterns sink extra fast and have tons of attraction. Just the job when there has been a temperature shift and the fish are sitting deeper, it’s always worth having a few small lead heads in your box. 

Sonic, Black (£1.20)

Everyone knows how effective a Booby can be on a sinking line to catch difficult, deep lying trout. Besides the classic versions, however, there are some fantastic variations around these days. With a Minkie style tail, the Sonic is packed with wiggle, even with the slowest of retrieves. 

GP Cormorant (£1.10)

Another fantastic fly to try with sinking lines, this one is somewhere between a large nymph and a mini lure. An excellent fly when they want a smaller target- it was designed by Gary Pearson for reservoir fishing but will catch on any small stillwater. 

Rubber Legs Daddy, Red (£0.85)

When faced with murky water or lethargic trout, rubber legged patterns are a great little wake up call. This one stands out like a sore thumb, sinks well and kicks out plenty of vibration on the worst of fishing days. Ideal for small stillwaters- try counting down to different depths and injecting some nice snappy twitches.  

Fly fishing tips for wet, wild and difficult days

  • When the weather is crazy and things aren’t going to plan, there is no substitute for up to the minute knowledge! As we all know, what works on the bank can vary from hour to hour, let alone between days and weeks! Never be afraid to ask other anglers or the fishery boss to see what’s working.
  • Avoid “going through the motions” at all costs when fly fishing. It’s almost as if the fish can tell when we retrieve flies robotically or with little thought! Always be prepared to experiment and mix things up and try to imagine that there is always a fish about to notice your fly. 

Avoid going through the motions; the trout are only interested if you are!

  • Even on a small stillwater, depth control can be vital. Changeable weather often means unsettled fish and a change in the water level they choose to occupy. It’s always worth packing an intermediate and sinking fly line. Failing that, however, you may want to pack some really weighty flies to get down lower in the water. 
  • Talking of depth, there will be days when the fish are holding deep and special tactics are required. One classic is a fast sink line combined with a buoyant fly and short leader. Another trick, however, is to cast out a fly on a long leader and to wait for as long as thirty seconds to let it sink right to the bottom, before giving it a sharp couple of plucks to lift it off the bottom. 
  • How often do you move spots? Fisheries all vary, but one noticeable trend in cold or rough weather is how the fish often cluster up tighter. If you’re not catching, keep moving spots to find the fish. If a spot hasn’t produced any signs of life in 20 minutes or more, it’s probably time for a change of scenery. 

With their natural range in the far north of the planet, rainbow trout are still comfortable in the worst and coldest of British weather! 

  • High winds can make casting a pain, so you might need to adjust. One useful tip is to lower your cast to shoulder height rather than directly overhead, which helps to cut through the breeze better. You might also want to practice casting over your opposite shoulder to keep the fly from blowing in your face!
  • If you’re fishing with a friend, try doing something completely different to each other. This way, you are more likely to hit on a successful formula. For example, one of you could try fishing a long leader and buzzers, while the other uses a sinking line and a bright lure.