Fly Fishing Etiquette: Part 1

When you live in a city (Calgary) with a population closing in on the 1.5 million mark, with a fishery considered by many to be one of the finest rainbow and brown trout destinations on the planet, you’re bound to find more fisherman than you’d like to encounter. To add insult to injury, Alberta has 400 anglers per fishable lake! Compare this to other Canadian provinces like Saskatewan or British Columbia that have 2 anglers per fishable lake. It pains me just to think about it. However, that doesn’t mean we all can’t get along. Here are few ways anglers can avoid anger and frustration on the water:



Talk to other anglers you dummies! What prompted me to write about this was a fellow fly fisherman who took it upon himself to walk out into the water directly where I was casting to (and where the fish were). After hollering and screaming at him he eventually moved out of the hole and off downstream somewhere. However, all he would have had to do was speak with me before walking out into the water and we could have come to some sort of resolution. In all my years of fly fishing, I have yet to have a negative interaction with another angler who has come to speak with me if I was fishing before them. In fact, this often leads to meeting awesome, like-minded people, who want to get to know you better. Some of the best conversations I’ve had were river side with strangers, exchanging flies and stories about what was working and what wasn’t. So, the next time you’re not the first to arrive at a hole, don’t be that “guy” who just ignores those on the water. Go talk with that person who was early to rise and let them know your plan!


Don’t be a Johnny water hog. Seriously. If you arrive late, that’s your problem, not the dude/gal who got to the water first. If you’re not willing to talk with that person to let them know your plan, it’s time to put a big distance between them and yourself. If you’re on the river, take note of where they are heading and go in the opposite direction. Or, if that isn’t an option, go several miles past where they are fishing to allow them the holes they want. This is best done when informing that fisherman, but I bet there are some of you out there too scared to order a pizza. I doubt you’d want to talk to someone face to face. A good tip when you know other anglers will show up after you’ve arrived is to put a sign on the inside of your vehicle’s window indicating whether you went up or down stream. This can prevent any further confusion of which way you headed to fish.


Yup, that’s right, explore. If you’re one of those people who hate running into other anglers, go to places you know they won’t. This means getting out of your comfort zone and start exploring new and less traveled waters. This could be in the form of smaller tributaries, which often are overlooked, or driving further than most fair weather fishermen are willing to do. Do yourself a favor and pull up Google Earth and start searching for new waters to fish that others wouldn’t consider. I can’t explain how many times I’ve found a piece of water that held unbelievable fish that most wouldn’t even consider fishing. If you’re going to be fishing popular water, you better be ready to run into other anglers. So, don’t be a dick about it.


Seriously, you don’t own the water. These popular destinations aren’t “your zones,” bud. Time to get over yourself and start to realize that other people love this wonderful sport. You can spend your day cursing under your breath about how some jerk off is fishing your spot, when in reality you can’t lay claim to what isn’t yours. What you can do is stop being negative and become a steward for fly fishing. Go talk to that dude fishing your spot and ask him or her how the fishing has been. Give them tips on what’s worked in the past and what you were thinking about doing. Hell, even see if you can fish with them. I guarantee you will have much better time chatting with a new fishing friend than grumbling under your voice about people you don’t even know.

Honestly, it’s high time we fly fishermen take a long look in the mirror. We think we hold some sort of special place in the universe, that all things fish related belongs to us. However, there are millions of people just like you and I who love to fly fish and use it as an escape from the daily grind of life. Do yourself and others a favor and stop thinking you’re better than anyone else, because you’re not. Stop frowning and start smiling! We are the luckiest people on earth to be able to do something we are so passionate about. Spread that passion, not the bullshit.


Tight Lines,