Fall is the time of year when crisp air rolls in, the leaves on the trees turn beautiful shades of red, yellow, orange, and brown, and all things in nature seem to settle down and start preparing for the long winter months ahead. It is an especially pleasant time of year for fly fishing, and you are likely to experience less competition among other anglers who are all searching for their own secret hole along the water’s edge. Whether you have been fly fishing your entire life or are new to the sport, here are some tips to ensure you have a successful fall fly fishing trip:
Changes in the Water Temperature
A fluctuation of just a couple degrees is all it takes to change the scope of an entire fall fly fishing trip. When the temperature of the stream is cold, as is often the case during the early morning hours of the day, the metabolism of the fish slows down and their hunger for flies and insects declines. Caddis, stoneflies, mayflies, and other insects that trout hunt for also become inactive when the temperatures outside are colder, so trout instinctively know not to hunt for them. Each trout species has its own temperature tolerance which varies from fish to fish.
Carry the Right Gear!
To be best prepared for your fall fly fishing trip, be sure to stuff your tackle boxes full of bright and colorful streamers, like the Umpqua Goat Leech or even the Craven’s Dirty Hippy.
Trout are notorious for zoning in on the “shiny object” during the fall season when they become territorial and their hunting habits become more aggressive. When you use big and bold streamers, trout will attack your line with a vengeance.
Terrestrials are another must-have tool in your tackle box, should you have dreams of snagging a prize-winning fish this fall. Terrestrials are creepy synthetic bugs made from plastic or rubber and will make trout instantly pounce onto your hook on your fall fly fishing trips. They are relatively new to the fly fishing market and are proving to be very successful. Keep Parachute Hoppers, Fat Head Beatles, and Foam Flying Ants on your radar.
Long Leaders and Light Tippets
The longer your leader is, the less likely you are to spook skittish trout in the stream you are fishing in. A long leader will barely make its presence known when it hits the surface of the water and will mostly go unnoticed by fish swimming around your casting area. For streams that are between 10-20 feet across, you should consider a leader that is roughly 7-9 feet long. Long leaders are especially important for fall fly fishing when you are doing streamer fishing with larger flies.
In the world of fly fishing, tippets should be as light as a feather, yet strong enough to hold your line set up together. The goal of a good tippet setup is to get the leader to the water’s surface as quietly and as straight as possible so your line does not tangle when it comes down.
Keep a Low Profile
The key to a prosperous fly fishing trip in the streams is to maintain a low profile by wearing natural Earth tone colored clothing when you fish. Fish can see what is on land, thanks to crystal clear water that is abundant this time of year, and you do not want to scare them off by wearing bold and colorful clothing that does not match your surroundings. Wear neutral brown, green, tan, and camo from head to toe.
Casting and Body Position
Fall is the season for slower and more pointed fishing techniques. During fall fly fishing, the trout are on a feeding frenzy, trying to get their fill of insects before nature goes dormant in the winter. In order to drastically improve your odds of catching as many fish as possible, your flies need to grab the attention of hungry trout.
Fall is when ants and other insects die off, leaves fall from trees, and other wilderness debris starts to land on the water surface, making it harder for trout to find a meal. Let your flies and streamers glide along the surface of the water, while occasionally making them jerk around so that the fish will see them.
Pay attention to your position relative to the sun so that your body does not cast a shadow over your fishing spot. Shadows mean danger to trout and you do not want to spook them.
While not always the most popular fishing season among anglers, fall fly fishing can be just as successful as fly fishing done in the warm spring and summer months, once you have learned to adapt to the nuances of the changing of the seasons. When you fly fish during the fall, you can take advantage of quieter fishing grounds and cooler weather.