The weather forecast was calling for a clear, sunny day today, but as you wake up, it’s definitely anything but clear and sunny. It’s raining! You had planned to go fly fishing, but now you’re not so sure if you should. Is fly fishing in the rain worth it?
Flying fishing in the rain is certainly worth it. Rain provides a sort of camouflage on the surface of the water, which may lure trout and other fish out of their usual places. Plus, fewer anglers will be on the water. Light to moderate rain is best for fly fishing; avoid thunderstorms.
This guide to fly fishing in the rain will be chock full of information so you can make the most of those rainy days. We’ll talk more about the different types of rain, and which are most conducive to fly fishing. We’ll also share tips for rainy day fly fishing success, so keep reading!
Can You Go Fly Fishing in the Rain?
Rain on the forecast does not have to be the end of the world if you planned on going fly fishing. As we touched on in the intro, fly fishing in the rain can be advantageous for two reasons.
For one, you can be sure that only the most hardcore anglers will be among you. With fewer anglers out overall, the competition is less fierce. There’s more fish for everyone to catch, which means a fuller cooler!
Second, the steady pitter-patter of the rain on the surface of the water can lull some fish into a false sense of complacency. That’s especially true of trout, a favorite of most fly-fishing anglers.
Of course, we must note that not all rain is the same. Depending on the type of rain that falls, your luck when fly fishing will either be fantastic or not so good. Let’s talk more about that now.
A light drizzle might be enough to ruin your picnic plans or your aspirations to visit the amusement park, but this is fine weather for fly fishing.
The drizzle doesn’t leave you soaking wet in five minutes, and the sounds of the light rain hitting the water can be sort of soothing.
A light drizzle, especially one that’s off and on, doesn’t affect how fish act all that much. Thus, you shouldn’t change up your fly fishing techniques. Just bring a rain jacket.
Steady, Moderate Rain
When rain is consistent and heavier, now the fish won’t act as they do in clear weather. The water levels in the pond or river will increase. As we’ve already touched on, the rainfall will bring fish out of their usual spots.
If the floor is dirt or sand, then conditions in the water can become murky. This will cause fish to head to logs and rocks, so start there first when fly fishing.
Once you get into downpour conditions, fly fishing is still viable but not as desirable. The rain will cause the water levels to rise to a significant degree. The already murky waters will become muddier or sandier, thus making them even more opaque.
Using worms or nymphs could be effective if the fish are still biting in this weather.
What about if the rain brings thunder and lightning on the horizon? It’s not safe to be outside fishing in a thunderstorm no matter how many fish might be biting.
Lightning will strike whatever the tallest object is in the area. If you’re isolated, such as on your fishing boat, then you are the tallest object. Get your boat to shore immediately and head home until the storms pass.
Will You Catch More Fish in the Rain?
Even if you have the right gear on (more on this to come), you’re still going to get wet when fly fishing in the rain. For your troubles, are you likelier to catch more fish than you would when fly fishing in drier conditions?
You may, but not for the reason you might think.
You could catch more fish, especially trout, in the rain because this fish likes two things: low light and cool temperatures.
Air temperature and water temperature are not the same, that’s true, but when the air is cool, it’s only a matter of time before the water cools down in kind.
This occurs because the temps underground are cooler too, which brings down the temperature of the water.
Trout prefer water temperatures between 34 and 67 degrees Fahrenheit. The rain could be just the thing to reduce the water temps enough that the trout start biting.
Low light is another benefit that comes with rain. The sun rarely shines when it’s raining, so the light is just dim enough that trout activity may rise.
Of course, low light is not exclusive to rain. On cloudy or overcast days as well as early in the morning and late in the day, trout are more active regardless of whether it’s raining.
Tips for Fly Fishing in the Rain
To wrap up, we want to share our best fly fishing tips for rainy weather. These pointers will help you plan your best fishing expeditions for more bites.
Go Out Before It Begins Raining
It’s one thing if it’s a sudden rainstorm, but most bouts of rain are usually forecasted. When you know the rain will be coming, hit up your destination maybe an hour or two before the rain is slated to begin.
Fish can read changes in barometric pressure, even subtle pressure changes. They’ll know the weather is coming sometimes even before us people do. This is around the time the fish will begin altering their behavior, such as seeking shelter.
If you can get to the fish before the barometric pressure begins dropping, then you could have better luck catching them.
Fly fishing in the rain requires you to have a myriad of techniques you can call upon and switch out at will.
As the rain starts, you get a lot of fish activity within that first hour. Then, if the rain continues, rather than feed at the top, the fish will head deeper into the water to feed.
You might use some bead-headed nymphs to lure fish back nearer the top of the water. Choose colorful nymphs to aide in achieving your goal. Oh, and be sure to use your high stick technique as well.
Then, when the rain begins tapering down or stops entirely, it’s time to change up your approach yet another time. You’ll have better luck using bead-headed wooly buggers or bead-headed bunny leeches.
Choose Smart Fishing Spots
Remember that fish don’t want to be out in the rain either. They will head to rocks and logs to seek shelter, but sometimes they’re known to cluster in pockets known as eddies. Here, insects that are washed into the water from the storm are easy fish food.
If you use a fly that’s insect-like, you could confuse a fish and capture it.
Dress for the Weather
We don’t recommend heading out for fly fishing in the rain in gear that isn’t at least water-resistant if not waterproof. From head to toe, you must protect yourself or you’ll get soaked to the skin and possibly end up with a cold or flu for your troubles.
Invest in a good pair of Gore-Tex waterproof pants or shorts, or you can buy a fishing rain suit. The suit includes trousers and a jacket. In cool to cold weather, it’s not a bad idea to layer up with a waterproof fishing jacket as well. The jacket should have a hood.
Don’t forget your hands! Waterproof rain gloves will prevent numbness so your fingers can be deft and nimble. Take the time to try on many different pairs of gloves until you find one that’s compatible with your fishing reel.
If you don’t already own some, we’d recommend buying rain boots as well. Please don’t try to go fly fishing in the rain wearing sneakers or loafers. You won’t have much traction, and the soaking rains will ruin your shoes!
Quick Retrieves Are Best
A more aggressive technique is appropriate when time isn’t on your side, such as right before the rain starts when you’re trying to collect the most fish you can. Use a quick retrieve during this time and your cooler should fill up faster.
Don’t Leave During the Storm
Unless the storm is projected to continue until after sundown, then we recommend waiting it out. We’d doubly suggest this if you missed the lucrative fly-fishing period before the rain started.
Once the storm ends, fish will become very active again like they did before the rain began. This period is worth waiting for!
The rain may ruin a lot of plans, but your fly fishing adventures do not have to be one of them. Fish become very active before and after a storm, and during the rain, you can catch more fish if you know the right spots to look for and the proper techniques to use. We hope this guide helps you maximize your time spent fly fishing!