Best Time Of Day To Fly Fish

Every angler knows that some fish are more likely to bite during certain parts of the day. For instance, the bass is said to be most active just before dusk or dawn. When it comes to fly fishing, however, what time is best? Anglers gear sought out some experts for their opinions on the subject.

                “Since fly fishing is about imitating the natural food that fish eat, it’s very important to get an understanding of their foraging habits,” says Dr. Curtis Knight, a fisheries biologist, and trout conservationist. “This means doing your homework on the water you plan to fish.” Since some freshwater species can be active at any time of day, Knight believes that time of day is not as important as other considerations, such as water temperature and sunlight.

                However, anglers who want to make educated guesses about when fish will bite can consult a calendar of insect hatches produced by fly fishing guides and shops. These calendars will show the best times for different species of fish throughout the year. For instance, the calendars will indicate that mid-morning is a good time to try for bass during May and June. As a general rule, fish usually bite during these months when the water reaches about 68 degrees.

                Anglers also need to know which insects are present at different times of the year. “Insects follow patterns similar to those of the fish they feed on,” Knight explains. “One of the most important items in a fly box is an effective imitation of that insect.” This can vary from stream to stream, as different insects hatch at different times of the year. Fly fishing guides and shops usually offer advice about which insects are present and likely to be eaten by nearby fish.

                Knight cautions that while insect hatches happen at particular times of the day, not every insect will hatch at exactly the same time. “Different insects in a stream may hatch at different times,” he explains. “The topwater ones like mayflies might be gone by 11 o’clock in the morning, but midges could still be hatching during the late afternoon.”

                “The best time to fish with terrestrial flies is the hour before sunset,” says fly fishing guide Paul Eshbaugh. He also notes that bass is most active in shallow water at this time of day, and often make short runs up onto the bank to grab insects like grasshoppers and crickets.

                Eshbaugh says that time of day becomes more important when fishing for fish like the rainbow trout. “Rainbows can be very selective during certain parts of the day,” he explains. “Some days they’ll eat dries early in the morning, but sometimes they won’t take them until later in the day,” Eshbaugh explains that this behavior is related to the hatches of particular species of insects.

                There are some other times where different fish become active at different times. “One example is when you get big hatches of mayflies in the evening,” says Jeff Phebus, owner of Blue Ribbon Flies in Jackson Hole, Wyoming. “The trout will take a break from feeding during the hatch to chase big hatches of caddisflies in the afternoon,” he says.

                Anglers gear is grateful to these experts for their advice on this subject.