I’m fairly new to fly-fishing (this will be my fifth year), i have been to out west to MT, been to Alaska, fished the north shore, and of course the driftless, but I have never fished in the winter – for trout anyway.  I plan on going out this January to SE MN.  Do you have some suggestions on what types of flies I might want to include in my box, and what the hatch might be.  Also, is smaller or bigger better in the winter months.  I am thinking PT, hares Ear, and Prince along with some scuds.  Any help would be welcomed.

Thank you

Hi Scott,

Thanks for asking. I will try to get a post up today, but I am running into the Holidays and might not get it done. I think there are some helpful blog posts back in my archives of my site as well. Here is a short answer.
I like the winter. Deep snow and reasonable temps(20-30’s) can be incredibly fun. OK sorry, I am adding too much verbiage.
-Have fun! Fishing can be crazy good but most of the time in the winter if you catch one or two or 3, be happy. It is an outdoor adventure to a beautiful place.
-Fish tend to be podded up in groups in the deeper water, not always, but it is a good rule of thumb.
-A little Baileys Irish Cream in some warm coffee, or a few beers at the end of the day is a nice treat. Drinking alcohol to excess is not recommended.!
-The most active feeding times for the fish are when the water temps are on the rise or at the highest point of the day. A 32 degree sunny day will probably drop the water temps by afternoon because cold water will begin to                   enter the stream from melt. Sometimes water temps will be at the warmest in the morning if a cold front is moving through in the afternoon. PAY ATTENTION TO WEATHER!
-Stay out of the water as much as you can, crossings are fine but you mostly don’t need to be in the water. The water at this time is generally low and clear and you will just spook the fish.
-I fish from top to bottom a fair amount in the winter. Sit, crouch or kneel at the head of a pool or drop-off and feed your fly down through the pool to the tail-out. Twitching sunken flies sometimes works best.
-Think like a fish, these buggers are cold and slow, their metabolism is slow, their bite is soft and slow. Many times, nothing happens fast, be patient!
-Set the hook on any odd movement of your indicator(dirty ass nympher)-don’t be lulled into believing you are snagged on the bottom on every cast. Consider your indicator stopping at any time, an odd movement!
-Adjust your weight so you are using as little as possible and still getting your fly to the bottom. I know your hands are cold, adjust your weight!
-OK do some cold hand drills. Every day go outside without your gloves to get your hands ready for your winter fishing trip. Increase the time you leave your gloves off each day. Make it uncomfortable!
-Do not blame me for frost bite fingers. You should have known better. Didn’t your Mother tell you to wear gloves.
-Bring those little chemical hand warmers and tuck one into the back side of each glove on super cold days. I fish with 3/2 gloves. My index, thumb and F finger are exposed in order to have dexterity.
-Buy some Loon Stanley’s Ice-Off Paste from me if I have it on my shopping cart. It is the best product I have come across in all the years I have fished for helping to slow the icing process down.
-Fish the shortest rod you own. Breaking the ice from the tip-top of any rod is dangerous enough. Bending a 9ft rod so you don’t have to put the reel in the snow or water can result in broken rod tips
-Do Not Put Your Reel In The Snow Or Water, it can freeze up and then your SOL.
-A net is helpful in keeping your hands and gloves out of the water.
-Clean and shine your line with water repelling products. The less water you pick up on your line, the less that goes into your tip-top
-You can have midges and small stoneflies hatching in the winter. Many years we have cast dries to rising fish.
-I think fly selection is less important in winter. The flies that you have named are all good. The important part, once again becomes presentation. Put a familiar bug on the trouts nose when he is hungry and feeding and he will eat……. sometimes. A little bugger or leach pattern can be effective too. Midge larva too.
-DON’T wear felt soled boots in the snow. Put rubbers on your boots if you have to.
-Check the regulations of the water that you are going to fish. Winter stream trout fishing in Minnesota  REMEMBER, NOT ALL STREAMS ARE OPEN TO FISHING IN THE WINTER IN MINNESOTA!
Scott there is the short list with a few photos that follow so you can see what it might be like. Thanks for the question.
I have already made plans to go out on January 1, 2012  to see what’s shakin!
Good Luck and happy Holidays