Fly Fishing Etiquette – Are You Fishing Too Close?

This post was last updated on August 6th, 2022 at 05:58 pm

fly fishing etiquette
Image by: Frank Kovalchek

Ever wonder what the best way is to upset other fisherman? It’s to move in too close and attempt to, (perhaps not even intentionally) start edging them out of public water. Before you get too deep into this, I just want everyone to be aware that I’m not perfect.

I’ve made bad judgment calls in my life. I don’t want to sound too “preachy” here. This article is meant to bring awareness to the fact that we’ll need to learn to fish around other people, because every day there are more anglers on the water.

I have seen my fair share of terrible manners displayed over the years. Actually I’ve had it take place blatantly on camera at least 3 times I can recall! Here is just one example (He is much closer to me than it looks on the video by the way). I’m sure some people would consider people 20 yards away too close, while other would consider 50 yards too close. Personally if I can reach you with a cast, you are too close.

I had a bad experience just a week ago out fishing for bluegill. Literally a lake that is thousands of acres, 2 boats on the water and 2 guys rolled up and dropped anchor within 30′ of me. I won’t get into it too much, but people are becoming more inconsiderate every day. Perhaps since your parents aren’t teaching you common courtesy, you need to read about flyfishing etiquette here.

Do you have any horror stories of your own? Let me know in the comment section at the end of this article!

Don’t be a D-Bag on the River, Especially if You’re a Guide

Another quick story involves a guy I know through this website. He told me about an incident that took place last month on the San Juan river in NM. Apparently a guide drifted down to insanely close range and instructed his clients to cast right along side his boat!?! This sort of thing is happening entirely too much these days. If you want to make the general public despise fishing guides, stuff like that is exactly how to achieve it. Stop!

Fishing guides who spend over 100 days a year on the water, need to keep good relations with everyone on the water, otherwise the profession as a whole will become more difficult than it already is. Most people already hate fishing guides, don’t make it worse by acting like you are entitled to to these fish because you are working.

Personally when I’m on the river with clients, I go out of my way to give everyone a ton of space. If we are floating by people who are bank fishing, I will always move out and instruct my clients to not cast until we pass them. Most guides do the same thing, so don’t think I’m preaching. 90% of fishing guides are very courteous on the water, but the remaining 10% can be very bad.. Act like a professional, otherwise the whole industry suffers. If you’re going to become a fishing guide, you’ll need the other guides and public on your good side.

My Opinion on What is Good fishing Etiquette

I grew up fishing small rivers that were rarely ever fished because it was very tricky to cast. I’ve also spent a considerable amount of time searching for new water where there are no other fisherman. I truly dislike fishing close to other people. Therefore, my standards are probably different than most peoples.

As I mentioned above, I would consider it blatantly rude for someone to come within casting range of me. If they start interfering with my drifting, they are way over the line (no pun intended). Personally, I wouldn’t even consider getting in a river if I had another angler within 100 yards of me.

Depending on the pressure in your area, you’ll have to decide on whats appropriate. Fishing on an out-of-the-way river with very little pressure, would be much different than a Metro area with limited areas to wet a line. Every year as more and more fly fisherman compete for the finite amount of water we have, we’ll need to learn to coexist.

Generally, the “rude” anglers suck at fly fishing. They’re either brand new and are ignorant of the unwritten river rules, or they’re so desperate to catch something that they’ll intrude on your spot. Either way, I pity them. No skilled fly fisher would commit such a faux pas on the water.

The bottom line comes down to almost the same thing it always does. The Golden Rule: “One should treat others as one would like others to treat oneself ”