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River Etiquette: Don’t be THAT Guy or Gal!!!

River Etiquette: Don’t be THAT Guy or Gal!!!

by March 4, 2019 0 comments

River etiquette is apparently an aspect of fly fishing that is going the way of the dodo. There are rationalizations that every angler I know uses for spending time on the river trying to catch a fish. Some are looking for a break from the insanity of daily life. Others are on a quest to make a connection with Mother Nature that is not possible while staring at a computer screen. And then there are those who are in search of the thrill of a hook up on a fish.

I personally find myself using all of the above rationalizations when I get out on the water. Each one may come at different times and for varying reasons, yet each one is important.


There has a been a concern rearing its grotesque head recently that I feel needs to be addressed. With an ever increasing number of people exploring fly fishing, I feel we as fly anglers, both old and new, need to nip it in the bud before any truly shocking episodes unfold.

I am speaking about every anglers behavior(s) when encountering other anglers. There is a level of respect each and every human being living in this mortal realm we live in expects. In the microcosm of fly fishing, a sense of camaraderie flourishes due to each anglers ultimate aim of hooking and landing the ultimate fish. We love to share our successes with our fellow brothers and sisters of the fly.

Don’t believe me? Just look online and observe the number of social media outlets dedicated to fly fishing. Sharing is what we do, but there is a personal compenent to be embraced as well. This component is known by many as personal space.

An Incident To Be Avoided

Personal space is defined as a space in which a person remains autonomous from others. For most individuals this is a bubble that extends a few inches from the fingertips when the arms are extended. This virtual sphere increases exponentially when an angler is holding a fly rod. It encompasses the length of the rod plus the maximum line length an angler can cast with consistency. What I have noticed on a number of recent trips is an invasion of personal space of an angler by other anglers.

On a trip I took with a friend of mine into Rocky Mountain National Park (RMNP) I saw this happen and I was deeply disturbed by it. Luckily, this scene did not degrade into a fight, but it could have.

River Etiquette or the Lack There Of

My buddy found a hole he was interested in and started to make his way within casting distance of this hole. He started working the hole diligently from the bottom and working his way to the top. He had put a couple of casts into the hole when unexpectedly another fly line fell into the same pool he was fishing. Looking behind and to his left was another angler who had not observed what surrounded him.

When I stepped around the tree I was in front of , the angler appeared shocked when he saw me. The angler looked at me without saying a word, simply reeling in his line and departing without even a “sorry” or “my bad”. Although, I will say, he gave me a rather displeased look when he came to the realization that we were on this hole first.

After he departed, he met his companion back on the trail and they started downhill. I overheard him say to his companion: “What an ass that guy was, all I wanted to do was fish that hole! What is the big deal if he was already fishing it! And all he did was stare at me like I was doing something wrong!”

His friend asked in an undertone while looking towards my buddy and I, “Did even look to see if anyone was already fishing the hole?

“Well, no I didn’t!” he said exaspirated.

River Etiquette In the Future.

Sadly, this was not the first time this has happened nor will it be the last I fear. I should have verbalised to this angler why I gave him the look I did. Hopefully he gained a little something from this encounter and the words of his companion.

I hope you dear reader, get an idea of what to do and not to do when spending time on the water.

I will be working on a series of similar posts in the future about river etiquette and a few other behaviors I have seen while out fly fishing.

Please leave your comments on this and maybe even share some of your own stories about river etiquette. If you have river etiquette issues you would like me to address please let me know as well.

Share this post with your family and friends to let them know to not be that guy or gal.

Photo credit: Gareth1953 All Right Now via Foter.com / CC BY

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