Are You A Swinger?
Apologies about the obvious innuendo there but let's talk swinging. We all have our habits and routines when on the river but for some people swinging flies isn't one of them. It can be a bit of a waste of a good day on the river to not swing a few flies on the way back to the car and on more than a few occasions it will save the day when you haven't been able to secure a fish on the trip upstream.
So here's a few very quick tips that may enable you to maybe spend a bit less time getting up to the top and take more time working your way back to the car on your next trip out.
When targeting winter trout it pays to think along the same lines as you would with your nymphs so anything that has some colour in it will usually be the go to. Reds, oranges and pinks are all good for getting attention and annoying a fish that has something else on its mind.
Having a good range of sizes in your fly box is important as they will represent different things to the fish and what sort of mood the are in. For instance a big articulated streamer like the Sleech might be pounced on as a territorial reaction where a small and slim smelt fly would seem like a familar and easy meal for a lake run Rainbow.
Like anything in fly fishing there's always more than one way to skin a cat but one of the key aspects of swinging flies is making sure you're getting down to the correct depth. Anything that bumps and grabs the bottom too much (a little bit is good) is obviously too heavy but knowing when you're going over top of the fish is a little harder to figure out.
Having a selection of line weight options will open up a world of opportunity and without complicating things too much it's safe to say that if you're serious about swinging then carrying a couple of spare spools loaded with a Di7 and Di3 sinking line will get you in the game in most situations.
The Di7 will get you down nice and quick for deep pools and faster water and the Di3 is great for the tailouts and slower moving stuff.
If carrying spools and buying extra lines isn't for you then you still have the option of carrying sinking polyleaders which only take a minute to rig up onto your floating line and having you soon bumping flies on the fishes nose. A fast sink tip and extra super fast sink tip would be a good place to start.
From there just use three to four foot of good solid fluoro, 8pd minimum. Don't be scared to go up to 12pd as fish will smack the flies pretty hard so you need to be packing some heat on the business end.
And finally, the golden rule of any style of fishing out there...fish your feet first!
Chris Dore has also written this really great piece which covers the subject off in a bit more detail.