Get ready for Winter Fly Fishing

When it comes to fly fishing, there's none better to listen to than Chris Dore. He he writes about getting ready for winter fly fishing. Are you ready yet?



Its still early days for South Island winter runs, but whether you are in the North, or deep South, a few considerations and a little preparation now will help you make the most of the winter action when it really kicks in.

Are you ready for winter fly fishing? 

Clothing is the biggest consideration, in my opinion. Layering is the key to comfort for if you are cold and uncomfortable, your fishing will suffer. It all starts with your base layer where the primary function is to move moisture away from the skin.

The Simms lightweight baselayer top and pants are my preferred system and I can insulate up, or lighten up in the outer layers accordingly. Your mid layer is your insulation layer, and often most important layer which can be adjusted to the conditions. I favour a fleece, along with the Simms Fall Run hooded jacket, often with my G4 Pro Jacket as a windbreak if needed. Functional gloves such as the Freestone Foldover mitts keep your hands and fingers functioning throughout the day with minimal impact on casting and line control.  

Get ready for winter fly fishing

Identify resting water.

Change your summer mindset. Trout aren’t going to be sitting in the riffles looking up for dries so jump on google earth and hunt down those inside bends, deeper, slower pools and other places running fish can sit away from the full force of the flow. Jump on the fish and game website and familiarise yourself with which waters remain open in your area and explore - they may not hold many fish in summer but chances are something will move through across the colder months.   Get ready for winter fly fishing

Learn to cast weight

Long, level leaders, Loon Black Drops and heavy bombs are part and parcel of winter fishing because if you’re not getting down where the fish are, you’re no where. If you’re unfamiliar with casting such weight, maybe go up a line size for the benefits of extra mass, and employ an elliptical cast as detailed in our Lockdown Lesson series on YouTube

Go have a few practice casts on the lawn and get back into the groove but forget attaching a bit of fluff on the end - attach an Ugly and practice with what you are likely to step to the plate with. Practice makes perfect! Get ready for winter fly fishing

Reset your gear

Start by checking over your kit after a summers worth of abuse. Strip off and check your lines. Give them a clean and a decent stretch. Check the condition of your backing and replace the backing knot to be on the safe side. Winter is the most likely time you will get taken to your backing, especially on bigger waters so make sure everything’s in check 

Check over your winter fly boxes and make sure the hooks are in good order from last winter when you last dug them out. Look for any obvious gaps and head into your local Manic Fly Retailer to see what's new and innovative for winter 2023. While you're there pick up some Loon Fly Dip for soaking your big yarn NZ Strike Indicators and stock up on 3x Trouthunter tippet, because you know you’ll go through a bit of it. 

And finally, go over your waders and give them a clean, and check for pinhole leaks. Now is certainly not the time to experience an icy trickle down the leg or a sodden sock because you forgot about that barbed wire you tussled with back in April.


Chris Dore is a battle-tested fly fishing guide with over 20 years of professional guiding experience, battling the demanding, ever-changing conditions that our New Zealand rivers throw at us.

In 2006 Chris became one of the first New Zealanders to successfully pass the internationally recognised Federation of Fly Fishers Certified Casting Instructors examination and has since taught many thousands of anglers to up their skillset.

For more in person and on river fly fishing advice and upskilling why not book Chris for a day or three?