Brown trout up close

Photography 101 with Ross Downard: Better iPhone Photos While Fly Fishing

Fly fishing is a sport that combines the thrill of angling with the serenity of nature. Many fly fishing enthusiasts enjoy documenting their experiences to preserve the memories of those unforgettable moments. With the ever-evolving technology of smartphones, particularly iPhones, capturing stunning fishing shots has become easier than ever before.

In this blog post, Photography 101 with Ross Downard: Better iPhone Photos While Fly Fishing, I will share some valuable tips and tricks, ensuring you can capture the beauty of your catches and the serenity of the water in all its glory.  With a long career of being a professional photographer with my photos gracing the pages of major fly fishing publications I’ve learned the best camera is the one you have with you.  Those epic moments, big brown’s you brought to the net on 5x cannot be planned, but with a few tips from a pro you can elevate your smartphone photos to be mag worthy.  

  1. Clean the Lens: Seems easy and a no brainer but, before you start taking photos, always make sure to clean your iPhone’s camera lens. Anglers are often exposed to various elements, including water splashes and dirt, which can smudge the lens and result in blurry or hazy pictures. A quick wipe with a soft cloth or a microfiber cloth can significantly improve the clarity and sharpness of your photos.
  2. Master the Rule of Thirds: The rule of thirds is a fundamental photography principle that applies well to fly fishing photos too. To use this technique, imagine your photo divided into a 3×3 grid with two horizontal and two vertical lines. Position your main subject, like the fishing rod or the fish, along these lines or at the intersections. This creates a visually appealing composition that draws attention to the subject while highlighting the surrounding environment.  With a little practice this can make your photos that much more amazing.
  3. Utilize Natural Light: One of the best tips for capturing breathtaking fly fishing photos is to use natural light to your advantage. Sunrise and sunset hour before either, known as the “golden hour,” offer soft and warm light that beautifully enhances your images. Avoid using the iPhone flash as it can often result in harsh lighting and unflattering shadows. Instead, experiment with angles to find the perfect natural light that complements your subject. When I can I always choose to shoot towards the source of light.  Back light just creates such depth of light and shadow.  Sometimes it’s ok if your subject is dark or in shadow.
  4. Get Up Close and Personal: To add drama and intimacy to your fly fishing photos, get up close to your subject. iPhones have relatively good close-up capabilities, allowing you to capture the intricate details of the flies, fishing gear, or the fish itself. Be patient and wait for the right moment when the fish is well-lit and the composition is pleasing to the eye.  We all love those fin shots and details on how beautiful the spots are.  Alway remember keep em wet.  Our fishy friends are sensitive to being out of the water and to the oils on our hands.  Wet your hands before you pick them up, limit the time you lift the fish out of the water and let them go on their way as fast as possible.  My fav fish photos are the ones where you just barely break the surface of the water with the fish.
  5. Mind the Background: A cluttered background can distract from the main subject of your photo. When composing your shots, be conscious of what’s in the background and how it interacts with your subject. A clear, unobtrusive background can make your fly fishing images stand out, emphasizing the beauty of the moment.  Simple is better, you don’t want the viewer to have to spend too much time to figure out where your subject is.
  6. Action Shots and Burst Mode: Fly fishing often involves action-packed moments, and capturing these can be challenging. To increase your chances of getting the perfect shot, use your iPhone’s burst mode. Press and hold the shutter button, and your iPhone will take a rapid series of photos. This allows you to choose the best image from the burst, ensuring you capture that incredible casting or fish jump.
  7. Experiment with Editing: After you’ve taken your fly fishing photos, don’t hesitate to experiment with editing tools available on your iPhone or third-party photo editing apps snap seed is a great app for editing photos, but the native iphone edit tab is another great option. Adjusting brightness, contrast, saturation, and sharpness can make a significant difference in the final result. However, be careful not to over-edit, as natural-looking photos often have a more profound impact.  A little here and there makes huge differences without making the photo look unnatural.


With these tips, you’re now equipped to take your iPhone photography skills to the next level while fly fishing. Remember that practice makes perfect, and the more you explore different angles, lighting, and compositions, the better your photos will become.  As a seasoned pro it really is just experience that produces the best images. So, grab your iPhone, hit the water, and capture those unforgettable moments in all their beauty.  Tag us in your photos and if we think it’s a great snap we will share it on gram and give you a 10% off code on your next order!