Fishing Etiquette

Fly Fishing Etiquette

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A big intimidation? Not knowing proper fly fishing etiquette! As soon as you approach a river lined with laser-focused anglers working their piece of the river you have to wonder, is it rude to walk in front of someone? What do I do if my fish runs in front of them!




Let’s start at the beginning. Forget about the guy next to you for a moment, let’s talk about the law. Once you purchase your fly fishing license, (a requirement everywhere except on private waters), find a booklet or website to explain state or local regulations.




  • DO ask before you step in anywhere close to someone on the water. Politely approach behind them from their non-casting side and ask how they’re doing and if it’s okay if you fish where you intend to. If they don’t answer – move on!
  • DO holler down to an angler if you have a fish on and need to enter into their space. Of course they’ll say it’s alright and will probably offer to help you net.
  • DO get out of the way if someone has a fish on in your area. Just reel up your line, let them do their thing, and offer to help. Try not to be too envious.
  • DON'T be rude, period. Fishing is supposed to relieve stress, not induce it.
  • DON'T step into the water where someone is fishing.
  • DON'T let your DOG run into the water where someone is fishing.
  • DON'T pull your ride up to the water’s edge, open the doors, and boom your tunes.
  • DON'T assume it’s okay to fish just because a person is sitting down or standing without a rod. If a body is just surveying the water of eating a sandwich at the water’s edge – that’s their water. Move on.
  • DON'T curse! If you experience “trout-rage”, use your inside voice.  Or stick you head under water and scream all you want!




Trout Unlimited offers these great tips:


  • 1) Handle fish with care. The less a fish is handled the better and the greater chance the fish has to
  •     survive.


Fish survival hints:


  • 1) Make sure your fishing net’s web is wet before picking up a fish.
  • 2) Wet your hands before handling any fish!
  • 3) Don’t squeeze a fish’s stomach.
  • 4) Don’t stick your fingers or any object into the fish’s gills.
  • 5) If you can’t remove a hook from a fish, cut your tippet line and release the fish before the fish
  •     becomes overly stressed.
  • 6) Quickly photograph a fish and immediately return the fish to water.
  • 7) In warmer water conditions try photographing fish in a net that’s held partially in the water.
  • 8) Use barbless hooks. Most fly shops sell them exclusively and for good reason; using a barbed hook
  •     you are likely to rip your catch a new opening trying to get it out of flesh. Not to mention what it will
  •     do to your own flesh!


HOW TO RELEASE TROUT (from Madison County Chapter #680 Trout Unlimited)


  • 1) Play the trout quickly to avoid exhaustion and stress.
  • 2) Avoid injury to the trout from thrashing on rocks, logs, or the bank.
  • 3) Use a shallow net.
  • 4) Keep the trout in the water at all times.
  • 5) Wet your hands before touching the trout.
  • 6) Turn the trout on its back to calm it down while removing the hook.
  • 7) Use forceps to remove the hook.
  • 8) Avoid squeezing the trout.
  • 9) Do not release the trout until it has been completely revived, gained its strength, can stay upright on
  •     its own, and swims forcefully away on its own.
  • 10) Use single hooks.
  • 11) Use barbless hooks.




Here is a DVD that describes fishing etiquette in the experienced terms of Orvis…enjoy!!


The enclosed is a link from Orvis that while not exactly what you are looking for, I think would be a great link on our Web Page. The Basics of Fly Fishing: Basic Fly Fishing Video Lessons - Orvis


From local sources – the Wood and most other rivers in Rhode Island are small streams, and, therefore, are very sensitive to the use of proper fishing etiquette.  Because of limited overhead clearance in many places, side-arm casting is a common practice, so low flying flies are a fairly commonplace.  Finding an appealing fishing hole is frequent occurrence on Rhode Island streams and rivers, but it is just as common to find another angler in or near that fishing hole.  The following guidelines are offered when dealing with these conditions:


1) When you find an attractive fishing hole, make sure it is clear of any other anglers before ‘stepping in’.  If you   

    encounter another angler in a hole like this, and it appears to you that there is sufficient room for both of you to

    fish that hole, ask permission from the angler who was there first if you can join him/her.


2) Do not encroach on another angler’s fishing zone.  As a guide, give that angler the distance of a clear cast both

    upstream and downstream, and then ask for approval to join him/her.


3) Do not walk through an area where fish are swimming and/or rising, especially if another angler is casting to

    them.  This guide applies despite the casting distance involved.


4) Fly fishing is supposed to be fun and therapeutic.  Have fun, make new friends, teach the lesser experienced

    anglers how to be more successful at flyfishing, invite non-members to join TU225, and keep smiles on the

    faces of your long-term friends!