Winter dry fly fishing, in England, need not be a complete waste of time. It seems that some flies will appear in all weathers and at all times of the year. The Large Dark Olive has already been discussed here and is a true winter fly, but there are other excellences to which your attention may be peculiarly and forcibly directed...
Look at this little fellow here:
He is sitting on the Head River Keeper's finger by the river Lathkill. This picture was taken one January a year or two ago. Our main fly of high summer, the Blue Winged Olive, is here seen having a try for life in the middle of winter! Nature surely brackets her exposures quite widely to get her perfect pictures.
Other flies too make their entrances on winter days. Mild days will usually produce a nice crop of midges and the grayling will take these dainty victuals with alacrity. Really harsh days with sleet on the edge of a biting wind will sometimes see the appearance of that treasure of English trout streams, the Iron Blue Dun, in veritable fleets of little, dark-sailed ships. The fish lock onto them in earnest with grayling prepared to rise up through several feet of water just to eat flies we normally mimic on size 18 or even 20 hooks.
It's the same recipe for success that you follow in summertime. Only this time, you might have set out to fish with heavy nymphs for your winter grayling but by staying observant you can often gain great opportunities to change over to the dry fly, making your season last just that little bit longer and remind you of what is to come when the days once more lengthen.
What happens with winter fly life in other parts of the world, I wonder?