What Is The Best Time Of Day To Fly Fish?

Looking to catch some fish on your upcoming fly fishing adventure? Then you’re probably wondering, what is the best time of day to fly fish? Well, here’s the answer you’ve been waiting for. When it comes to fly fishing, the early bird truly does catch the worm. Early mornings, just as the sun begins to rise, are often touted as the prime time for fly fishing enthusiasts to cast their lines. So wake up with the birds, feel the crisp morning air, and get ready to reel in your catch of the day.

What Is The Best Time Of Day To Fly Fish?

Learn more.

The Morning Hours

1.1 Early Morning

The early morning hours, just as the sun begins to rise, can be a magical time to fly fish. The air is crisp and cool, and there is a sense of tranquility as nature awakens. During this time, you may have the opportunity to witness the feeding frenzy of fish as they actively search for food. Many anglers swear by the early morning hours for their most successful fishing experiences. It’s a time when fish are more active and eager to bite, making it an ideal time to cast your line.

1.2 Mid-Morning

As the morning progresses and the sun climbs higher in the sky, the fishing conditions may change. The mid-morning hours can still be productive, but the intensity of fish activity may start to taper off. The rising temperatures and increased sunlight can cause fish to seek shelter in deeper waters or under structures. However, fishing during mid-morning can still yield positive results, especially if you adjust your techniques accordingly. Consider using bait or lures that mimic the natural prey of the fish you are targeting and experiment with different depths and retrieval speeds.

1.3 Late Morning

By late morning, the sun is now well above the horizon, and the fishing conditions continue to evolve. The higher temperatures and the increased visibility of the water can make fish more cautious and selective in their feeding patterns. However, this doesn’t mean that you should give up on your fishing endeavors. With the right approach, you can still find success during the late morning hours. Pay attention to where the fish may be seeking shade or cover and adapt your fishing techniques accordingly. You may need to be patient and make precise casts to entice the fish to bite.

The Afternoon Hours

2.1 Early Afternoon

As the day progresses into the early afternoon, the fishing conditions can become more challenging. The sun is at its highest point, casting long shadows and causing water temperatures to rise. Fish may become less active and more wary, opting for periods of rest and seeking shelter in cooler areas. However, there are still opportunities to catch fish during this time. Explore shaded areas such as under trees or near rocks where fish may be hiding. Consider using lighter tackle and presenting your bait or lure in a more subtle and natural manner to entice bites.

2.2 Mid-Afternoon

Mid-afternoon can be a tough time for fly fishing, especially on hot summer days. Fish tend to become less active and seek deeper and cooler waters to conserve energy. The bright sunlight and high temperatures can make fish more cautious and less likely to strike. During this time, it is essential to be patient and observant. Look for signs of fish activity, such as feeding or surface disturbances, and focus your efforts on those areas. Consider using sinking lines or weighted flies to reach deeper waters where fish may be seeking refuge.

2.3 Late Afternoon

As the afternoon wears on and the sun begins to descend, the fishing conditions can start to improve once again. Late afternoon can be a prime time for fly fishing, as the air and water temperatures start to cool down. Fish that have been less active during the hottest parts of the day may now become more active and willing to feed. This transition period can trigger a feeding frenzy as fish prepare for the approaching evening. Take advantage of the changing conditions and fish with confidence, using a variety of techniques and flies to entice strikes.

The Evening Hours

3.1 Early Evening

The early evening hours can be a fantastic time to be out on the water. The fading daylight and the cooler temperatures create the perfect conditions for fly fishing. During this time, fish become more active as they sense the approaching night. They may start to move into shallower waters to feed, making them more accessible to anglers. This period can often be a peak time for fish activity, and you may have the opportunity to witness fish actively rising to the surface to feed on insects. This is an exciting time to be on the water, as you can often catch fish using dry flies or surface imitations.

3.2 Dusk

As the sun sets and dusk settles in, fly fishing can still be productive. During the twilight hours, fish continue to feed but may become more selective in their choice of prey. Insects such as mayflies, caddisflies, or midges may hatch during this time, attracting the attention of fish. Consider using emergers or imitations of these specific insects to entice strikes. Fishing in low light conditions can present its own set of challenges, so ensure you have the appropriate gear and lighting to navigate safely. The serenity of dusk and the potential for big catches make it a memorable time to be on the water.

3.3 Night

Nighttime fly fishing can be a unique and rewarding experience. It offers a sense of adventure and mystery as you navigate the dark waters and rely on your senses to locate fish. During the night, fish may venture closer to the shorelines or shallower areas to feed under the cover of darkness. This can provide anglers with an opportunity to catch larger, more elusive fish. Experiment with glow-in-the-dark flies or streamers that create movement and vibrations to attract fish. Additionally, always ensure you have the appropriate safety equipment and knowledge of the area you are fishing to ensure a safe and successful night fishing experience.

Factors to Consider

4.1 Weather Conditions

When determining the best time of day to fly fish, it is essential to consider the weather conditions. Changes in air temperature, barometric pressure, wind patterns, and cloud cover can all have an impact on fish behavior and feeding patterns. Some species of fish may be more active and willing to bite during overcast or rainy conditions, while others may prefer bright and sunny days. Pay attention to weather forecasts and consider how different weather patterns may influence the fish you are targeting.

4.2 Water Temperature

Water temperature is another crucial factor to consider when planning your fly fishing excursions. Fish have specific temperature preferences and will often seek out areas of the water that provide optimal conditions for their survival. Understanding the water temperature preferences of the fish species you are targeting can help you determine the best time to fish. Cooler water temperatures, such as during the early morning or late afternoon, can be more favorable for fish activity, while warmer water temperatures may lead to decreased fish activity during the midday hours.

4.3 Insect Activity

Insects play a vital role in the diet of many fish species, making insect activity an important consideration for fly fishing. Different insects hatch and become active at specific times throughout the day, and fish will often key in on these food sources. Pay attention to insect hatches and try to match your fly patterns to what the fish are feeding on. Understanding the types of insects prevalent in your fishing area and their life cycles can lead to more successful fly fishing experiences.

What Is The Best Time Of Day To Fly Fish?

Dependent on Fish Species

5.1 Trout

Trout are a favored species among fly anglers, known for their elusive and challenging nature. When it comes to fly fishing for trout, the morning and evening hours tend to be the most productive. Trout are more active in cooler water temperatures and are often found in streams or rivers with good oxygen levels. They have a keen sense of sight, so adjusting your tactics and using realistic fly patterns can increase your chances of success. Pay attention to the hatches and feeding patterns of trout in your area, as these can vary based on the specific type of trout and the local environment.

5.2 Bass

Bass are aggressive and powerful fish that can provide thrilling fly fishing opportunities. They are often found in rivers, lakes, and ponds and can be targeted throughout the day. Bass tend to be more active during warmer water temperatures, making mid-morning to late afternoon prime fishing times. They are opportunistic feeders and will go after a variety of prey, including insects, small fish, and amphibians. Experiment with different fly patterns such as poppers or streamers to entice bass to strike.

5.3 Salmon

Salmon are highly sought-after game fish known for their strength and acrobatic displays. The best time to fly fish for salmon varies depending on the specific species and their annual migration patterns. Different regions and time frames may have specific regulations and restrictions for salmon fishing. Generally, salmon are caught in rivers and streams during their migratory journey from the ocean to their spawning grounds. Research the specific salmon species in your area and consult local fishing regulations to ensure you are fishing during the appropriate season and using the correct techniques.

Fishing Season

6.1 Spring

Spring can be an exciting time for fly fishing, as it marks the beginning of the fishing season for many anglers. As the winter thaw sets in and water temperatures start to rise, fish become more active and seek out food sources. Spring is a time of increased insect activity, with hatches of mayflies, stoneflies, and caddisflies attracting fish to the surface. Streamers and nymphs can be effective fly patterns during this season, imitating the smaller fish and aquatic insects that are prevalent in the water.

6.2 Summer

Summer is a prime season for fly fishing, with longer days and warmer temperatures providing ample opportunities to spend time on the water. Insects are abundant during the summer months, making dry fly fishing especially popular. Trout and other fish species may seek cooler, deeper waters during the hottest parts of the day, so early morning and late afternoon fishing can be more productive. Remember to stay hydrated and wear appropriate sun protection during summer fly fishing excursions.

6.3 Fall

Fall is a favorite season among many fly anglers, as it brings cooler temperatures, vibrant foliage, and excellent fishing opportunities. As the summer heat fades, fish become more active and feed heavily to prepare for the upcoming winter. Fall is a time of transition and change, with different insect hatches occurring and fish behaviors shifting. Take advantage of the fall season and use fly patterns that imitate the changing conditions, such as terrestrial insects falling into the water or spawning behaviors of certain fish species.

6.4 Winter

While winter may bring colder temperatures, fly fishing can still be enjoyed during this season. Ice fishing is a popular winter fishing activity, where anglers drill holes in frozen bodies of water and fish through the ice. This may not be traditional fly fishing, but it provides an opportunity to catch fish during the winter months. Additionally, some rivers and streams may have sections that remain ice-free, allowing for fly fishing opportunities. When fly fishing in winter, it is essential to dress warmly and ensure your safety on snow and ice-covered surfaces.

Local Knowledge and Experience

One of the most valuable assets for any fly angler is local knowledge and experience. Fish behaviors, insect hatches, and fishing conditions can vary greatly from one location to another. Engaging with local anglers, fly fishing clubs, or guides can provide valuable insights and tips for fishing in your area. They can offer recommendations on the best fishing spots, preferred fly patterns, and techniques that have proven successful. Local knowledge can help you navigate the specifics of your fishing destination, increasing your chances of a successful and enjoyable fly fishing experience.


Determining the best time of day to fly fish is a combination of various factors, including the time of year, weather conditions, fish species, and local knowledge. While there are general guidelines for fishing during specific parts of the day, it is essential to remain adaptable and adjust your strategies based on the specific conditions you encounter. Fishing during the morning and evening hours is often favored due to cooler temperatures and increased fish activity, but opportunities can be found throughout the day with the right approach. Utilize your understanding of fish behaviors, insect activity, and the unique characteristics of your fishing location to optimize your fly fishing experiences. Remember, the joy of fly fishing goes beyond just catching fish; it is about immersing yourself in the beauty of nature and embracing the serenity of the water. Happy fly fishing!

More info.