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Fly Fishing In The Rain

Fly Fishing In The Rain

Can you fly fish in the rain? Yes! 

Is fishing in the rain safe? Yes and no! 

Rain is a major hindrance on most outdoor activities, like golfing for instance. However, when it comes to fishing, rain can be a great thing. I am going to try and write this post without sounding like a country song, it will be tough! 

First off, there are two types of people. Those who grab the fly rod and head to the river when it is raining, and those who run for dear life like my wife. If you are one of those, “don’t let my hair get wet” types of people, then you might not find this post interesting.  

Let us dive right in! Not literally, that is a figure of speech my friends. 


Is fishing in the rain safe? 

First off let us address the safety factor of fishing in the rain. The last time I checked, lighting is still injuring people and it can often be fatal. So, if there is lighting and or thunder present in the sky, then it is time to sit out. By sitting out I mean get out of the water. Lighting does not only have to strike your fly rod; it can strike the water that you are standing in. I know that there are some die hard anglers out there but do us a favor and wait it out! 

If you are the type of angler that goes on a hike up and over stone mountain to get to your favorite fishing hole, keep in mind that those streams and rivers are going to rise if there is any sort of decent rainfall. If you had to cross any of them to get to your destination, they may be substantially higher when you come back through. You want to be catching the fish, not swimming with them! 


Fishing before, during, and after it rains. 

Before it rains. 

Getting that hook wet before it rains is one of the best times there is. On a warmer day, when the clouds are starting to form, you can take advantage of the lower light conditions. Why is this a good thing? Fish tend to be more active in the lower light conditions because their predators cannot see them in the water as well. Therefore, the fish feel safer coming out of the deeper water and towards the surface to feed.  

The diverse types of insect hatches will also begin to start in this period. If you have read our other blogs on hatches, then you know that this is a feeding frenzy for the fish. You can utilize your dry flies, but I would suggest trying your nymphs and emergers as well. You should not need to change up any of your fishing tactics yet. 

When it comes to which flies to use, it will depend on the location that you are in. Black, dark brown, or olive-colored flies are ideal when lighting is getting darker as the fish will be able to see them better.  

During the rain. 

Is it weird that it just started raining as I started writing this? Question is, do I keep writing or grab the fly rod!? When it starts to rain, insects from the banks are starting to be washed into the water. Ants, worms, beetles, and other insects are like candy for the fish. You will want to match your fly to those natural insects getting swept into the water. Try your big foam flies like your stimulators, beetles, and hoppers.  

The river will likely rise and pick up, which might make your normal fishing holes less than ideal. You will want to search for the slow-moving water found behind rocks or logs, or along the banks. Look for any foam lines and cast your fly in this area. 

After it has been raining for a while, if the fish are not biting as often, you may want to switch back to your indicators and nymphs as the fish may be taking cover in the deeper water. Some anglers like to try more flashy bead head patterns to try and get the fishes attention. Any kind of terrestrial pattern should work. If you are using an indicator, make sure you have the right length of leader below the indicator for the depth of water you are in.  

Casting in the rain can be a bit tricky. If the stream or river is rising, the faster current may take your fly line down the river, and it will create an unnatural drift. You will want to cast upstream and mend your line to match the current for a more natural drift. The higher you keep the fly rod; the less line will be in the water, making it easier to mend. 

After the rain. 

Once the rain has stopped, the river will be higher and discolored. This is a fantastic opportunity as this is when the hatches are in full swing, meaning the flies are everywhere making the fish come to the surface. I would still stick with the dark colored flies as mentioned earlier, the cloudier the water is, the darker the pattern you want, but go big now! You will want to get the fishes attention. Try out the bead head woolly bugger and the grasshopper flies! 

The only time when it is not ideal to fish after the rain, is if the rain has lasted for too long and it is now cold out. Usually, this happens after a heavy rain. The fish are going to be less willing to get out and feed.  


Rain Gear 

The rain can be a fun time for anglers if they are brave enough to weather the storm. If you ask me, it sure beats the hell out of staying at home. You will want to wear the right rain gear though. As someone who has worked outside for 12 years through all the elements, the proper clothing will make or break you. Fishing is supposed to be fun, so don’t let yourself get freezing cold!  

A good set of waders is ideal. The first year I fly fished, I had a cheaper pair and learned my lesson! Next, you will want a light rain jacket, not a heavy bulky one. You want to be able to cast well, and in the rain it’s harder than normal. I’m a baseball hat type of guy but a fishing hat with a long brim is best for the rain to run off. If you want gloves, thin rubber ones are best as you will be handling your fly line. Most importantly, do not forget some clear or tinged shades as you don’t want a hook in the eye. When the rain is coming down, it is easy to forget about the safety protocols that need to be taken.  

The sport of fly fishing is challenging and that is one of the best parts about it. Add rain to the equation and it makes it that much better. The fish love to bite when it rains so you better be there to land some in your net.  

If you liked this article, head over to our blog at Zinger Fishing to read other great posts. We try to keep them light and educational! If there is a specific topic that you would like us to cover, do not hesitate to reach out!