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Getting winterized: The Offseason in fly fishing

Updated: Dec 30, 2022

While there are fly fishing opportunities in the winter, particularly for trout in Northeast Iowa, the months of December, January, and February (and sometimes March) are usually reserved for a lot of R&R, fly tying, going over the past season's successes and failures, dreaming of (or visiting) saltwater destinations, fly tying, and cleaning/maintenance of fly fishing gear.

Fly Tying

Winter is a great time to replenish any fly boxes that have become diminished, whether that is because you give too many away, have too many flies stolen by your friends (Ahem...Zane, that's directed at you), or you lose too many while you're fishing.

Tying can provide opportunities to develop camaraderie with other anglers, too.

Saltwater destinations

There are so many travel opportunities closer to the equator where the fly angler can escape the snow and cold of the winter. Even within the United States, having the Florida Keys within a few hour flight's distance is pretty special. If international travel is up your alley, visiting saltwater destinations in the Caribbean could be a good option.

A Caribbean bonefish from the winter months

If you aren't able to find the time or money to make a wintertime trip for fly fishing, at least do yourself a favor and watch some videos of warmer times (like this video of a past trip to Honduras or Belize).

Gear Maintenance

Make sure to carefully inspect all of your gear during the offseason.

Fly rods: Make sure you have removed dirt from the blank and guides, as well as inspected the blank for cracks, especially around the ferrules.

Fly reels: Carefully clean any dirt as needed. Check with your brand manufacturer to see if any lubricant should be added to the gears. Loosen drag all the way when storing in the offseason.

Fly line: Clean as directed by manufacturer. Some brands call for fly line dressing/cleaner, others don't. If a line wasn't performing well for you in the past season, take the chance to replace it. Cracks in floating line will hinder performance, and while you can still fish a cracked fly line, it is hard to beat a clean, smooth, good-condition fly line.

Flies: Make sure there is no moisture built up in your fly boxes, which can lead to rust. Any old, well-loved/retired flies should be responsibly discarded to clear room for any new patterns you plan to use next season.

Waders: This could be a good time to wash your waders (yes, you can), especially if you tend to sweat a lot in them. Here is a helpful link with some tips for washing your waders.

Whatever you choose to do in your off-season, count your blessings and don't forget the many successes of your past season!

Fishing Report

Click here for the Iowa DNR's Fishing Report (12/15/2022)

NE Iowa Trout Streams: If you are willing to brave the cold, you can be rewarded with great solitude and possibly decent fishing. Fish still have to eat! Find the deep, slow holes and fish midge patterns beneath an indicator. Pick your days -the warmer days will provide more incentive for the fish to be active during the middle of winter.

Des Moines River: Most of it is frozen; only open water will be below dams like Saylorville, low-head dams in Des Moines, and below Red Rock.

**Use Caution below Saylorville; flows may fluctuate as work is being done to clear debris from the spillway. For more info on this project, see this link.

Get in touch with us to book a fly fishing trip in Iowa for next season!


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