Search our blog

Tips for Targeting Trout in the Fall

Published: 1st September 2020 | Author: Sean Platt

The air is getting cooler, the leaves are starting to shed their color and pumpkin spice everything—literally everything—is back on the market. This can only mean Fall is fast approaching and with it some of the best trout fishing of the season. 

Chasing autumn trout can be some of the most enjoyable and productive fishing you’ll ever find. In addition to colder, more suitable water temps, there is also a resurgence of both terrestrial and aquatic insects. Not to mention that anglers can wade/float with far less chance of being torn apart and in some cases carried off by obnoxious flesh eating creatures. Trust me I’ve seen it happen. We still don’t know where George is, but I digress. 

In order for you to make the most of your fall fishing adventures I want to quickly chat about a few tips for targeting trout in the fall that you should explore over the next few months. 

An angler stands while casting in a river surrounded by red, yellow and orange foliage.

Hopper Dropper

Very few things can rival watching a large, lurking pig of a trout slowly slide backwards to engulf a well presented terrestrial. Crickets, hoppers, flying ants, beetles…you name it, the fall has some of the best dry fly action for trout, period.

One of my favorite methods, especially when prospecting for trout, is the use of the hopper/dropper technique. Simply pick a large buoyant fly—I’m especially partial to the chubby duo and Stoneflopper—then attach a nymph of your choosing, FM’s tactical jigs are especially effective as they naturally ride hook up, therefore snag far less. Voila, you now have a rig that covers both surface and subsurface action, not to mention your “indicator” is a whole lot better looking and far more useful than an overpriced bobber.  

A selection of Stonefloppers and Moodahs.

How far apart should these flies be?

A question I seem to get a lot of regarding this method is “how far apart should these flies be?” Great question, and one that can be very specific to your local water. As a general rule somewhere in the 2-4 feet range should work. Keep in mind the depth and current of your local rivers and above all, EXPERIMENT! I’ve seen droppers as short as 6 inches and as long as 6 feet both work equally as well. Mess around and always be willing to change things up. 

How do I present this setup?

Another important variable to keep in consideration is how you present this setup. Sure, a plain old-fashioned dead drift can get the job done. In my opinion, it’s the best option for the first few casts. But, let’s say they aren’t buying it. What then?

One of the best things to do and something that is crucial to your development as an angler is to watch the water. It will become evident pretty quickly that large terrestrials such as grass hoppers aren’t exactly comfortable on water. In actuality they typically throw little temper tantrums and or completely freak out. This behavior is a bonus for us! Don’t be afraid to twitch the proverbial shit out of your fly. Get creative, try some weird stuff, get into character…be the drowning hopper. I know some of you are saying “what about the nymph?” Glad you asked– swap that bad boy for a wet-fly and get ready! Anything with a bead and some soft hackle should suffice, the Tungsten Jig Bugger and CDC Red Tag are two of my favorites. Now when you twitch that hopper your wet-fly will look even more like an emerging insect. 

An angler kneels on a rock as he casts up stream to a terrestrial eating fish.
Working an early autumn hopper eater. One of many tips for targeting trout in the fall.

As with every technique be sure to explore different presentations and fly combos. I can’t stress enough how important it is to experiment and try different variations, especially when what you’re doing isn’t working. Far too many anglers are content with keeping a setup that isn’t working…change it up!


Full disclosure I’m an addict when it comes to fishing steamers. So much so that I have already written piece that covers techniques and methods of presentation that you can check out here:

I’ll spare you the ranting and raving and keep it simple. You need to fish streamers in the fall. Especially anything that mimics fry and smaller baitfish that are typically abundant in autumn rivers. Trout eat other fish, including other trout, and there is no denying it. Luckily, the way in which they do it makes for exciting angling. 

A golden brown trout held gently in the water. He's the result of practicing tips for targeting trout in the fall
In addition to the leaves changing color, trout are extra vibrant in the fall. 

Streamer Starter Pack

Even if you have never tried steamer fishing and look at the more modern flies in disbelief– you would be foolish to not have a few smaller patterns with you this fall. The Fish Skull Zonker, Moto’s Minnow and Complex Twist Bugger are three patterns I most definitely recommend. Call it a streamer starter pack. We should have a wavier for you to sign just to clarify that we are in no way responsible for any loss of job, friends or family that might ensue as a result of your newly found addiction for chucking meat.

In all seriousness, grab a few streamers…you know…just in case the hoppers don’t work.

A pile of streamers for targeting trout in the fall.

I hope this article on tips for targeting trout in the fall has you excited for fall fishing. Be sure to mess around with these techniques and find what works on you local waters. Till next time, happy fishing, I’ll see you on the water.   

This site uses cookies.
ConfigureHide Options
Read our privacy policy

This site uses cookies for marketing, personalisation, and analysis purposes. You can opt out of this at any time or view our full privacy policy for more information.