Can You Fly Fish At Night

Can You Fly Fish At Night?

I have been fly fishing for several years and we sometimes get asked this question.

Can you fly fish at night? Yes, you can most species of fish feed at night. So it doesn’t matter if it is from a boat or wading a creek you can catch some big trout. Especially brown trout from a stream. But there are some things you need to learn and remember.

Fly Fish At Night From A Boat:

If you Fly fish at night from a boat you should know the area you are going to fish. You don’t want to run into some rocks or other hazards that you might not see.

You should always be sure to have the right safety equipment like life vests for you and anyone with you. I would not recommend trying to launch or load a boat by yourself in the dark.

This could ruin your boat and fishing trip as well as be hazardous to your health.

On one trip To Clark Canyon Reservoir, we arrived late in the evening and we set up camp. It was almost dark, but there was some moonlight so my brother-in-law and I headed out. We had drunk several cups of coffee on the way there, well we paddled our float tubes out.

And you guessed it he had to potty so he headed back to shore and he hooked up. So after about 10 minutes, he landed it and it was a nice brown over 9 pounds.

He released it and resumed his way to shore and bang he hooked another one. This one took him over 15 minutes to land and it was bigger than the first one.

This time he kept his line out of the water and headed to shore. It is days like this that you will remember for the rest of your life.

When You Fly Fish At Night:

We have fished many nights from our float tubes and it is the same, know where you are going.

When you fish at night you can and should use bigger flies because the fish can see them easier. Most fish even trout aren’t as spooky when it is dark so don’t worry about the splash as much.

We fish at night at one of our reservoirs and we have a blast when we hook up a Walleye. Man when you hook one of them on your fly rod hang on what a battle. It can wear your arms right out, they almost feel like rubber. There are some nights that we hook all kinds of fish in the same area, smallies, trout, and walleye.

Things For Boat Or Float Tube Fishing:

I would use bigger flies like streamers and nymphs because they offer more of a meal than dry flies. Streamers and nymphs give off a bigger silhouette and make it easier for the fish to see. These types of flies represent things like minnows and other baitfish along with crawfish and leeches.

Fishing Headlamp:

One tool that I think is important for fly fishing at night is a mountaineering style headlamp. I would not recommend a headlamp from one of the box stores like Lowes or Home Depot. I would look for one that has a red light is 1080 lumens and has rechargeable batteries.

The reason for the red light is when you look at your friend you don’t want to blind him. This is like driving at night and meet a car with their lights on bright and won’t dim them.

It causes you night blindness for a few seconds. This one on Amazon has adjustable straps, 2 Rechargeable Batteries, USB Cable, Charger, User Guide, and a built-in red LED. This one is perfect for emergencies and if you need extra long-range visibility.

Stream Or Creek Wading:

The same holds true if you are wade fishing, make sure that you know the area you are going to fish. Or for your first time, night fishing you should have fished the area before.

If you have night fished before and you’re going to try a new area. Make sure that you have checked it out when it is light.

This way you can find the access points and notice any big rapids or waterfalls. This way you can find areas that don’t have too many obstacles to hinder your casting.

If you are fishing below a dam make sure to check the water flows because they can change rapidly.

Fly Line That Glows In The Dark:

I know you think I am crazy but there is such a thing as glow in the dark fishing line. But it is true if you are serious about night fly fishing it could be worth the money. These lines might look like a gimmick but if you charge them with a bright light they work.

They are a little more expensive but at night they make tracking your line easier. There are a couple of different ones there is the Scientific Anglers Frequency Magnum Glow Fly Line. Then there is The RIO Gold Lumalux color is a unique line that can be charged with a bright light source. It is great for night fishing and casting games.

These items are available on Amazon you can check the blue links for more information on these items.

There is also glow in the dark strike indicators they are by West Water and they are called thingamabobber strike indicator.

Make More And Shorter Casts:

When trying to find fish at night you need to cover all of the water that you can. You might find that your arms and your shoulders get tired and sore.

But remember the more time that your fly is in the water the better your chances of catching fish are.

It doesn’t matter if you are fishing from a boat or wading in a stream. Try to keep your casts 30 feet or less that way you can concentrate on your accuracy.

When night fishing you will probably be fishing lots of streamers and casting at targeted structures or seams. You might get lucky and cast to some fish that are cruising looking for some food.

Fish Some Streamers:

Big trout in streams or in lakes and reservoirs are the most predatory. They do most of their feeding under the cover of darkness and they are looking for the meat.

This is usually things sculpins, minnows, other things like crawfish or mice even small fish of their own species.

When you are fishing streamer flies the right way at night it will feel like you are casting spinning lures. You might think you are even using topwater plugs for bass rather than fly fishing. It is because you making lots of casts and giving the fly action so it might trigger a strike.

Big trout like big streamers and they have big enough mouths to swallow the largest streamers. Some big browns will sometimes have a tendency to short strike.

If you add a second hook to the backend of your fly this is called a stinger fly. Sometimes this can improve your hookups when the big ones are just nipping instead of biting the fly.

So don’t be afraid to use big streamers.

You Might Want To Use A Bigger Rod:

You might normally use a three or five weight rod on a particular area of a stream. If you are using big streamers and fly fishing at night you might want to move up to seven weight. Seven weight fly rods are used a lot by fly fishermen going after the bigger trout at night.

There are some guys that go up to an eight or even a nine weight rod. They say casting the big wet streamer flies with these sizes is easier.

Then if you do hook a big fish you can fight and land him fast and then release them. This will put less stress on the fish and they will have a better survival rate.

You should use shorter and heavier leaders, in sizes 1x or 2x at night. They should be between Four to six feet which should be plenty but you can go longer if you want.

They say that brown trout can see in the dark better than the other types of trout. Even if that is true most fish are less leader shy at night than in the daylight.

If you use heavier leaders and tippets your bigger streamers will cast and fish better. If you use bigger leaders and tippets then you won’t have to worry so much about losing that lunker.

You Should Wear Safety Glasses:

Speaking of visibility. It won’t matter how visible your line is if you take a hook to the eye.

Polarized sunglasses—even with the brightest yellow lenses—aren’t a feasible option for eye protection at night. Thankfully, a cheap pair of safety glasses will do the trick.

Fish Deep Pools:

At night, predatory brown trout usually cruise the shallows searching for prey or they “feed up.” Or the will hold deep as they wait for prey to swim above.

Even if you’re fishing higher in the water column or on the surface, look for deep holes and stretches of slack water. And if you can find water that goes from deep to shallow in a quick transition, that’s the sweet spot.

If you are fishing deep water and transition zones, you’ll need to modify your rigs to get your flies to the right depth.

Streamers can be tied with the weight of beads, barbell eyes, or wraps of weighted wire. Split shot or weighted putties are a quick way to get your flies a little deeper.

Or, you can go with a sink tip line like Kelly Galloup’s Airflo Streamer Max which is designed specifically to help to get streamers down. You can check this line out here it is available at Amazon.

Try To Work The Banks:

On larger tailwaters and lakes, big brown trout often hold close to the bank, whether hovering near a ledge or tucked under a log.

If you’re in a boat moving slowly along the bank, send your fly to every likely target. If you’re on foot, plan your stalk carefully as you ease into position to deliver your bank-side offering.

Go To Their Lateral Lines:

Trout use their lateral lines to detect and locate prey. When presenting and working your flies on the retrieve, try to make your flies appear as prey-like as possible by giving off lots of enticing tremors.

If you want an extra edge, give your offering some buzz by tying in a rattle to your fly. Fly patterns that incorporate small colorado blades—like Senyo’s Gangsta Intruder —are potent options for the non-purist.

Cast To The Target:

This applies to both the streamer and dry fly fishing at night. When you see a rise, a swirl, a tail, or a thrash—any sign of a fish actively feeding—launch your bug straight at that spot.

Commotion upon landing can be a great way to draw attention to your fly and trigger a strike. You might even cause a competition over the incoming food item. Landing your fly with a big splash is effective if you are using mouse flies.

On your retrieve, try to mix up your stripping pattern with fast movement followed by pauses of varying length. Many times, the strikes happen as the fly slowly sinks on the pause

Try Fishing The Swing:

When you aren’t targeting bank lines or areas with promising structure, swinging streamers down and across the current can be a great way to cover water to find trout at night.

When wading, keep your casts around the same distance and take one step downstream after each swing of the fly to cover water in a methodical manner.

Make Safety Your Main Concern:

Don’t push your luck on the river at night. Do everything you can to stay safe and enjoy many night fishing trips in the future.

Remember to wear a pdf if in a boat, use a wading belt, install studs on your wading boots, and use a wading staff. And don’t forget to leave a detailed itinerary of your trip with family or friends. 

References and Main Source

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