Unicoi Outfitters is north Georgia's premier guide service and fly fishing outfitter, located on the Chattahoochee River near alpine Helen. Look for fishing reports, gear and book reviews, and general musings here from our staff and guides.

Tuesday, January 3, 2023

Mop Up With These Winter Bugs

Heavy rains are on their way today, with a big cool-down behind this major storm front. That should put us back into our normal winter mode of high, cold trout streams.

Here are two patterns we like in high, cold, and often stained winter waters. They sink quickly, are easily spotted, and offer enough calories to entice bigger trout. They’re both easy to buy or tie, as well.

The first is the mop fly.  I like a tan mop with a hares ear collar and a big silver, tungsten bead.  While its bulk does offer some resistance to the current, it still sinks quicker than my other winter favorite, a brown Pat’s rubberlegs.  Wild and stocked fish alike have a taste for this chewy imposter of crane fly and caddisfly larvae. Try some on a size 10 or 12 jig hook and a big (4mm) bead.


The second killer pattern is the sexy Walts worm. It’s just a hares ear body with flashy ribbing, a bright orange or pink thread collar, and a heavy tungsten bead once again. 


I like silver beads on both patterns for most conditions and fish the Walts in sizes 10-14. Some of our guides like them as small as #18. But if the water is clear and/or low, silver sometimes is too flashy, so carry a few bugs with a more natural black or brown bead for those discerning trout.  Both patterns are really effective on a Euronymphing setup, but also fish well under an indicator.

Some fly anglers make fun of junk flies such as squirmies, eggs, and mops.  Let them laugh.  I’m usually too busy catching fish to care about their opinions. I hope these tips will make y’all just as happy and carefree while dredging winter’s cold, icy waters for some hefty bows and browns.  Good luck in the new year! Stop by our shop if we can help you further.

Unicoi Outfitters: Friendly. Local. Experts.


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