At the Vise: Winter Stoneflies/Snowflies

February is when my fly-fishing hopes increase. The sun is riding much higher, the days are longer, and Winter Stoneflies/Snowflies get more active.


I’ve had good luck fishing with small and black nymphs during winter, including one late-December day (here) when the water was 33 °F and the air was 0 °F.

To get ready, I’ve been fiddling with new Winter Stonefly/Snowfly patterns, recently. Making a size 14 isn’t too tough; you can put on goose biots, peacock herl and a ruffed grouse feather.

But, a size 18 can be challenging. I posted a pattern on Instagram (where we quickly have gained many followers, thanks to you!; our feed here) that featured herl and black pheasant tail. I wasn’t happy with the result and asked for advice.

Fishing guide @jacksonchrisd and blogger @fishingsmallstreams replied with some great ideas, leading me to make one pattern with a starling feather.

Last but not least, the February Red.

Dave Hughes in Wet Flies writes that this soft hackle is a good pattern to throw when Winter Stoneflies are in the drift. It’s a size 18, made with red thread and a Ruffed Grouse feather.

For grins, I added a thorax of “touch dub” black rabbit fur to make it look more buggy.

I’m looking forward to fishing all of these flies in the coming weeks!


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7 thoughts on “At the Vise: Winter Stoneflies/Snowflies

  1. I like your soft hackle Winter Red. Just a crow herl body would be good to try too. Look forward to hearing the fish’s critique!

  2. Always look forward to reading your posts. I’ve used black midge braid for most my early stones with fine rubber legs. Will check older posts for patterns on the Ct river NH. Heading up in late July.

  3. Nice looking flies! I’m gonna try the red. In Thomas Ames’ Hatch Guide, there is a great looking Early Dark Stonefly nymph pattern with brown swannundaze abdomen and rust-brown dubbing thorax. I’ve not fished it but tied up some #18s to try on the Swift next time out. I’ve also had good luck this time of year with a soft hackle that is similar to black gnat patterns: Crow wing feather barbs for tail and abdomen; fine copper wire rib; peacock hurl abdomen (optional); starling breast feather for hackle; size 16 & 18 work well.

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