Flying Fishing Etiquette 101 – The Golden Rules of Fly Fishing

Fly fishing etiquette involves common sense, courtesy, and consideration of others sharing the stream. A section of water belongs to the first fisherman fishing it. It is inconsiderate to crowd him even if he is slow moving or stationary.

In this respect, every angler experienced or beginner should remember certain etiquettes and rules that govern the concept of fly fishing.

The reason why the anglers need to adhere to these protocols. Is so that everyone has an equal right to fish and enjoy their time in or on the water.

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fly fishing rod and river in background

Changing Attitudes and Fly Fishing Etiquette

In recent times, it is obvious that streams are populated with more anglers with less fish residing within them. Along with the decline in the number of species of fish within the lakes and streams.

The attitudes and behaviors of the anglers have seen a downside as well.

It is because of the feeling of comradeship, mutual friendship, and trust that was a dominant feature of groups of friends. Who were out fishing together at the lakeside or stream has now taken the form of competition. It has also taken the desire to outwit one another at any cost.

Therefore when it comes to showing manners and decorum while fishing side by side. We tend to incline more towards exhibiting cavemen qualities and appear as a ruffian.

Keep in mind that these attributes are the result of angler overcrowding both offseason and in a season. So, even on a weekday, the angler crowd will be the same as on Saturdays or Sundays.

We all know that fly fishing is a peaceful sport. Where all you need to do is cast your fishing rod and fly in the lake or river and wait. Then wait for the tugging from beneath the waters and then the fight is on. With the level of competition and the hooligan-like attitude of anglers, this sport has taken an aggressive turn.

So if you happen to run into people of diverse behaviors and mindset on the stream. If you don’t want to have a bad experience with them, here are some of the tips that would help.

These are some of the tips that will prove beneficial for you while you fish. Adherence to them will help you have fruitful experience and you will return with your share of the catch.

So let us have a look at them:

fly fisherman fishing in river

Keep In Mind That You Do Not Own The Place

The lakeshore or stream bank is no man’s land you need to show respect and receptivity of other people’s spaces. In order to respect other people’s space, you need to show tolerance and patience for the flying fishing duration. Let suppose if you are standing and fishing at your favorite spot.

Then a new angler adjusts his position approximately ten feet from where you are presently standing. It would require you to muster a lot of courage to show tolerance. However, according to the decorum of peaceful fly fishing. You need to ensure that you give your corresponding angler adequate space to do their fishing.

Furthermore, it is recommended that if you see someone already where you usually fish most of the time. Then give them a sign from yourself by either moving up or down doing little runs.

You can always ask them which direction they are headed towards. This is so that you can adjust and plan your position in accordance with their reply. According to the guidelines of fly fishing etiquette.

Try and make this fact a rule of thumb that everyone should have an equal right to fish. This means that no matter how crowded the lake or riverside is with anglers.

There is always a sufficient amount of space for everyone all you need to do is spread out. Obviously, you do not want to catch a hook in the back or tangling lines neither do your fellow anglers.

fly fisherman wearing wading boots and jacket fishing trouts in river

Refrain From Scaring Away Both Fish and The Anglers

Bear in mind that one of the leading solitary aspects of fly fishing is the feeling serenity and quietness. This will result in you having the time of your life in the open air.

In this respect, it is one of the leading decorum of fly fishing. This is to try to abstain from making or articulating loud noises while you are fishing.

This will not only frighten the anglers but also the fish. All you will get is on the lists of swearing and cursing from the anglers who are fishing beside you.

With your loud noise, the anglers might be scared thinking that you shrieked because you might have fallen. Or that you might have encountered some threatening or frightening species on your hook. Therefore uttering any loud articulation, exclamation or shout may disrupt the mood of the pin drop silence of fly fishing.

The fly fishing etiquette does not restrict you from celebrating your catch and achievement with noises and get excited. However, at the same time, you do not need to go overboard with this and respect the fly fishing mood and the surroundings as well.

So, if you are fishing in midstream, you need to use extra caution and careful movements. This so that you do not end up splashing water around as a result of any frenzy activity or excitement.

It is because, in the midstream, if there are any other anglers beside you. Your single movement might scare the fish that other fishermen might have been able to catch.

man casting rod and fly fishing in river

Treat Others The Way You Treat Yourself

This is etiquette that is considered as a golden rule in the domain of fly fishing. This rule entails that when it comes to fly fishing, in order to eradicate any form of barbarism.

That you need to abstain from being self-centered or being selfish. You need to set things for others in the same manner you set things for yourself.

If an angler seasoned or a beginner decides to fish alongside you, give them space with generosity. Do this in the same manner that you would have allocated for yourself.

So, if you are catching salmon, trout or steelhead and you see the other anglers are not. Then always be prepared to give them some suggestions and advice regarding what the fish are biting on.

You want to remember that someday you might be in their shoes and maybe someone will give you some help.

Similarly, if you decide to move and try your luck to some other place. Remember to always ask your comrade fishermen about their views regarding moving.

You can ask them whether they are moving up or down. Upon their reply, whether it is in affirmative, negative or in silence, you can plan your move consequently.

Keep The Area Clean

Now you take the golden rule of treating others the same way as you treat yourself to another level. Let us look at the next rule that precedes the former one.

This extension of the golden rule entails that you should leave the river in the same manner or better when you found it when you set your foot in to fish.

So, it means that any form of littering or throwing trash around while you fish is seen with disdain and highly discouraged. And if you by chance or by purpose end up throwing litter with utter disregard for the environment.

Then it is suggested upon you to clean the mess you have created by your own hands. It is because the river bank or lakeshore is everybody’s property.

No one likes to fish in an area that is surrounded by mess and trash. It is unacceptable that you have become so selfish. That you pay no heed to the fact that you are snatching other people’s right to fish in a clean setting.

fisherman wearing waders and sunglasses fly fishing in river

Do Not Linger in One Spot For an Extended Time Period

It is highly discouraging that you camp and loiter in one area of the river or stream all day. This attitude has two negative outcomes. Number one, by doing so you are not appearing as well-mannered in front of your fellow anglers.

Number two, ultimately you are reducing your chances of catching the fish such as trout or steelhead in quantity by loitering at one place all day.

Keep in mind that although some fishing spots will require you to invest more time and energy than the previous ones. But as a general rule of thumb, always move forward so you can cover more water.

Another significant aspect of fly fishing etiquette entails that as you move upstream, you take into the course of the river and end up catching more fish in your hook.

Do Not Invade Other People’s, Private Space

One of the key etiquettes of fly fishing is to abstain from intruding into other people’s personal space and property. In this respect, it is always advisable to check which fishing space is for public use. After all, it is every other angler’s responsibility to double check whether they are trespassing other people’s personal property while fishing.

Therefore, always contact the authorities regarding which area is harmless regarding fishing and always check public and access points for fishing.

Therefore above are some of the pointers regarding fly fishing etiquette.

If you see an angler not adhering to any of these while fishing beside you. Then it is advisable that you point out these etiquettes to them.

Keep in mind that if you want to stand out make sure that you reflect these etiquettes in your code of conduct. I am sure that it will definitely make a difference!

Bob Hoffmann

The author of this post is Bob Hoffmann. Bob has spend most of his childhood fishing with his father and now share all his knowledge with other anglers. Feel free to leave a comment below.

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