Fly Fishing Etiquette

Now I have spoken before about hunting etiquette, so its worth bringing up that fishing has its own set of boundaries, rules and guidelines about being polite to others on the water. Like hunting, the rules are simple but so many seem to struggle with them. So when you are heading out to your favorite fishing hole you need to consider a few things that will make your experience better for yourself and the others around you. Good behavior is contagious and you should be out there setting an example. Give people space, speak to other anglers, and just like we talked about in hunting, you need to be self-aware. Fishing on public lands can get frustrating, so don’t be someones frustration.

I spend the bulk of my fishing activities fly fishing. So fly anglers know how important it is to give other fly anglers some space. At least it should be information they know despite seeing so many glaring examples of people who simply have no idea what the concept of personal space truly is. I have been at my favorite fishing hole for hours, have someone come up and get right next to me to try and fish. They have the whole water to work with and they stand next to me. So now I have to either stand there and be stubborn and risk casting our lines together, or I have to move. I hate dealing with knots and tangles so I move. What really should happen is, you see someone fishing where you like to go, then you need to be patient. They got there first, and eventually they are going to leave, it may not be what you want but it does not give you the right to crowd someone. Now this works both ways, if he had not have crowded me and forced me to move, I should eventually yield up the spot I am on to share with him anyway. I just should be the one making that decision since I was the one who got there first. Its common sense folks, don’t do crap that you don’t want happening to you. That is of course unless you enjoy being crowded while fly fishing. I have seen fist fights on the water over what could have been prevented by people just giving others space.

Now if you are like me I like to keep to myself. I would rather not say a word and change what I am doing to avoid confrontation. That isn’t healthy. We as Fly Anglers need to be comfortable speaking with and communicating with other fly anglers. Communication would solve the vast majority of confrontation. Take my above example, I had been in that spot for hours. Granted I was having a good time and catching fish, I am also aware of others and would gladly share my spot with someone. If they asked. Likewise when he crowded me, I should have spoken up and mentioned that I would gladly move in a few to give him some space. It would have taken no time “Hey dude how long ya been out here…had any luck?” Those two questions would have enough for me to know that he wanted to know if the fishing was good there and if I was going to be long. However its polite, its a conversation starter and who knows maybe we might become pals. The moment he stood next to me without speaking or even acknowledging I was there the confrontation began. Which could have easily been removed by just speaking. I like my privacy and my solitude at times but I am always aware that I am not the only one on this planet and so I try to do my best not to annoy others. Where I fail, it would be nice to be told in a polite and friendly manner so I can adjust. Its not complicated folks, talk to other people. They are not going to bite you.

This all boils down to being self-aware. What I mean by that is what I mentioned before. You are not the only person on this earth and the things you do, have an effect on the world around you. If you are with friends and are laughing and talking loudly, you might be disturbing someone else. Likewise if you hear a bunch of people laughing and talking loudly don’t ruin your good time and theirs by being frustrated and saying something. Do not get so wrapped up in catching a trophy fish and chasing after those dreams that you end up being rude to others. I had an instance where I was fishing with some friends and we were laughing and having a good time. We were also being loud and I am sure very obnoxious to others. We also taught we were alone out there, which was our mistake, and soon found ourselves having rocks thrown at us by other anglers across the way. We were not aware they were around and they were annoyed we were being loud. A failure on both our parts of being self-aware and not communicating. It also has to do with choosing your battles, if I had been alone fishing and wanting peace and quite and I see and hear a bunch of loud mouths…I leave. They are having their brand of a good time and I want to have my own, so why should I bother them with my problem. You are out ther to fish, you are not out there trying to make loud people not be loud or to annoy quiet people if you happen to be loud. So don’t make this some sort of personal quest, just shut up and fish, have a good time, and let others around you enjoy their fun too.

No matter where you go or what you do in life, you are always going to need to considering your etiquette when dealing with others. Be it out for dinner, hunting on public land or fishing in your favorite fishing hole. You are not alone out there and others want to share good experiences. So give them some space but be polite, talk to them and help each other figure out the best way to share the water. You just need to be self-aware a little bit and it will go a long way. Soon everyone is having a good time and catching fish. That is what this is all about anyway, so take it from me, don’t be that guy. I am not without sin, and don’t pretend to be, I just try hard not to be annoying to others in the woods. Have fun, and be safe out there, and above all…BE NICE!

John Abshire

Born in North Carolina, raised all over the world and currently living in the Rocky Mountains above Montana. I have spent most of my life fishing, hunting, exploring and adventuring. While the adventure continues I have started to jot a few of them down and write. I Love Fly Fishing and sharing what I know with others. Fish on!

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