Winter Fly Fishing for Pennsylvania Trout

Winter Trout Fly Fishing in Pennsylvania 

The winter months in Pennsylvania can vary quite a bit. Temperatures ranging from below zero to 60 degrees are all possible. Believe it or not, trout can be caught on any of these days throughout the winter in PA. There will be days where fishing is tough, but also days where plenty of fish can be caught. 


1.Fish a warmer day 

A good rule of thumb to follow is to fish the warmer days when possible. It is not only more pleasant to be outside, but also more likely for the trout to be feeding on the warmer days. Winter in PA can have long stretches of frigid temperatures and the fishing can still be great during those times, but if a fisherman has some freedom in their schedule, try for a warmer day if possible. If fishing on a very cold day, the best hours are going to be during the middle part of the afternoon when the sun is highest.  

2. Find the slow water 

During the winter, trout are not going to expend more energy than absolutely necessary. That means they are going to be laying in slower water more times than not, to avoid using more energy in the faster water. Often times, a trout’s food or prey is going to be drifting downstream with the current. Trout will lay on the edge of the slow water, where they can still see over into the current where food will be drifting. A fisherman should spend a lot of time casting to these “seams” where slow water comes up next to faster current.  

3. Fish your best spots 

Most fishermen are going to have limited time to trout fish in the winter. Go to proven creeks or spots where trout are plentiful. Wait for spring and summer to explore new areas that are unpredictable. Fishing during the winter can be slower than spring so a fisherman should give themselves the best chance they can by just hitting their best spots.  

4. Don’t overthink it 

In reality, trout fishing in the winter is not too much different from any other time of year. The same basic tactics still apply. Find where the fish are, try to match the food source, and give a natural looking presentation of your fly to the fish. If those basic rules are followed, trout will be caught in the winter just like any other season of the year.  

5. Have the right apparel 

Wool socks are a must have when trout fishing in the winter. They will help keep feet warm while wading in cold water. Wear layers as needed on the body to stay warm. Water proof gloves are also a very nice addition to have.  


  1. Fly Rod and Reel
  2. A 5 weight rod is the most common choice for fishermen pursuing trout in Pennsylvania waters.  
  3. Waders 
  4. Sling, Vest, or Fanny Pack – Use one of these to keep all flies and other miscellaneous gear in order. Keep nippers, tippet, extra leaders, and forceps in here. 
  5. Flies – With no surface action happening during the winter months, fly selection can be kept fairly basic. Focus on using nymphs, streamers, and soft hackle wet flies. Some great choices are pheasant tail nymphs, san juan or squirmy worms, wooly buggers, and muddler minnows. 
  6. Pennsylvania Fishing License and Trout/Salmon Permit