Fish are not as visibly active in winter and don’t need as much food, so this requires a different approach. Once you have fished imitatively or have tried lures, the static - in their face - approach is a winner, and that means it's time for ‘the Bung’.
|Thingamabobber Strike Indicator
|Fish Pimps Strike Indicator
When you set out to fish the bung, try experimenting with the depth and position of your bung accordingly. For example, if you were using a 12ft, single length of fluorocarbon, you could place the bung 3 feet from your fly line-to-leader connection, therefore fishing your point fly at 9ft. Initially, you would have the flies around 4ft apart, so your dropper will be fishing at 5ft. This tactic gives you more coverage than if you were fishing a single fly.
|Example Bung Set-up
|FAF Blob Selection
Don’t worry about casting any distance or about just leaving it to ‘fish’ without constantly retrieving. Remember, the indicator is an 'in their face' style, which is essentially a no-retrieve technique, although letting the rig drift with the breeze can work.
|Hardy Fluorocarbon Tippet
|Greys Platinum Extreme Fly Lines
Any downward dip of the indicator or indeed any obvious check in its drift should be met with an immediate strike. However, don't just wait for the indicator to fully submerge before striking! Sometimes the subtlest movement in the indicator can be a fish inspecting or having a 'nose' at the flies, so in this case, 'firmly', not aggressively, lift the rod because you could potentially get a hookup!
Winter Bung: Top Tips
- On the coldest days, start mid-morning and skip lunch to finish mid-afternoon so that you are concentrating your efforts during the peak hours.
- Dress in layers. It’s best to be comfortable because then you fish well. Wear a pair of throwaway surgical gloves to keep your hands dry and also retain ’feel.’
- Make up a few spare leaders on circular foam rig holders. That way it’s easy to then get back into action after a foul-up and it avoids having to tie knots when your hands are cold and stiff.
- Banks are super slippery in winter from mud and frost so move carefully and have decent cleats on your boots. A few wader studs screwed into the heel can avoid an embarrassing or painful fall.
- Keep in touch with the bung/line/flies at all times. Any slack when you strike will decrease your chances of a hookup.
- Occasionally, give the fly line a gentle pull to simulate an emerging buzzer or nymph trying to reach the surface. This slight movement could trigger a response if fish are in the proximity of the flies.
- Again, don't wait for the bung to fully submerge before striking! The slightest nudge could be a fish, so strike. You will be surprised!!
This article was brought to you in association with Trout Fisherman Magazine.