Winter and Early Spring Bull Trout Fly Fishing

Winter and Early Spring Bull Trout Fly Fishing

Winter and early spring Bull Trout Fly Fishing has grown in popularity and with good reason. The fish are willing biters and can be found in good numbers some days.  These fish are extremely fun to target on single hand, switch or light Spey setups using nymph indicator techniques or a traditional swung fly method.

There are plenty of opportunities throughout the Lower Mainland to chase this fine quarry. The average size of a Bull Trout is 16 inches to 26 inches or 1lb to 6lbs. They can get into the teens in weight, but these are incredible specimens.

Lower Mainland Winter Bull Trout


Winter Bull Trout fishing is best during December to March. Bull Trout roam the clear coastal rivers in search of leftover salmon eggs, salmon flesh, sculpins and juvenile fish.


Some of the best locations to target winter Bull Trout are the Squamish River System and its tributaries, Harrison and Lillooet River System, Chilliwack/Vedder River and the Upper Pitt River. Winter Bull Trout utilize long broad runs, stream inflows, deep dark pools and side channels.

Rod, Reel, Line Selection

Single hand fly rods, switch and spey rods are all good options for Winter Bull Trout.

If you are using a single hander we would recommend a 9’ to 10’ fly rod in 4wt to 8wt range.

For switch rods, a 10’10” to 11’9” in 4wt to 8wt will do the trick. If you are a spey angler, a 12’6” to 13’6” in 6wt to 7wt rod will serve you well.  We carry a wide range of brands and price ranges of rods. Popular choices are Redington, Fenwick, Sage, Echo, Grey’s and Dragonfly.

Reels should be selected to match the size and type of rod being used. Disc drag reels now dominate and the most popular brands are Galvan Fly Reels, Sage, Echo, Redington Fly Reels and Lamson Fly Reels.

For fly lines, a sink tip line in a medium (type 3) or fast sink (type 6-8) in a 10’-15’ length is the most popular way to go for single handed options. Scientific Anglers Sonar Titan Sink Tip Fly Line and Scientific Anglers Frequency Sink Tip Fly Line and RIO Premier or RIO Mainstream Series are good options.

One of the best line options, which may not be the cheapest but makes the most sense, is the RIO InTouch VersiTip II Fly Line. These fly lines are a loop-to-loop, interchangeable tip system coming with a 15’ floating, intermediate, type 3 and a type 6 sink tip, with a type 8 being a separate option with some of the higher weighted lines.

For a Spey or Switch rods, Skagit lines are really the best way to go. These short compact heads cast very easily even with a larger fly and heavy sink tip. The RIO Skagit Max Launch Shooting Head or RIO Skagit Elite Max Power Shooting Head are our two favorites (sink tips sold separately).

When using a sink tip, a traditional tapered leader is not needed or recommended. We typically run a 2’-3’ piece of fluorocarbon in the 12lb-20lb range. Seaguar Blue Label Fluorocarbon Leader, Seaguar STS fluorocarbon, Seaguar Invisx, Seaguar Red Label and Basix are all good choices. The reason for not using a longer tapered leader off a sink tip in a river is to allow the tip to get the fly down more quickly to the fish.

Chartreuse C.O.D. – Catch on Delivery

Fly Selection

When venturing out for Winter Bull Trout, make sure you have stocked your fly box with a good assortment of woolly buggers size #8-#1 in olive, white, chartreuse, black and pink.

Intruders 2.5” to 5” in olive, white, black, pink, orange, blue and chartreuse (basically every colour imaginable) will produce fish. Troutbeads or BNR Soft Beads are also a solid choice at this time of year because a Bull Trout has a difficult time saying no to an egg at any time.

Check out our Hard Beads vs Soft Beads blog post. One of the go-to flies is the Chartreuse C.O.D. (Catch on Delivery) Intruder.

Andrew Redmont with a winter Bull Trout caught on a swung chartreuse C.O.D.


Winter Bull Trout fishing is a great way to get out and swing a fly and enjoy what our coastal rivers have to offer. If you’d like more information about fly fishing for winter Bull trout please feel free to email us at, call us at 604-931-5044 or stop by the shop at #110-1140 Austin Avenue, Coquitlam, BC.

 Follow and Like Us

Like us on Facebook:
Follow us on Instagram:
Email us:


Leave a comment

All blog comments are checked prior to publishing

You have successfully subscribed!
This email has been registered