Fly Fishing Etiquette

A big intimidation? Not knowing proper fly fishing etiquette! As soon as you approach a river lined with laser-focused anglers working their piece of the river you have to wonder, is it rude to walk in front of someone? What do I do if my fish runs in front of them!


Let’s start at the beginning. Forget about the guy next to you for a moment, let’s talk about the law. Once you purchase your fly fishing license, (a requirement everywhere except on private waters), find a booklet or website to explain state or local regulations.


DO ask before you step in anywhere close to someone on the water. Politely approach behind them from their non-casting side and ask how they’re doing and if it’s okay if you fish where you intend to. If they don’t answer – move on!

DO holler down to an angler if you have a fish on and need to enter into their space. Of course they’ll say it’s alright and will probably offer to help you net.

DO get out of the way if someone has a fish on in your area. Just reel up your line, let them do their thing, and offer to help. Try not to be too envious.

DON'T be rude, period. Fishing is supposed to relieve stress, not induce it.

DON'T step into the water where someone is fishing.

DON'T let your DOG run into the water where someone is fishing.

DON'T pull your ride up to the water’s edge, open the doors, and boom your tunes.

DON'T assume it’s okay to fish just because a person is sitting down or standing without a rod. If a body is just surveying the water of eating a sandwich at the water’s edge – that’s their water. Move on.

DON'T curse! If you experience “trout-rage”, use your inside voice.


Trout Unlimited offers these great tips:

Handle fish with care. The less a fish is handled the better and the greater chance the fish has to survive.

Fish survival hints:

• Make sure your fishing net’s web is wet before picking up a fish.

• Wet your hands before handling any fish!

• Don’t squeeze a fish’s stomach.

• Don’t stick your fingers or any object into the fish’s gills.

• If you can’t remove a hook, from a fish, cut your tippet line and release the fish before the fish becomes overly stressed.

• Quickly photograph a fish and immediately return the fish to water.

• In warmer water conditions try photographing fish in a net that’s held partially in the water.

Her first Rainbow Trout for Catch and Release

• Use barbless hooks. Most fly shops sell them exclusively and for good reason; using a barbed hook you are likely to rip your catch a new opening trying to get it out of flesh. Not to mention what it will do to your own flesh!

Barbed vs. Barbless

Barbed Hook
Barbless Hook

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