BlogJuly 2019

3 Types of Fish for Fly Fishing in Illinois

3 Types of Fish for Fly Fishing in Illinois

By Andy Whitcomb

Jul 31, 2019

There are many opportunities for Illinois fly fishing. Here are 3 types of fish that can be caught on the fly in Illinois.

Fly fishing is challenging and requires practice just to be able to propel an essentially weightless lure forward. However, anglers who are interested in fly fishing in Illinois, or anywhere for that matter, have many fishing options available.

Trout usually are what many anglers think will hit a fly and fortunately Illinois fly fishing fanatics can find trout stocked in 59 bodies of state water.   With an inland trout stamp, anglers can fish for 80,000 rainbow trout stocked in both spring and fall around the state.

Sunfish in Illinois include bluegill, redear, green, and pumpkinseed. These fish can be great fun on a fly rod.  They are found in many bodies of water that have less dissolved oxygen and reach warmer temperatures than trout tolerate. If you happen to be interested in fly fishing in Chicago, many of the parks are stocked with sunfish. Small poppers and dry flies work when there is surface activity but when the fish are deeper, it helps to locate clear water. Sunfish have a tendency to hover and inhale but quickly reject fly offerings so be ready with the hook set.

Smallmouth bass also are a prized quarry for Illinois fly fishing. The Illinois Department of Natural Resources site offers the tip of, “dry or wet flies, streamers, buck tails, poppers, and hairbugs.” Look for water that may have some current and less silt and aquatic vegetation that you might find with largemouth bass waters.

Fly fishing in Illinois can be very rewarding. When you purchase your fishing license, make sure to pick up the regulations too. Included in the 80 pages of info are places where you can find these three types of fish to know where to start “flogging the water.

Andy Whitcomb
Andy Whitcomb
Andy is an outdoor writer ( and stressed-out Dad has contributed over 380 blogs to since 2011. Born in Florida, but raised on banks of Oklahoma farm ponds, he now chases pike, smallmouth bass, and steelhead in Pennsylvania. After earning a B.S. in Zoology from OSU, he worked in fish hatcheries and as a fisheries research technician at OSU, Iowa State, and Michigan State.