As we move into summer evening fishing on rivers really comes into its own. Fish tend to seek cover and hide away during the long hot days, particularly in low water. They will choose to feed in the late evening when temperatures are cooler and available insects are at their maximum. I also believe that fish feel safer in the evening the lower light levels make them less visible and daytime predators (mostly birds) are no longer active.
This is one of my favourite times of year to be out on the river. If you work during the day and are lucky enough to have a river nearby it is possible to fish a few hours in the evening and still enjoy the best of the fishing!
For me, summer evening fishing is all about dry fly fishing and I use tackle to reflect this. I will usually leave the long light rods and French leaders at home and take my dry fly outfit which consists of a 9ft #4 or #5 rod, light coloured fly line (for visibility in low light) and a Fulling Mill tapered leader. To this, I will add a copolymer tippet which I increase in strength with larger flies and lower light conditions. For example, in the early evening, I will use a small caddis or spinner on 7X tippet before moving to 6X or even 5X with larger sedge patterns as the light fades.
It is important to be patient when summer evening fishing. Don’t rush to wade into the pool until the fish start rising. Waiting on the bank before the rise starts can be very beneficial, once the rise gets underway it always surprises me how many fish appear and start feeding!
Below are my top flies for summer evening fishing on the rivers. They should cover the vast majority of food items and get you on the way to some great sport. All flies are barbless to support catch and release.
- Drop Arse Spinner Olive
A great fly in the early evening. Spinners are almost always on the fishes menu and the sunken body creates a very nice profile and usually results in a very gentle but positive take.
- High Viz Poly Spinner
The combination of the poly yarn wing and hi-visibility post make this an ideal pattern for late evening fishing when visibility is low. Whilst the poly yarn wing may not be as delicate as cdc, it does have the benefit of drying very quickly with a few false casts. This prevents the need to change the fly when fish are rising and light is fading. As a result, the angler can keep fishing (and catching) during this short window of opportunity.
- Mcphail CDC Caenis
This pattern imitates the various small light coloured midges and upwinged flies that can be found at this time of year. Fish this pattern in slow water on a fine 7x tippet.
- Retirer Hi-Vis
Caddis or sedges are at their most abundant during summer and become active during the evenings when they return to lay their eggs. The retirer is one of my favourite sedge patterns and the small hi-visibility post helps the angler track the fly in low light and under trees.
- Sedgehammer Caddis
Similar to the retirer this pattern imitates the abundant sedges found on most rivers during summer evenings. The foam head increases visibility but also helps with buoyancy. Sedges often move or skate on the surface and this movement can result in some explosive takes. This pattern is my first choice when I am fishing a sedge with extra movement.
- Tungsten Woolly Bugger/Zonker
Finally, it is always worth trying a large streamer during the evenings. The largest trout in the river will often feed at dusk at this time of year. Whilst you can catch some above average size fish take dries, there is always the chance of a real specimen on a lure or fish imitation. The tungsten head on these patterns mean it can be fished a floating line with a sink and draw action. If you do try a streamer make sure you use a heavy tippet. I would recommend that you use fluorocarbon around 0.20mm, there is no benefit in fishing light leaders with this method as you don’t want to lose the biggest fish you may hook all season!