What Is The Best Time To Go Fly Fishing?

Are you an avid fly fisherman or someone aspiring to try out this popular outdoor activity? If so, you may be wondering when is the ideal time to go fly fishing. Finding the best time can greatly enhance your chances of catching abundant fish and enjoying a successful and memorable experience. In this article, we will explore the factors that affect the best time to go fly fishing and provide you with valuable insights to help you plan your next adventure on the water. So, let’s uncover the secrets to maximizing your fly fishing opportunities and ensuring an incredible time on the rivers and streams.

What Is The Best Time To Go Fly Fishing?

Learn more.

Best Time Based on Season


Spring is an exciting time for fly fishing enthusiasts. As the weather warms up and nature comes alive, fish start to become more active and hungry. The days get longer, and the water begins to warm, making it an ideal time to hit the rivers and streams. During the spring, you can expect to find an abundance of hatches, including mayflies, caddisflies, and stoneflies. These insect hatches attract hungry fish, making it a prime time for fly fishing. With the arrival of spring, you can also expect to see an increase in fish activity as they prepare for the spawning season.


Summer is a popular season for fly fishing, and for a good reason. The warm weather and longer days provide ample opportunities to cast your line and enjoy the great outdoors. During the summer, you can expect to find a wide variety of insect hatches, including mayflies, caddisflies, and terrestrials such as grasshoppers and ants. These hatches attract fish to the surface, creating exciting fishing opportunities. Additionally, the water temperatures are warmer during the summer, making it a great time for wet wading or fishing from a boat. Whether you prefer fishing in rivers, streams, lakes, or ponds, summer offers something for every angler.


As summer transitions into fall, the landscape transforms into a magnificent display of colors. The cooler temperatures and changing foliage make fall a breathtaking time to go fly fishing. Fall is often considered the best season for trout fishing, as the fish become more active in preparation for winter. The insect hatches may not be as abundant as in the spring and summer, but fall still offers great opportunities for fly anglers. Be on the lookout for fall-specific hatches, such as autumn caddisflies and Blue-Winged Olives. Furthermore, the fall provides a unique chance to witness salmon runs and catch these impressive fish as they return to their spawning grounds.


While winter may not be the most popular time for fly fishing, dedicated anglers know that it can offer a unique and rewarding experience. Winter fly fishing is all about braving the cold and venturing out to find solitude on the water. With fewer anglers around, you can have the rivers and streams all to yourself, creating a serene and tranquil atmosphere. Winter offers the opportunity to catch trout, steelhead, and other cold-water species. Anglers can use nymphs and streamers to entice the fish during this time. However, it is important to note that winter fishing requires specialized gear and precautions to ensure safety and success.

Best Time Based on Time of Day

Early Morning

Rise and shine, it’s time to go fly fishing! Early morning is often regarded as the best time of day to cast your line. During this time, the water is usually calm, and the fish are more active after a night of rest. The coolness of the morning air also tends to create ideal fishing conditions, especially during the warm summer months. As the sun begins to rise, insects such as mayflies and midges start their morning hatches, attracting hungry fish to the surface. So grab your gear and head out early to enjoy the peace and serenity of a beautiful sunrise while reeling in your first catch of the day.

Late Morning

As the morning progresses into late morning, the sun continues to rise, warming up the water and increasing fish activity. Late morning can be a productive time to fish, especially during the summer months when the aquatic insect hatches are in full swing. Mayflies and caddisflies are often active during this time, enticing fish to feed on the surface. The warmth of the sun also encourages fish to venture out from their hiding spots, making them more accessible to anglers. Late morning can be a great time to try dry fly fishing, as the fish are more likely to rise to the surface to feed.


The afternoon can be a prime time for fly fishing, especially during the spring and fall seasons. As the day progresses, the temperature continues to rise, and the water reaches its peak warmth. This can lead to increased insect activity, with hatches such as caddisflies, stoneflies, and midges taking center stage. These hatches attract fish in large numbers, providing ample opportunities for anglers. The afternoon also offers prolonged daylight, giving you more time to explore different areas and try various fly patterns. So pack a lunch, make yourself comfortable, and get ready for an action-packed afternoon on the water.


As the sun begins to set, the evening presents another exciting opportunity for fly fishing. The changing light conditions and cooling temperatures can trigger the fish to become more active and feed aggressively. The magic of the evening often brings out a variety of insect hatches, including caddisflies, mayflies, and midges. These hatches create a feeding frenzy, enticing fish to rise to the surface and making for thrilling fishing experiences. Evening fishing can be particularly captivating as you witness the beauty of the sunset while casting your line. So grab your headlamp, tie on a few of your favorite patterns, and get ready for an unforgettable evening on the water.

Best Time Based on Weather Conditions

Clear Skies

Clear skies can provide ideal conditions for fly fishing. The absence of clouds allows the sun to penetrate the water, making it easier to spot fish and their movements. Clear skies also make it easier for anglers to see fish rising to the surface to feed on insects. This visibility allows for more accurate casting and presentation, increasing your chances of a successful catch. Additionally, clear skies often indicate stable weather patterns, resulting in calmer waters and more predictable fish behavior. So when the skies are clear, grab your polarized sunglasses, tie on your favorite dry flies, and enjoy the beauty of the sport under the bright sun.

Cloudy Skies

Cloudy skies can create favorable conditions for fly fishing, especially during the warmer months. Cloud cover diminishes the intensity of the sun, providing a more comfortable environment for fish and anglers alike. The diffused light can make it easier to locate fish under the water’s surface, allowing for better targeting and presentation of your flies. Cloudy skies also tend to trigger increased insect activity, as insects feel safer venturing out from cover. This increased insect activity can, in turn, provoke fish to feed more aggressively, providing excellent opportunities for fly anglers. So embrace the gray skies, tie on some nymphs or streamers, and get ready for an exciting day on the water.

Rainy Weather

While many anglers may seek shelter when it starts raining, dedicated fly fishers know that rainy weather can be a fantastic time to be on the water. Rain can stimulate insect hatches and increase fish activity, creating prime fishing conditions. As rainwater washes insects into the river or stream, fish become more opportunistic, eagerly feeding on the easy prey. Additionally, rain can create a stained or murky water condition, which can make fish less wary and more prone to strike. The sound of raindrops hitting the water also helps mask noises, making it easier to approach fish without spooking them. So put on your rain gear, tie on some appropriately sized imitations, and embrace the wet weather for a thrilling day of fly fishing.

Best Time Based on Water Temperature


Coldwater fly fishing offers a unique experience for anglers, as it primarily targets freshwater species such as trout and salmon. These fish thrive in cooler water temperatures, which are often found in high-altitude streams, mountain rivers, and spring-fed creeks. Coldwater fisheries can provide exceptional fly fishing opportunities, especially during the summer months when warmwater fishing may become challenging. Trout and salmon are known for their strength and fighting ability, making them an exciting catch for avid anglers. So if you’re seeking a thrilling adventure in pristine mountain landscapes, grab your waders and head to a coldwater fishery near you.


Warmwater fly fishing focuses on a different set of species, such as bass, pike, musky, and panfish. These fish thrive in warmer water temperatures, which are characteristic of lakes, ponds, and slow-moving rivers. Warmwater fly fishing offers a more relaxed and leisurely experience compared to coldwater fishing. With their aggressive strikes and powerful fights, warmwater species provide thrilling action for anglers of all levels. During the summer months, warmwater fishing can become a popular choice due to the abundance of insect hatches and increased fish activity. So grab your 6- or 7-weight rod, tie on some streamers, and get ready to target these feisty warmwater species.

What Is The Best Time To Go Fly Fishing?

Best Time Based on Hatch Activity


Mayflies are one of the most iconic and important insects in the world of fly fishing. Known for their delicate appearance and distinctive upright wings, mayflies are a favorite source of food for many fish species. Their hatching behavior can vary depending on the specific species, but generally, mayflies emerge from the water’s surface and take to the air in a short-lived adult stage. This emergence creates a feeding frenzy among fish, making it an opportune time for eager anglers. Mayflies can be found throughout the year, but they tend to be most abundant in the spring and summer. So when the mayflies start to dance above the water, make sure you have a selection of their imitations in your fly box.


Caddisflies are another prized insect for fly anglers due to their prevalence and importance in many aquatic ecosystems. These small moth-like insects can be found in various colors, shapes, and sizes, providing a wide range of patterns for imitation. Caddisflies go through a complete metamorphosis, starting their life underwater as larvae before pupating and eventually hatching into adults. During their pupal and adult stages, caddisflies become particularly attractive to fish. Their sporadic emergence and skittering behavior on the water’s surface often trigger frenzied feeding, offering exciting opportunities for fly anglers. Whether you’re fishing in spring, summer, or fall, caddisfly imitations are essential additions to your fly collection.


Stoneflies are renowned for their large size and robust appearance, making them an appealing target for anglers and fish alike. These insects are found in many river systems and are known for their preference for fast-flowing, well-oxygenated water. Stoneflies have a unique life cycle that involves an aquatic nymph stage, followed by a brief emergence as winged adults. Their emergence is often triggered by warmer water temperatures, and they tend to hatch during the spring and summer seasons. Stonefly hatches can create exciting fishing opportunities, as fish eagerly feed on these substantial meals. So when stoneflies start crawling, swimming, or flying around, be sure to have some stonefly imitations ready to entice the fish.


Terrestrials encompass a wide range of land-based insects that find their way onto the water’s surface. This category includes insects such as grasshoppers, ants, beetles, and crickets. Terrestrials are especially prevalent and important during the summer months when they inadvertently find themselves on the water. The accidental falls or blown drops can create chaotic feeding by fish, as these land-based insects are an abundant and easily accessible food source. Fishing with terrestrial imitations can be a fun and exciting way to target fish, as they often exhibit aggressive strikes. So when you notice small creatures hopping, crawling, or falling into the water, be ready to present your favorite terrestrial patterns to eager fish.

Best Time Based on Moon Phase

New Moon

The new moon phase, characterized by a dark sky with no visible moon, can have a significant impact on fish behavior and activity. During this phase, fish often feel more comfortable venturing into shallower waters and exploring areas closer to the surface. With reduced light pollution, the darkness of the night makes it easier for fish to locate and ambush prey. Anglers can take advantage of the new moon by fishing with dark-colored flies or using stealthy techniques such as night fishing. Whether you’re targeting trout, bass, or other species, the new moon phase can be a favorable time to test your angling skills under the cover of darkness.

First Quarter

The first quarter moon phase occurs when approximately half of the moon’s visible surface is illuminated. This phase can create a good balance between darkness and visibility, making it an ideal time for fly fishing. The moderate amount of light can help anglers locate fish and identify their movements while still allowing for a sense of stealth and surprise. First quarter moon phases often coincide with prime insect hatches, as well as feeding activity by fish. This combination can result in productive fishing sessions with increased chances of hooking into some trophy-worthy catches. So keep an eye on the moon calendar and plan your fly fishing outings during the first quarter phase for optimal results.

Full Moon

The full moon phase, characterized by a bright and fully illuminated moon, can present unique challenges and opportunities for fly fishing. With increased visibility, fish may become more cautious and selective in their feeding, making them harder to fool with artificial flies. However, the full moon can also trigger intense feeding activity, as fish take advantage of the heightened light to search for food. Night fishing during the full moon can be particularly rewarding, as fish tend to be more active and aggressive. It is essential to adjust your tactics and choose flies that mimic the natural prey present during this phase. So when the moon is full and shining, consider a nocturnal fly fishing adventure for a memorable experience.

Last Quarter

The last quarter moon phase occurs when approximately half of the moon’s surface is visible, but this time with the opposite half illuminated compared to the first quarter phase. This phase offers anglers a similar balance of darkness and visibility as the first quarter phase. Fish may be active during the last quarter, seeking out food and readily striking at well-presented flies. The decreased light from the moon can help create a sense of stealth, giving anglers an advantage when approaching fish. As with other moon phases, the last quarter can coincide with important hatches, providing additional feeding opportunities for fish. So mark your calendars and plan your fishing trips during the last quarter phase for a successful day on the water.

Best Time Based on Location and Altitude

River or Stream Fishing

Rivers and streams are classic fly fishing destinations, offering a diversity of fish species and picturesque settings. The flowing water provides fish with a constant supply of oxygen and food, making them ideal habitats for trout, salmon, bass, and many other species. The best time to fish rivers and streams often depends on the specific factors already discussed, such as season, time of day, and weather conditions. Additionally, the location and altitude of the river or stream can play a significant role in determining optimal fishing times. Higher-altitude streams, for example, may have colder water temperatures and different insect hatches compared to lowland rivers. Research, local knowledge, and experience are invaluable in determining the best fishing times based on location and altitude.

Lake or Pond Fishing

While lakes and ponds may not provide the same flowing water as rivers and streams, they offer their own unique fly fishing opportunities. Lakes and ponds are often home to a variety of fish species such as trout, bass, pike, and panfish. The best time to fish lakes and ponds can vary depending on factors such as season, time of day, and water temperature. Early morning and evening fishing can be particularly productive, as fish tend to be more active during these times. During the summer months, fishing deeper water during the day or targeting submerged structure can increase your chances of success. Whether you’re fishing from the shoreline or a boat, lakes and ponds provide abundant opportunities for anglers of all skill levels.

High Altitude Fishing

High-altitude fishing offers a unique and rewarding experience for fly fishing enthusiasts. The pristine mountain landscapes and crystal-clear waters create an unforgettable backdrop for your angling adventures. High-altitude streams and lakes often boast coldwater fisheries, where trout and other cold-loving species thrive. The best time for high-altitude fishing can vary depending on the specific location and elevation. Generally, the spring and summer months tend to be productive, with increased insect hatches and fish activity. However, it is essential to consider the impact of snowmelt on water conditions and fish behavior. Consulting with local experts and doing thorough research will help you identify the best times to explore high-altitude fishing destinations.

Best Time Based on Local Knowledge

Consulting with Local Experts

When it comes to finding the best time to go fly fishing in a particular area, nothing beats the wisdom and insights of local experts. Local fly shops, fishing guides, and experienced anglers are invaluable sources of information. They possess in-depth knowledge of the local waters, fish behavior, and seasonal patterns. By reaching out to these local experts, you can gain valuable advice on the best times to fish based on the specific factors we have discussed. They can provide information on insect hatches, ideal fly patterns, and even lesser-known fishing spots that may be off the beaten path. So don’t hesitate to tap into the wealth of knowledge that locals have to offer for a successful and enjoyable fly fishing experience.

Researching Online Forums and Websites

In today’s digital age, a wealth of information is just a few clicks away. Online fishing forums and websites can be excellent resources for gathering information and insights from fellow anglers. These platforms provide a space for anglers from around the world to share their experiences, tips, and recommendations. By joining these communities and actively participating in discussions, you can gain valuable insights into the best times to go fly fishing based on various factors. Whether you’re seeking information on specific hatches, popular fishing spots, or local tips, online forums and websites can be a valuable tool in your fly fishing journey. So grab your laptop or smartphone, start researching, and connect with fellow anglers to enhance your fishing knowledge.

Best Time Based on Personal Preference

Quiet and Solitude

Sometimes, fly fishing isn’t just about reeling in a big catch; it’s about connecting with nature, finding peace, and escaping the hustle and bustle of daily life. If you crave tranquility and solitude on the water, consider fishing during off-peak times when fewer anglers are around. Early mornings, weekdays, and winter months can often provide a more peaceful and secluded fishing experience. By immersing yourself in nature’s serenity, you can enjoy the therapeutic benefits of fly fishing while appreciating the beauty and calm that surrounds you. So grab your fishing gear, leave the noise behind, and embrace the solitude of the water for a blissful day of fly fishing.

Crowded and Social Atmosphere

On the other hand, some anglers thrive in a lively and social atmosphere while fly fishing. If you enjoy the camaraderie and energy that comes with fishing alongside fellow anglers, consider targeting popular fishing spots during peak times. Weekends, holidays, and prime fishing seasons can attract large crowds of enthusiastic anglers. The shared excitement, the swapping of stories and techniques, and the friendly competition can make for an unforgettable fishing experience. Whether you’re fishing in a famous trout river or a popular bass lake, joining the fishing community during busy times can offer a sense of belonging and create lasting memories. So gather your fishing buddies, embrace the buzz, and dive into the social side of fly fishing.

Best Time Based on Fish Activity

Feeding Patterns

Understanding fish feeding patterns can significantly enhance your chances of success when fly fishing. Fish are creatures of habit, and they exhibit specific feeding behaviors based on their natural instincts. Researching the feeding habits of your target species can provide valuable insights into the best times to fish. For example, if you’re targeting trout that feed primarily on aquatic insects, focusing on the times when insect hatches occur can be highly productive. Additionally, paying attention to water temperature, depth, and current speed can help you determine where the fish are likely to be feeding. By aligning your fishing efforts with the fish’s feeding patterns, you increase your chances of presenting a fly that triggers a strike.

Spawning Seasons

Spawning seasons are critical periods for fish, as they engage in reproductive activities and their behavior changes accordingly. While it is essential to handle spawning fish with care and respect, targeting fish before or after the spawning period can lead to successful catches. Prior to spawning, fish often become more aggressive and feed voraciously to build up energy reserves. Once spawning is complete, fish may exhibit post-spawn behaviors such as feeding aggressively to regain energy or seeking out sheltered areas. These transitional phases can create exciting fishing opportunities for fly anglers. However, it is crucial to check local regulations, respect the fishery, and prioritize conservation when targeting spawning fish.

Migration Periods

Many fish species undertake impressive migratory journeys, often in search of food, better breeding grounds, or more favorable environmental conditions. These migration periods can offer exceptional fly fishing opportunities. Whether it is the annual runs of salmon, steelhead, or even the migration of freshwater species between interconnected lakes or rivers, these events attract anglers from far and wide. By studying the migration patterns of your target species and timing your fishing trips accordingly, you can position yourself in the right place at the right time. The sight of countless fish on the move and the chance to hook into some trophy-worthy catches make migration periods a thrilling time for fly fishing.

In conclusion, the best time to go fly fishing depends on a variety of factors, each contributing to the overall experience. By considering the season, time of day, weather conditions, water temperature, hatch activity, moon phase, location and altitude, local knowledge, personal preference, and fish activity, you can enhance your chances of a successful day on the water. Whether you prefer the serenity of early morning fishing, the frenzied feeding frenzy during an insect hatch, or the challenge of targeting fish during the winter, fly fishing offers opportunities for anglers of all tastes and preferences. So grab your fly rod, tie on your favorite pattern, and embark on a fishing adventure that will create lasting memories.

More info.