We are often asked about the importance of fly color in the winter. Does it really matter? The reality is there are days where it honestly doesn’t make a difference. Problem is, those days where winter steelhead attack flies with reckless abandon are few and far between. Most days in the winter, fly color is a huge element in the recipe for success. Below, we’ve broken down our favorite winter steelhead colors. Hopefully it will help you put more fish on the beach this winter.
Pink: A great choice for early winter fish. We like pink in moderate to stained water on bright days. As the winter season progresses, try fishing a pink and orange fly.
Orange: One of our favorites, especially with copper flash. Orange is the “go to color” on sunny days with stained water conditions. If the water is moderate to clear, go orange and red.
Red: If the water is moderate to clear and the sun is shining, tie on red. We love the combination of red and black for these conditions as well.
Purple: Have you ever met a steelhead that didn’t like purple? It fishes best in moderate to stained water on overcast days or in low light conditions.
Black: Like purple, black is great on overcast days or low light conditions. However, black will fish well in almost any water clarity including clear water.
Olive: Folks don’t fish olive enough in the winter. It usually shines in low, clear water when the fish are stale and have seen everything in the book. It’s not a “go to” everyday, but it has its place in tough conditions.
White: White is not a popular color for steelheaders, but it should be. The combination of white and pink or white and orange can be deadly for fresh fish. We like it in almost every water condition with bright skies or in the mid-day with overcast skies.
Hopefully we’ve given you some insight on color selection for the winter. When selecting a fly, always remember that confidence is key. You have to believe the fly you’re swinging is the fly the fish is going to eat that day. Sometimes you need to just open the old fly box and let mojo steer your decision.