Fly Fishing in the Rain: Can you still catch fish?

As I was getting ready to go fly fishing the other day, it started to rain. I wanted to see if it would even be worth going, so I did some research.

So, can you still catch fish in the rain? You can still fly fish in the rain, as long as it isn’t hitting too hard on the water. If it is heavy rain, however, then the fish will not bite. If you stay out during a light rain, go for underwater fly fishing as none of them will go to the surface for food during the rain.

If there is any lighting, get out. Be smart and stay safe. There is a lot to know before and after it rains though. If you are planning on going out and there is a chance of some rain, you might want to listen closely.

How the Rain Affects Your Day Fishing

Now during the rain is another story. When I went out last week in the rain I was super skeptical at first. I wasn’t trying to get totally soaked and be cold. It ended up turning into a super nice day though, even if it did rain for half of it.

Be prepared to switch up your entire rig and change what you are doing completely. Something that is awesome is all the insects and other foods that fish eat all wash into the water during the rainstorm. Fish big foam dry flies—like hoppers or beetles—to match the influx of food that gets bumped into the river by the rain.

The nymph patterns really seem to get the trouts attention and really work. Try switching up patterns and mixing things up a little too.

You want to keep in mind that the water will rise during the storm as well, even if it is a lighter rain.

When you are out there you want to try and find places where the water isn’t moving as fast as well. If you can find a cool pool where the water isn’t moving much or is slow, stay there for a while, you’ll have the best luck. Try and float your hopper nicely over these pools and target any foam lines you see.

You will feel a lot of snags and get frustrated thinking they are fish. Most of the time, it isn’t. but never hesitate because once you do, it’ll be a fish on the other end.

Make sure to relax and try not to muscle it through. Sometimes when I get frustrated or I’m not catching like I usually do I just try to hard. Don’t be like me and just relax, you’ll have a better time.

Test yourself and try new things. When it is a heavier rain, trying going after some fish you aren’t used to and test the waters a bit. Sometimes you can get a big hit. Use darker colors and try it for yourself. Most streams are going to be different and it depends on the type of fish you are going for, but it is a great time to see what you can do and test you a little.

Before & After It Rains

If you are going to go out and you know there is a good chance of rain, you need to prepare a little. Trout actually eat more in low light, so when it is about to rain, while it is raining, or after it rains, it is usually a lower light. So there’s one advantage.

Come prepared with a selection of dry flies. While you won’t need to alter your normal fly fishing tactics before the rain picks up, you may want to reach for dark-colored fly patterns to match the low-light conditions. Darker colored flies offer more contrast against the gray sky which can help trout see your offerings better.

Since there are is a lot of food that comes into the water, the fish may come up to the surface. That is usually only the case if it rained pretty good for a little while and then it turned to just a light rain. So treat later light rain after a storm as if it wasn’t really raining at all. it might seem and feel weird but it will make your day a bit easier.

If you were able to stick through the rain then there is a good chance you will have a good rest of the day. If you are after some trout and are in a stream of them, blue-winged olives and midges will make a big showing after a rainstorm.

Depending on where you are depending on the type of fish you will see. Stonefly or salmonfly hatch after a rainstorm as well as most another type of fish. make sure you try both your heavier weights, but a lot tend to come to the top as sunbathers.

Remember, use big dark patterns after it rains. the mud will make things a bit harder, but trout can still see in the mud. you also want a fly that will disrupt the water letting fish know it is there. Beadhead bunny leeches are a time-tested favorite in these conditions because of their size, weight and action on the water. 

Be Prepared

Before going into water that is being rained on or just had heavy rain, be prepared. Most likely the water is going to be muddier, so you won’t be able to see where you are stepping as well. it can get really deep from rocks moving around so be careful. Bring a wading stick if you have one. It can really help prevent you from falling in or hurting your ankle.

Be careful of fast moving water. depending on where you are, water speed can really pick up. yes, if you are 23 and are in shape you don’t have to worry as much, but still be mindful. Water is always stronger than it looks and can really take you down sometimes.

If you aren’t a fan of the rain but love fly fishing too much, come prepared with the right jacket. I know here in Idaho it can get cold in the middle of the summer when it rains especially out on the water. I think even if you hate the rain, you will find yourself having a good time and be trying things you normally might not if it was a normal day of fishing.

Come will all kinds of weights, lines, etc because if it rains on and off and different kind of rain, you will need it all. It is crazy how much rain will affect your day out on the water.

Related Questions:

Can Trout See In Muddy Water?Trout can see in muddy water, but it is good to help them out a bit by using incorporating a lot of rubber legs or marabou or bunny fur. They obviously can’t see nearly as well as they can in clear water, so you want to make sure you are in there faces about things. If It is so dark you can’t see anything, you might have a harder time, but still possibly, no doubt.

Do Steelhead Bite In The Rain? For some reason or another, rain does not seem to really affect steelhead fishing. they still bite and will continue to not be affected by the rain even if you change up your patterns a bit. They can still see in the muddy waters and not much needs to be changed up for these guys.

Tim Butala

My name is Tim and I have been a fisherman my whole life. My favorite fish to go after is a Striped Bass.

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