Tag Archives: Fly Fishing Apps

Solunar Theory: As Applied to Fly Fishing

For the last 4 months, I have been studying Solunar Theory.  There is plenty of information on the internet and countless books on it.  My infatuation with solunar theory started when I fished in the Ecuadorian Andes with Eduardo Campuzano, owner of Campuchoca Lodge near Quito, Ecuador.  That adventure is detailed here.  My amusing / eye opening experience was Eduardo using an app on his android phone, staring at it for a period of time and then saying, “Tim, you have come on a below average stretch of fishing days.  You should have come next week.”  At first I thought a storm must be moving in with the barometer falling.  However, the weather was perfect, sunny and even some clouds for potential hatches.   I asked him what he was staring at and he basically said, “The solunar score for today’s fishing.  It’s only a 44 and tomorrow is 43.”  Amusingly I said, “out of 100?” and he said yes.  Now, I was really skeptical, but intrigued.   I stared at his application on his phone and he showed me how the week coming the scores were in the 80s and 90s.  He told me it was based on science.  And that statement is what got me motivated to learn more about Solunar Theory.

I did pretty darn well in hot creek on a poor solunar fishing day

I did pretty darn well in hot creek on a poor solunar fishing day

Well, we went out fishing and I did well.  After practically every fish I caught, I teased Eduardo with the statement, “Below average fishing.” with a smile on my face.  He always retorted, “You should come back when it’s good.”  So after two, what I would call good days of fly-fishing and some cocktails, I decided I needed to learn more.

Since then I have tested Solunar Theory “in the field”.  This is about my findings and conclusions.

a big spawing rainbow caught on the upper owens river on a good solunar fishing day.

a big spawing rainbow caught on the upper owens river on a good solunar fishing day.

Background on Solunar Theory

John Alden Knight created the Solunar Theory.  Essentially Solunar Theory is that fishing is best when the sun and moon are closest.  Mr. Knight was an avid fly angler and wrote many books on fly-fishing.  He wrote three important books on Solunar Theory:

In 1926, while fishing in Florida Mr. Knight analyzed some local folk lore that which inspired him to evaluate 33 factors that seemed to influence behavior of fish.   The theory was that these 33 factors caused fish to be periodically more active.  One by one each factor was disproven until 3 remained: sun, moon and tides. It was from this field research that Mr. Knight created Solunar Theory.  Sol for sun; Lunar for moon.

It is also commonly accepted that Solunar Theory applies to all living things.  from www.solunar.com:

“It is now known that the sun and moon are the two major sources of the astral energies that daily bombard the Earth and all her life forms. The closer they are to you at any given moment, the stronger the influence. The day of a new or full moon will provide the strongest influence in each month.”

You can learn a lot more about Solunar theory from Mr. Knight’s books or www.solunar.com.

We've had a record winter in the Sierras this year and water temperature definitely affects the fly-fishing.

We’ve had a record winter in the Sierras this year and water temperature definitely affects the fly-fishing.

Field Testing Solunar Theory

After i got home from Ecuador i intended to immediately buy the Solunar Theory app that Eduardo uses.  Well, i thought i bought what i thought was the app.  The app store is so saturated now that i bought a solunar theory fishing app, but it was the wrong one.  i was really disappointed with it.  Turns out I bought the wrong app.  After some investigation, I bought the right app; the app that Eduardo uses, called “Fishing & Hunting Solunar Time Pro” from the iphone app store for $2.99.  It’s a really well written app.  I’m a software guy.  I know a good piece of software when I use it.

You can download the app in the apple store here.

You can download the app in the google store here.

I reached out to the developer of the app, Anton Nikitin, anton.nkt@gmail.com, and he was very responsive to a few questions I had on the use of the app.  I now use the app all the time.  It’s one of, if not the only app I use with fly fishing.

An excellent Solunar Fishing day on the Lower Owens River as reported on the Fishing & Hunting Solunar Time Pro app

So, I started my testing of Solunar Theory fishing on excellent solunar fishing days.  My first fishing day was in the surf in Carlsbad, CA….skunked.  The solunar app told me it was a “93” day and I caught the rising tide perfectly in the morning.  I only fished for a couple hours.  Skunked.  Why?  Because the waves were huge.  It was impossible to get a cast and the line down with enough strips to make it effective.  That was my first lesson on solunar theory: so many other factors can screw with it.

But, I did have 2 back to back weekend trips to the lower Owens River in the eastern sierras just weeks later.  The first weekend was 3 days where the app showed excellent Solunar fishing days above 90.  The following weekend it showed the exact opposite solunar fishing days: poor, in the 20s and 30s.  Surely that would be a good test: fishing the exact same place on both good and poor solunar days.  It was not.  Why?  The river was blown out.  But, I did go to the upper Owens river for a single day each of those weekends where the river was not blown out.  The problem was that I did good on both weekends there.  Not great; good.  I caught big fish on both those days.  I even caught a handful of quality fish in Hot Creek on a bad solunar day.  Hot creek has not fished well in a long time because of the drought.  I did slightly worse on the bad solunar days, but, not enough to blame it on solunar theory.

An poor Solunar Fishing day at the beach in Carlsbad as reported on the Fishing & Hunting Solunar Time Pro app

An poor Solunar Fishing day at the beach in Carlsbad as reported on the Fishing & Hunting Solunar Time Pro app


I believe Solunar Theory as applied to fly-fishing does help.  I am going to continue to field test Solunar Theory.  If I was guiding full time I would use Solunar Theory religiously for the way I fished; not when I fished.  In good weather and good river conditions, I’d be much more apt to dry fly on excellent solunar days and much more apt to fish “under the bobber” on poor solunar days.

However, as contrasted to hunting or fishing conventionally there are so many other factors that affect success in fly-fishing: Weather, the Barometer, river flow, water temperature, time of year, hatches, spawning, etc.  Nothing, including Solunar Theory replaces skill, knowledge and a little luck: a good cast that puts the bug in the right water at the right time and even a little luck is still the best prescription for fly-fishing success.  But, if Solunar Theory can help your chances of success, then why the heck not leverage it?




FlyWise – A Fly Fishing app from FlyBoxFishing.com

I have at least 20 fly fishing applications installed on my phone.  I rarely use any of them.   Because I have worked in the software industry for over 35 years I just can’t deal with the bad user experiences in these applications.  I’m sure it’s because really knowledgeable and talented fly fisherman try to build software.

Well, the folks at FlyWise approached my club, The San Diego Fly Fishers and it seems I’m the logical choice to review a fairly new mobile phone application called FlyWise.  I was skeptical.  And I’m shocked…. I’m pleased to tell you I am shocked in a positive way.  This is an app I will and have actually used.

FlyWise give you access to real-time river conditions, weather, hatch charts, river maps, fishing regulations, license requirements, and more.  It’s free.  But, it’s currently iPhone only.  I trust the folks at FlyBoxFishing have android on their road map; hopefully Windows Phone too.  Download the FlyWise app for your iPhone from: https://itunes.apple.com/us/app/flywise/id896949958?mt=8 or you can just search FlyWise in the app store.

So, with something so positive let me say up front that the app in its current form helps the advanced fly fisherman the most.  But, beginners could learn a lot from this app.   I use the app in research.  But, I really will use this app streamside (assuming a network connection).


I think it’s best to describe the app with a real use case that I used it for.  My son and I are going to fish the Stillwater River in Montana.  I have never fished it.  So, firstly I used the app to look up the Stillwater River.  The Rivers are organized by state and the list seems to grow by the day.  Once finding the Stillwater River the Home screen for the Stillwater River shows current weather, wind, sun rise, sun set and river flow in CFS.

That info in itself is a goldmine for a fly fisherman because it’s real time and easy to see on a small device.  What’s missing, of course, is the moon phase, but Zach Lazzari of flyboxfishing.com tells me that feature is coming.  I’d love the see the River flow as compared to Normal for the time of year so you could easily tell if the river was blown out or not.  Or maybe have symbols for low, normal, blown out, etc.

The next screen is the detail of the current weather screen.  It’s represented with the sun symbol at the bottom of the screen.   Remember this is real time weather detail.  Very valuable for those of us that fish in the rockies where those afternoon thunderstorms come quickly with a vengeance.


The next functionality of the application is a map of the River.  And the put ins and the take outs and access points are identified with pushpins.  There is functionality that uses your GPS to show you exactly where you are on the river.  Obviously a satellite view of the map would be extremely beneficial here for when you are making that decision to hike “just another mile upriver where that undiscovered honey hole is.”.  I do this all the time.  And yea sometimes I get in a bit of a pickle when the sun goes down and I’m looking for that next best place and getting farther and farther from my car.  I’m sure a satellite image of the map is at the top of the priority list to add next.


The next set of functionality is the info section.  It shows everything one wants to know about the river including species info and source and tributaries, etc.  But, also includes hatch charts…. In a tremendous amount of detail.  My current go-to dry is the bullethead Skwalla.  Skwalla flies are big ass stoneflies and are really fun to fish.  And from the screenshot below you can clearly see that Skwallas hatch March to May on the Stillwater.


The last two sections of functionality are the Regs and the licensing requirements.  There’s even a link to purchase an MT license online, right there riverside.



FlyWise is an app that I would pay for.  But, it is free.

I was so encouraged by FlyWise that I wrote them a litany of feature requests I want to see in the app.  And they actually agreed and trumped me with a list of features they were currently working on that I didn’t even think of.