Techniques for Fly Fishing in the Fall

Between the cooler temperatures and the beautiful shades of reds and gold across the landscape, the fall months are an excellent time for fly fishing.  Before you hang up your waiters for the winter, take advantage of the remaining weeks and enjoy a few more days on the river.  Sure, fly fishing in the fall is more challenging than at other times of the year, but there are a few tips and tricks to help you catch fish before the season comes to a close.

Fly fishing in the fallWhy is fly fishing in the fall challenging?

The conditions for fly fishing will depend on your specific region or location.  However, river levels are lower and more transparent in many areas of the United States than earlier in the season.  These conditions often make fish skittish.  They will be more likely to shy away from boats and are more critical of jumping at flies.  

Other conditions change the environment for fly fishing, too.  The angle of the sun is different.  Water temperatures are cooler.  In some locations, leaves and other debris may float on the water.  All of these elements will change the strategies successful fishermen use during the fall season.

Tips for Successful Fly Fishing in the Fall

  1. Watch your shadow.  The sun is lower in the sky during the fall, so the different angle will cast longer shadows.  You may need to use a covert approach to avoid spooking the fish.  This is one aspect many fishermen overlook until it’s too late.
  2. Choose your outfit wisely.  The fish can see you, and because the water is clearer during this time of year, they will more easily notice you if you are wearing light colors.  Wearing colors that match your surroundings or camouflage clothing will make you less visible to the fish.
  3. Sleep in.  During other times of the year, many fishermen get up at the break of dawn for the best catches because later in the day the fish hide from the warm water and sun.  However, the sun isn’t as harsh in the fall, and the water remains cooler throughout the day.  In fact, the fish may be more active in the middle part of the day as water that is too cold will make them lethargic.
  4. Use the right flies.  The same flies you’ve been successful with all summer might no longer attract fish now.  Many fish become more aggressive during the late fall months and will be attracted to bigger flies and streamers that they consider a threat to their spawning preparations.  The more you irritate them, the better chance they’ll go in for a bite.  In other areas, winged ants are prevalent in the fall and attract trout like crazy.  The right fly for your location will make all the difference.
  5. Wiggle the fly.  When leaves or debris are floating on the water, it can be difficult for fish to notice your fly.  Give it a slight motion to help it stand out.

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