Winter Fishing, Simple is Better

by Jake Schilling December 17, 2019 3 Comments

Winter Fly Fishing on the Madison River

Winter Fishing, Simple is Better 

After guiding season ended I cleaned out my boat, boat bags, truck (getting a new one helps), and tried my best to organize fly boxes and sort out dozens of fly cups from around SW Montana.  Now that everything is (sorta) organized, time to keep it that way until April, if I'm lucky.   

When it comes to fishing in the winter, I try to keep it simple, simple, simple.   Unlike July, I do not feel the need to have 14 boxes of every possible pattern I may need in a day- gone are the Sushi Rolls, Tacky's, and MFC boat boxes.  Part of this is due to my goals/expectations for the day, generally, I plan to just throw dries, or just swing, for example.  

I may not gain any notoriety for being the complete angler, but it's relaxing to do exactly what you want, whether it pans out or not.  Someone told me when I first started in West, "When you start fishing you want to catch them any way you can, then it evolves into the right/technical way, then it becomes your way."  A full season of guiding should make you itch to fish your way

For dries, gimme a Sage Circa 379, a 4x leader, a spool of 5x, a half dozen home-brew midges pinned in my hat, and some frog fanny in my pocket, all set!  Leaving the hip bag at home is oddly liberating. Might find room in my wader pocket for a PBR.

If I'm setting out to swing with the Trout Spey all day, it's just as simple: Echo TR 3110, Commando head, a tip or two and some 1x.  I'll grab a few favorite flies and toss 'em in a good old fashioned steelhead box (zip-lock baggie).  

Don't let me knock you down if you enjoy being armed with a small fly shop each day, but don't sleep on being simple. Except for tenkara, leave that at home, always. 

Professional Fly Fishing Guide Jake Schilling Madison River Outfitters

About Jake Schilling

When 21 years old, Jake moved to West Yellowstone from Missoula (where he grew up) in May 2012. That first summer he spent two months living in a tent, before buying a 1971 Lark camper.  After three years of working in the shop and part-time guiding, Jake moved into a full-time guide job with MRO.  Living in West Yellowstone year-round since 2015 now, his knowledge of the area is vast.  Besides guiding, during the summer Jake stays busy fishing gulpers & Spey casting.  During the winter he spends his time Czech nymphing, steelhead fishing,  and cross-country skiing while off work from the Yellowstone Club. Jake’s laid-back attitude and patience is unmatched, he loves taking the day slow; walking the boat and always having one more fly to try before moving on.  

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3 Responses

William “Fred” Goss
William “Fred” Goss

January 22, 2020

East Central Arizona used to be my “home” waters till about five years ago. Alpine, Springerville, Greer, Apache Rez, Pinetop , Showlow area … Now live in Lovell, Wy.

jake schilling
jake schilling

January 06, 2020

Thanks Wendy

Wendy Krueger
Wendy Krueger

December 20, 2019

I guide in eastern Arizona, but learned from Dad in August/September in the West Yellowstone/Gallatin area as a kid. I get your liking to fish how “you want to”. I did my last day out before the snow blocked the roads ( Yes Arizona has high elevation, 9200 feet) with a few simple dries, my favorite 4 wt, 7 foot rod and had a ball. Enjoy your off time and lots of tight lines!

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