Fishing In The Rain: 15 Essential Tips & Tactics

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One of the biggest mistakes anglers can make is leaving the water at any sight of rain. No, it’s not always comfortable to fish in, but the quality of fishing that can occur in the midst of it is hard to beat. 

It’s important to watch out for your safety, but a little bit of inclement weather can get the fish moving in ways that few other environmental factors can. As long as you’re prepared and have an idea of different techniques, you’ll be in good shape. 

My 15 Essential Tips When Fishing In The Rain

Is it good to fish in the rain? The answer is definitely yes! There are fewer anglers fishing making less pressure on the fish, and it’s the time when natural food sources are more abundant in the water column.

Let’s go into the reasons why you should fish in the rain and why it can be actually better!

Check Your Barometer Before You Go

Every angler looks at the weather forecast before they go fishing. If you are unsure if there is a storm brewing, check out your barometer before you leave. 

Barometers will give all the information you need regarding weather changes. Pressure changes affect fish behavior, especially their feeding patterns and where they will prefer to move.

You can read more in-depth information about how barometric pressure affects fishing and tips to use pressure readings to improve your fishing chances.

Have the Right Clothing 

First and foremost, you’re going to want to make sure you’re wearing the proper waterproof clothing when fishing in the rain. As long as the rain doesn’t intensify into something dangerous, you can fish through an entire rainfall. A high-quality rain jacket, a rain hat, and a decent pair of waders or waterproof pants and shoes can make your life more comfortable. 

If the weather is warm, you can tough it out with a rain jacket and shorts, but rain usually means a drop in temperature. It’s smart to always keep some rain gear in your vehicle. You never know when a rainstorm can appear and you don’t want to leave the water as soon as it happens! 

If you are new to wading, check out my article on wade fishing for beginners which includes lots of safety tips and the best gear to choose from.  

Try Surface Baits 

Since the rain is disturbing the surface of the water, fish are looking up in anticipation. If you skim a topwater bait over the surface, you have a great chance of getting a fish to bite. Rain makes fish a bit more disoriented, so you have a chance of getting bites using a topwater even if it’s not the usual time of day or year when they feed on top. 

The fish are roaming in search of food, and an active topwater can easily attract their attention and cause them to strike. 

Move Around To Cover More Area   

Unless the fish continue biting in a certain area, there’s no need to stay in your typical hot spot. Fish are willing to move when rain is hitting the water. It clouds certain areas and gives fish a chance to feed all over the lake or river. Find different seams, pools, areas of structure, or any other “fishy” looking areas. 

If you aren’t finding fish in an area, don’t be afraid to move on and try somewhere new. Right before and after rainstorms are usually prime feeding times for fish, so you don’t want to miss out on the opportunity to land them. If you have your usual few areas you cover, start there and then branch out and see what other areas you can find. It takes time, but you‘ll eventually find them. 

Fish Faster 

Again, fish feed as a result of rain, so you don’t have to do your usual slow retrieval tactics. They’re looking to fill up as quickly as they possibly can in the midst of or right before the rain. Food is plentiful and all over the place, so they’re looking to strike and strike quickly.

Increase your retrieval speed, and see what happens. If the faster pace doesn’t work, feel free to change up the speed at which you retrieve it. Fast and then slow or slow and then fast can help you determine what the fish are wanting. 

Fish Before The Rainstorm

Fishing before the rain means you don’t get wet, but if the rain is light then fishing can get busy!

You’ll start seeing an increase in feeding activity right before a storm hits. The low barometric pressure excites fish and gets them moving. They know something is about to hit, so they go into an almost panic-feeding mode. 

Don’t waste your time trying to make the perfect cast when this is occurring! Get your bait in the water, and let it do the work. They aren’t as picky as usual, so you have a chance at landing fish in a way that you otherwise wouldn’t. 

Fish Runoff Areas

Any sort of sewer, runoff stream, or overflow area that is pouring water into the lake or river is a great place to fish. These areas usually produce a massive amount of food for the fish! Fish will stack near these areas and eat everything they possibly can. 

Worms, grubs, insects, and other nutrients are plentiful in these areas! Fish know where to look once the rain starts falling. Park yourself near one of these and try to match your bait with something that they’ll likely be seeing! It may take a couple of bait switches to find it, but you will. 

Fish Under Trees 

Rain and wind will create areas around overhanging trees where insects will fall. These areas are likely to hold fish looking for free food and also the branches will give the fish some protection from the heavy downpours.

Another benefit for anglers is the water surface is less turbulent which allows an easier view of the fly as it drifts down the river.

Fish The Storm Pushed Banks

The windblown shoreline is a great place to spend time after the storm has passed. Wherever the storm was blowing into is where the food is going to be accessible. Everything that the fish are going to want to eat is accessible here! Odds are, you won’t have to try overly hard to get fish to bite. 

Worms, baitfish, grubs, crayfish, and just about everything else will be there. It’s hard for these smaller baits to withstand the power of the water crashing into the shore. It takes time for the lake or river to regulate itself after the weather has blown through the area. Keep it simple on the wind-blown shoreline! Fish don’t want to have to work overly hard.

Look For Fish Near Structures

Cover and structure are different. Cover is things like weeds and small tree laydowns! These get blown around in a storm and move around as the water level increases. Structures are things like boulders or submerged tree fields. These aren’t going to move as a result of some rain or a storm! Fish will continue to hang near these areas as long as there is food nearby.

Bait and food will also flock toward these areas during inclement weather. The fish that aren’t wanting to cover all sorts of water will stay where they usually do: near to the structures! If you aren’t finding fish in more open water, return here and see what you can catch. 

Avoid Thunderstorms

For your own safety and the lack of productivity, avoid fishing during thunderstorms. Water can be an extremely dangerous place to be if the weather turns severe.

Also, the fish aren’t going to be too active during lightning and thunder. They’ll likely move deep and wait out the worst of everything. Take care of yourself and get back out onto the water as soon as everything passes! The fish will start feeding again then. 

Changing Baits

If the baits you’re using aren’t working, feel free to switch. Fish are feeding before, at the beginning, and at the end of rainstorms, so you don’t want to miss any of these prime feeding times. Alternating out your baits in the rain is key and keep switching until you find something that works. 

Use Noisy and Flashy Baits

Noise and flash are important features that your baits need when fishing in the midst of rain. As the rain clouds the water, your bait is going to need a few more features to catch the attention of the fish! Whether it’s a rattle bait or has a large amount of color, you’ll give yourself a better chance at catching something. 

Fly Fishing In The Rain

Trout fishing in the rain can be very prolific. Rain fishing with Nymphs, Streamers, and especially terrestrials are the best option. 

My first choice for fishing nymphs in the rain is the San Juan worm. This large red bait shows up nicely in the cloudy water. Another option that works well for trout in the rain is the popular Pats rubber legs (which imitate the stonefly) and its heavy weight makes it a perfect choice for faster-flowing water.

Using streamers in the rain will work best if you mix a bright color, such as chartreuse against a black or brown. This makes the streamer far more visible. An olive or black woolly bugger is my first choice streamer in the rain.

Falling rain will make insects and bugs drop or get blown from trees onto the water’s surface. Trout are smart and will be looking for terrestrials during rainfall. Mimicking large ants and grasshoppers will likely bring the best results. 

Slow Down Fishing After Rain

After the storm, the fish are more sluggish. They’ve spent a decent amount of time moving all over the water feeding on everything they possibly can find. Once that frenzy slows, you shouldn’t keep up that fast retrieval pace. 

Fish deeper and use vertical baits! Otherwise, jigs, worms, and other soft plastics can still convince fish to feed. It’s hard for them to pass up a good meal. As long as you’re willing to stay more patient at the conclusion of a storm, you still can catch your fair share of fish. 

Fishing In The Rain – Frequently Asked Questions

Fishing after the rain has stopped creates one
of the best opportunities to catch fish

Do Fish Bite In The Rain?

Yes, fish do bite in the rain and in fact probably feed more actively. Coupled with certain hatches, the insects will also be plentiful. It is during this time the fish feel safer. There is the overhead cover that helps them avoid predators and more importantly, this combined effect will allow them the opportunity to eat. 

Is Bass Fishing Good In The Rain?

Yes, Bass fishing in the rain is one of the best times as the bass will join the feeding frenzy along with most fish. The usual topwater baits are going to be the most likely winner when the rain has made the water cloudy.

Is It Safe To Fish In The Rain?

Yes, in most cases fishing in light rain or moderate rain is safe. If you are fishing during heavy rain, there is a risk of the river rising fast which can cause very strong currents. Torrential rain normally does not last long, so take a break if you feel unsafe.

If you are faced with fishing in lightning and thunderstorms, then it is strongly advised to stop immediately and find suitable safe cover.

Final Thoughts

Fishing in the rain is a nice change of pace. We often reminisce about those perfect days on the water when the fish can’t stay off of our bait. However, you have as good of a chance of catching plenty of fish right before a rainstorm as you do on a sunny evening.

I hope these great tips were useful, take them into consideration next time you are out rain fishing and you’ll be sure to catch more fish. 

Check out my in-depth article on choosing the best jackets and suits for fishing in the rain, which are essential for both keeping dry and comfortable in wet weather periods.

Daniel Mooers