This study investigates predictability of the sub-seasonal Indian summer monsoon (ISM) circulation and its relation with rainfall variations in the coupled model National Centers for Environmental Prediction (NCEP) Climate Forecast System version 2 (CFSv2). Hindcasts based on CFSv2 for the period of 1982–2009 are used for detailed analysis. Though the model is capable of predicting the seasonal ISM rainfall at long lead months, the predication skill of the model for sub-seasonal rainfall in general is poor for short and long lead except for September. Rainfall over the ISM region/Indian Subcontinent is highly correlated with the low-level jet (LLJ) or Somali jet both in the observations and the model. The model displays improved skill in predicting LLJ as compared to precipitation in seasonal mean and September, whereas the model skill is poor for June and August. Detailed analysis reveals that the model LLJ variations throughout the season are overdependent on the El Niño-Southern Oscillation (ENSO) unlike in the observations. This is mainly responsible for the model’s low skill in predicting LLJ especially in July and August, which is the primary cause for the poor rainfall skill. Though LLJ is weak in September, the model skill is reasonably good because of its ENSO dependency both in model and the observations and which is contributed to the seasonal mean skill. Thus, to improve the skill of seasonal mean monsoon forecast, it is essential to improve the skill of individual months/sub-seasonal circulation and rainfall skill.