So don’t be afraid of a little rain, it won’t hurt you. Just remember to wear some good quality rain gear for fishing and get out there!
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How does the weather affect fish?
Monitoring variations in daily weather patterns improve your chances, that goes without saying. It is particularly important if you specialise in trout fishing. Trout are more active in feeding during low lit, cloudy conditions than in bright sunny weather. We’ve all experienced a hot sunny day where the trout are somehow glued to the bottom!
This is because the cloudy weather affords them protection from aerial predators, making them more confident to feed in the clear waters of the tailwaters or streams. That’s why we go fishing in the early mornings, the fish tend to be more out in the open.
Conversely, it is difficult to catch trout when it is sunny because they stick to the bottom near fallen trees and cut banks where their predators can’t find them. During sunny days, the water heats up too, this reduces the amount of oxygen in the water making the fish more lethargic.
How does rain affect trout fishing?
Trout fishing as heavy rain sets in can be some of the most productive times to fish as the rain triggers trout activity. Insects on the banks and the streamside get washed into the water and are the main sources of food for the trout.
Generally speaking, large foam dry flies like stimulators, beetles, ants, worms, and grasshoppers are your best bet. Let’s look at the different types of rain that are possible and how this changes the way you’ll target the fish:
If the river was running fairly warm and a nice cool rainstorm adds some fresh cool water to the stream it will likely trigger a lot of feeding activity. This behaviour is triggered by the rapid change in water temperature, which creates an increase in the amount of oxygen in the water.
However, sustained cold rain (as with any rain) will likely cause the river to swell, discolour and in this case trout will cease feeding altogether.
If you’re struggling to catch trout in winter then see our Winter Trout Fly Fishing tips here.
While fishing in this kind of weather is extremely risky, you can achieve some good results. It is especially good when the heavy rains begin, as mentioned earlier a lot of insect life is washed into the water causing a feeding frenzy.
A buddy who I had accompanied advised me to use a nymph rig under a dry fly, and it worked very well. This way you could try a decent sized terrestrial dry fly as an indicator, with two different droppers in the water column below this. See how to set up a fly rod here.
Worms are also effective baits because they are up and about when it is raining. You also want to try bright coloured dry flies if the rainwater has changed the colour of the river.
Light rain does not trigger much activity as heavy or cold rain. The rain only moderates the high water temperature, cooling the warm flows of the day. Trout fishing in light rain is one of my favourite things to do. Most people stay at home and you often have the rivers to yourself!
Adding to this the best hatch activity is immediately after the precipitation. If the sun breaks through just before sunset you’re in for one hell of a rise!!
Lures Used for Trout Fishing in the Rain
If the fish are rising during the rains it’s more than likely that they are eating terrestrials. We posted an article on the best trout flies that outlines some of the best patterns to use during the unpredictable spring weather.
You can buy an assortment kit with some of the most common terrestrial dry flies that allows you to pick the appropriate one for fishing excursions.
A double or triple nymph rig is an excellent choice in the rain. Double check under the streamside rocks to see what they are feeding on and match it. Simple!
Just make sure you check the regulations as to how many artificials you can use in the river you’re fishing in.
I’ll generally fish a double nymph rig underneath an easy to see stimulator pattern that I use as an indicator. This allows you to see the take, easily, and the fish may even take your indicator!
Just remember that trout feed on natural looking insects 99% of the time. So try to match what you see in the water. Brightly coloured stimulator patterns are designed to activate the trout’s territorial instincts and get it to attack.
Streamers are also very effective when fishing in the rain. Especially as the water becomes a little coloured. It is ideal when you want to catch fish when they have stopped hitting your nymphs.
Start off with dark streamers or those with olive-coloured patterns, then move to patterns with more reflective elements as the water gets progressively dirtier.
Do we go there? Ahh why not!
Spin fishing can be extraordinarily productive during the rain. If you’re having too much trouble casting and the rain has gotten out of control it’s time for the spinner.
Copper, gold or silver Mepps or Veltec spinners generally work best in rivers. Other Toby or Kobra patterns work well in larger rivers or in Lakes.
The size of your lure is governed by the depth of the water and your required casting distance. Large lures go far and deep, smaller lures go not so far and no so deep!
Be sure to cast the line slightly up and across the river or upstream. Don’t wind a spinner directly upstream. You can gently lift the lure un and surf it back to you as it passes perpendicular to you in the river. This will stop a birds nest developing as you cast your twisted and tangled line across the river.
I generally keep a collapsible fishing pole for backpacking whenever I am out and use it in situations like this.
Where are Do Trout Sit In The Rain?
I can pretty much say that they sit in similar places to when it is not raining. They will tend to move more towards slow-moving water along the banks. Most trout move here after heavy downpour to catch land-based insects that are falling in the river.
Trout that were hiding undercut trees are likely to roam more when it’s raining. As mentioned they feel it is safer as they are camouflaged by the disturbance on the surface caused by the rain. This works both ways they can see less you, but you see a lot less of them too!
You’ll need to experiment with different kinds of flies and most of the time you’ll be blind nymphing so just check everywhere as you move up. The idea is to cover as much water in a day. Trout are more aggressive during rain, so they’ll move more to take your fly.
Do Trout Bite in Rain?
Yes, to put it simply. If your fly looks like the type of food that trout eat, you’re in business. When it is raining, the race is on for the trout. The river develops strong currents and discolours which means that the fish may not eat for the next few days.
So sometimes, if you’re lucky, you’ll end up in the middle of a feeding frenzy. I know that some of my best days out fishing were during the rains.
I cannot wrap up this post without a quick word on safety. Fly fishing in the rain can be productive and trout fever can strike the best of us. You’ll keep going up fiver in search of fish, despite the increasingly poor weather.
One time a friend and I had crossed a fairly substantial river to fish a tributary during a spell of poor weather. As the day wore on, the fish started coming and we were getting excited. So much so we didn’t realise how much the water had come up. Both of us began to struggle to make it upstream as the river began to rage. We had to very quickly make our way downstream to cross the larger river in a hurry, or risk being stranded.
We made it only to realise the river had risen 200mm (6 inches). I was much younger (and dumber) then. It gave me a healthy respect for fishing in the rain. Just be aware of where you are and if the river level is rising, you need a safe way out!
So if the weather looks bad, don’t be afraid to get out there and give it a go. Trout fly fishing in the rain, can be exhilarating and you’ll most likely have the place to yourself. We’ve outlined what to expect in different weather conditions, how to go catch them, the types of flies you should use and the best place to search for fish (everywhere!)
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