Fly Fishing Seasons

Master seasonal fly fishing: Tips, best times, and preparation.

Fly Fishing Seasons: The Best Time to Fish

Getting good at fly fishing involves mastering locating the best spots and figuring out how to have successful fishing trips all year round. So, if you are a beginner, it's natural to be curious about the best fly fishing seasons.

April to October are peak fly fishing seasons. Plenty of warm-weather locations allow you to enjoy fly fishing throughout the year. But even if it means enduring chilly temperatures, you can still enjoy this sport with the proper preparation.

After learning about what different fly fishing seasons bring and getting everything ready, you'll find that fly fishing can be pretty simple. 

Fly Fishing Seasons

With the proper knowledge, you'll realize you can enjoy flying fishing all year. While fishing in the summer may be the best among the fly fishing seasons, there are distinctive fly fishing chances available in every season. 


Spring fly fishing before the runoff has excellent opportunities with minimal competition. This time of year is perfect for fishing some of the best hatches, such as the abundant blue-winged olives that appear on cloudy days in April and mid-May. 

The Mother's Day Caddis is a full-blanket hatch and, if timed correctly (late April or early May), has the potential to offer the most productive fishing of the year. Experienced fly fishing guides love this season because it is the only opportunity to get 20+ fish days on the challenging spring creeks.

Late spring is also a great time to fish in the Smokies. Streams usually contain higher water levels during this period, leading to the most reliable and abundant insect hatches. 

Weather patterns can be unpredictable from March to mid-April. Sudden cold fronts and intense rainfall can cause abrupt changes, but it is gratifying when the weather is pleasant! 

Weather and fishing conditions are more consistent from mid-April to late May. The icy winter air gives way to a pleasant spring breeze as flowers bloom and fish become eager to eat. So, prepare your fly rod, as you can see some excellent fishing opportunities this time of the year.

Tips for Spring Fy Fishing

The unpredictable weather is the part many fly anglers like the least about spring fly fishing. You could be peacefully fly fishing on a mild 60-degree day one minute, only for a sudden cold wind to bring in an unexpected snowstorm the next. 

However, bringing all the necessary gear, from a rain jacket to a winter coat, makes spring a great season for water activities. Here are some tips for a successful spring fly fishing trip.

Get Deep

Prepare your fishing rod for nymphing to catch many fish in the spring. The number of bugs emerging in the water will decrease because the water has not had enough time to heat up following the winter season. Fish will be present in the deep waters, so it's best to use a lengthy leader, attach bead heads, incorporate extra weight, and ensure the flies sink deep.

Be Flexible

Unpredictable weather is one of the most challenging aspects of spring fly fishing. Therefore, arranging a trip to a particular location too far ahead of time would not be ideal. 

It's better to organize a fly fishing excursion but remain open-minded about where to go. Doing so allows you to easily change your plans to visit a place with less snow if a sudden spring snowstorm appears.


Hot temperatures act as motivation for fly fishermen to go fishing. So, naturally, summer is considered the best among the fly fishing seasons. 

Ready for a short fly fishing trip to a nearby river? Give it a shot! Do you want to organize a week-long fly-fishing adventure in a river? Just choose any river! Interested in fly fishing during a two-week backpacking journey in a national park? Get it done!

Summer is perfect for fly fishing, so make the most of it and keep your equipment handy!

In early June, the weather is often similar to spring and excellent for fishing. As summer progresses and the weather gets warmer, low and mid-elevation mountain streams, especially the larger ones, start to decrease their flow as the water temperatures rise.

You'll find better fishing at higher elevations on smaller, more canopied streams. 

Tourism also peaks during this period, so exploring beyond the usual tourist spots is beneficial.

Tips for Summer Fly Fishing

Here are beginner-friendly tips to help you maximize your summer fly fishing trips.

Fish at Night

Summer offers the perfect opportunity to experience night fly fishing if you have not done so before. The cold air and the cover of darkness can bring in some of the most amazing fishing you've ever encountered. So get a headlamp, find a river that allows night fishing, and start fly fishing.

Mind the Water Temperature

Low water temperatures during the winter and spring can prevent hatches and decrease fishing activity. However, summer brings a different issue. 

Fish become sluggish in warm water, making it challenging to bounce back after a confrontation. So, if you are fishing on a hot day, keep any fish you catch in the water as often as possible.


The weather becomes more bearable during fall, and mountain fishing opportunities improve. It is a dry season, making it an excellent time to plan a trip as there is less rain. However, it also means that water levels are lower, and fish may be more easily startled. 

In November, there is slightly more rain, but temperatures remain mild, allowing for good fishing until the end of the month in most years. 

Indeed, the beginning of autumn is when the most impressive dry fly activity occurs. Put simply, late summer and early fall are the best times for fly fishing if you want a fish to bite your fly on the surface.

Tips for Fall Fly Fishing 

Experienced fly anglers know that fall has the potential to be the best season for fly fishing. But if you are a beginner, you might need some tips to increase your catch when the foliage begins to change.

Pay Attention to Terrestrials

Have you ever strolled through a vast expanse in September? Have you observed the abundance of insects in various locations? Fish find terrestrials as great early fall bait. It drives them wild. So it's best to add one at the end of your line!

Choose the Best Time

When the cool mornings of fall take over from the warm summer days, fish typically start feeding later in the morning. You don't need to worry about heading out onto the water too soon. During autumn days, fish usually become more active at around 10 AM, so there's no point in dipping in the water early in the morning.


To beginners, winter may not seem like the best time for fly fishing. Who would want to stand in the center of a river, using a fly rod, on a day when the highest temperature is below freezing?

Numerous tropical fly fishing spots with warm weather and saltwater provide excellent chances to catch bonefish, permit, and other strong fish. So, why would anyone want to try winter fly fishing?

Fishing in the mountains is the most challenging part of this time. December may occasionally remain moderate, offering good fishing opportunities in the afternoon. However, not much activity can be expected in January and February. 

December is typically a prime month for fishing in some places like the Delayed Harvest streams, making them the best option. Locals with more flexible schedules also find winter a more favorable time to make reservations. 

Tips for Winter Fall Fly Fishing

For most individuals, winter is typically associated with skiing rather than fly fishing. But winter fly fishing could be enjoyable if you know how to maximize your trip.

Keep Warm

Nothing is beneficial about freezing cold while in the center of a river. So, if you want to fly fish in the winter, dress warmly in layers. 

If you start feeling too warm in the middle of the day, you can take off one or two layers. However, your enjoyment of the experience will decrease without sufficient warm clothing.

Alternatively, you can simply plan a visit to a warm location for fly fishing and bypass the cold altogether. Regardless, the top priority when winter fly fishing is staying warm.

Be Patient

In the winter, fish tend to group in the calm, deep water. So if you come across a run like that, don't just make a few casts and leave. Allow the fish some time to become active, and have extra patience. Unlike other fly fishing seasons, where fish often bite early, they may not bite until many casts later in the winter. So, it's best to allow the fish some space and avoid rushing things.

Use Lighter Leader and Tippet

Fish usually become more fearful during the winter, so you should choose lighter leaders and tippets. The shallower the water, the thinner the tippet needs to be. Indeed, you may lose some more fish, but it's better than not catching any at all.

Preparing for Spring Fly Fishing Season

With the lengthening days and the slowly weakening winter's cold hold, experienced fishermen are starting to prepare for the approaching fly fishing season.

Years of experience will help you realize the significance of proper preparation to optimize each cast and value the time spent on the water. Here are some tips to help you maximize your trips regardless of the fly fishing season.

Practice Your Casting Skills

Even experienced fly anglers can improve their casting skills by practicing before the fly fishing seasons start. Go to a vacant field or nearby park and work on improving your casting skills.

Work on your precision, range, and delivery. Remember, a precise and steady cast is essential when catching tricky trout or casting in confined spaces.

Consider attending a casting workshop or getting a casting coach for individualized advice. Improving your casting skills is a continuous process that will benefit you regardless of your level of experience in fishing.

Check Your Gear

It is crucial to ensure that your fly fishing equipment is in excellent shape before leaving for your trip. Start by checking your fly fishing rods, reels, and lines. Inspect for any indications of damage, like scratches, fractures, or corrosion. Maintain your reels by cleaning and lubricating them for smooth operation and replacing old lines.

Remember to bring your fly box with you. You also need to arrange your flies, get rid of any damaged ones, and ensure you have the patterns for the current season. Properly caring for your equipment improves how you fish and increases your enjoyment of the activity.

Plan Your Trip Carefully

Prepare and schedule your fishing trips for the upcoming season. Identify which rivers, streams, and lakes you can explore and check any rules or licensing needs.

A good grasp of the local hatches and conditions is also essential for a productive fly fishing experience.

Study the insect population in your preferred fishing locations and learn the hatching schedules. Knowledge of common insects enables you to imitate them, improving your chances of accurately attracting fish.

Fish with Latitudes Outfitting Co.

Latitudes Outfitting Co. offers an unparalleled fly fishing experience. With over 25 years of excellence, owner Robert Gary has assembled a team of the finest fly fishing guides. Our professional, personable, and patient approach ensures you receive top-notch instruction and guidance throughout your trip.

At Latitudes Outfitting Co., customer satisfaction and enjoyment are top priorities. We go above and beyond to deliver exceptional service, ensuring every aspect of your fly-fishing adventure is memorable and successful. From booking your trip to reeling in your last catch, our team is dedicated to making your experience unforgettable.

Start your next freshwater fly fishing trip with Latitudes Outfitting Company! 

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