Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Fly Fishing Ethics

For various reasons we fly fishermen are held to a higher standard as far as angling ethics go and while most of us try to exhibit good angling ethics some don't. So if you are confused or wondering what good fly fishing ethics are then you've come to the right place.
Here are a few to ponder.

Spawning Fish

Never fish in an area where you can see spawning fish working. I know it's tempting but just move on and let those spawners do their thing in peace.


Same as above. You want to leave spawning redds undisturbed. Not sure what a spawning redd looks like? Google it!

Low Holing

Gear and bait fishermen do this a lot and if you have evolved from the gut slinging crowd into fly fishing then leave this rude habit, along with your Powerbait in the past. Always ask if it's okay to step below a fellow fly angler! I like at least 100 yards of swing water below me and on the short coastal winter streams that is hard to come by. Even on big rivers like the Deschutes it is hard to get that much space. Some fly guides take it to the other extreme and act like they need a mile of river below them.

Barbless Hooks and Nets

If you intend to release your catch then pinch those barbs and try to avoid using a net. Sometimes you have to net your fish so be sure it's a rubberized net that won't remove slime from the fish. Be sure you are educated on handling wild fish.

Photos of your catch

If you've hooked a wild fish then keep it in the water. It is not good for the fish to be held out of the water for your ego shot.

Remove hatchery fish from the river

You and I pay BIG money for these fish so for cryin' out loud utilize them! You are not doing the wild salmonid populations of your river any favors by releasing hatchery salmon, steelhead and trout. Unfit to eat? Simple!Bonk it, Tag it if that is the law, open up the body cavity and THEN release it back into the river. This will provide stream nutrients for smolt, aquatic insects, crawfish and other river life. You can also take it home and use it for crab bait or fertilizer.
Disclaimer - This is what I do and might be against the fishing regulations so do this at your own risk.

Leave the river in better shape than you found it

Pretty simple actually. Anything you brought in please take it with you and maybe some extra.


  1. Great advice, all around!! Keep the natives out of nets and in the river, please!!

  2. Well said as usual!