Fly Fishing Etiquette: Your Guide to Stream Swagger | Fly Fishing Insider Podcast

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Alright you are out on the river and the day is great in comes another angler and the yahoo has on every piece of Simms gear on the planet.  Sadly, half the tags are still in place and you just have that feeling..." improper fly fishing etiquette coming in soon!"  You know, the one where you cringe your teeth. Some feelings inside are telling you that it’s about to go down and not in a good way. The water you have been aiming to hit is about to get smashed by oversized bobbers and unneeded wading. It happens all the time so why do we get so frustrated?  Let’s focus on a few things. One let's ditch the stuffy rulebooks and dive into stream etiquette that's equal parts chill and crucial.

Fly Fishing Etiquette - Right of Way: Upstream Rules, But Don't Be a Jagoff

Imagine casting your line into a fishy paradise, only to have some dude roll up and snag your prime spot. Rude, right? That's why upstream anglers generally get dibs. They've already spooked the fishies in their path, so give them their space. But hey, be cool. If someone's been camped in one spot for hours, maybe ask politely if they're planning a Netflix marathon soon. Seriously, ask if it is ok to fish above them but stay back and leave a few pools, and spots before you jump in. On crowded waters, it is good sense to leave at least a riffle and pool in place before moving into a spot.  Sharing is caring, and karma gives good knots. Your mantra should be, "fly fishing etiquette is going to get me the fish!"

Space Invaders? Nah, Space Jammers

We all love a good fishy fiesta, but hogging the whole stream is like bringing a tuba to a library. Spread the love! Fish a run, then mosey on and let others have a crack. And if you see someone eyeing that juicy pool you’ve been aiming for, a quick heads-up ("Hey, gonna hit that next.") goes a long way. Remember, we're all in this fishy fam together.

Yo Newbie…Let Me Help You Out With Some Fly Fishing Etiquette!

At one point we were all newbs and fly fishing etiquette hasn't even entered our minds or vocabulary.  Ya, we may have been taught the etiquette or had the mentors to be successful in most places but don’t forget you were once a newb too. Instead of blowing up on a newb that is in the wrong place or asking eyeing up your hole mentor them.  Give them the chance. Take them under your wing and show them the ropes. Explain etiquette and pass the buck.  Hell, pass them a few money flies and let them have a day because you know you can likely pick up a few out of the same hole when they are done. 

Leave No Trace, Except Maybe Footprints

Think of Mother Nature as your cool aunt who lets you raid her fridge. You wouldn't leave empty candy wrappers and crusty socks lying around, would you? So pack out everything you bring in, from banana peels to broken flies. Keep your wading boots squeaky clean, and use those designated paths like nobody's watching (because someone probably is). My tip is to try and fill your net on the way out. 

Silent Disco? Nah, Just Keep it Chill

Set the stage.  You're stalking a trout like a stealthy ninja, only to be deafened by someone's air-guitar rendition of "Free Bird" or a group bumpin' to Lil’ Wayne on the sound tube. Either way, not cool. Keep the noise to a minimum. Loud conversations, phone calls that could wake the dead, and blasting your latest Spotify mix – these are all stream no-nos. Let the gurgling water and the occasional bird chirp be the soundtrack to your fishy adventure.

Sharing is Caring, Especially High Fives and Fly Tips

See someone land a monster? Let out a rebel yell, high-five them like you just won the lottery, and maybe even offer a fist bump for good measure. We're all in this fishy struggle together, and celebrating each other's wins makes the whole experience ten times sweeter. Bonus points if you have a killer fly recipe or secret technique to share with newbies. Remember, what goes around comes around, and good karma brings good fish.

Fly Fishing Etiquette Bonus Level: Stream Sensei Mode Activated

Want to level up your stream swagger and fly fishing etiquette? Learn the local regs and fishing pressure for your spot. Respect private property like it's your grandma's prize-winning begonia collection. If you're a seasoned pro, offer fly tips or lend a hand to folks just starting out. And hey, why not join a river clean-up project or two? Every little bit helps keep our fishy playgrounds healthy and happy.

Be Like the Twelfth Son of the Lama as said in Caddyshack:  Calm the Nerves

Here is a bit of fly fishing etiquette that is rarely talked about. All the bad scenarios above occur and you are running ragged from exploding nerves and frustration. Instead, take a step back and let it go homie.  There is no need to go insane in the membrane and start pumping the shotgun!  Seriously, here is a thought from Socrates to take with you, “The secret of happiness, you see, is not found in seeking more, but in developing the capacity to enjoy less.” One of my other favorites is “If you won’t remember it in 5 years then give it less than 5 minutes.” Take a few of these reflective thoughts and just go do your thing somewhere else. Who knows you may stumble upon a spot where a hog is willing to give you the tug of a lifetime. 

Like this article on fly fishing etiquette? If you want more like it you would enjoy the Beginner Angler Guide I wrote and find it quite informative. 

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Christian Bacasa, Host of the Fly Fishing Insider Podcast

By Christian Bacasa
Host of the Fly Fishing Insider Podcast
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