All weather is good for fishing. Challenging as a sport must be, fly fishing in the rain is something you must experience at least once. You will have lesser regrets in life and better stories to tell.
You’d probably know what it feels like to return from a long-awaited fishing trip because of a sudden downpour. Everyone says ‘oh’, someone shouts ‘boo’, anglers pack their stuff and ride back home cursing the sky.
You might be surprised to know but this moment is exactly what experienced anglers look forward to! They know how wonderful and exciting it is to fish in the rain.
All the myths you’ve heard about fish dancing in rainwater are true. Please do not return home when it starts raining. And if you are a lover of rain, this is your time.
Determine your Fly Fishing in the Rain Technique
It only takes a drizzle for people to sigh in disappointment and start packing up. Let them leave and clear your ground. Trust me, it is not only easy but also fun to go fishing at this time.
A drizzle will not interfere with your normal fly fishing methods. There will be no change in the behavior of the fish. Neither will they get more hungry, nor will they feel particularly full.
Care to be more alert because it may be hard to recognize rising fish heads amongst the falling raindrops. When there is hardly any need of switching to a rain jacket, there is hardly any need to switch your technique. Dry flies and nymphs are the preferable flies when it drizzles.
When the rain is light, consider it a good day for fishing, because you already don’t have to bear the wrath of the sun. Plus, the drizzle brings along a cool breeze on water bodies. This will make your fly fishing experience all the more wonderful.
Most Fish are More Active in a Low Light Scenario
It is commonly known by fishermen that most fish and their target insects are more active in low-light conditions.
This is mainly because they feel safe from the predators that usually attack from above in broad daylight. Whatever the reason might be, it is certain that the fish and their target insects all come into action.
It is also believed that this unique behavior is exhibited by the fish only because of the change in barometric pressure.
If you aren’t aware, fish have specific mechanisms in their organs that can detect pressure changes. Experts consider the swim bladder, a part of the fish, most sensitive to changes in pressure.
However, it is not known how the change in pressure during the initial stages of rain makes fish go frenzy. Many believe that this is related to other food substances which the fish consume.
A drop in pressure makes the conditions suitable for small baitfish and plankton in the water column. This makes the hungry predator fish rise to better utilize the newly found easy targets.
It is also possible that the predatory fish rise only owing to some bodily changes due to barometric shifts. There is another belief that the fish can apprehend the situation of forthcoming rain. Maybe a signal for the approaching bad weather encourages them to feed as much as they want.
The water turns murky and dark after rain. Fish don’t get enough food in such conditions. Check out how to go Fly Fishing After Dark.
Experts Encourage the Use of Dry Flies Before and During a Drizzle
Excellent hatches are usually produced under low light and cloudy scenarios before the storm. This demands the use of many dry flies. Know what the fish in this area like best and throw in the appropriate size bait for the appropriate size fish.
Flies that resemble mergers will particularly help you in such conditions. It is also suggested to use darker nymph flies that lay in contrast with the low light conditions.
Steady rain will make the fish stick around the banks. No amount of dry flies can entice fish to take cover from the rain. Because the fish will not rise to the water surface, you must use flies that attract them below.
Use nymphs below the surface of the water. Fish lined on the shore may be eagerly waiting for such underwater treats.
The fish will only be comfortable feeding underwater now. Nymphs with bead head patterns will serve you best in this phase. Go for the more shiny beads or the bright colors that get easy attention. The fish will easily notice splendid colors and aim for their target.
Experienced anglers recommend a special old technique for such waters. It is known as the high stick technique. Carefully take the maximum amount of line away from the flow of water so that it gets easier for your flies to dead drift in a downstream direction. This technique will render a natural appearance to your fly.
It is very important for your flies to appear as natural as possible because trout are spooky fish. It easily recognizes flaws in its food and prepares to swim away. This is also the reason you don’t ever cast shadows on your fishing water.
Rejoice in the Downpour!
When the falling rain is heavy and splashy, the water will turn muddy and look flooded. Your fly fishing technique must be improvised according to the scenario. Everything gets pushed down by the currents.
While it is still raining, it is better to use nymphs and worms. Don’t even think of putting the dry flies to work. The water will turn darker after the rain. This is when you use the streamers.
Why streamers? Dark-colored streamers are easily visible from beneath the water surface. Lighter colored smaller flies will not work in this situation.
It is important to define the portion of the water body you are going to target. It is advisable to always target the slow water during a downpour.
Look for the eddies and the portions of water that are moving slowly. This is because such areas have more suitable conditions for harboring trout during the rain.
Aim for Slow Flowing Water and Eddies
When it rains heavily, streams become all the more turbid and there occurs a rise in water temperature. These conditions are not very comfortable for the fish. This is why they collect in slow-moving areas that are cooler and less turbid.
Experienced anglers suggest targeting foam lines near eddies and slow water currents. This is where you’ll get the most fish. It is advisable to wriggle your streamer fly to entice immediate action from the fish.
Streamers Are the Most Recommended Fly for Muddy Waters
Heavy rain gets loads of meaty treats flowing into the water. This is because all insects along the sides of the stream and the banks of the river get washed off. Remember to use big fleshy flies that resemble the actual food content of water at that time.
Be extra careful about the rising water level. Know beforehand about nearby dams which may open their gates and suddenly raise the water level to a dangerous extent.
The current speed may increase in areas that had a slow current before. Your otherwise favorite fishing spots in the water body may seem to have disappeared.
Remember that it is inadvisable and blatantly foolish to go fly fishing or spin fishing when you hear lightning. When you hear thunder and lightning, you must step out of the water without thinking twice.
Do not ever use a long graphite fishing rod anywhere when there is lightning in the sky! Your life is more precious than a few extra trophies.
Shift Your Method When the Rain Ends
There is a reason so many anglers consider a rainy day a spoiled day of fishing. They don’t know the opportunities that come along. You’ll not see many anglers on the water even after the rain has ceased. Well, this is the time the more experienced anglers get working.
The river or the stream will be flooded and badly discolored post-rain. This special situation will demand a special technique. This is the time to use the biggest and the wiggliest streamers you own.
Make sure those streamer flies are colored in the darkest shades. The more aggressive and bold your streamer flies, the bigger the fish it will attract.
The key is to choose a fly that will look distinct or stand out in the water. Their wriggling action should disrupt the normal movement in the water body. This is like calling the fish for food.
Experienced anglers recommend fleshy treats like bunny leeches and wooly buggers which are all large in size and weight and whose action on water will be deemed attractive by the fish.
Is It True That Trout Bite More When It’s Raining?
There’s no direct answer to this question. Trout definitely become more active and tend to bite more frequently in lower light conditions.
But this is essentially true for all fish. Lower light conditions make more fish appear in the water. This may also be true because now there is more fish food on the water surface.
Fish also get less food naturally during and after rain. So when you introduce the flies, it could get them excited. Trout and most other fish do always bite in the rain.
Is Fly Fishing in the Rain Better than Usual Fly Fishing?
Different anglers will give you different answers. Some will say it is best to fish when the rain hasn’t yet started, others will swear by the post-rain muddy water scene. It is true that the low-pressure conditions before and after the rain render the fish under lesser pressure.
Your answer will depend on what you like. If you are a fan of dry flies, go fly fishing before the rain, or when the rain is about to commence. If you want to use the murkiest streamers, fish after the showers have subsided.
Where Should Anglers Aim to Cast in the Rain?
The key to catching fish is to think like them. When the waters are turbulent and the temperature is high, the fish will be the most comfortable in areas that have a comparatively lesser flow. Look for areas behind big rocks and boulders, or sites where there are eddies.
Aim for the foam lines and cast into these slow-moving waters. Don’t let the running water create an unnatural drift with your fly line. Either use the high fishing technique or cast on the same side of the bank.
In case you aren’t aware, the high fishing technique refers to when you hold the rod at a high position so that the fly line remains as much out of the water as possible. It is advisable to practice the high fishing technique on a normal day and then utilize it when it rains.
Maximize Your Safety When Fly Fishing in the Rain
Fly fishing in the rain can be extremely productive. You could come across the largest trout you have ever seen and also catch them more easily.
If you decide to stay put on water in the rain, nothing can really stop you from going on. But it is important to be careful and pay attention to the rising water level. It is not safe to fish when the water levels are fast ascending.
Never wade in to catch fish in cold and rainy weather unless you want to get sick. Compromising your health is not at all recommended. Even otherwise, always protect yourself with waders and a rain jacket.
Fly fishing in the rain is more exciting than you can imagine. So, head out for the most exhilarating adventure and get those trophies home.
References and Further Reading
Last Updated on August 31, 2022 by Captain Chuck Dudley.