Trout Fishing In The Rain: Proven Tactics and Tips

An angler trout fishing in the rain

I’ll be honest with you, some of the largest trout I and my guide buddies catch are caught when it’s raining or just after the rain stops.

As a trout guide myself, when I’m out with clients I can’t just pack up and go home when it starts to rain, so I have been forced to fish in the rain a lot, which is ok with me because I know how to stay dry, but I also know my clients have a better chance of hooking into big trout.

Trout fishing in the rain can be uncomfortable and difficult, but the trout will often feed more during the rain because of an increase in food and baitfish activity, and a drop in water clarity, all caused by the rain.

Key Takeaways

  • Big Fish Time: Larger trout can feed aggressively in the rain, which increases your chances for big fish.
  • Dress Properly: Check the forecast before you leave the house, and if there is a potential for rain, ensure you have a good rainjacket or full rain gear that will keep you warm and dry and allow you to continue fishing.
  • Feeding Frenzy: The rains knock insects into the water, and runoff carries all kinds of food and insects into the water, which can cause a trout feeding frenzy. Using flies and baits like worms can be very effective.
  • Use Big Fish Baits and Lures: Baitfish will become very active and feed on the influx of food, and these baitfish then become easy targets for large trout, which is why lures and large streamer flies can be very effective.
  • Adjust Tactics For Water Clarity: Water clarity can drop, which makes large trout less cautious and more aggressive, but dirtier water can make it hard for the fish to see your lure or bait, so use larger baits and lures and brighter colors. Use lures with vibration or rattles to help the trout locate the lure in the dirtier water.

It’s important to understand why trout fishing can be so good and why trout often feed more when it rains. It’s also important to use the right methods, the right baits or flies, and adjust based on changing conditions if you want to catch more trout in the rain.

Do Trout Bite In The Rain?

A big brown trout caught in light rain

Do trout bite in the rain? The answer is yes, but my funny answer that I tell my clients is that the trout are already wet, so why do they care if it’s raining?

There are reasons why trout will actually feed more in the rain than at other times.

I was doing a guided lesson for five new fly anglers one day with my buddy and we had five anglers out for 7 hours and almost no trout were hooked. It was a bright sunny calm day and the trout were not feeding at all.

After the guided trip was over, my buddy and I went up the river about 10 km and fished for about an hour in one of my favorite spots that is full of fish in a catch and release section. We were two very skilled trout anglers in a pool full of trout, but after an hour we only landed one 8-inch trout. The fishing just sucked!

Then a short rain shower started with some thunder in the distance and within minutes we started hooking trout as fast as we could get our flies in the water.

The same flies that the trout were ignoring all day were now catching everything, and within an hour we had landed 23 trout with a couple of big ones that were over 20 inches.

The fishing went from horrible to fantastic as soon as the rains started. But Why? I have experienced this many times and there are a few reasons that I will discuss below.

Why Is Trout Fishing In The Rain Good?

Trout fishing in the rain can be great for rainbow trout
Fishing for rainbow trout in the rain can be excellent since they will feed heavily on all the food being washed into the river.

There are five reasons why fishing for trout in the rain can be very good.

  1. Raindrops can knock insects out of the air and into the water. The rain can also knock the insects off the vegetation, off the leaves and grasses along the riverbank. This influx of food in the river can trigger a trout-feeding frenzy.
  2. The rain washes in nutrients and small particles, including small insects like ants on the ground, and all kinds of debris that the small baitfish will start to feed on. This triggers a chain reaction, since the baitfish are feeding and losing some of their cautiousness to feed on all the new food, the bigger predator trout will start to get active and start feeding on the baitfish.
  3. The water becomes less clear, and that allows the trout to become less cautious, and they feed more so they are easier to catch. Big trout may move out from their hiding spots around log jams and into the open when the water becomes less clear, so they are more accessible to anglers.
  4. Low light is one of the best times to fish for trout, and when it rains, it often becomes darker with the cloud cover, and this can get the trout feeding.
  5. Another possible reason that trout fishing is better in the rain is that the trout may feed more with less fishing pressure on them since most anglers will head for their vehicles before or when the rain starts.
  6. I have heard that the rain creates more oxygen in the water, which increases bug activity.

Best Tactics For Catching Trout In The Rain

If it’s a light rain, most trout fishing tactics will probably still work, but as the rain gets heavier and the river clarity starts to drop, some methods of fishing might work better than others.

I use all kinds of methods to help my clients hook more trout and I discuss them in my article Trout Fishing 101: Learn Guide Tips And Tactics For More Trout.

Fly Fishing In Rain

Trout fishing in the rain can be good
This is one of my clients fishing in a light rain before the river started getting dirty.

My buddies and I try our best to hit the river on rainy days and just after the rain simply because we know that the biggest trout come out to hunt under these conditions. In fact, many of my buddies will call in sick on rainy days so they can go fishing. It’s a good thing their bosses don’t ask them why all the big trout on their Instagram page are in the rain.

When it’s raining the rain will wash in beetles, ants, mayflies, moths, worms, and a whole lot of other insects, and that means that almost any fly could work.

When there is a huge variety of bugs in the water, I like to nymph fish and I like to go with bigger flies. The rain will often sink flies on the surface, so fishing below the surface is often best.

When nymphing in the rain, I like attractor patterns that stand out amongst all that food and debris being washed down the river.

Good flies to try are:

  • San Juan Worm – Pink or brown
  • Stonefly nymphs – black or brown
  • Pheasant tail nymphs
  • Frenchie Nymph
  • Rainbow Warrior
  • Prince nymphs
  • Terrestrials are like ants, beetles, crickets, and grasshoppers.

See my most effective flies on my page, The 29 Best Trout Flies.

Fishing Flies With Spinning Rods

This is one of my clients fishing just after a summer rain. We fished through the rain and caught some nice trout.

Even if you don’t fly fish, you can still take advantage of flies, and you can fish flies with spinning reels. I drift flies below a float or use my advanced bottom bouncing methods, which can be extremely effective when fishing for trout.

Check out my page How To Fish Flies With Spinning Gear: 2 Best Methods.

Dry Fly Fishing Can Be Good In The Rain

It can be challenging to dry fly fish in the rain because the small flies will get pushed under by the raindrops, but big, bulky dry fly patterns like grasshoppers, crickets, and beetle patterns can be a great choice.

You can get this dry fly terrestrial assortment at Bass Pro Shops -HERE

Streamer Fishing In Rain

Big trout fishing after rain
This big brown trout was caught on a 4-inch streamer pattern, and it was the 3rd one of this size in 20 minutes. Most anglers are lucky to even catch one trout a year like this from this river.

Big trout feed on baitfish, and big trout can feed more in the rain and after the rain so using streamers can be very effective.

Some of my favorite streamer flies are:

  • Woolly Buggers
  • Bunny Leech
  • Zoo Cougars
  • Zonkers
  • Muddler minnow.

I have caught big trout on streamers from one inch to 6 inches, so it’s a good idea to have an assortment in your box.

Bigger streamer flies like the Articulated Monkey Fly or the Granato’s Sasquatch Fly, the CF Chuck-N-Duck Fly, and the CF Whistler are all good choices.

You can get this streamer fly assortment pack at Bass Pro Shops – HERE

Spin Fishing For Trout In The Rain

One of my client’s fishing a fast-flowing section of trout stream.

Spin fishing can be excellent at any time, but when it rains, anglers can spin fish for trout using lures, or by drifting baits under a float, or by bottom bouncing their flies and baits.

If it’s done right, bottom bouncing can be very effective, especially in pocket water or shallow rivers that are not great for float fishing or lure fishing. If you aren’t sure what bottom bouncing is, check out my page, Bottom Bouncing – 5 Proven Guide Tips For More Fish

Float fishing is an excellent way to present baits in bigger deeper rivers. You could drift flies under a float, and you can also use worms, spawn bags, and beads.

One of my best baits for fishing in the rain and after the rain is the pink worm from Berkley and the Mad River Steelhead worms. The red and pink worm color has been one of my most productive colors when the river starts to get murky.

Lure Fishing In The Rain

Lures for trout fishing after rain

Trout get active in the rain, and lures can be a great choice. If the water is still clear, lures like spoons, jigs, spinners, and crankbaits are all good choices in the rain.

If lure fishing for trout is new to you or you want my tips for more trout when lure fishing, check out my page Lure Fishing For Trout: Tactics From A Pro River Guide

Fishing Dirty Water

An angler fishing for trout in dirty water
My client fishing for trout in dirty water. This river is usually very clear, but it just finished raining and my clients were faced with dirty water conditions. A quick switch to bigger brighter flies kept them on the trout.

It sometimes doesn’t take long for some rivers to start getting dirty, especially if it’s a hard downpour. If the water clarity gets too bad, you may need to pack it up and go home, but, there are some things that you could try to up your chances.

I use lures that are brightly colored and make a lot of noise, like the Blue Fox Vibrax spinner or a crankbait with a rattle. Lures like a spoon just won’t do so well in dirty water. The noisy lures will get the trout’s attention, and they can home-in on the lure with just their lateral line.

Bigger lures are also a good choice since it gives them a bigger target, and bigger lures make more noise.

If I am bait fishing, I will use larger and brighter baits like big spawn bags or even big flies like a chartreuse woolly bugger. If you only have small spawn bags, just thread two or three of them on the hook at the same time.

Bait fishing can also be a good choice because it’s slow-moving and allows the fish to find the bait.

Guide Tip: When the water is really muddy, the trout will still feed, but the problem is that the trout can’t see your bait, so you literally have to bump them in the face with it.

I will often seek out smaller clear water creeks that enter the main river, and I will fish where they enter.

These creeks will often stay clear or will clear up faster, and the water just below where the creek enters will often hold some fish and be clear enough to catch them. You could also try fishing up into the clear creeks.

Gear Up For The Rain

2 anglers enjoying the rewards of trout fishing in the rain.
Two of my clients enjoying the rewards of fishing for trout in the rain. They hooked a lot of fish on this cold rainy day.

If you are wearing waders, you won’t need to worry about your legs getting wet. However, if you don’t have a rain jacket or wading jacket to keep your upper body from getting wet, you can’t prevent the rain from dribbling down your body and into your waders.

I’ll often have a lightweight, packable rain jacket in my vest during the summer, and I will use my wading jacket in the spring, fall, and winter.

I use the Frogg Toggs Xtreme Lite Jacket as my packable jacket for summer fishing. It’s not the most durable or the best rain jacket, but it’s a great emergency rain jacket that has saved my butt on many occasions. You can check the Frogg Toggs Jacket out at Bass Pro Shops.

It’s important that you stay dry and comfortable with the right gear. Check out my page, River Fishing Gear: Everything You Need To Succeed In 2021

Tight Lines


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